New Neighbor Services Staff Welcomed
In late August, Urban Ministry Center welcomed three new additions to our Neighbor Services team. John Zika is here courtesy of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library with funding from an LSTA grant. John is working through June, 2013, to help neighbors with job finding skills and to support our JobWorks counselors. Kristen Cothran is a Vista Volunteer with us until the end of August, 2013, and will be focused on spreading awareness and building community partnerships. Sean Robinson is a MSW student at Winthrop University, who will be counseling neighbors in his internship through May, 2013.
Our new staff members were asked to reflect on a portion of their extensive orientation over the last few weeks:
One of the last pieces of our orientation, a walking tour of two organizations close to UMC, was possibly one of the most informative. We first walked to the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (only three blocks north of UMC), and met Nefertiri of the Shelter who kindly accompanied us on our tour. This was extremely eye opening! One of the things that was most shocking to us was the number of men that needed their services and the extent that they were willing to go to try to help them all. Our guide Nefertiri explained that on certain nights they fill every bed available and so they place cots and blankets on any open floor space just to get (500+) people inside and off the streets. She also told us about the resources they offer: legal aid, a chiropractor on site, SACOT (substance abuse program), as well as a nurse and social worker (similar to Urban Ministry Center).
There is a large-screen television in a room where many of the residents watch the 5PM news every day, and then proceed with other viewing adventures, e.g. Monday Night Football in autumn. The Men's Shelter serves three meals per day: Breakfast and Supper are for residents only, while lunch is for anyone who wants to visit the shelter during the noon meal. It was also very well maintained, and impressed us with its cleanliness.
We found it very surprising that the shelter was chiefly staffed by female employees. The staff expressed a feeling of safety and stated that hired security guards were not needed, because most of the men were so grateful for their work and support they became very protective of them. This correlates with the mission and principles of the Urban Ministry Center. By focusing on relationships and helping the individual, it allows a connection to be created. That connection is more security than one could ever need and it creates a mutual respect and appreciation for the other. It was also great to see that residents of the Shelter are encouraged to provide input on matters which they are concerned about.
After leaving the Men’s shelter we continued on to the Homeless Resource Center in the Hal Marshall Building Annex at College Street and Phifer Street. We think it’s great that there’s something open after the UMC is closed. The staff there gave us a tour, explaining the services offered at the HRC, the hours the Center is open, and the clientele of the Center. And we even began to see some of the neighbors gathering outside before they opened their doors.
Of note here is the fact that many of the individuals, who frequent the UMC, also visit the HRC. The Center has served the community by giving the homeless who used to congregate at "the Wall" outside the Hal Marshall Building a more comfortable and uplifting place to interact. Once inside we saw big screen TVs, air hockey table and a pool table. Another resource offered in hot weather, the Center not only provides a cool respite for those on the streets, but also provides medical staffing on days when the heat index exceeds 102 degrees.
We have come to appreciate partnerships between different places such as the Men’s Shelter, HRC, Crisis Assistance, Second Harvest Food Bank and of course the Urban Ministry Center. By minimally overlapping resources, and cooperating together, we collectively are able to more effectively help our neighbors and the homeless population in Charlotte. We greatly enjoyed our walking tour of these facilities, and the opportunity we had to expand our knowledge of the support network for the homeless within one mile of UMC.
We are thrilled to be working in a place where the staff and volunteers are very invested in the neighbors and we have already begun creating relationships with many as well. We are looking forward to our next year here at the Urb!
Another entry in celebration of our great VISTA's, during AmeriCorps Week. Last summer I got a ‘cold call’ from a donor wanting to help the hom...
“Welcome Home” reads the sign in John’s new home. It was made for him by a group of elementary school students, one of the several groups that have he...
In mid-June, I was selected by the Arts & Science Council to attend the Americans for the Arts Conference (AFTA) in San Antonio, Texas. The experience...
We couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to make this project a success! There’s no way we can thank everyone (from the inkind sponsors, to ...
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE ...