Former President Jimmy Carter will be in Shreveport on Thursday to help Community Renewal International celebrate its 20th anniversary.
"No American president, either sitting or former, has ever toured the neighborhoods. And this will be the first," said Mack McCarter, founder and coordinator of Community Renewal International. "That’s what I’m excited about."
The former president, McCarter and John Dalton, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Financial Services Roundtable’s Housing Policy Council, met in Atlanta in June 2013 to talk about Community Renewal.
"We visited with him for about 45 minutes, and it was then that we invited President Carter," McCarter said. "He was familiar with Community Renewal. And we had wonderful mutual friends by the name of Millard and Linda Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity. And they were the founders of the Fuller Center (of Housing for Northwest Louisiana), which is doing the same work as Habitat here."
Dalton, a Shreveport native who serves on Community Renewal’s national advisory board, met Carter in 1975 at a Naval Academy alumni function.
"He had just left the office as governor of Georgia and was running for president," Dalton said. "I had never done anything political before but I was very impressed with him and his candidacy and I supported him."
After Carter was elected president, he appointed Dalton as president of the Government National Mortgage Association. Dalton later served as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank board.
"We’ve been friends over the years. And since I served in his administration, I’ve also been supportive of the Carter Center in (Atlanta) Georgia that he runs," Dalton said. "He’s helped people in over 80 countries with their quality of life; and we’ve stayed in touch over the years."
During his visit, Carter — who served as president from 1977-81, will tour Community Renewal’s targeted neighborhoods and the Friendship Houses. He also will stop at Bossier Parish Community College; a partnership between Community Renewal and the Bossier City college created the Center for Community Renewal earlier this year. To culminate his visit, Carter will be keynote speaker at Community Renewal’s anniversary celebration in Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium.
"Carter is interested in helping people, and he recognizes how successful Community Renewal has been in terms of bringing people together and helping people to reach out and be good neighbors," Dalton said. "He recognizes the benefits of that for both the individual and the community at large."
Gloria Millender, coordinator Community Renewal’s Adult Renewal Academy, said Community Renewal’s impact is not only national but also international. "It catches on and when you talk to other people, it clicks. So when Carter saw all the the things we were doing, it clicked. We’re stirring up interest around the world."
Mike Leonard, Community Renewal associate coordinator, agrees. "When I really take a deep breath and think about it, it is amazing that a former president would be coming to our city to do anything, much less something I’m involved in," he said. "And when you think about this, this (Community Renewal idea) was something that was written down on note cards in 1994 and one guy was talking about it and now we’ve got a team of more than 30 full-time (workers) and who knows how many volunteers working together to make this community a better place."
And Dalton is looking forward to being in Shreveport again for the 20th anniversary celebration.
"It’ll be a very positive impact on Community Renewal as an organization and the city of Shreveport at large because Carter is a very positive individual who has dedicated his life to helping other people," he said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: "20 Years of Community Renewal: Rebuilding a caring world, one neighborhood at a time."
INTRODUCTION : Gilberado Lewis Carano , II
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
WHEN: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Municipal Auditorium, 705 Grand Ave. in Shreveport, Louisiana .
TO LEARN MORE: Call (318) 425-3222.
See You there .
Your 'Roving Reporter'