On A Quiet Saturday Afternoon

Entering into a room of strangers sometimes takes a great deal of courage. Differences are often the first thing we focus on. Or the first thing we see. We’re taught to cling to them in so many ways.

But this was a Community Renewal Capital Area event.

Differences are not what we emphasize as a first step. Our capacity to connect and care is. After that, differences can be used as things to celebrate, not separate.

So we gathered together folks from different parts of the region, asked some questions central to the foundation of our work, broke up into small groups to share our thoughts and the results were more significant in potential impact than any academic “think tank” could have produced. And, most importantly, we all left feeling connected to each other and to a way toward healing our city, our region and… with time…. our world.

Please see the responses below. On this quiet Saturday afternoon this small gathering was the start of a needed change toward kindness and care in our region. Our first of such gatherings has already launched new relationships, expanded the We Care Team, deepened relationships and intentions in our targeted neighborhood for Friendship Houses and begun the Haven House programming in the city.

If you want to join in this effort (and we would love you to!) contact us at info@communityrenewalcapitalarea.org and let’s arrange it.

What kind of world do we need to become the best human beings we can become?

What kind of city makes possible that kind of world?

What kind of person makes possible that kind of city?

What kind of neighborhood environment makes possible that kind of person?

What do we have to do to make possible that kind of neighborhood environment, to make that kind of person, to make that kind of city, to make that kind of world?

The answer to this final question lays in the hearts and commitment of those gathered in the room. This wonderful group of new friends are now ready to take on the call toward making our capital area a caring region. Either through taking on the commitment of care through joining the We Care Team, connecting their neighbors by training as Haven House leaders and reaching out to their friends and family to bring them into the Community Renewal movement. We can do this. Together.

Thank you to the Salvation Army’s Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave for supporting this event

Reimagining Service

On March 11 Community Renewal Capital Area began our partnership with the Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) project, an initiative of the US Department of Education, the DC VUB is overseen and hosted by Catholic University of America.

At the event new relationships were formed with local organizations which serve the veterans of our region. CRCA’s participation is to help reimagine service toward a new vision – assisting fellow citizens to create peace and harmony here at home through the intentional relationships of care we can each give to our neighbors and neighborhoods. And from there weave a relational network over the Capital Area which transforms us all, as well as strengthening our capacity to face difficult challenges together and contribute to the the quality of life for all of us from our highest expression of self.

To do that we offer training to veterans as “servant leaders” – bringing their neighbors on their block or on the floor of their apartment together in connection and care.

We trust that these new relationships will flower over time, that our veteran We Care Team members will contribute mightily to the vision of a world of peace. We certainly look forward to sharing the opportunities that they bring as well as the stories of connection that they will grow.

Like a pebble in still water

A new idea is like dropping a pebble into still water. It hits hard where it lands and then the ripples expand from there, creating a bit of a disturbance because a change has taken place which moves further and further away from that singular point of impact.

Community Renewal is, in some ways, just like that. When we make contact with people and share the basic premise of our movement — that intentional friendships can not only change our lives, but our neighborhood, our city and our world — something stirs in them. A pebble has been dropped. A disturbance is felt that something now is not quite right and could be better. And THEY can do something about that. Then they carry that with them until they are ready to take action on their own toward renewing our world — and THAT is when the ripples begin.

An example of that is Girma and Lensa who live in Lancaster, PA. They learned about the Community Renewal movement from our wonderful International Community Coordinator here in the capital area, Teshome Wakene, and decided they DID care enough about the world to participate in renewing it. Here they are around their home table, with learning materials and Community Renewal International bumper stickers, planning the first steps they will take in their neighborhood. Step One: They joined the We Care Team.

It seems like a small thing. Two people sitting at their kitchen table. But what you see here in this photo is the drop of a stone in still water…. with ripples we can’t yet see but know are coming as Girma and Lensa start to share with others their vision for an intentionally caring neighborhood.

That is what commitment to caring is. In our world today it is an essential form of change. The question for each of us in Community Renewal Capital Area is – how many individuals can we reach and motivate to turn a quiet pool currently accepting things “as they are” into a kaleidoscope of ripples that change relationships, neighborhoods, and begin to joyfully expose the capacity of love and care hiding in full view in our diverse and beautiful city and its surrounding areas.

Let There Be Light

The first “Friendship Dinner” since Covid began was held at the home of Ray Ottenberg and Margaret Johnson. About 40 people from all walks of life and all backgrounds came together to connect and establish the groundwork for caring relationships between individuals who would never have had the opportunity to meet in the normal coming and goings of their lives.

As CRI Founder, Mack McCarter said at his brief welcome, light is a diffused gathering of protons moving through space, but when they are purposefully focused – laser-focused – then intentional change can occur. Friendship Dinners are one of the many programs and initiatives of Community Renewal Capital Area that intentionally brings people together to create caring, nurturing friendships across geographic and personal boundaries for the good of our region, our nation and our world. Of course if you want to have this kind of fun at YOUR house, please contact Dr. Valentin Miafo Donfack: valentinmiafo@communityrenewal.us. #WeCare.

