Our weekly check-in meeting is open to anyone interested in supporting compassionate community response to our most vulnerable neighbors in this time of crisis. Meetings are held online every Thursday from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom access code. In addition, if you would like to receive notification when these minutes are posted, please subscribe to our newsletter.
In this Issue:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (Season of Giving, Free Digital Art Classes for High School Students)
Covid & Flu Resources (Free Testing, Financial Assistance with Water/Energy bills, Free Webinar “Unwrapping the Truth About COVID-19: Talking Prevention and Treatment with Loved Ones Over the Holidays”, NC Modified Stay at Home Order
12/15, 6:30pm: “Unwrapping the Truth About COVID-19: Talking Prevention and Treatment with Loved Ones Over the Holidays” event via Zoom from the Center for Health Equity Research. Register Here
12/18, 10am-2pm: Free Flu Shot event, Southeast Health Department, 249 Billingsley Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
1/5 Studio 345 Digital Art Class for High Schoolers begins:
1/5, 7-8pm: Premiere of Crisis and Compassion Video #2: The Muslim in the Room: A Conversation with Hannah Hasan. Register Here
1/11-15: Augustine Literacy Project trainings
1/13, 3-4 pm: East Charlotte Leaders meeting. Email for Info
1/18: Deadline to apply for Charlotte’s Civic Leadership Academy
1/21, 6-8 pm: The 2021 Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance (MMA) Awards presented.
1/25-29: Augustine Literacy Project trainings
A reflection on the first night of Hannukah from Rabbi Lisa Levine
These are dark times. December is a dark month. Every time I turn on the news it makes me afraid. You have to be careful of how much of that darkness and fear you internalize. Perhaps that is why the holidays of so many religions center around the bringing of light into the world. Reb Nachman of Bratzlav taught: “As long as a tiny flame remains, a great fire can be rekindled.” Looking through that lens, hope for the world prevails.
When I think of light, I not only think of the sun and the moon and our dependence on them for life. I think of radiance, candlelight, inner light, star light, reflection of light off the water, when it shines through a crystal, a window, a diamond, a rainbow, a camera, an eyeglass. I think of Divine light, hope, enlightenment, freedom, a light at the end of a tunnel, leaving the light on, a light in the window, Oneness and clarity. I imagine light illuminating the darkness and I imagine that light shining into places that might be shrouded in gloom or shadow, even shining on some inner secret that is yet to be revealed.
Light helps us heal, helps us hope, helps us discover our inner shattered sparks and uncover the hidden places within ourselves that might be shadowed. Chanukah means rededication. When we rededicate ourselves to helping others and shine light into dark places, we rekindle the purpose of the holiday and make it meaningful for this troubled world.
My hope and prayer is that the inner light we discover through our practice helps us rededicate ourselves to all that is holy and meaningful in our lives. May we take in the light, absorb it into our hearts and give that abundance to others.
Crisis and Compassion Episode 1: Making a Shidduch is Now Available! Access study guide here
The first episode of our Crisis and Compassion video series, "MeckMIN: Making a Shidduch,” made in partnership with Johnson C. Smith University, through a generous grant from Bridge Builders Charlotte and the Gambrell Foundation, is now available. The video tells the story of the weekly calls MeckMIN has hosted since mid-March to coordinate efforts to lift up and meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors during this season of pandemic. It's an encouraging story of the many, many people in our community working for the common good. Bridge Builders Charlotte combines the expertise and missions of religion and higher education to offer resources that inspire people to move together beyond self-interest, promote deep thought around complex societal problems and help shape the next generation of civic leaders.
REGISTER NOW! for Crisis and Compassion Episode 2: The Muslim in the Room: A Conversation with Hannah Hasan. Premieres January 5 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.
Join scholars Dr. Hadia Mubarak, Rev. Glencie Rhedrick, and Rabbi Judy Schindler as they discuss what role gender plays in the sacred scriptures of their faith communities (Muslim, Christian, and Jewish), expounding not just on the written texts themselves, but how they have been interpreted historically.
