SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - To Joseph Sloan and Trevenie James, a game of basketball with some kids from the Friendship House in the Cedar Grove neighborhood meant much more than just a game. It was another chance for them to mold their relationship with the next generation.
"The way things were taught. The way things went. The attitudes people had. The way they cared about you and all that, it was different than the outside world," says James.
Sloan adds, "It's just to a place to kick back and realize the things you need to realize about life and about God."
The Friendship House is designed to be a haven of hope in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods. Like a community center in a home, a Friendship House is a place for after-school education programs, character building, service projects, GED courses, tutoring, computer training, art and music lessons, family nights and more.
For Sloan and James, a simple walk through the doors of the Friendship House as young teens from the streets of Cedar Grove ignited a spark and lit a flame which continues to burn as they get ready to move on.
Community Coordinator Marlon Jackson agrees. "To see them make a decision with what they want to do with their lives and to follow through with it. To see them turn out to be whole people and all the love that you give them, it makes it worth investing time into them."
The once prideful pupils now boast favorable futures. They have given their lives to God and will be heading off to the Army in the coming weeks.
"I'm very thankful," James says. In fact, he credits his life and success to the Friendship House, and that's exactly what Jackson says it's all about. "We're here in neighborhoods across Shreveport-Bossier to provide a sense of hope and help them tap into their capacity to care about other people," Jackson says. "That's really what we're here to do."
The House for Hope helps Community Renewal International build a new Friendship House every year. They are built with funds raised by the annual House for Hope, which is a collaboration between Community Renewal, local builders and KSLA News 12.