When I moved to the Shreveport-Bossier City area over a decade ago, it took only a short time for me to realize how lucky I was to finish school here and call this home. Growing up in a fast-paced metropolis, you sometimes miss out on the characteristics of a place that make it a community, especially in my hometown of Las Vegas, where it’s natural and expected to tear down and rebuild, over and over again.

Since living in Shreveport-Bossier City, I have a different appreciation for the word community. While SB is far from your small town Mayberry where everyone knows everyone’s names, it’s a plus to be able to attend an event and recognize a familiar face or two in the crowd (an occurrence that never happened in Vegas). Of course another point to make about the sense of community in Shreveport-Bossier City is the collective desire to preserve and experience the history and culture that is rich in northwest Louisiana. But the point about community, about our community, that I want to stress is the support for small businesses that serve as pillars for the people who reside in the area.

The months of road construction in the East Kings Highway-Youree Drive area in Shreveport has now dragged on long enough that small, locally owned businesses directly in its path are experiencing a detrimental hit because of the lack of accessibility in and out of these places. Restaurants, like Tacomania and Pop N Pizza, are hurting. Nader’s Gallery, a mainstay in Shreveport for decades, has been impacted. The list is as long as the stretch of red dirt and fresh cement that makes up this portion of city construction. Businesses in the heart of Bossier City have also faced challenges as construction in the new downtown Bossier City continues to unfold.

Deli Casino Sandwich Shoppe, a restaurant that has been located on East Kings Highway for nearly 40 years, is one of the businesses being impacted by the road construction. Last month, concerned customers took to social media to spread the word about the Georges, the couple who have owned and operated the sandwich shop, and their difficulties in keeping the deli open as a result of the traffic and road work in front of their doors. What followed in the 48 hours after the news hit social media was one of the best acts of community I’ve witnessed. I read the Facebook post (one that was ultimately shared hundreds of times), shared it myself, and felt compelled to do my part to help the friendly owners of Deli Casino, a shop a close friend introduced me to not long after moving here. I mean, they do make the best hot ham and cheese on a Kaiser, and needless to say, I‘ve always felt at home among the deli’s casino theme.

A few of my coworkers and I decided to have lunch at Deli Casino and when we pulled into the parking lot, we were pleasantly surprised that we had to park off in the back. Apparently everyone else in Shreveport felt compelled to do his or her part to save Deli Casino as well. We approached the compact restaurant, and hungry folks were lined up out the door waiting to place their orders. People who had placed to-go orders were filing in attempting to squeeze past the crowds to get their paper sacks.

The deli was packed, wall-to-wall with determined people – determined to get their food and even more determined to see that this great establishment didn’t shut its doors. We watched the Georges and their employees scrambling to fill the orders and while it was obviously a tad overwhelming at times, the smiles on their faces were frozen. Yes, I waited longer for that ham and cheese than normal, but it tasted divine. Every bite was delicious.

To me, that was community. The hundreds of people who didn’t let some orange cones keep them from spending their dollar with a well-loved, local business. Yes, we can rally around festivals, and parades and events at local parks, but at the end of the day, being there for your neighbor in their time of need is the true meaning of community.