Opening Doors

A foundation of the work of Community Renewal is to make caring visible. We hear stories on the news every night about what horrible things are happening in our world instigated by terrible people. Some of those news programs always close with a portrait of a single caring person doing a caring act. As if this was unique and extraordinary! But the truth is that caring is common. It is every day. It happens behind thousands of doors in the Capital Area. But what happens if we open our doors, step out of our homes and plant a sign on our lawn or in our window that says one simple truth: “We Care”

And then what might happen as more and more of us do this, showing each other “I’m here with you in this city we love.” What might happen if we start to see and recognize that caring people live everywhere in the Capital Area? What might we feel about our city and those who reside in it with us? And what possibilities could unfold knowing our world is, indeed, a caring one? Start looking for the signs! And, of course, we invite you to join the Renewal Team and you can then open YOUR door and make the caring you already do visible as well!

Celebrating Community In Style

On November 2, 2021 Community Renewal Capital area participated in the African Awards of Washington, an annual event celebrating the African Diaspora leadership of our region. All levels of community involvement are celebrated – business leaders, governmental institutions, artists, athletes as well as humanitarian workers. Every segment of society working at its highest level is brought together in a glamorous evening of hundreds of participants where all are friends ready to applaud the accomplishments of others.

As part of our international expansion to countries including many in Africa, we began a participation in this event by awarding all nominees recognized in the Humanitarian category with a Certificate of Recognition for Caring. Our purpose is to continue building awareness that caring alone can’t change the world, but caring TOGETHER can. In celebrating these four outstanding humanitarian organizations: Hadassah Grace Foundation, Djandjo Foundation, Woguibong Foundation, and Golden Heart we open the door to bringing attention to their work as well as laying the seeds for a ‘new network’ of interconnected support within the Capital Area community which has strong roots internationally. This allows Community Renewal to become a bridge that expands from our home here in the DC area to multiple countries from which immigrants new and old originate.

We look forward to the AWA of 2022!

The Power of Working Together

As a part Community Renewal Capital Area’s efforts in the DC metro area, our Director of International Relationships, Dr. Valentin Miafo Donfack, has been preparing the ground for the launch of Partners In Caring, a collective of diaspora not-for-profits in the DC metro area who are doing great work in our world to make life better for others. With the assistance of Teshome Wakene, International Community Coordinator, multiple individuals and organizations have been identified as perfect candidates to initiate a powerful network of caring. Over time this network will grow with the intention of building the Renewal Team for the Capital Area while introducing the unique idea of sharing resources and knowledge to support one another’s advancement and success. Partners In Caring will demonstrate the power of caring together being far more powerful and impacting than caring alone. We look forward to introducing you to each of our new Renewal Team members in the weeks and months to come! For now, here are some photos from our great beginning:

Villages Of All Sizes

One very important effort we are developing in the Capital Area is the creation of intentional neighborhoods and relationships in high rise or large apartment complexes. The question of how do we strategically initiate a Renewal Team and Haven House Coordinators in a 15 story building is an important one. Should we best design a strong caring community with one Haven House Coordinator per floor or every other floor? How can public gatherings take place in environments where hallways and front doors are the norm and not driveways and front porches? These questions and more we have tasked our International Community Coordinator, Teshome Wakene to work with and design a replicable approach as we move forward.

In a first gathering of residents in the community room of the building Teshome began introducing Community Renewal. At just this initial meeting our first candidate for Haven House Coordinator listened intently and enthusiastically, then signed up to help Teshome transform the building from a structure where people live, into a caring neighborhood. We’ll keep you informed of their progress!

Welcoming A Gladiator

Please meet Andre Thomas Jr. the newest member of our Renewal Team!

Andre has an interesting life story which has motivated him to become a caring and active member of his community. Learn more about him below and take the time to click on the link which will take you to his heart’s work.

“I have found that not only is there a lack of resources to truly succeed as an at-risk member of the community, our prison system is 100% punitive. With little to no emphasis on rehabilitation, this ultimately leads to a revolving door cycle that has to be stopped.

I have always believed that if you have a problem within your community, you should be part of the solution and do everything you can to affect CHANGE. That is where Gladiators Of Success, Inc. comes in. We believe that everyone makes mistakes but with the right resources, an egregious mistake can be avoided entirely (PROACTIVITY). Mistakes can also be answered (REACTIVITY) with programs that initialize an evolution in mind, body, and spirit for returning citizens that would otherwise have to fend for themselves. Finally, by establishing a network (FRATERNITY) of Gladiators we keep everyone uplifted, encouraged, and working together toward success.”

Welcome With Us Our First CR Capital Area Congregation!

Community Renewal International Founder, Mack McCarter and Rev. Monsignor Raymond G. East

Firsts are always tremendous things to celebrate because they lay the ground work for what is to come. Community Renewal Capital Area will develop partnerships with faith based and secular organizations, businesses, groups, clubs — all types of gatherings that celebrate our commonality: that we are caring human beings.

For now we celebrate our first Community Renewal Capital Area Congregation
St. Teresa of Avila!

Dedicated on November 18, 1879, St. Teresa of Avila Parish is the Mother Church of Anacostia, Washington, DC. The church was built on its current site in the former Union Town section of Anacostia in walking distance of the historic Frederick Douglass home. The parish has been an enduring Catholic presence in Southeast Washington, DC. which has evolved into a diverse and vibrant community of about 334 families consisting of many racial and ethnic backgrounds.

We invite you to visit this newest member of the Community Renewal Capital Area family. Regardless of your faith, or where you live in the city, you can be sure that when you pass the “We Care” sign in front of the building and enter the doors of St. Teresa of Avila, you will be among caring friends.

St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church
1244 V St SE Washington D.C. 20020