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Oct 1, 2020|Faith, Community and Non-Profit Leader Covid-19 Check-In Meeting

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. In addition, if you would like to receive notification when these minutes are posted, please subscribe to our newsletter.


In This Issue:

  1. Harold Easter

  2. Election: What can we do to prepare?

  3. MeckMIN Updates

  4. Meckleburg County Health Dept. Covid 19 Update

  5. NC Dept. of Health & Human Services Halloween & House of Worship Guidelines

  6. Extra Credit Grant Program

  7. Non-Profit Updates: Crisis Assistance Ministry, TORC, Freedom School Partners, Queen City Family Tree, Roof Above, Habitat for Humanity, VoteRiders, International House, MeckTech, Safe Alliance

  8. House of Faith Updates: Covenant Presbyterian, Gailillee Ministries of East Charlotte, Central United Methodist Church

  9. Security & Safety Symposium for Faith-Based Communities

  10. Prayer for Our Leaders


Important Dates:

  • Oct 8, 11am: Next MeckMIN Community Leader meeting. Register Here

  • Oct 8, 7pm: Blue Jean Bash for Habitat for Humanity

  • Oct 11: Crop Walk

  • Oct 14, 2pm: Refugee 101, Refugee Support Services, led by Rachel Humphries.Please email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom access.

  • Oct 15th, 12:30pm: Sign up for MeckMIN's next Food For Thought: Important Life Conversations: Are You Having Them? Presenter: Lorrie Klemons, RN, MSN, Certified Dementia Practitoner, Author, 2020 National Caregivers Conference Speaker, and owner of Klemons Health Care Consulting. Families should be proactively having Important life conversations throughout the birth-death continuum; especially critical to the safe, dignified and joyful aging of parents.

  • Oct 18, 2pm: Souls to the Polls, Concerned Clergy of Charlotte

  • Oct 24: Queen City Family Tree March to the Polls

  • Oct 27,1-3:15pm: Security & Safety Symposium for Faith-Based Communities. Register Here

  • Nov 24, 7pm: 45th annual MeckMIN Community-Wide Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Become a Sponsor!


Opening Reflection, by Rabbi Judy Schindler

God of Hannah, who saw tears roll down her face and provided solace,

God of Hagar, who opened her eyes to the see the wellspring before her, help us in our moments of despair to open our eyes to see the wellsprings before us,God of Miriam, who led our people in song as dangerous waters parted and who merited the creation of wells in the desert, help us to celebrate the minutes and the days and the lives that we have.

May this year bring healing to all of us: replenishing rains, purifying waters that wash away germs keeping all those we encounter safe, sustaining streams of friendship, wellsprings of prayer.May our words of kindness and compassion flow forth from our mouths to heal others, and may the words of others wash away our fears strengthening our faith.May healing come to each one of you, healing of body, healing of soul, and may healing come to all. Amen.


1. Harold Easter

Please be mindful that the video of Harold Easter’s death is now publicly available and there are reports that it is very disturbing. The four officers involved and their supervisor have resigned. Let’s pray that we can all be mindful of this painful incident and its impact on the Easter family and on our larger community.


2. The Election:What can we do to prepare?

Be mindful of the turmoil that may confront us in the wake of the election. Clergy have been discussing how to be a peaceful presence on election day. Loaves and Fishes will be closing and encouraging their staff to act as poll and election day volunteers. Jewish Federation is working to ensure that people have good voter information. Contact Johnelle, with International House for voting and volunteer opportunities. MeckMIN would like to host a training on how to help keep the peace and support others on election day. If you can offer training, please email LeDayne Polaski,


3. MeckMIN Updates

Congratulations to LeDayne Polaski! Oct 1, 2020 marks LeDayne's official 1 year anniversary as Executive Director of MeckMIN. We appreciate all the important work you are doing for MeckMIN and our community!

“I love how loud MeckMIN has gotten of late.”

At first the message took me aback – loud?

Here in the South is that even a compliment? We’ve been “loud”?

But then I started to think back over the year, my first at MeckMIN, and I began to think, “Well, yes, we have gotten rather loud. Thanks for noticing!"

We’ve been loud in saying from the beginning of the pandemic that our community focus has to be on our most vulnerable neighbors.

We’ve been loud in identifying local anti-racism resources and urging congregations to use them to deepen their work against this lasting scourge.

We’ve been loud working in partnership to lament the lives lost to the virus, to commit to continued vigilance, and to call on local officials to make concerted efforts to protect unsheltered people.

We’ve been loud in shining a light on the needs made so evident by the pandemic and seeking out and making known resources available to help meet them.

We've been loud strengthening the ability of houses of faith and non-profits to reach out in coordinated, compassionate and effective ways.

We’ve been loud as we’ve offered training on trauma awareness and resilience and on how understanding both undergirds effective work against racism.

We’ve been loud as we’ve worked to guide the faith community in how best to step up to fill the gaps in this season of remote education.

We’ve been loud as we’ve added all this new programming even while continuing with and making Covid-safe our Community Leader Awards Breakfast, Food for Thought, Open Tables, the Community-Wide Interfaith Thanksgiving service, monthly events for youth, and more.

If you too celebrate MeckMIN being “loud”, we hope you’ll make a gift to help us continue speaking out for compassion, understanding, and justice. Gifts from individuals are a key source of income allowing us to sustain all we do.

Thank you for your commitment to the common good – and thanks for helping to keep us loud!

LeDayne McLeese Polaski

Executive Director

I love how loud MeckMIN has gotten of la
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MeckMIN Needs Your Support! Gifts from individuals, congregations and organizations are our greatest source of income allowing us to sustain all we do. If you are a nonprofit agency, house of faith or an independent who appreciates and understands the important work that we are doing, we hope you will make a gift today to help us continue our quest for compassion, understanding and justice.

MeckMIN Membership: We invite individuals, congregations of all faiths and nonprofit organizations to join MeckMIN’s interfaith network of members who are working together to foster cooperation, promote racial and ethnic understanding, and address social needs in Mecklenburg County.

  • Form meaningful relationships with people of other cultures and faiths​

  • Deepen the faith of your congregation as they expand their understandings of other faith traditions

  • Be a facilator of positive change in our community 

  • Promote programs to member organizations through our e-newsletter

  • Get recognition of membership on MeckMIN’s website and in community-wide event programs

  • Receive recognition as a community collaborator associated with Mecklenburg County’s premier interfaith organization

Share Our Story on your social media accounts, LinkedIn account, friends, family and co-workers. Please help spread the word about MeckMIN and the work that we do.

Invite all to subscribe to our newsletter to receive important information and updates on ways we can provide support for community together.

Food for Thought Oct 15th, 12:30pm: Join Lorrie Klemons, RN, MSN, Certified Dementia Practitoner, Author, 2020 National Caregivers Conference Speaker, and owner of Klemons Health Care Consulting, as she presents "Important Life Conversations: Are You Having Them?" on Oct, 15, 2020. Families should be proactively having Important life conversations throughout the birth-death continuum but they can be extremely difficult to have depending on varying circumstances. These conversations are especially critical to the safe, dignified, and joyful aging of parents. Lorrie's passion is to make sure every patient has an empowered voice in any healthcare setting and that every member of the healthcare team engages and embraces such empowerment in order to make sure the patient's voice is heard.

Calling all Youth! Open spots are still available for participation in the Charlotte Interfaith Virtual Youth Choir. The performance will be held virtually during the MeckMIN 45th Annual Community-Wide Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on Nov 24th at 7 pm. Click here to sign-up!

Refugee Support 101 Class, Oct 14th at 2pm. : The MeckMIN East Charlotte Interfaith Group participated in a Refugee Support 101 class held by Rachel Humphries of Refugee Support Services . Another class will be offered for those interested in refugee issues on October 14th at 2pm. All are invited! If you feel your community would benefit from its own class on this subject, Rachel is open to leading more. Please email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom access code.

Hotel Project, Volunteers Needed! MeckMIN has been coordinating volunteers at three hotels that opened for unsheltered neighbors during the pandemic. Two of those hotels are ceasing service as of today (though the neighbors are being rehoused elsewhere). Hotel 1 will continue through December and volunteers will continue to be needed. If you cannot continue the work you originally committed to, please email LeDayne so she can arrange for others to step in.


1. Become a congregational, or organizational member of MeckMIN to keep this work going

2. Make a gift to become an individual member

3. Share our updated website with your networks

4. Join the newsletter list if you do not already hear from us

5. Invite people to join in Food for Thought with Lorrie Klemons

6. Invite the youth in your networks to become a part of the Virtual Interfaith Thankgiving Choir performance at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.

7. Attend Refugee 101 with Rachel Humphries on October 14th at 2 pm and consider scheduling a session for your house of faith. Please email LeDayne Polaski for Zoom access 8. Hotel Project volunteers needed! Email LeDayne


4. Mecklenburg County Health Department COVID Update

Mecklenburg County Health Department (MCHD), Kimberly Scales reports that numbers are stable at this time and MCHD is continuing to monitor the numbers as we move into phase 3 Friday at 5 pm. Phase 3 allows for up to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors. Movie theaters and others can open at 30%. Colleges and schools are starting again. MCHD is encouraging everyone to get the flu shot. If this is an active flu season, good vaccination numbers will ease the pressure on hospitals as they continue to fight COVID 19. Please call 704-336-6500 to schedule an appointment for your flu shot with the Health Department. The best plan of action to stay safe remains the Three Ws – Wash your hands, Wear a mask and Wait six feet away from people.


1.Get a flu shot, Please call 704-336-6500 to schedule an appointment for your flu shot with the Health Department

2. Practice the 3 W’s -Wash your hands, Wear a mask and Wait six feet away from people.


5. NC Dept. of Health & Human Services -Halloween and House of Worship Guidelines

Halloween 2020 Recommendations: The NC Dept of Health and Human Services (NCHHS) recommends AGAINST trick or treating and trunk or treating this year and classifies them as high risk activities. They recommend some alternatives and they also remind everyone that a costume mask is not a substitute for a COVID 19 mask.

Guidelines for Houses of Worship: If your house of worship is considering opening for full attendance, please be sure that people remain six feet apart and if there is to be singing you will need to take extra precautions. Excerpts include:

  • Limit in-person worship when possible to mitigate the risk of viral spread. Provide an option for virtual services.

  • In the event of in-person worship, conduct the worship service outside, if possible.

  • In the event of in-person worship, limit occupancy to 100 people per room or 30% of stated fire capacity, whichever is less (If there is not a fire capacity number for the room, limit occupancy to 100 people, or 7 people per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less.) Ensure sufficient social distancing with at least 6-foot separation between groups other than those in their household


1. Check out the NCHHS guidelines for Houses of Worship reopening


6. Extra Credit Grant Program

Earlier this month, the NC General Assembly approved the Extra Credit Grant Program which provides $335 payments to help taxpaying families with children pay for virtual schooling and child-care costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. While most taxpayers will receive these payments automatically, low-income families that did not file a 2019 state tax return will need to apply to the NC Department of Revenue (DOR) to receive their $335 payments by October 15. This week, DOR opened the online and printable paper applications for Extra Credit Grants in English and Spanish.

Takeaways: Please share the above links with your networks


7. Non-Profit Updates

Crisis Assistance: Liz Foster, Director of volunteering shared that they are restarting a number of volunteer opportunities.

  • Free store is reopening with appointments that allow for 2 families of four each hour.

