Like good neighbors, the Freret Neighborhood Center and Loyola are there
Loyola press release - August 15, 2011
Drive down the Freret Street corridor between Jefferson Avenue and Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans and one thing is clear: it’s changing. Long known for its diversity and community spirit, the Freret neighborhood has also been marked over the years by poverty and racism. The remarkable resurgence of this neighborhood has occurred in large part due to community-building institutions like the Freret Neighborhood Center (FNC), whose mission is to bring neighbors together to address issues that matter to them. For the last three years, Loyola’s service learning program has partnered with the center, providing volunteers and technical support for its programs.
“When Loyola re-launched its service learning program three years ago, we looked at where we should invest most heavily. The Freret corridor was an obvious priority. The well-being of Freret directly impacts Loyola, and vice-versa,” said Kelly Brotzman, director of Loyola’s Service Learning Program. “It’s important for the Loyola community to understand that Freret is our neighborhood.”
Located on the corner of Cadiz and Freret Streets, less than a mile from Loyola, the Freret Neighborhood Center is a community gathering space sponsored by Neighborhood Housing Services. FNC provides art and tutoring programs for local kids, a free community computer lab and computer skills workshops, gatherings for local seniors, and health and wellness programs. It has also incubated one of the most effective citizen-led grassroots movements against blight and crime in post-Katrina New Orleans. Loyola student volunteers support all of FNC’s programs. Students apply classroom skills through mentoring at the center. They also learn valuable life lessons by immersing themselves in neighborhood life and participating in local initiatives.
Charles Bourg, a freshman majoring in religious studies, has volunteered at FNC and said the center not only reaches out to kids, but to the entire Freret community. “The center offers neighborly assistance. Aside from the after school program they do here at the center, on Saturdays, they also renovate homes and clean up yards.”
Freret Street Neighborhood Center Director Kimberly Van Wagner said the partnership with the university has been a great benefit to the center.
“We have an excellent relationship with the university and have been working with the Office of Service Learning for about three years now,” Van Wagner said. “We have lots of students who come through that center every semester and we’ve done different class projects with different groups of students.”
This past spring, 15 Loyola students volunteered at the Freret Neighborhood Center in conjunction with eight different service-learning courses. These courses included Business Communication, Introductory Sociology and English. In addition to the rotating volunteers, three students work at FNC under Loyola’s Federal Work Study program.
Brotzman said Loyola’s partnership with FNC is a long-term commitment.
“We see our community partners as co-educators. Students serving at FNC learn firsthand about social justice and neighborly responsibility. We look forward to continuing this valuable partnership,” said Brotzman.
For more information on FNC or Loyola’s Office of Service Learning, contact Kelly Brotzman at (504)865-2282 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.