It was October 22, the day when New Hope would introduce itself to Azalea Park by having a picnic in the park; fun jumps, flag football, Christian Hip Hop artists, jambalaya, popcorn, sack races … the works.When I arrived at Debaillon Park at 8 AM, there were already four SWAT police cruisers parked near the pavilion.  I knew there were going to be at least two equestrian police officers and the police surveillance “armadillo.”  I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”  I had talked to the Police Captain about having the equestrian police officers there.   He suggested it because, he said, “The kids love the horses.”   He never mentioned anything about additional squad cars.


“Devin” arrived to help grill hamburgers and hotdogs around 8:30.  When “Devin” was younger, he ran the streets in the hood.  He looked at the police cruisers, and then he looked at me, smiled and said, “That’s a sign of divine favor, man.”  “Well “Devin’,” I replied, “I grew up in the suburbs and whenever there are seven or eight police officers in one place that meant there was  trouble.”   To my great relief, there was no trouble.

We learned two very important lessons that day.  One, don’t start an event in the hood at 10 AM.  As we went through the neighborhood to round up the kids, most of them still weren’t up.  The few that were up were wearing their bath robes, PJ’s and bunny slippers.  The hood stays up late on Friday nights.  “Note to self – Next picnic will start at noon.”

The second lesson we learned was that the kids won’t come to the park unless you tell them there is security there.  When the kids realized they would be safe at the park, they ran inside their homes, got out of their PJ’s, woke up their friends and came right over.  “Safety.”  The kids could come to the park and didn’t worry about having to fight to defend themselves.  They could just come and have fun.  For the kids and for the families of Azalea Park, having 8 police officers there meant it was safe.

When everything was said and done, we had over 120 kids come to our “Community Celebration” and about 20 adults from the neighborhood.  At the conclusion of the event, two neighborhood families committed to getting involved with New Hope.  The level of gratitude and respect from the kids was surprising.   All the kids said “Please,” “Thank you” and “Yes sir.”  A bunch of kids asked if we could do this again next week.  One eight grader told me it was the most fun he had ever had.  Another sixth grade boy asked a volunteer, “Would you drive me home.  Then we can ask my mom if I can stay with you.”   Safety and love: two things all kids crave.

A Big Thank You!

New Hope would like to thank everyone that helped us put on the “Community Celebration.”  We could not have done it ourselves.  Thank you Asbury Methodist for providing the food, Acadiana Bottling for providing the Pepsi Cola products, Calvary Baptist, Trinity Bible Church and the Bridge for providing us with volunteers.  We also send thanks to Captain Gallien for providing the Equestrian police officers (plus a few others), the city of Lafayette for providing us with footballs and basketballs, and special thanks to Danny Dardeau Surge Productions for hooking us up with the two Christian Hip Hop artists.

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