Washington, D.C. (October 18, 2018) – The winner of the 2018 Award for Citizen of the Year was announced today at the 2018 Annual Conference on Citizenship, “It’s Your Democracy!” in Washington, D.C. G.S. “Mack” McCarter III, founder and coordinator of Community Renewal International (CRI), based in Shreveport, Louisiana, received the honor from the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC). The award presentation was made by Sterling Speirn, CEO, and Sally Prouty, former interim CEO, of NCoC.
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes individuals who use their public presence to inspire others and give back to their community. Mack McCarter was chosen for his leadership and partnership to build hope and renew the spirit of cooperation in every segment of the Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, community. Evidence of the CRI’s work can be measured in many ways, perhaps most notably that major crime has dropped an average of 52 percent in areas where they operate Friendship Houses.
“With more than 25 years-experience and amazing results in community building and unifying people, the Community Renewal program led by Mack McCarter was an obvious choice,” said Speirn. “The organization, through Mack’s leadership and partnership, connects neighbors and residents to restore the foundation of safe and caring communities, leading to dramatic outcomes. The unity, the love and healing, and the caring that exist in Shreveport-Bossier is phenomenal. I have never seen anything like this in terms of persistence and prevalence and impact.”
CRI looks to build hope and renew cooperation in the community of Shreveport-Bossier by focusing on three strategic areas embodied by the following: the Renewal team, the Haven House and the Friendship House. The Renewal team works with individuals, businesses, faith groups, civic groups, and others to build safer, stronger, and healthier communities. The Haven House initiative brings together caring residents who are willing to reach out to their neighbors. Identified by a Haven House “We Care” sign in their front yard, Haven House leaders are trained volunteers who turn strangers into friends on the block where they liveand reweave the relational connectedness across all lines of difference citywide. The Friendship House is a beacon of hope inareas of concentrated disadvantage. 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 much more. Currently, there are 10 Friendship Houses operating in the Shreveport-Bossier community, 60 are needed.
Representatives from all over the country and the world have traveled to Shreveport-Bossier City to experience CRI’s model at work. In return, the CRI model is being scaled and replicated in communities including Abilene, Texas; Cameroon, Africa; the college campus of Texas Christian University; in Minneapolis; Washington D.C. ;Palestine, Texas; and in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.
“I am so grateful to witness the results of the work of the dedicated men and women of Community Renewal,” said McCarter. “It is because of this relentless effort that Community Renewal has begun to cure the cancer of division and brokenness we all are experiencing in our cities – by changing our world one block at a time. While caring alone will not produce a loving and caring community, caring together will. Community Renewal truly is a miracle which is unlocking and releasing the best in all of us in the hometown I love. My vision is that all communities will follow its methods to heal our shattered society.”
McCarter founded CRI in October 1994, and under his leadership, it has grown into an organization that has received national and international recognition for its life-changing impact. A native of Shreveport, McCarter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion from Texas Christian University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Brite Divinity School. He served as a pastor for 18 years in Texas before returning to Shreveport in 1991 to begin implementing his vision for community renewal. McCarter divides his time between Shreveport, Louisiana, and Washington, DC, where he is working diligently with former Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable John H. Dalton, creating Community Renewal Capital Area.
“We are honored to continue the tradition of the National Conference on Citizenship by honoring Mack with this award,” continued Speirn. “In this time where national division has taken center stage, Mack and the team at CRI provide a model of unity, caring and healing that compelsus to constructively work toward making our country a better place.”
The Citizen of the Year award recognizes people who significantly advance civic life through social innovation, civic investments, philanthropy, or other commitments. This year marked the 10thpresentation of the awards. Last year’s winner was Robert D. Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University.
The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening civic life in America. NCoC was chartered by Congress in 1953 to harness the patriotic energy and national civic involvement surrounding World War II. In 2009, Congress named NCoC in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, expanding their Civic Health Initiative to become the nation’s largest measure of civic engagement. NCoC pursues its mission through a nationwide network of partners involved in a cutting-edge Civic Health Initiative, annual cross-sector conferences, and engagement with a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations interested in utilizing civic engagement principles and practices to enhance their work.
Anne Gremillion (for CRI)
Joanne Krell (for NCoC)