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:
2/10, 3-4 pm: East Charlotte Leaders Meeting
2/18, 12:30: Food for Thought: "Using Story to Shape Community" with Greg Jarrell and Hannah Hasan.
3/10, 3-3 pm: East Charlotte Leaders Meeting
3/15: 2021 NC Community Resilience Conference
3/16-17: 2021 Learning and Leadership Virtual Summit
4/7, 8:00 am: MeckMIN Community Awards Breakfast
Nina Wynn shared from ONE FACE: A Collection of Interfaith Prayers and Poems By: Mark Allan Kaplan, Ph.D.
has a different view
of the same Divine Reality;
has a different way
the One Love;
has a different way
the One Truth;
And every face
is a different form
Eternal One. We call you by many names, but we gather with the same heart, a heart full of hopes, fears and dreams. We pray that our spirits will be open to know your way, we pray that our hearts will break open, with such passion for You, that our lives become your witness. All this we pray in your sacred name. Amen.
Honoring Angie Foard
Angie was a member of RaceCLT which formed from catalyzing change and she was a champion of our homeless neighbors. RaceCLT and others who worked with her are exploring how to honor her and further her work. IF you are interested in joining that conversation, please reach out to Barbara Pooley at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. MeckMIN Updates
Need Board Member with communications expertise: MeckMIN is looking for someone with communications expertise to join the communications committee.
Food For Thought Committee: The Food for Thought program has been very successful. We are looking for one or two new members to join the FFT committee. Ideally the volunteer would be younger than 50 with fresh communications ideas.
In Our Own Backyard: MeckMIN is looking to restart the “In Our Own Backyard” summer program. As part of this effort, we would like to feature videos of past participants talking about the program. Please help us connect with those who may have participated in the past.
In Our Own Backyard - Every year during the month of July, we hold our interfaith summer camp experience for high-school aged youth in Mecklenburg County. The purpose of the camp is to bring youth together from different faiths, races and socioeconomic backgrounds to learn more about each other’s faith traditions and to serve area residents in need. Participants visit various social agencies, travel by city bus, visit different houses of faith for worship services and develop their own interfaith service on the last evening of the program. Attendees are eligible to join the MeckMIN youth council.
Speakers: Hannah Hasan & Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls & Nabil Elias
The last in our Comparative Religion series presented by Temple Beth El and MeckMIN continues this week on Tuesday, February 9 at 7:00pm. Our topic is Healing of the Soul featuring speakers Hannah Hasan, Tonyia Rawls, and Nabil Elias. All sessions are held on Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link.
If you were not able to attend the past two sessions, you can access the recordings here:
Trauma, Pain, and the Challenges of the Past Year - featuring Dr. Betsy Stone
Healing of the Mind - featuring The Rev. Cody J. Sanders, Ph.D., Dr. Lindsay Bridges, M.D., and Kim Honeycutt
The East Charlotte Leaders meeting is open to anyone interested in supporting compassionate community response to our most vulnerable neighbors in this time of crisis. Meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 3:00pm-4:00pm.
MeckMIN offers monthly Food for Thought presentations as a way to gather persons from different faith groups and ethnicities, to break bread together, and to share in relevant issues of common concern. Join a presentation and discussion about a wide range of issues that affect our community.
February 18 "Using Story to Shape Community"Helms & Greg Jarrell and Hannah Hasan featured. Save the date –registration will be available soon.
Click Here to view valuable resources featured from past Food for Thought presentations!
Telling Charlotte's Interfaith Story: Helping people recognize the value of religious pluralism for the Charlotte community is the aim of the JCSU Bridge Builders project. Their team has produced a series of short documentary videos that capture how diverse religious communities are responding to the pandemic--often through virtual efforts. Watch for the release of films highlighting MeckMIN's efforts to mobilize our diverse faith communities to meet critical needs during the pandemic.
MeckMIN Community Awards Breakfast
Call for 2021 Community Leader Award Nominations! Deadline to submit is Thursday, Feb 4. The breakfast is scheduled for April 7th (after Easter and before Ramadan)
Visit the Annual Community Awards Breakfast page on the MeckMIN website to find nomination forms. You can also find a list of former awardees on this page.
Support ranges from $250 to $5000.
2. A Conversation with CMPD about Tent City
with Captain Bradford Koch , 704.231.3845
Captain Koch has been in the police dept. for 24 years and in central division since April 2020. Prior to working for Central Division he was executie with Chief Putney for 2 ½ years and on the East side before that for 10 years. Our focus is in central division, which includes tent city, the North End encampment.
