Friendship House has officially broken ground — not just in its program's innovative effort to unite residents, but physically, in Kickapoo Park. On the northwest corner of Seventh and Pottenger, Community Renewal's flagship endeavor to bring neighbors together from within is actually underway as crews recently began dirt work.

THE ISSUE: With countless forms of technology and devices, society is trending toward an ever-increasing disconnect on a personal level.

LOCAL IMPACT: Community Renewal's Friendship House Initiative plans to draw neighborhoods together by bringing resources and personal relationships into the areas where people live.

Friendship House has officially broken ground — not just in its program's innovative effort to unite residents, but physically, in Kickapoo Park. On the northwest corner of Seventh and Pottenger, Community Renewal's flagship endeavor to bring neighbors together from within is actually underway as crews recently began dirt work.

According to Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County's Facebook Page, an Oct. 27 post officially announced the Cleo L. Craig Foundation Friendship House coming August 2018 to the Kickapoo Park neighborhood.

Friendship House is one initiative of Community Renewal where a home is built in an underserved neighborhood containing a large community room, where a Community Renewal staff member and his or her family live. Friendship House helps neighbors rebuild the caring infrastructure of that neighborhood and fosters beneficial relationships by working with local children, youth, and adults to help meet their needs while bringing valuable social services to the neighborhood. The Friendship House’s community room will provide after-school activities and a safe place for kids in the neighborhood, GED (Hi-SET) programs, adult literacy classes, and other services that meet the needs of the neighborhood.

Travis Flood, Friendship House director, plans to move with his family into Shawnee's first Friendship House.

The kicker, of course, is that it immerses Flood and his family into that neighborhood. They will then have a stake in what goes on there –– a personal investment.

“He's in the fight right there with them,” Director Brandon Dyer said.

It makes it real.

Flood said it's not the same as sending a random someone –– a person from some unrelatable socio-economic background –– around, pointing fingers, saying, 'We're going to fix you.'

There's no judgement or condemnation.

“It's a support system. We are asking how can we help?” Flood said.

Future House

A second Friendship House is already in the works.

When Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority Director Sherry Drywater heard about Community Renewal’s Friendship House Initiative, she saw an opportunity.

The Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority (ASHA) has partnered with Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County to build a Friendship House on Absentee land, as part of what the Tribe calls the “Good Neighbor Project.”

ASHA's Friendship House will sit on southeast corner of Bryan and Main, directly across the street from Rolling Hills, the newest housing addition for Absentee Elders.

“I see a lot of families struggling and needing support” Drywater said, “and once I learned about Community Renewal and their focus on family and caring for your neighbors, I knew that was exactly the type of partnership the Absentee Shawnee Housing program needed.”

Fundraising is currently underway, with hopes to break ground in 2018.

For more information, visit communityrenewal.org.