  • Need volunteers to help process donations using COVID 19 protocols.

  • Breakfast ministry is beginning with volunteers sharing breakfast foods with families who are arriving for drive through processing. Volunteers have found this ministry particularly joyful to do.

  • There are also off-site opportunities for blanket making and furniture building.

“We have a direct call to action and need as many volunteers as possible over the next few weeks. We need volunteers to court watch during eviction proceedings, take daily pictures of the docket and/or staff a self help table that will have CDC order information, financial assistance information and information on starting a tenant association."

Eviction court is Monday thru Friday and starts at 9am. If you, your group or organization or someone in your network may be interested in supporting this effort, please email Apryl Lewis or Jessica Moreno so we can coordinate dates and times.See last week’s minutes for information about eviction and preventing eviction due to COVID 19 barriers.


Freedom School Partners: Glenda Bernhardt shared that they are in the planning phase for next summer. If you have space,particularly if you upgraded your internet and protocols to allow you to host remote learning this semester, and if you are interested in becoming a partner site, they would be very interested in working with you. They may not be able to use CMS facilities next summer so finding new locations is of great importance.

Takeaways: Partner sites needed for summer 2021! Please reach out to Glenda Bernhardt if you can be a Freedom School location


Queen City Family Tree (QCFT) Greg Jarrell shared that they are hosting a march to the polls from Enderly on Oct 24th. Email Greg for more information.


Roof Above: Ashley Brown shared that this year’s Room at the Inn will be in Roof Above locations but they will still need Host Coordinators. A list of volunteer opportunities should land in your inbox next Thursday or Friday. Other needs include on-perishable items (chips, crackers, etc. See wish list on website)

Takeaways: Please share wish list with your network and more volunteer opportunities will be announced next week.


Habitat for Humanity· Zach Surber shared that their Blue Jean Bash is next week. It will only be 45 minutes long and it is free. It is an opportunity to learn more about what they are doing and how you can join in. Off-site volunteering opportunities will continue through the end of the year and seem to appeal to the youth in particular. Habitat for Humanity has been working with over 30 other organizations to end Source of Income Discrimination. Collectively, we believe that if a family can pay rent with a legal and verifiable source of income, it shouldn’t matter where those funds come from. It’s now time call on Charlotte City Council to end SOID in CLT. Contact your council members today and urge them to amend the city’s fair housing ordinance. Learn more and take action at All Income Counts.


1. Please share information about the Blue Jean Bash in your network and encourage people to come and learn more.


VoteRiders: Pam Pearson thanked Roof Above for being an amazing partner. Together with LWV they hosted about 8 voter registration and voter id clinics all outside and using safe distancing programs. Where there was a leader on site who connected with residents at hotel, there was a line of applicants which was great. They will even make VoteRiders a part of regular intake so when they register for their program, they will also be asked about ID and registration. Pam can come out to meet their needs at that time rather waiting to do it when there is an urgent need and folks are desperate. Returning citizens are among the most in need of this assistance right now.

Takeaways: Contact Pam if you think your clients could benefit from voter clinic. Don’t wait until you KNOW there is an urgent need.


International House: Erin Phelps, Education Coordinator, shared that International House is serving 132 K-3rd English Language Learners (ELL) at Briarwood Academy between September and December 2020. Volunteers are visiting families each week, during morning school hours, to deliver food, educational supplies, provide referrals to community resources, and be a friendly face for the students to associate with their learning. We are looking for volunteers to be available 8-1pm during the week. They need about 10 more volunteers. International House also continues to work on citizenship prep and ESL.

Takeaways: 10 Volunteers needed. Please share with your networks. Email Erin Phelps


MeckTECH: Saul Hernandez shared that there is a pilot program with the CMS Library and Mecklenburg County targeted to adults experiencing digital divide. Those unable to purchase a device will be provided a full hardware kit. It is a pilot program. You can get laptop, mouse, headset, operating system etc. for those who want to pursue workforce development and other things. Eligibility Criteria:

Mecklenburg County resident, 18 years or older, who is without a device AND that exhibits one or combination of the following:

  • Health and Human Services /DSS client (TANF, Unified Workforce, Seniors) who does not have a device and cannot access virtual services because of COVID-19 closures.

  • Older adults (60+ years old) experiencing social isolation due to COVID-19

  • Any adult who lost a job due to COVID-19

  • Any adult needing to reeducate and reskill for the job market because of the COVID-19 closures

  • Any adult needing access to telehealth services due to COVID-19

  • Adult Charlotte Mecklenburg Library members who due to COVID-19 have not been able to access services

Takeaways: Email Saul Hernandez with CMS Library if you know of someone who meets above criteria that is in need of laptop, mouse, headset, etc.


Safe Alliance - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month:Tenille Banner, reminds us that today is the beginning of domestic violence awareness month. This is a time when we raise public awareness about community responsibility towards domestic violence and when we educate individuals on where to seek resources. In Mecklenburg County, call the 24/7 Greater Charlotte Hope Line at 980.771.4673 for questions about parenting issues, domestic violence or sexual assault.

Takeaway: Learn more about domestic violence and ways you can help on Safe Alliance website. A special request to all clergy ; please talk about domestic violence with your congregation members as it allows people to feel safe coming to you with the issue.


8. House of Faith Updates

Covenant Presbyterian Child Development Center: Lucy Crain shared that their child development center is currently open and ¼ of their seats are available to families requiring financial aid. If families spend more than 10% of income on child care, then they can apply. They can get up to 50% of monthly tuition for child care.

Takeaway: Please share this opportunity with families in your network that may be in need of financial aid for child care.


Galillee Ministries of East Charlotte (GMEC): Deb Blackwood shared that Galilee, in partnership with Merry Oaks Elementary, has opened Learning Vine, a remote learning site for 24 fragile learners in the old St. Andrews worship space.Twenty-four K-5 students and 5 teachers from the greater enrichment program are meeting Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 to 4:30. Most of these students have not been able to get online prior to this point. There is a Wish List of items that are listed on Amazon.


Central United Methodist Church hosted a non-partisan voter education event on Oct. 3, 2020 with NC Latino Congress and NC Latino Power


9. Security & Safety Symposium for Faith-Based Communities

Security & Safety Symposium for Faith-Based Communities , Oct 27th from 1pm - 3:15pm. Register Here. FBI, DHS and InfraGardNCR are hosting a symposium for faith leaders and security personnel. The symposium will bring together faith-based and community leaders, security professionals, law enforcement, and federal agencies to discuss behavioral indicators associated with individuals who may be on the pathway to violence as well as prevention strategies to help houses of worship enhance their security posture. The forum will also include information on health and safety protocols to assist houses of worship as they resume and/or continue operations while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Our speakers include: - Stephanie Yanta, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit - Kathleen Kooiman, Chief Chaplain, Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Faith Liaison Officer/Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center - Todd Richins, Director of Field Operations, Church Security Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Michael Masters, National Director & CEO, Secure Community Network - Jeanne Benincasa Thorpe, Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security - Keri Kei Shibata, Police Chief, University of Notre Dame Police Department Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be on hand to discuss resources and best practices for houses of worship. Registration is required. Immediately after registering, you will receive connection details directly from GoToWebinar / On the day and time of the event, use the connection details in that email to access the event.

Takeaway: Please share this invitation broadly with colleagues in your communities. Questions? Email or visit . Prayer

10. Prayer For Leaders

We need some reminders right now – Remind us that for every tragedy that’s “newsworthy” there are a million kindnesses, and countless acts of love that go unreported.

- Nadia Bolz-Weber

May we stay open to the real tragedies and do our part in responding to them – and may we stay equally open to the kindnesses and acts of love.

- LeDayne McLeese Polaski


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