Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana
Mack McCarter is a native of Shreveport and has worked to unite and revolutionize his hometown throughout his lifetime. After serving as a pastor in Texas for 18 years, Mack returned to Shreveport in 1991 to begin implementing his vision for community renewal. He began his work by going door to door in poverty ridden neighborhoods preaching his gospel of revitalization. With the help of a grant from the Diocese of Shreveport, Mack McCarter formally organized Community Renewal International in 1994. As the founder and coordinator, Mack’s local mission was to help transform his city into a safe, connected and caring community.
Mack has worked to unite individuals, churches, businesses and civic groups as caring partners working together to build a stronger city. He brought neighbors together through enriching activities and built homes in low-income areas, placing CRI staff in those areas to turn impoverished neighborhoods into havens of hope. He has since transformed Shreveport by rebuilding inner-city and poverty ridden communities.
The Community Renewal International (CRI) model is driven by three primary initiatives and ministries – the Renewal Team, the Haven House and the Friendship House. Mack’s team consists of more than 50,000 people who work citywide to unite all community members and build a stronger city. The Haven House is made up of volunteers who unite the neighborhoods through enriching activities and place “We Care” signs in their yards.
The Friendship House program strategically places Community Renewal International staff in CRI-built homes in impoverished neighborhoods and turn those areas into strong and independent communities. CRI currently has five Friendship House regions, and those five have had an average drop of 52% in major crime. The Friendship Houses host after-school and adult literacy programs among other community activities. More than 3,500 children have been helped through Friendship House programs, and 130 students have earned their high school equivalency diploma at the Adult Renewal Academy.
Mack’s leadership of Community Renewal International has given light to Shreveport on the Catholic teachings of social justice and morality. His work has been recognized both locally and internationally. The Bossier Parish Community College partnered with CRI in 2014 to create the Center for Community Renewal that would support the CRI model and replicate it in cities around the world. Mack has received several distinguished awards, including Citizen of the Year presented by the National Conference on Citizenship in Washington, D.C. and Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Manhattan Institute. He currently divides his time between Shreveport and Washington, D.C. where he is working with the Honorable John H. Dalton, former secretary of the U.S. Navy, creating the Community Renewal Capital Area.
Mack McCarter’s work with Community Renewal International has had a significant impact on the Shreveport area and continues to grow and spread to other cities in the nation. McCarter has seen the artificial barriers of difference in the world crash down in response to his ministry’s work as his team unites in heart and deed to remake their city.