We are not actively engaged in raiding tent city. Homelessness is not a CMPD issue. But folks call us when they don’t know how to help. We work with organizations like Block Love and Roof Above to guide our work.
We do, however, engage in enforcement but we do not criminalize homelessness. We have seen an increase in violent crime with nexus of homelessness – that is, with people who are homeless as victims or perpetrators. There are also scams or assaults on tents.
We take enforcement on the people who are causing the problems, NOT on the homeless community as a group.
We also see open drug activity and we are responding.There is a small group of people who do not like the police and claim we are raiding but we are not. We work with solid waste to remove trash and an excess of items that were dropped off and began to attract rodents and mold. We are working to remove those who are exploiting the homeless. We are getting assistance from the homeless residents as well because they don’t want the crime either.
We are not arresting people for giving out tents. There are a lot of rumors, and you can always check directly with me to ask about any rumors you hear.
Q & A for Captain Koch
Q: Rodney Sadler: I heard there is a gang element in some of these homeless communities. How is CMPD protecting folks from that?
A: Koch: The mere presence of our officers is a source of comfort for many of those who are there. There is a criminal element there. If we don’t go in, you will see gang type turf wars and the wild west. We can’t ignore it. We are trying to eliminate the open air drug market and the intimidation. We have had calls where people didn’t pay their “rent money” for where their tent is. We are working to ensure that the vulnerable folks don’t get taken advantage of. This area is the number 1 focus for central division officers right now. We cannot arrest our way out of this, though.
Q: C4 Counseling, Ismail Hernandez: Thank you for coming out and dispelling some of the fear we had for the community. Was there a conversation with the officers about what was causing anxiety about raids?
A: Koch: Anybody can post what they want on Twitter. We had an enforcement action against an individual who had committed a crime on Graham St. This was unrelated to the encampment itself. Someone came and took pictures and posted stuff and it got some legs. My officers know we have to treat folks with grace, humility and consideration. We discuss it frequently.
Q: Deborah Woolard from Block Love: The rumors about raids are creating a great deal of fear in the homeless community. CMPD should be working to ease those fears. I left a guy this morning who was freaked out because he heard there were raids. It would have helped if CMPD could have made a statement to the homeless community. The fear that these groups are spreading are harming the work that Block Love and others are doing. We have been doing the work for years.
A: Koch: CMPD did have a lot of question at weekly press conference last week. We worked to dispel the rumors at that time. We didn’t get questions last week. But that does not help share the info with the residents who really need to hear this.
How to Help Tent City
Block Love ,Deborah Woolard, Founder : The best way to help is by asking the groups that are down there what they need, not just assuming you know and dropping stuff off. Sometimes the need is complicated. For example, we need something to kill the rats but we don’t want pellets or something that might be tempting for someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts. We don’t need firewood – there have been some significant fires and it is a problem.
We need sturdy ponchos, umbrellas, bug spray, masks and gloves. We could also use connections to those who can help addicts enter programs of longer than 14 days.
Just to clarify – there are NO CHILDREN in tent city. There are some older teens 15-18 who may have run away from group homes but there are no children. And beware of rumors. There is a rumor circulating that a man died of hunger recently. The man who died may have been hungry, but there were cases of water and food beside his tent. He did not die because food and water were not provided.
Roof Above, Hannah Stutts, 919-590-9162. Roof Above is focused on moving people to housing. We are working to understand who is in the encampment and working to get them housed. We appreciate Block Love and Hearts Beat as One and we support them. We do the work necessary to get as many people as possible housed. There are no children. We have been able to move 60+ into motels. The population is always shifting. Part of why it is growing and expanding so much is that people have separated into different pockets based on relationships, drug use etc.
Support the orgs that are doing the work, don’t just bring stuff out there. There is a lot of unmanaged drug use. If you drop off there are hoarders who will keep it. We provide shower, lunch, hats, scarves, hand warmers.
Hearts Beat as One, Bethany McDonald : We have been in the encampments. We come with tarps, reading glasses, batteries, tents, etc. We need a collaborative effort to determine what is needed and what is not. Bethany has been working on an itemized plan. Contact her to be a part of this coordination effort.
The Watchmen of the Streets, email@example.com: Everyone was spot on. I would add that I would like to see us work together more. A lot of what we do is band-aid stuff. I think we need help with the next step – the Maybe have a particular meeting to focus on this.