2021 Comparative Religion: The Path of Healing:Sponsored by Temple Beth El and MeckMIN: Mecklenburg’s Metropolitan Interfaith Network.
We live in a world where loved ones suffer, where kids struggle, where pandemics come, where hate spreads, where political differences divide, and where not everyone can move to higher ground when life’s storms come. Religious traditions must reckon with the reality of this world. We invite you to learn about how Charlotte’s Multi-Faith Communities understand individual and communal healing. The interactive evenings will be on Zoom and will include rich discussions from a diverse group of faith leaders with weekly opportunities for Q&A.
Tuesday, January 19th @ 7:00 PM – Trauma, Pain, and the Challenges of the Past Year
Tuesday, January 26th @ 7:00 PM – Healing of the Mind
Tuesday, February 2nd @ 7:00 PM – Healing of the Body
Tuesday, February 9th @ 7:00 PM – Healing of the Soul
East Charlotte Leaders Meetings: We have agreed to meet monthly on the second Wednesday from 3pm to 4pm. Anyone who lives or works in East Charlotte is welcome to attend. Email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom info.
Hotel Project Update: MeckMIN is coordinating the food delivery for a hotel offering shelter to previously unsheltered people at high risk. Mecklenburg County has agreed to fund for an additional 2 months, through the end of March. Current volunteers will be offered the opportunity to continue or end their work.
2. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Season of Giving: We continue to receive requests from schools that are needing gift cards for food, clothes and gas for their students and families. Please connect with Phyllis Croutch, District Partnership Specialist, to learn more about how to support a school during Season of Giving.
In Digital Art/Graphic Design you will learn the basic tools of Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and After Effects (or the free alternatives Gravit Designer and Ink Scape). After learning these tools, students will then apply their knowledge of art, design and Adobe tools to create dynamic and visually intriguing projects such as book covers, posters, abstract designs and more. Students will also study the history and theory of digital media and work on perfecting basic art skills in foundation courses such as drawing, design and color theory.
All Charlotte-Mecklenburg County School students in Grades 9-12 with an interest in digital crafts are welcome to place their names in the lottery system for the course(s) of their choice. Contact Angela Grauel for general information about Studio 345 or details about enrollment. Classes will be online during COVID-19. Once it is safe to return in-person, Studio 345 will be held at Arts+’s studio space located inside Spirit Square at 345 N. College St. Charlotte, NC 28202.
CMS Attestation Forms: As you know, each student on a weekly basis will be required to turn into the bus driver a completed CMS Attestation Form.
3. Nonprofit Needs
Matching Excess and Need for Stability (MEANS) is a non-profit food recovery platform. If you are interested in food donations, non-profits can sign up and get notifications about the kinds of food you can use. When there is food near you, you will get email or text notification and you can claim it. In DC, where Sammie Paul is based, there have been a lot of restaurants with surplus food. If your non-profit has extra food, you can also post for that and it will go out to others. When more people sign up to receive, they will do outreach for more donors. Website is translated into Spanish, Urdu, Persian and Arabic. Also set up with google translate for other languages.
Question : How does it align with other food banks, etc? Sammie shared that they work with larger banks and smaller groups. The amount of food they are looking to distribute dictates where the food goes.
Current organizations include Mulberry Baptist Church, GEMZ Community Development Corporation, Loaves & Fishes, Inc., St. Mark's Soup Kitchen, Rise Empowerment Center, Inc., God Sisters of Faith Christian Sorority and Ministries. They hope to build the recipient list out first and then work to expand the donor list.
MAP has 75 families, most with multiple children, who have diaper needs. They are working with the coalition for cultural compassion to provide diapers and gifts for the holidays to these families but their coffers are running low. If you feel moved to donate to this effort, please send a personal check to Marsha Kelly, 2017 Meadowood Ln., Charlotte NC 28211 . MAP is not yet a non-profit and so the gift will not be deductible but receipts can be provided for bookkeeping purposes.
