• Ben Shenk

Gentri Williams: Leveraging His LIFE by Leading Through Neighborly Love

Updated: Aug 27

Among the many for whom we are deeply grateful to know who make intentional choices to leverage their labor or influence, expertise or finances, there are a select few who take the call to leverage their L.I.F.E. on behalf of others to a whole new level.

Perhaps you've had the opportunity to know someone like this in your own life; the kind of person whose life itself is oriented to see others thrive. Most often they're the ones you see behind the scenes working quietly, intentionally, and selflessly.

Gentri Williams is this kind of person.

The team at Thrive has been blessed to know Gentri from our inception in 2008. Since then, Gentri has encouraged, guided, supported, and empowered our team as a local ally and board member.

He has clearly leveraged his labor to support Launch NOLA entrepreneurs and lend a hand during Thrive New Orleans events. He has leveraged his influence to help advocate for Thrive Housing tenants. He has leveraged his finances by investing intentionally in Thrive's work and in the lives of those Thrive serves. And over the years he has leveraged his expertise as he has continually encouraged, taught, and helped guide Thrive's staff, board, and program participants.

But what he has done with Thrive is just the tip of the iceberg.

At Thrive New Orleans, we firmly believe that communities can't be sustainably transformed from the outside in. While outside efforts and new initiatives may help, true community transformation is only possible from the inside out.

And this kind of change doesn't start with some governmental decree or major endowment.

It starts outside your front door.

As a local church leader, father, and friend, Gentri embodies this approach to transforming the community his family calls home through the radically profound act of day-in, day-out neighborly love.

In one of his sermons, Martin Luther King Jr. expressed the power of neighborly love saying that the call to be a good neighbor "is the call to a way of life that will transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment."*

Gentri's choice to leverage not just his L.I.F.E., but his life on behalf of others, has indeed written a verse of such a psalm in the lives of neighbors, congregants, entrepreneurs, staff, family, and friends.

As we at Thrive seek to empower families, communities, and businesses to go from surviving, we look to Gentri's example of transformative neighborly love and encourage you to do the same with the hope that together we can create a collective psalm of our own for our city.

* Quoted from MLK's sermon "On Being A Good Neighbor", as featured in his 1963 compilation of sermons, Strength To Love.



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