Working Together as God’s One Body

Kevin Kieschnick–LINCNewOrleans

Often Christian churches are hesitant or unwilling to cross denominational lines. We praise God that’s not the case in urban New Orleans. On Saturday May 19th, some 75 people gathered from three neighborhoods and three congregations to join together in a time of fun, games, and relationship! People from Journey 9th Ward on Alvar Street in the St. Claude neighborhood were there, as well as folks from Grace Baptist on Rampart in the Bywater, and St. Paul in the Marigny.

People from all three churches brought food and drinks to share. Some St. Paul folks organized games for the kids that were there, and the neighborhood enjoyed the smell of freshly grilled burgers and hot dogs. There was fried chicken, red beans & rice, German potato salad, and lots more!

Leaders from the three churches say that they hope we can make this a regular event, so that relationships can be initiated and grow, and we can work together as God’s one body to share the love of Jesus with the people in our adjacent neighborhoods. Thanks to all who put time and effort to make this such a special event, as well as all of who came to support the event! See you next time!

Community Events Come In All Shapes, Sizes, and Species

Story submitted by Laura Brenner, LINC New Orleans

February was an extremely eventful month with carnival season, but St. Paul kept the good times rolling by hosting the first annual “Mutts in the Marigny” community event. The event was extremely successful due to the collaborative efforts of many.  The event was even promoted on the noon news at Fox8  and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) assisted the some of the church members in canvassing entire Marigny rectangle and half of the Bywater neighborhood!

Adorable clip art of puppies along the iron fence greeted community members as they walked up to the church with their pooch.  Six service providers and three adoption agencies were on site to speak with neighbors.  A memorial wall was also set up for those who had recently lost a pet.  There were lots of fun dog activities such as a costume contest, an Owner/Pet look-alike contest, a “Pooch Smooch” booth, and a pet blessing.   

It was a great day had by all as neighbors gathered around their common interest in their four-legged friends.  There is already talk of how we can make it even better for next time.  Looking forward to the next community event!

Three New Orleans Youth Strive to Make a Difference

Kevin Kieschnick – LINC New Orleans

To commemorate the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, neighbors, church members, and AmeriCorps members came together to better their community through service. Community Development at its Finest: 

PRESS RELEASE
September 9, 2011
Contact: Laura Brenner at 504-656-4025

New Orleans, LA: It’s a beautiful Saturday morning; the sun is shining, perfect weather for basketball, taking a run, or sleeping the day away.  Which is exactly what this eclectic group of people would be doing, if not for the common goal that brought them together: strengthening the community. To commemorate the 6th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall, City Year New Orleans partnered with the Bywater Neighborhood Association in a day long beautification initiative.  Communities First Association partner, LINCNewOrleans heard about this great collaboration and wanted to strengthen the effort.

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We Can Do Our Part: Youth Build Urban Gardens

Tronn Moller – Faith and Community Development Institute

Lots in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans maybe still abandon because of Hurricane Katrina, but its days are quickly coming to an end thanks to youth in the community.  They are turning the abandon lots into urban gardens.

The Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans still has 25 percent of their homes still blighted and 15 percent of the lots are abandoned.  Parlo Perkins, a Youth leader at Desire Street Ministries and resident of the community, said, “When I walk around the Upper 9th Ward, I see work that has been done. But I also see an opportunity for work to be done. Several months ago, we turned a vacant lot into an urban garden and we were excited about what happened. When the vegetables started growing, we really got excited.  That excitement grew into us asking ourselves, what if we took more lots and built more gardens?”

With the assistance of Desire Street Ministries staff and Tronn Moller of the Faith & Community Development Institute, the youth organized, mapped all of the properties on Louisa Street, and then researched to see who the owners were.   Some of the properties were owned by locals, and some of the properties were owned by the City of New Orleans.

The youth contacted the owners of 1706 Louisa and 1540 Louisa and they acknowledged that they weren’t ready to move on rebuilding on the lots. They just didn’t have the resources. The youth shared their vision of planting urban gardens and the property owners agreed to allow them to clean and plant gardens.

The first month of the project, the youth cleared the yards of paper, trash, old tires, and debris.  They reached a roadblock with hauling away the trash, but the City of New Orleans moved quickly to help.  On March 10th, youth volunteers and community leaders turned dirt and planted seeds. After they completed planting, Parlo commented, “I think we are on to something here. We can do our part in rebuilding the community.”

Listening Works

Faith and Community Development Institute – AL, LA, MS

In October, when New Orleans is beginning to cool down a little, 10 people from the House of Hope Fellowship began doing prayer walks and listening to the community.  Rev. Gerald Burton, Pastor of House of Hope Fellowship, said, “We are a 1 year old church plant in the 9th Ward community. It wasn’t my original intention to be in this community, but God shifted our focus here. With most church plants you do demographic surveys and then start moving. I didn’t take that route. We just moved into the community and trusted what God is going to do.  We didn’t have a great feel or deep roots into the community, so I thought it would be very important to listen to the people in the community.”

For several hours, the members walked in the community.  Before they left the church, they defined their boundaries and developed into teams of two.  In the listening sessions, they ask the following questions. Please tell us about yourself and your connection to this community? How long have you been in this community? Who are the leaders in the community? What would you want to see in this community? What would you like to see going on in this community?

Upon returning the group shared what they learned. They discovered:

  • Pre Katrina, the community was predominately African American. Now the community has become a little more diverse to include Hispanics and white people.
  • The middle school and high school students are bused out of the community.
  • They envision programs to reduce crime, new and rehabilitated housing, and activities for the youth.

“When we finished that day, we were excited about what had just happened”, says Rev Burton. He goes on to say, “But the real impact on walking the community didn’t until we walked again a few weeks later.  “As they walked this time, Calvin Jackson and Audrey Brown met them and shared with them their appreciation for listening to the community.  They also shared that they owned the neighborhood grocery store and would like to partner to mentor youth.

In December, they House of Hope Fellowship, We Got It Grocery Store, and the New Orleans Recreation Department developed a youth mentoring program. On a weekly basis, youth are contacted and engaged by adults in the community.

Faith and Community Development Institute

Strengthening Community By Strengthening It’s Leaders and Organizations

There is a growing movement sweeping across the nation that community matters more than ever, and that building on the skills of local residents, community leaders and its institutions creates more sustainable communities for the future. The task of developing the framework for these organizations is a daunting one, but with the help of organizations like the Faith and Community Development Institute (FCDI) there is relief and hope.

The mission of the Faith and Community Institute is to build the capacity of citizens and institutions engaged in community transformation by providing coaching, training and research. The ultimate goal is to see people and organizations working together to restore and strengthen their communities.

“I am equipping leaders, engaging congregational leaders, providing constituency development, and developing a regional network of leaders. Together we learn about churches being strategic players with their communities making life better for everyone,” said Executive Director of the Faith and Community Institute Tronn Moller.

After Katrina, Moller was looking for an opportunity to engage the Faith Community in the redevelopment of the Gulf Region. Over the past 3 years since the FCDI’s inception the institute has helped over 21 organizations grow and thrive.

By providing a supportive learning environment, resources and the necessary tools to strengthen those engaged in building community it not only benefits the individuals, the organizations they work with, but most importantly the citizens of the communities.

“The services that Tronn and the Institute provide are extremely needed in the faith-based community. Training leaders to be more effective at what they do will and has made a valuable impact on our communities,” said Pastor Nelson Dexter Jr.

Dexter is a Pastor and Teacher with the Temple of Praise Ministries, and serves as Board President for Jefferson Cops and Clergy Coalition.

“In my church Tronn has done asset based community development training, leadership development, board development, and team building for my volunteers. Personally, Tronn and the Institute have grown me as a leader. He has expanded my ability to organize, plan and implement strategies that will cause both organizations I serve to be more effective and efficient in both vision and mission,” said Pastor Nelson Dexter Jr.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation to the city of New Orleans, the guidance of Moller and the institute was invaluable helping Rev. Dwight Webster and Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) rebuild the communities affected. The mission of CSC is to restart, repair and rebuild churches to redevelop New Orleans.

“Moller’s work with us through The Faith and Community Development Institute was instrumental in assisting us in formulating the three main thrusts or pillars of CSC—Capacity Building, Community Development and Advocacy,” said Rev. Webster.

Through the Institute’s assistance CSC was able to secure start-up funds to get the organization established as a working group, later a Louisiana non-profit corporation and ultimately a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt organization. According to Rev. Webster, Moller’s work was not limited to the organization, but he also worked one-on-one with individual pastors who were able to shadow CSC’s development and get tax exemption designation for their churches as well.

Recently, FCDI was instrumental in the development of our first deeply affordable house. This has built even more trust between the pastors and FCDI and they now at the beginning stages of training and coaching two leaders from each church in community engagement.

The FCDI is a much needed faith-based community development organization, according to Marcia Peterson of Desire Street Ministries, whose organization is based in the upper ninth ward of New Orleans and operates a medical clinic and youth development programs.

“I have benefited from working with Tronn as a coach in helping me create an RBM tool for managing my organization; he has conducted our staff development around leadership and community engagement for the past three years; and most recently he is working with our board of directors for our charter newly formed school, facilitating our board development sessions on forming a mission statement and vision elements.” Peterson said.

By strengthening those engaged in community development The Faith and Community Development Institute provides a much needed service to New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Like most non-profits they rely on donations to keep their vital operations going.

Churches Supporting Churches Builds Its First Deeply Affordable Home

Churches Supporting Churches held their first ribbon cutting on April 8, 2010, at 2601-03 South Galvez Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. This newly constructed home was built in response to the dire need for “Affordable” housing in the city of New Orleans.

“Two years ago, the churches in the Hoffman neighborhood walked and mapped the community. Through our conversations with the community and others, we saw opportunity to build deeply affordable housing. We call it “Deeply Affordable Housing” because it makes a homeowner out of the person that falls between the gaps of a Habitat House and public housing. And the partnerships that help build the house kept the cost down,” says Rev Aldon Cotton.

Every partner contributed something very valuable to the construction of this house. Jerusalem Baptist Church donated the land. The Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation gave a mini grant. Members of churches in the Hoffman Community provided some of the labor. Neighborhood Development Foundation provided consulting and homeownership counseling. Janice Porter, a 30 year resident of the Hoffman Community, said, “This is more than just a house. This community was in decline way before Hurricane Katrina. We were high violent crime community and the housing stock was terrible. Post Hurricane Katrina, we have some houses that were rebuilt. Which has been good. But this house is a sign of hope. Other community members are already talking about the new message this house sends for our community.”

One of the goals of Churches Supporting Churches is to build at least one of these Deeply Affordable Houses in all of the four designated areas over the next few years. “We feel that we are off to a great start” says Churches Supporting Churches Board Chair, Rev. Dwight Webster.

http://www.cscneworleans.org/

Community Garden Brings a Sense of Pride

“Our neighborhood is one of the most violent in the City of New Orleans. I would have never thought, in a million years, that our neighborhood would have a community garden. ” These are the words of Leonidas neighborhood resident, Mr. Lyndell Jones, after he distributed the vegetables on “Harvest Day.”

On October 18th, the Leonidas community members held its first “Harvest Day”, to distribute food grown in their garden.  The idea of the garden generated when the youth and young adult ministries of St. John’s Baptist Church surveyed the community and identified that their was a high rate of diabetes and poor physical health conditions.

Wondering what could they do? They researched and discovered that a community garden had numerous benefits from the production of fresh vegetables that promote a healthy diet to increased exercise to an enhanced sense of community.

The youth and young adults ask St. John Baptist Church pastor, Rev. Donald Boutte, for a small plot of the land in the back of the church, and they went to work. They focused on the aesthetics first, by cleaning up the land and planting a few flowers. Gradually, other neighbors began helping by laying out boxes and caring for the space. “We all begin to learn how to start plants from seeds, as well as, how to transplant vegetables,” mentioned Mr. Jones.  “We even began to socialize more, as we worked.”

The community members selected the plants and vegetables for the garden. They planted squash, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. As the crop grew, the youth and young adults began to reach out to the people they surveyed and offered them the first opportunity for vegetables.

This generated into “Harvest Day” for the community. People from throughout the community came to celebrate the work that had been done. Together they picked vegetables, placed them into the bins, and delivered them.  Pastor Boutte commented,” This garden has given us a sense of pride. I believe this garden is going to be the start of working together on other issues in our community.”

New Pediatric Clinic Opens in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans

Four years post-hurricane Katrina, citizens of the Upper Ninth Ward communities now have full access to their very own pediatric clinic, Kids’ First Pediatric Clinic, located at 3512 Louisa Street.

Desire Street Ministries/CDC58:12, Abundance Community Residents, Children’s Hospital,and LSU Tiger Care Partnership has been working diligently to provide medical services for thousands of these citizens. The new clinic officially opened its doors on September 1, 2009. However, there was a ribbon- cutting ceremony on August 28th, followed by a ‘Second-Line,” a New Orleans’ own dance celebration in the streets of the city. Keynote speakers like: Danny Wuerffel, executive director of DSM along with others, came to speak to citizens during their dedication dinner.

“Once the flood waters receded after Katrina, our ministry team returned to the Upper Ninth Ward to help rebuild. Initially, progress was slow as families and resources trickled back into the city. In the four years since Katrina, we’ve resumed high-impact programs, one by one,” Wuerffel said. Some of those programs and services implemented are:

  • Helping to gut over 600 flood-damaged homes, preparing properties for rebuilding
  • Rebuilding and renovating nine flood damaged homes
  • Providing financial literacy seminars for local families
  • Serving over 150 local youth each year through after school and summer programs focused on education, recreation, and character development
  • Resuming Desire Street Academy to graduate 8 local young men this year while pursuing charter school status for the 2010 school year

The clinic served over 700 patients before the Katrina floods and now those numbers have doubled post-Katrina. DSM, New Orleans Director, Marcia Peterson said, “After Katrina, and periodically since, we’ve surveyed returning residents to learn the most pressing issues and obstacles to recovery. Our ministry efforts have been focused on meeting those priority needs.” DSM stands firmly on the outreach mission to encourage and equip leaders to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

Central City Church & Community Open Transitional House

What was once a dream is now the reality for many families in the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. Central City Community leaders and the members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church are taking strides into decreasing the homeless rate throughout the rebirthed city, by opening a transition house in Central City for abused and battered women. After one year of careful planning, hard work and newly renovations, the very first transitional house of 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, opened in February.

“The original idea was to work with Foster Kids who have been emancipated and put out of the foster care system at 18-years-old,” Rev. Patrick Keen said. ” Funding didn’t allow this to happen right now, but it’s still in the works.” The Unity Coalition for the Homeless and Covenant House of the city are the other partners. They are helping to find abused women who are in need of a stable home and helping them find employment opportunities and providing food for the women. Martha Kagle, director of the Unity Coalition for the Homeless is selflessly assisting to provide for these women and their families.

Families can stay at the transitional house, anywhere from three to five years, while being provided rehab and given the tools they need to become homeowners, one day. ” I want these women and families to have their own homes… and myself along with Unity and Covenant House are going to try our best to make sure this happens,” Keen said.

Groups Brings Health Care to New Orleans

by Tronn Moller

Mohammed Ali once stated, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  The Desire Street Ministries of the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans, La. are paying rent to local citizens in the form of free health care. Almost four years after Hurricane Katrina, DSM is still working with the post-Katrina issues of unbalanced and inefficient health care throughout the once proclaimed “Forgotten City.”  With the help of  Dr.Pinkel Patel, Chief Resident at Florida Hospital in Oviedo, Florida and his medical team of fifteen, Marcia Peterson, director of DSM, organized a week-long free clinic this past summer that addressed and catered to the needs of 260 New Orleans residents. Services ranged from basic screenings, case management, examinations, and recommendations for lab work to writing prescriptions and physical therapy.

Since the area was not earmarked by the city for most of the help it needed for recovery, Peterson made the need for health care and physician availability within the community, a priority. Along with Peterson, Patel was drawn to volunteer his time and efforts after attending a seminar in Florida where Danny Wuerffel, also known as the ‘quarterback with a servant’s heart’ and a 1996 Heisman Trophy Winner challenged the audience to make themselves available to those in need. Patel believes that much of the country is not fully aware of how much New Orleans still lacks in basic resources.

“It’s nationally known, but it’s not nationally exposed,” Patel said.” We got people from Florida and people say, it’s New Orleans, ‘isn’t everything fixed there?’ “Unless we know there is a need, unless we know we need to give time in addition to resources, things aren’t going to get done,” Patel said. Patel estimates that over half of the individuals seen at the week-long clinic suffers from diabetes, hypertension and/or some other chronic illness, making the demand for help even greater.

Furthermore, to help assemble a continuing wellness network within the community and to pinpoint the various medical needs, patients completed medical survey forms. The forms were designed to gather information concerning what services patients would most likely benefit from. The survey, also addressed the scope of health issues in determining whether or not patients suffered with bouts of sadness and/or depression. This bit of information then birthed the need for citizens gaining access to proper mental health and psychiatric care facilities. “What we‘re trying is to do is, we’re trying to collect demographic information here to see what patients we’re seeing here? What needs have we met here? Have we taken care of the blood pressure? Have we taken care of the diabetics; whether or not there is access to psychiatric care and follow-ups?”  Patel rhetorically exclaimed.

To insure that the clinic will provide a continuing and wide-ranging source of medical aid, DSM has collaborated with New Orleans based Excelth Inc, a federally funded healthcare primary care network and LSU Medical Center in a one-year agreement to offer “comprehensive care” for pediatric to adult demographics. Regardless of employment or lack of insurance coverage, the trio collaboration has not turned the cheek to anyone in need of medical attention. According to Mary Crooks, Community Relations Special Project Coordinator, of Excelth Inc., the organization will be providing health referrals, follow-up visits and weekly on-site clinicals through the mobile unit program. These clinicals are held each Thursday. “We’re a healthcare network and what we’re doing is , we’re helping to bring healthcare back here again to this particular community.” Crooks said. ” So, one of my roles was to help set this up and help coordinate the services here to make sure the services are appropriate and really something the community needs and what we don’t provide directly we provide indirectly; referrals to other sites.” Crooks said. Citizens throughout the community are being informed of the healthcare clinic through fliers, brochures and word-of-mouth.

Currently, the trio collaboration is planning to expand on their foundation to provide HIV testing and health awareness seminars to citizens of the community.  With the help of community citizens and leaders, DSM has gathered community input into designing its new web site. In keeping with it’s goals to rebuild and rejuvenate the physical as well as spiritual needs of its surrounding communities, Desire Street Ministries continues to offer high-quality care by adhering to the simple application of the scriptures found in Matthew 25:35-36a : For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty , and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and  ye took me in  : Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me ……

New Orleans Church Intervenes with the Concerns of Community Senior Citizens

Residents of the greater New Orleans area are still facing the rebuilding and restoration phases due to the catastrophic hurricane, Katrina. However, seniors of the Marine and Mt. Moriah ministries, neighboring churches and citizens of the community, are finding strategic ways to cope with the devastation.  The “Senior Citizens Ministry,” headed by Sis. Carolyn Lewis is taking the community by storm by catering to the needs of the senior citizens. “Working with the seniors brings joy to my heart. I often find myself relating to each one of them on different levels. It’s a true blessing,” Sis. Lewis said.

The senior citizens meets at the Marine and Mt. Moriah ministries, located at 3034 Andover St. every Tuesday and Thursday for some personal time “away from the storms of life.” From 10a.m. until 1p.m., the senior citizens participate in thorough exercises to keep their bodies healthy. “Coach Bobby Floyd, is our man when it comes to keeping our bodies in-shape,” said, Sis. Sedonia Doty, a member of the Marine and Mt. Moriah ministries since January of 2006. The senior citizens also partake in a hardy breakfast prepared by other members in the ministry.

The senior citizens also play Bible bingo, have prayer, have mini-discussion sessions about their husbands, children, grandchildren and for some, great-grandchildren and discussions about the cost of milk, bread and meat. The citizens have also found themselves in discussions about what preparations are being made for these senior citizens and the rebuilding of their homes. To ease the pain, they often find themselves singing old Baptist hymns like, “Blessed Assurance.” However, the day does not end there for the seniors.

