The hum and buzz of weedeaters and lawnmowers rang throughout neighborhoods near the Martin Luther King Center on Cora Street on Saturday morning as members of the Destiny of Faith church worked through the morning to revitalize the area.
And this is the only beginning, said Ken Lazard, pastor of Destiny of Faith church.
“It blows me away to see these people from all over come to help out,” Lazard said. “To see them to have a heart and help out this community is what church is all about.”
More than 100 volunteers from the church cut the grass in blighted lots. They also removed trash and debris off the streets, yards and in the local cemetery.
“I love volunteering, and this is a community that really lacks this kind of thing, so it’s great that we can help out,” Trekedda Williams said.
This Saturday was the first of two cleanups, the second taking place a week from now.
And within the past few years, it’s safe to say the church has put its money where its mouth is. The church has invested millions of dollars into revitalizing the area, Lazard said, including the set of new homes along Martin Luther King. The non-denominational Christian church helped with the founding of the Eric B. Taylor Community Health Center on Patterson Street.
The church, which is in the process of moving to a location on Patterson Street, will continue to tend to abandoned and adjudicated homes until they have new tenants.
From there, Lazard said, he wants to continue to use the power of his pulpit to attract families with higher incomes to the area to garner interest from businesses to open up there.
“It’s very important that this neighborhood gets revitalized so that the families already here can get those services and businesses to come here,” he said. “Restaurants don’t come to this area because they see the incomes coming out of these homes and if all we have is low income coming out of this area, we won’t get the services other parts of the parish get.”
Soon, Lazard said, the church will reach out to identify senior citizens in the area and help restore their homes. In the long run, Lazard said, he hopes to find investors to build the “La Bon Vie of Willow Street” next to the MLK Center.
“This is where it starts.”