Statesville location is open for the 2nd week and is at about 1/3 capacity.
We are thankful for donations. They have had so many donations that right now their greatest need is for 1 or 2 volunteers to help sort and unpack boxes on Thursdays and Fridays between 9am-3pm in the warehouse. Contact Ashley for sorting info.
Roof Above recently bought a motel with 88 units that they are using in conjunction with the Salvation Army through the winter to provide shelter for women and families. (Read more here) It is already filled. Once winter is passed, this motel will be transformed into permanent supportive housing much like Moore’s Place. When they switch over, they are likely to need welcome home kits.
Roof Above has moved 248 people into housing since November and sheltered 994 people since the pandemic began.
How to Support Roof Above:
Greatest need is for 1 or 2 volunteers to help sort and unpack boxes on Thursdays and Fridays between 9am-3pm in the warehouse. Contact Ashley for sorting info.
Winter Shelter Bag Lunches: Register to support HERE
Winter Shelter Cookies: Register to support HERE
Donate items from Amazon Wish List
Loaves & Fishes: Need delivery drivers. As Covid expands, more people cannot come to the pantry because they are sick. Loaves and Fishes has expanded their delivery program to three days a week and are looking to eventually have 5 days. They prefer volunteers who can commit to a regular schedule but can use fill ins as needed. Delivery drivers need to be strong as the work includes delivering several 25 pound boxes, some up stairs. The delivery itself only takes between 60 and 90 minutes as deliveries are grouped by zip code.
If you have a client who needs delivery, just share when you refer them to Loaves. If the need is urgent, please let Loaves know and Louise, the social worker, can work to meet the need.
Refugee 101 Remote: In this time of frequent shifting and adapting, one thing that we are celebrating at RSS is the space that COVID created for us to expand Refugee 101 Sessions online. We have added sessions to the calendar through March 2021. Refugee 101 is the first part of our initial onboarding process for new volunteers. For those who have been waiting to sign up for this session or for those who have had scheduling issues in the past, these sessions are for you. If you run into any issues or have other questions, please contact Rachel Humphries
Refugee 101 Remote Registration: If you are involved with community groups that would like to have us to present Refugee 101 via Zoom, please let us know. Community educational opportunities are an important part of our mission and we'd love to work with your groups to help connect and strengthen our local community.
Used Laptop Donations : We provide initial laptop training for individuals who do not have access to a functional computer at home. They learn on refurbished laptops and, once they successfully complete training, they are able to keep that laptop. We have partnered with E2D, an organization that works to study the pervasiveness of digital exclusion and create solutions, to facilitate the provision of these laptops. If you or anyone you know has an old PC laptop (no Apple or netbooks, please) collecting dust on a shelf or if you find yourself with a new laptop this season and aren't sure what to do with the old one, please consider donating your laptop to RSS. All laptops will be given to E2D to be securely wiped clean of data and refurbished. These donations will help ensure that we will continue to have a flow of laptops available for our program participants. This is also an opportunity to get involved as a volunteer. We know that your friends and neighbors have old laptops hanging around too! If you would be interested in working with us to do a small (or large!) laptop drive, this is volunteer activity that can be done remotely and for as much or as little time as you are able to offer. Laptops will be collected through the month of December and can be dropped off on Wednesday mornings between 8:30am and 9:30am beginning January 6th. We will collect them each Wednesday from 8:30am to 9:30am through the month of January.
Naturalization Tutor Interest List: We are gearing up to start a new project in 2021 called "The RSS Naturalization Academy" with the goal of helping our program participants as they prepare for their naturalization interviews. We would like to get an idea of how many of our amazing volunteers would be interested in spending time remotely serving as a Naturalization Academy Tutor. Getting a count will assist us in planning for the launch of the program. Anyone interested in serving as a volunteer tutor would be required to complete tutor training before being paired with program participants. If this sounds like it might be in your wheelhouse, please contact Rachel Humphries .
