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. Please email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom access code. We look forward to seeing you!
Minutes by Debbie Rubenstein
Meeting was recorded to accommodate those who were absent due to religious observance or other reasons.
— simple and direct meditation practice called tonglen (Tibetan for “sending and receiving”) – Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
I breathe in the disappointment and frustration of disturbance to routines, plans, and aspirations. I breathe out patience, courage, adequacy, and peace.
I breathe in the loneliness and sadness of days spent in isolation without human touch. I breathe out deep connection and community.
I breathe in the brokenness of our social order, and the cruelty that dehumanizes the most vulnerable among us. I breathe out dignity, compassion, and a burning desire for justice.
I breathe in all the worry, fear, and confusion growing in this time of anxiety and not knowing. I breathe out calm energy and trust in goodness.
I breathe in the desires of good people everywhere seeking alternative ways to serve and to love. I breathe out creativity and confidence in the gracious abiding of the Divine.
The CMPD had received a donation of goods and was seeking a place to share them. CharMeck Responds coalition recommended that CMPD donate their collected supplies to a local elder community and so, working with the motorcycle division in University Area, they successfully donated them.
Second Harvest Food Bank has set up an opportunity to serve at the Charlotte Convention Center by packing food boxes for local families in need. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday either in the morning (9am-12pm) or afternoon (1pm-4pm). Participants must be 18 years or older. Masks and gloves will be provided. There will be three 10 person teams during each time slot. The Convention Center offers plenty of space to allow for appropriate distancing. If you would like to participate by coordinating a team, please email Jessica Pierson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
They are partnering with Second Harvest at the convention center. Last week they had 180 slots to staff which were quickly filled. They filled next week’s slot already with only a handful of empty places. Each organization is asked to bring 10 people for a shift. There are 2 shifts/day, A.M. and P.M. PPE are provided.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) drive began last week and PPE drop offs have been established at 8 YMCAs. The best partnerships are either with organizations with large caches of PPE or with manufacturers or organizations that can mass produce them. Please note that a 3-D printer can create high-grade equipment. A list of the most urgent needs and the drop off locations is attached to the minutes.
Urban Ministry/Men’s Shelter
Grateful for the daily prayers – keep them coming. Continue to operate at all of their sites. They are following larger cities to anticipate future needs and trends. Based on what they are seeing in Boston and elsewhere, they anticipate that there will continue to be a huge need for their services and, unfortunately, that more of the people they serve are or will become ill. Biggest needs right now:
Space to quarantine and isolate folks. They are testing guests as needed.
Bag lunches to give for grab and go. Sandwiches in as large or small a quantity as you can provide should be delivered to the College street location between 8:30 and 1. Guidelines for making sandwiches is attached to these minutes.
They can accept canned food as well though Second Harvest is a better place to donate. Canned items will not be rejected, however, and they are able to use them.
PPE particularly reusable and disposable masks.
Tim Emry spoke about their work. He is a Criminal Defense attorney in town. Those in jails and prisons are part of our most vulnerable populations. There have been over 1300 confirmed COVID cases and 13 deaths nationally.
Mecklenburg says there are no confirmed cases in our jails but they are not testing either. Decarcerate Mecklenburg is asking our courts to make a plan for release. Folks in jail are accused of crimes, not convicted and usually remain there because they are too poor to make bail. Since this crisis began, CMPD has arrested 1260 people for misdemeanor offenses or traffic violations that could have been treated with a citation instead.
DM is planning a Good Friday protest tomorrow at noon. Cars will gather in the parking lot across from 1stBaptist Church off Davidson St. at 11:30 a.m. to place signs in cars and organize. Then the line of cars will circle the jail and CMPD headquarters six times, slowly, taking about an hour total. For more details on how to get involved, email Tim Emry at email@example.com, or call him at 704.839.6772.
QC Family Tree
They are starting to run low on supplies they provide to neighbors (snacks to 25 households per week). They have replaced community meal with delivery meals every other Friday to houses. Contact Helms Jarrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop off supplies at 2910 Parkway Ave (28208) in Enderly Park to support their work.
