Natchitoches civic engagement meets every need


Part 2 in a series

Nathan Wilson | Reporter
Psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced a theory of motivation in 1943 that revolutionized the conception of human fulfillment and wellbeing. Today those factors play out in the lives of Natchitoches residents through civic engagement.
Maslow asserted each person has a series of needs they must satisfy to achieve a sense of personal fulfillment he called self-actualization and organized them in a hierarchy. As a person’s needs are met on one level, their motivation shifts to seek their next set of needs. Nearly eighty years later, his theory influences fields such as education, social work and business management.
Community members coordinate activities to meet the needs of Natchitoches residents at every level and create a vibrant community with an April weekend providing examples of each.
The Times will showcase each of the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy in a series of stories over the next several editions. The first installments follow.

Maslow described esteem as achieving a sense of worth. “(They) have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others,” he stated.
Members of the Natchitoches Service League work tirelessly to enhance the esteem of Natchitoches through its contributions to the community. League member Rebekah Maricelli described the role of the organization. “The Service League fosters the potential of women through volunteer service and support of cultural, historical, educational and charitable endeavors.”
The League hosted a note-burning gala April 9 to celebrate repaying a loan for the Prudhomme-Rouquier House. Maricelli explained the celebration. “In the late 90s the Service League took out a $750,000 loan for an extensive restoration of the late 1700s era home.” With the Prud’homme-Rouquier house as its headquarters, the league sponsors academic scholarships and contributes to cultural events like Reading on the River and the Fiesta like There’s no Manana planned for May 6.
Maricelli indicated the house is emblematic of Natchitoches history. “Prud’homme-Rouquier House is the nation’s largest bousillage house,” she said. Bousillage is a form of building material traced to the French colonial era.

The next step in Maslow’s hierarchy is the achievement of love and belonging. He wrote. “(They) will hunger for affectionate relations with people in general, namely, for a place in (their) group, and (they) will strive with great intensity to achieve this goal.”
Members of five churches gathered to celebrate the approach of Easter with a revival at the Ben Johnson Foundation basketball courts Saturday, April 11. Pastor Ail Harris of Abundant Life Church described the multidenominational participation as an expression of unity. “If we ever want to see the community come together, we’ve got to come together also.” He was quick to point out the strength of working with other churches. “We’re just better together,” he said. “I’m loving the reflection of diversity and just hoping to see our kids have a wonderful time.”
Harris elaborated on his hope for the event. “We’re not here to increase our church’s membership particularly,” he said. “What church you decide to become a part of, we’re indifferent about that.” He sought to spread a message instead. “We don’t just want to talk about the love of Jesus, we want to show them the love of Jesus.”
Dustin Boudreaux is a licensed and ordained minister attending with his sister from Faith Family Church in Natchitoches. He has traveled the world. “I do a lot of traveling overseas. Right before Covid, I was in Scotland, Israel, Madagascar (and) Nepal.” Although he comes from a different church than Harris, he shares the same message. “Unity! People getting together over church history,” he says. “I might not believe the same as someone else believes, but we believe in love, so we come out under that umbrella just to love on the community.”
Cedric Garrett, a college freshman, helped set up ahead of the event before enjoying food, fellowship and a friendly game of basketball. He describes coming to the event out of a need for a sense of belonging. “It’s actually my first year here at NSU so I’m just starting to go to (Abundant Life),” he said. “It gives me another family away from home.”