BreakTime Bakery

BreakTime Bakery from CFA Videos on Vimeo.

BreakTime Bakery is a bakery that is run by kids during the summer. Instead of just sitting around and playing video games all summer the middle school students bake a variety of goods including cookies, cheese cakes, breads, bars, scones, and fudge. The kids sell their products and in the process learn responsibility, new skills, and of course new recipes!
Posted: Sept. 6, 2009          DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME
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 To download Quicktime right click (control-click for Mac) on the “DOWNLOAD QUICKTIME” text and choose “Save Target As,” “Save Link As,” or “Download Linked File.”

CFA Newsletter Fall 2009

View the CFA Fall 2009 Newsletter (PDF).

Who Shows Up, Wins!

I spent a Saturday afternoon late in June putting together a “save the date” announcement and then walked to all of the homes on my block inviting people to our summer block party. I was frankly discouraged by the number of shut doors and people who seemed to evaporate from their front porches as they saw me coming. It seems like lots of folks for a variety of reasons do not like visitors who go house to house. I left the invitation in their mailbox anyway.

Some middle class church leaders recently tried to get some of their members to go door to door canvassing in their neighborhoods to discover gifts and assets of their neighbors (things they could do or bring for community benefit). The church members flatly refused to go. Some of them were too turned off by their own feelings about opening doors to Mormons or street sales people. Others were afraid that it would not be a safe activity (even if done in pairs). Their fears and concerns led them to rule out door to door canvassing in their neighborhood – period.

I took the whole first day (Monday) of my vacation early in July to again go door to door in the neighborhood. This was the day before the event. Same response. So few people welcomed me. But I noticed that more of the kids knew about the coming event and they were full of anticipation. This time as I went, I wrote on the invitation one thing I wanted each family to bring to the block party. Again I put the ads in people’s mail box if they did not come to the door.

An amazing result – 80% of the neighbors showed up bringing what I had asked for (plates, cups, potato chips, baked beans, a salad, etc). One neighbor voluntarily made the best tostadas any of us had ever tasted. We had a great evening getting to know each other. We ate and we mingled. The block is warmer as a result, friendlier, more open. When I am walking my dog, the kids see me coming and greet me by name, more adults too (helps that they love our Beagle).

I believe if we do this with greater frequency, we are going to see neighbors connecting and helping each other more;Already the sense of community has increased. What will life be like here when neighbors choose to help each other and work together on things they care about? I’m planning a fall dessert gathering next with my neighbors.

The officials at “Our Street,” a public service organization helping neighborhoods improve, describes our block as “one of the best” in the city. What a change from a year ago when it was “at risk.” The difference? A couple of convening events in the neighborhood to help neighbors meet each other and share conversations.

The isolation of neighbors from one another leads to fear and the breakdown of community life. What if Christians and Churches learned to “set the table” for community relationships? CFA is growing a network of regional leaders bringing ideas, resources, proven strategies and technologies to churches and neighborhood groups who want to improve their neighborhoods by helping neighbors work together on what they care about. We thank you for your support in this mission of community transformation.

Jay Van Groningen

Woodmere Community Organizes a Summer Youth Program

In March 2009, Mission Possible Community Development Corporation, in conjunction with members of Temple of Praise Ministries, developed a ministry called the Battle Ground Believers (BGBers). The purpose of the BGBers was to walk the Woodmere community, listen to the neighbors, build relationships, identify things we can do together to transform the community, and pray with people if the opportunity opened.

Elder Nelson Dexter, pastor of Temple of Praise Ministries said:

“Woodmere is the biggest neighborhood in the State of Louisiana. It’s located on the Westbank of New Orleans, in Jefferson Parish. When you drive into the community from Lapalco Blvd, you see commercial areas. Then for several square blocks, you see apartments and some homes that have been run down. You can also get any type of drug and gun you need. Then as you keep driving you have this healthy working class community. So our goal in walking the community wasn’t to evangelize to them. Or to even try and condemn them. We just wanted to listen and learn.”

Every Saturday evening for about two hours, the BGB walked the community. After six weeks, they held their first meeting to discuss how they could improve their community. Two vision elements developed out of that meeting: (1) Weed out the drugs in our community. (2) Partner with Woodmere Playground to develop more youth programs.

With the summer approaching, the community members held several more meetings and preformed research actions with Jefferson Parish Recreation Department and Councilman Byron Lee. Out of the meetings, we discovered we could hold a summer enrichment camp at Woodmere Playground, because the facility was basically going to be unused during the day.

Community member Lavar Smith said, “Once we found out that we could host a summer enrichment camp at Woodmere Playground for youth ages 6 to 18, we were excited. But what we didn’t realize was that we were going to have to organize more as a community and staff it. The Jefferson Parish Recreation Department and Council district were without monetary resources.”

Because it was late in the fiscal year, both the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department and the Councilman didn’t have funding. They used to be able to fund a summer program through dollars from the local casino, but the council changed the laws to bring that money into the overall budget.

The Woodmere Community members stepped up again. Four teachers and three volunteers from the community offered their services and managed the program fro 5 weeks. The program served 32 youth and enriched their math, reading, and writing skills. They went on field trips and listened to guest speakers.

Pastor Dexter said, “Watching all of this unfold for Woodmere in a matter of weeks was unbelievable. It’s a testament to what people can do when they organize and release their gifts. I can’t wait until the Night Out Against Crime in August. That may push us to working on our next vision statement.


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