Galilee Ministries: Part- Time Business Manager Wanted! Galilee Ministries of East Charlotte is looking for a part-time Business Manager Job Description is outlined in PDF below:
MedAssist: Volunteers are needed to help unpack and sort their daily medication deliveries.
Roof Above suggested she have regular office hours and the first day there were dozens of men waiting for her when she showed up. She planned to be there from 1-3 but stayed through 6 pm getting the men what they needed. She is open to setting up something similar in other locations. Contact her if you need her help. She offers FREE help to assist people in getting ID. 4. Understanding Affordable Housing
Citizen preparation classes are starting Jan 24th. Links on website. The questions have changed and expanded from 100 to 128 questions. The class will help test takers succeed. For anyone who might be interested in volunteering as a tutor for the Citizenship Preparation Program classes, please email Erin Phelps . We would love a pool of 20 volunteers. International House has a law clinic that assists with green cards, citizenship, work permits, replace lost/stolen immigration docs and family petitions of spouse/children. Call 704-405-0962.
Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) will once again be in the public arena! This coming Wednesday, December 16, our effort will be the primary discussion point at the Great Neighborhoods Committee. The meeting is set to start at noon. Amelia Stinson-Wesley reports that she is pushing for Source of Income discrimination changes at the state level through the NC Human Relations Commission. If you are assisting efforts to change that at the local level, please email email@example.com, so efforts can be coordinated across NC.
Survey: In order to help advance legislation, Habitat put together an anonymous survey asking homeowners to share how COVID has impacted their ability to pay their mortgage. You can find the link to it here. We are trying to get as many responses as possible with a strong geographic spread to convey the need for action to our legislators. It takes 30 seconds and is a huge help with protecting homeownership in our community!
Residents of Lake Arbor won their lawsuit and were awarded 500K collectively. The voice of the people was essential in this victory. Congratulations to all those who were part of this advocacy effort.
4. COVID & Flu Resources
Upcoming Flu Vaccine and Covid-19 Testing Events:
December 12, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Valerie C. Woodard Center, 3205 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208 | Map
December 18, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Southeast Health Department, 249 Billingsley Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211 | Map
Please continue to follow guidelines of social distancing, mask wearing and washing your hands. Holiday guidance is to stay home and not get together. If you must connect, you should get a negative covid test before gathering.
If additional flu or covid test sites are needed, Kimberly will reach out to LeDayne who will connect her with appropriate volunteer organizations.
Dec. 12, 10am-2pm: FREE Covid-19 testing event : Friendship Missionary Baptist Church parking lot, 3400 Beatties Ford Rd. No out -of- pocket cost. Free food box provided while supplies last.
Center for Health Equity Research (CHER)
December 15th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm (Zoom) “Unwrapping the Truth About COVID-19: Talking Prevention and Treatment with Loved Ones Over the Holidays” This webinar is FREE and will be presented in both English and Spanish (to access the Spanish channel, please join with your computer). REGISTER HERE
North Carolina's Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) invites members of your organization to attend an upcoming interactive, educational webinar on Dec 15th from 6:30pm-7:30pm. This important webinar is being provided by the Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities initiative with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The goal of this webinar will be to provide accurate and current information about COVID-19 vaccines, transmission, and therapeutics. We will provide space for community leaders and members to ask questions as well as share with us on what we can do to help increase the community’s trust in the vaccine and therapeutics.
The North Carolina team of the Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities initiative is committed to raising awareness and providing education on COVID-19 to the Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian/Native American communities – NC communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
We encourage you to forward this communication to your community members, colleagues, family, and friends. We want to make sure that you and other North Carolinian's have accurate information about the vaccine and therapeutics to share with loved ones this holiday season.
Pandemic Assistance Available to Charlotte Water Customers – December 31 Funding Deadline
Funding is currently available to help residents pay their past due water bills. The Charlotte Water Customer Care Team will work one-on-one with customers to connect them with community assistance agencies including Crisis Assistance Ministry, The Housing Partnership, Common Wealth Charlotte and other organizations that can provide help. Customers can call 311 during business hours or visit charlottewater.org for more details. Funds will expire on December 31.