“We eat good,” Sis. Doty said. “On holidays, we have a special lunch prepared for us and sometimes, we even treat ourselves out to lunch.”  Trips outside of the community and state are often a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Sis. Eunice Nero. “I love it when we ride on the church van for our little shopping sprees,” Sis. Nero said. “Most churches or pastors wouldn’t even take the time out to do these things for the elders of the church,” Sis. Doty said. “I have personally experienced being pushed to the side at other churches”, said Sis. Doty.

Furthermore,  the man behind all of this, is never hard to find for a hug, a smile or even joining the senior citizens for lunch. Elder Donald L. Robinson, Jr., is the pastor of the Marine and Mt. Moriah Ministries, who has a passion for the livelihood of his congregants. “Our pastor is young and he is a man who wants to see something different in the community. Most pastors want their senior citizens to just sit in the back and make no noise, but our pastor wants to see how we can also give back to the community and to other seniors” said Sis. Doty. “

Senior Apartments Becoming a Reality

During the depths of the Great Depression, a group of Baptist ministers led by Isaiah Vincent began buying land for an apartment building where seniors could live out their waning years without worrying about high rents and unscrupulous landlords.

Those ministers never managed to find the money to build the place, but Vincent passed the dream on to his son-in-law and his grandson after that — all of them pastors of New Home Missionary Baptist Church. Seventy years after that dream was conceived, his grandson has finally made it real.

The Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Association, a coalition of churches founded by Vincent and led by his grandson, W.H. Jenneford, recently began building 33 apartments for seniors who are able to live on their own but cannot afford the inflated rents that have prevailed across the city since Hurricane Katrina.

“When people come to a certain age, it becomes difficult for those who do not own their own property to pay to take care of that responsibility,” Jenneford said. “You find in many instances that when people become elderly, they also become the extreme poor.”

While the goal of helping distressed seniors remained constant across three generations, today the Rising Sun apartments might also serve as a spark plug for the surrounding blocks in the Lower 9th Ward, where seemingly few residents have managed to return since the storm.

James Neville, the developer working with the ministers, said the Rising Sun association might move in the future to rehabilitate some of the vacant houses across the street from the apartments, located at 1420 Charbonnet St.

“It’s kind of empty now,” Neville said. “We’re hopeful that we’re going to act as a catalyst for that neighborhood. Once it gets built and we start moving tenants in, we hope things will begin to take off.”
Neville, president of Neville Development, said the building would rise three stories and consist entirely of new construction. All of the apartments are one-bedrooms or efficiencies that will rent for about $350 to $400 a month — no more than 30 percent of a resident’s annual income.

While the ministers endeavored for years to raise money through their congregations, much of the financing for the project will come from low-income housing tax credits through the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency. A company called the Richman Group will purchase the tax credits, and Fannie Mae will serve as one of the end users of the credits.

The developer has also applied for a $475,000 grant from the city of New Orleans.

Jenneford said this week that he is elated to fulfill his grandfather’s vision for the apartments, which he expects to open later this year.

Transforming The Upper Ninth Ward

On the corner of Louisa Street and Higgins Blvd, in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans, transformation is taking place.  While New Orleans is trying to rebuild and bring back various communities, the Upper Ninth Ward is making a comeback.  Beautiful landscaping and tree planting is a project by CURE with sponsorships from Desire Street Ministries.

Although the landscaping is small in comparison to the scope of what was destroyed, it was an important first step.  It was an important symbol for the city to see that the Upper Ninth Ward is alive and coming back.  We also wanted to send a message to people who are displaced from this neighborhood that there are people back here working hard to bring the community back home.  The areas that were chosen to landscape are very visible and a central entry point to the Desire neighborhood, so it seemed a logical place to begin.

While CURE and Desire Street Ministries remain committed to this neighborhood and doing even more to bring it back to life, this was something tangible that could be done to show people that we are here and we still care.

Also, it was important that neighborhood residents were involved instead of bringing in volunteers from around the country.  A strong desire to see the neighborhood beautified and redeemed must come from within.

The efforts of outside groups are appreciated but are unsustainable in terms of the life of a community.  This was something that needed to be done by community residents.

Landscaping is just the beginning, but the commitment to the Desire neighborhood remains and it will be a part of the recovery and rebuilding as long as it takes.

A special thanks to Winn Dixie and Lowes for their acts of kindness through generous donations.  With Spring approaching, more plans are underway to continue the beautification project.

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