TORC: We were out there this past Saturday working to get residents a place to stay. That is a focus for us. There is also an event on February 13th: Valentines Omni Love Day, from 2-4pm, Lincoln Heights Park , 1819 Catherine Simmons Ave. Sponsored by the United Council For Change and University Soup Kitchen and D. H Court and TORC, Action NC and, other organizations. Contact Dr. Blanche Penn for more information firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Nonprofit Updates & Volunteer Needs
A Tu Lado, Joyce Deaton, email@example.com
We are a group of interfaith volunteers that work to build partnerships between faith communities and those seeking asylum to walk with them through court and navigating systems. If your church is looking for a way to work with immigrants, we would love to hear from you.
Caldwell Presbyterian & TransCend Charlotte , Elena Sepulveda, firstname.lastname@example.org
TransCend Charlotte is looking for storage space. They support the Transgender community and they are looking for storage space for stuff they keep in their office (clothing) but also need the space to be accessible once or twice a week.
We are also looking for connections to Community Immunity for All, the Atrium program. We recognize that workers in long-term facilities and assisted living facilities are reluctant to get the vaccine. We would love to work with this initiative to help encourage more vaccinations. Ashley Titus offered to make the connection, at 704-609-5178
This weekend hundreds of Scouts throughout Mecklenburg County distributed door hangers to encourage people to leave out a bag of groceries on their doorstep next Saturday, February 6th for our annual “Scouting For Food” Food Drive. Attached is a one page flyer Sue from our team put together to highlight the details of this important event. As you may recall the timing and success of this food drive was so critical last year at the onset of the pandemic. Without the Scouts and the generosity of the Charlotte community we would have been unable to meet the unbelievable demand for food that occurred in March and April. Because the pandemic and economic impact of COVID rages on, we are hoping for another successful event this year. Please help us spread the word!
VoteRiders , Pam Pearson, email@example.com 704-641-4845
VoteRiders, works to help our neighbors get ID, birth certificates, ss cards. Particularly focused on unsheltered people and formerly incarcerated people, as well as domestic violence survivors.
4. Covid-19 Vaccine Info
The NC Department of Transportation and the NC Department of Health and Human Services announced that approximately $2.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding is being distributed to local transit agencies across the state to help pay for rides for individuals who need transportation assistance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. People who need transportation assistance to a COVID-19 vaccine should reach out to their local transit agency. You can find your local transit agency online here. Local transit agencies serve all 100 North Carolina counties.
We are currently vaccinating patient facing health care workers and individuals over the age of 65 at Bojangles Coliseum.. Click here to schedule an appointment online. Starting Wednesday, February 3, Charlotte Area Transit System will provide direct bus service to Bojangles Coliseum for community members to access their scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointments. CATS will provide two direct bus routes; one from the Charlotte Transportation Center (CTC) and one from Eastland Community Transit Center. Service will operate Monday through Saturday starting at 7:30 p.m. Each day, the last direct trip to Bojangles Coliseum will depart the transit centers at 4:30 p.m.
At the CTC, riders should board in Bay K. At Eastland, riders should locate the same bus bay as Route 221. Buses providing service to the vaccine center will have a corresponding headway sign. The local bus fare of $2.20 will be required.
Both routes will serve two bus stop locations at Bojangles Coliseum. Upon arrival, passengers should deboard the vehicle at the appropriate bus stop.
Stop 1: Passengers receiving their first vaccine shot
Stop 2: Passengers receiving their second vaccine shot
For questions or concerns, community members can speak to CATS Customer Service at 704-336-7433(RIDE).
Over the past two weeks, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has released several new tools that can help nonprofits spread the word about vaccines. These include:
An online Find My Group tool to help North Carolinians know when they will be eligible to get their vaccine. North Carolina is currently vaccinating health care workers, long-term care staff and residents, and people 65 and older.
A Find My Spot search tool to help North Carolinians locate vaccine providers near where they live and work.
A newly expanded COVID-19 vaccine help center that is available by phone at 888-675-4567 on Mondays-Fridays from 7 a.m.–7 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The help center provides support in English, Spanish, and TTY. Callers can get help with general COVID-19 vaccine questions, information on eligibility groups, clinical questions about the vaccine, how to find vaccine locations, and transportation services.
An updated COVID-19 vaccine communications toolkit with ready-made materials to provide clear and accurate information about the safe and effective vaccines.
5. Community Resources
Student to Student is a nationwide program developed by the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. It helps young people put a “human face” to Judaism—the best antidote to bigotry and intolerance. The program will launch in Winter 2020 and will be conducted virtually. Charlotte will be the ninth city to launch this program and be first in the Southeast. We will welcome our first cohort of Student to Student Ambassadors during the orientation meeting on February 2nd. During this time, we will get to know one another and begin to plan what our presentation will look like here in Charlotte. We will also explore the challenges and benefits of presenting virtually. We need YOU to spread the word. Our presenters will be ready by March 1, 2021 to share the story of Jewish life in Charlotte with middle and high schools, youth groups, and Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. If you know of a school or youth organization that might be interested, contact Donna Tarney (Tarneyd@queens.edu) or Talli Dippold (Dippoldt@queens.edu) for more information.
It's not too late for you to join us. We are accepting new student applications on a rolling basis. Click here to learn more and nominate yourself or a student you know who might be interested in joining the team!
This past autumn, NC Interfaith Power & Light (NCIPL) leaders drafted a resolution to Duke Energy asking that they set a carbon dioxide emissions reduction goal for the year 2030. Setting this reduction goal in this time frame is essential to alleviating and preventing the worst impacts of global climate change, and is the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
As people of faith and conscience, we know that we must reduce emissions now in order to care for this planet and each other. We are therefore calling on corporate leaders and communities, like Duke Energy, to make the necessary emissions reductions for the good of our world. Click here to read and endorse our resolution.
The Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC) is now accepting applications for funding of programs that serve at risk and delinquent youth in Mecklenburg County. The approximately $2,051,713 million anticipated allocation will be provided for fiscal year 2021-2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022). A pre-Bid information Session is mandatory to apply for funds. There are other requirements as well. For the full list of requirements and to apply for funding please go to the website.
Saturday, February 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Online
Bread for the World advocates/activists invite you to join them for an online seminar focused on existing and developing advocacy opportunities to end hunger. This seminar will focus on connecting faith communities to direct advocacy with national decision makers. The federal government is positioned to have a far greater impact than charitable agencies. Bread for the World offers a pathway for those who are called and willing to marshal efforts together for greater effectiveness. Click here to register.
The Harvard Skillbase Team is excited to announce the launch of a new pilot Community of Practice professional development series this spring. This free month-long virtual cohort is targeted towards front-line staff working with jobseekers in American Job Centers, non-profit and community-based organizations, and state government. Participants will engage with a peer network of leaders to share about tools and techniques being used to meet the needs of jobseekers throughout the challenges of COVID-19.
As a Skillbase collaborator, we are excited to invite you to share this opportunity with your staff or organizations you work with who serve jobseekers and to encourage individuals who would benefit from this professional development to register. The blurb below and our website have more information for staff about the program and how to register. Help spread the word to all who would benefit from this free professional development opportunity. firstname.lastname@example.org
Key topics covered will include:
Finding free and high-quality tools for building digital skills
Working with low-digital literacy learners
Navigating online career and job search resources
Easy-to-use free English language learning resources
Best practices for digital service delivery and servicing client needs in an online setting
There's no question that one of the main causes of [CMS student] absenteeism is a lack of internet connectivity. Several organizations have tried to help. But until recently, the efforts have been scattershot, making it difficult for people who need access to the internet to find the resources. This week Digital Charlotte launched a central hub, of sorts. Here's how it works:
If the market-rate broadband is out of your budget, you can call 311 and access the “digital navigator hotline.”
From there you'll be connected with a digital navigator who’ll help you find a service, and a way to pay for it.
Digital Charlotte works with a few national programs to help subsidize internet and get it down to closer to $10-$15 a month. It works sort of like free and reduced lunch.
If you know of families in need, be sure to tell them to call 311. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Digital Navigator Program.
CLICK HERE to volunteer to be a digital navigator.
Prayer for Nonprofit Leaders
From an interview with Michael J. Fox that the Charlotte Center for Mindfulness shared:
How do you battle Parkinson’s?
I don’t look at life as a battle or as a fight. I don’t think I’m scrappy. I’m accepting. I say “living with” or “working through” Parkinson’s. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation—it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it. I look at it like I’m a fluid that’s finding the fissures and cracks and flowing through.
The challenges are real, the difficulties are real. May you find yourself a fluid working through the fissures and the cracks. You are loved and appreciated.