LIEAP is a federally funded program with money administered every year by the state to help with energy bills for low-income individuals/families during the winter months. Individuals/families can receive a one-time check with the payment made directly to the provider (e.g. Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, etc.).
Dec. 1st - March 31st (60+) / Jan. 1st - March 31st (All households) You do not need to be facing any disconnects or delinquencies to utilize this financial resource. Applicants can receive between $300-500 each year. For more information; email Ginny Harper.
Ginny is focusing her outreach effort this year on East Charlotte. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! She knows that there are many eligible families that don’t know about the program. This funding will free up money for needy families to apply to other expenses such as food and medicine. She’d also appreciate our help with outreach to the Latino community. This program is NOT connected to immigration authorities. We could help people to know that this is a trust-worthy program.
NC on Modified Stay at Home Order until 1/8/21
Governor Roy Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina will begin a Modified Stay at Home Order after a rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends.
The Order requires people to stay at home between 10 pm and 5 am. It takes effect Friday, December 11 and will be in place until at least January 8, 2021. The Order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 pm. Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted.
In the past week, North Carolina’s case count has broken single-day records on three separate days, including crossing more than 6,000 cases per day on two of those days. Just a month ago, cases were under 3,000 per day. In recent days, the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10%. Please click here for additional information or view Executive Order in PDF format below:
5. Charlotte Civic Leadership Academy for Community and Neighborhood Leaders |Apply by January 18, 2021 |Contact Philip Freeman, 704-336-1303
The City of Charlotte’s Civic Leadership Academy is a free program specifically designed for residents like you—Charlotteans who are ready to take the next step in being community leaders and improving the quality of life in all of Charlotte’s neighborhoods. The experience will provide participants an opportunity to grow in their leadership, understand how the City of Charlotte works, analyze issues using data, connect with decision makers, and make a difference in their communities.
During the Civic Leadership Academy, you will:
Receive a personalized leadership assessment
Learn how to efficiently utilize your leadership style to positively impact the community
Enhance your understanding of Charlotte history and culture
Develop relationships with other leaders in the community and local government
Learn to navigate issues through local government
Commit to using your leadership skills in the broader community
Don’t miss this opportunity to enhance your leadership skills and to work with other leaders to create a community where every voice is heard. This virtual academy is limited to 35 participants; attendees must commit to missing no more than three sessions.
Click here to review the workshop schedule or to APPLY Applications must be received by January 18, sessions begin March 2. Don't wait! For additional information contact Philip Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-336-1303.
Prayer for Non-Profit Leaders
Poem from Adele Pfrimmer Hensley, 5 November 2013. Adele is a personal friend of LeDayne’s who has early-onset Parkinson’s Disease.
The Hardest Year.
This has been the hardest year.
Don't get me wrong,
A person cannot commit
to experiencing two wide-awake
open brain surgeries
and expect to emerge unscathed.
Only, I thought that would be the hardest part.
I thought the surgery,
the hammering on my skull,
the risks of infection,
I thought these things would be
the most arduous bits.
I thought that if I got through these things
and I rehabbed my gait,
I'd be done,
well on my way to a complete recovery.
I never expected that it would be
so hard on my spirit.
I never would have predicted
that ten months after I began,
I would still be afraid.
I would still have to call my husband
In the middle of the day
so I could ask for help focusing
so I could move through the anxiety
caused by leaving the house on my own.
I did not think I would not be able to focus
long enough to read a Rick Riordan novel,
Or even to pray to the God who made me.
Some of my friends told me that
they pray for me every day.
Perhaps this year is teaching me
that not only do I not need to be perfect
I am part of a community committed
to the well-being of each of its members.
If I cannot pray, I know someone who can.
If I have no courage, friends will share theirs.
Just when I feel completely defeated,
Someone shares a story
To tell me of a time
I was brave
or made a difference to them.
The weight of the world
can be borne by all of us
even though it would
crusheach of us.