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Friendship House 2 celebrates grand opening

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
Leadership from Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County and the Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority stand in front of their new Friendship House just before taking the first tour of the new facility.

Recently, the Good Neighbor Friendship House — in a partnership between the Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority (ASHA) and Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County — held its grand opening by offering private tours of the community space and adjoining staff home.

At the corner of Bryan and Main, the facility is now the second Friendship House serving Shawnee.

“I am thrilled for the partnership with Community Renewal for so many wonderful reasons, but the one that makes the top of the list is the remarkable change the Friendship House has made to the corner of Main and Bryan Street,” ASHA Executive Director Sherry Drywater said. “We are excited to be a part of their mission by providing this great location through the Good Neighbor project.”

Community Renewal Executive Director Brandon Dyer said the partnership with ASHA, through the leadership of Drywater and her staff, has been a blessing.

Pleasant Grove students eat snacks on the porch of the Good Neighbor Friendship House after a tour of the new space.

“We couldn’t be happier and are excited for Michael and his family to continue the good work they have already begun as they help their neighbors connect, build trust and become their best selves,” he said.

Community Renewal's Friendship House program is designed so each facility functions as a hub for resources and support in the neighborhood it serves.

A Community Renewal staff member lives onsite with his/her family to provide consistent care for that area.

Michael Phillips, Community Renewal’s Director of Campus Programs, will be living in this new location with his wife, Jessica, and son Ben.

Community Coordinator Mandi Wells, who has been working with children and families for more than 16 years, works alongside Phillips in the schools and neighborhoods of southeast Shawnee and rounds out the staff of the facility.

“My desire is for the Good Neighbor Friendship House to be a beacon of hope for our neighborhood and beyond,” Phillips said. “Mandi and I have been working in the Pleasant Grove and Horace Mann schools for the past two and a half years, building the relationships that will make our transition into the Friendship House smooth.”

Wells expressed excitement for the long-awaited venture.

“As a person who lives and works in the Boy Scout Park neighborhood, my heart is thrilled for our families to receive the love, support and services of the Good Neighbor Friendship House,” Wells said. “2020 is the starting point for lasting, generational impact in my neighborhood.”

Phillips said specific resources and programs provided in the home, over time, will grow and change with the needs of the neighborhood; as a start, the existing kids clubs at Pleasant Grove will be transitioned to the Friendship House site.

“I hope to see other organizations join in on what we are working to accomplish in that area of Shawnee and what Community Renewal is doing throughout Pottawatomie County,” Drywater said. “I genuinely believe this partnership will bring an enormous impact to families, neighbors and kids receiving services through the Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority. I hope it encourages them all to build lasting relationships among their neighbors.”