Request that someone help update this group on what the immigrant community needs. Pastor Susan Suarez Webster shared that the Latin American Coalition has a help line in Spanish so if you have latinx who need food or other support they can call 980.320.3743 and get help in Spanish. The United Way funds the hotline.
Prayer offered by Rev. Amy Jacks Dean for Non-Profit leaders:
Gracious God, Thank you for the people that are your hands and your feet and your voice in the community doing this work. We pray for strength for them, we pray for rest for them. We pray that people will listen and show compassion in new and creative ways. We pray for those that all these organizations serve: the vulnerable. Across the board we believe that you call on us to serve them the most. Give us a vision for BEYOND this moment and help us to live IN this moment. But help us to look forward to a future beyond this pandemic to a world that might look more just, more right and help us to work toward that together.
Virtual Visits Idea:
MeckMIN would love to encourage interfaith Virtual Visits during this time when so many congregations are meeting on-line. If you’d be willing to help coordinate these visits, please let LeDayne know.
Letter to Local Government Officials and EOC:
Subsequent to the request from the EOC last week that congregations open their doors and become 24/7 impromptu shelters, Jay Leach, LeDayne, and Liz Clasen-Kelly, with advice from activists such as Jasmine Sherman, nonprofit leaders such as Carol Hardison and others, have crafted a response. While the County’s suggestion is not workable, a letter has been crafted asking for the following four actions:
Based on CDC recommendations, we ask for a commitment from all law enforcement entities in our county that they will not attempt to break up or disturb existing tent encampments. We will continue to work to educate people living in these camps about safety protocols and to get them the supplies and support they need.
Also based on CDC recommendations, we ask that more portable latrines with handwashing facilities be placed and regularly cleaned in areas frequented by people who are unsheltered. In addition, where feasible, we ask that public restrooms remain open 24 hours per day. We welcome the opportunity to help identify the most needed locations for these additional resources.
To reduce the risk of death, we ask for the expansion of 100-120 hotel rooms, targeting those who are unsheltered and living with one of the CDC’s high-risk factors for severe disease (older adults, those with asthma or HIV, etc.) Grassroots groups and service providers will develop a community approach to identify and connect these individuals with high risks to available hotel rooms and can provide appropriate staffing and support. This new hotel resource would be for people currently living outside or another place unfit for human habitation. Given that the purpose is to stop the spread of COVID-19, this project would be ended shortly after the end of the stay at home order.
To avoid the increase of unsheltered homelessness, we call upon city and county officials to insist that all of those currently residing in hotels as their primary residence not be evicted without following the process of NC landlord/tenant law. All such residents who believe they are being wrongly evicted should be instructed to remain in place and should be referred to Legal Aid (704-376-1600) for support.
The full letter is being shared now by email. All who are willing to sign on are asked to send their name and organization to LeDayneledayne@meckmin.org by FRIDAY APRIL 10 AT NOON using the subject line SIGN ON Action for Unsheltered People,If already signed, you do not need to reconfirm your signature. The letter will be distributed to all County and City elected leaders and managers tomorrow. The response is expected to be positive.
Closing Reflection and Prayer —
Imam Shane Atkinson
All but one chapter of the Qur’an begins with, “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” As we look to the teachings of this ‘Prophet of Mercy’, how are we advised to interact with others?The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “The most beloved people to God are those who are most beneficial to people.” In a time when we are called to shelter in place, how can we be of benefit to others? In the current situation, benefiting others may look like refraining from actions that may further the spread of the virus and not hoarding food or cleaning supplies. To move forward in this manner not only requires a great deal of generosity, but it also calls us to be courageous. The benefit we can extend to each other as we shelter in place is just as important as how we relate to the outside world. It is easy to feel aggravated and restless as we are confined to our homes. Now more than ever, we should dig deep and extend kind words, patience, and prayers to our friends and families. And last but not least, we can be gentle and forgiving towards ourselves as we seek to navigate this trying time with courage and compassion. May the blessings of God rest upon you, May God’s peace abide with you, May God’s presence illuminate your hearts,
Now and forevermore.”