My name is Charles Robinson. I live and work in one of the largest and most diverse communities in Charlotte and I’m also part of a feeding program. Right now, because of COVID-19, we’re serving about 6,000 meals a week. We didn’t intend to do that many, but there’s a need. I made a post on Facebook, and I said if I can get a kitchen, I’m going to feed everybody. It turned out to be more people than I expected, but I don’t mind. The community is going to help me.
Right now my shop is closed because of the virus, so I’m not at work anyway. I don’t have a lot of bills, and only have one kid left at home…the rest of my kids are graduates. So college is paid for…I thank God for that..because I had three in school at the same time and I didn’t think I was ever going to have money again!
You know…a lot of people don’t share my faith, but I honestly believe that God is going to provide my needs. This kitchen just shows me that is true. I put out the word that I needed a kitchen, and one of the local churches gave me a kitchen. Then somebody else said they had food that they didn’t know what to do with. It ended up being enough food to feed 1500 people for three days!
Over the last few weeks group after group has donated a little bit here and there. We’ve done a little fundraising and had an overwhelming response from the Charlotte community to help us do this feeding. I feel blessed to be a part of it and to lead it. We are a team.
When all this is over with, I want to see people get back to work. If that means I gotta go knock on doors, then I will. We’ve talked to businesses that are going to offer employment opportunities to some of these folks who are living in hotels. We’ve partnered with some banks that are going to teach people how to be responsible with the finances. We’re going to see how to get their credit scores freed up and train them in homeownership. Then when they get through the program, if their credit score is high enough, we have groups ready to put them in qualifying programs that will help them with a downpayment on a home.
We have tent cities that are popping up in Charlotte right now, and when you see those kids, it hurts your heart. I wish I had a million dollars so I could buy some land and build housing for them. It’s unfortunate what those kids are going through.
And for some of those kids…it hasn’t been just a couple of months of being displaced. Some of those kids have been in hotels for two years. Their mom is trying to work and there’s always the threat of being put out, and when they do get put out, they buy tents and have to sleep outside. And when you have to sleep outside there’s no place to go to the bathroom or wash your hands or shower.
I just keep thinking about those children. It’s sad. Charlotte is one of the richest and fastest- growing cities in the world and we still have this situation. That’s why the Community Hub is so important. We can do our part and share the resources that we have.
We plan to have a garden where the kids can have access to fresh, healthy food. We also want to build a playground where they can play, and have benches around so Seniors can come and find community as well. I also work with the schools and assist with a program that helps kids improve their reading.
I hope, too, as the kids start coming to the Hub, that the parents will see them going and want to come too. When you can build a relationship with the parents, and you gain the trust of the family, you can build a better future for everybody. We need businesses to get behind this, too, so we can offer a whole other level of resources for these folks and rebuild these families together.
The hub is a great opportunity to sow into a community. The city did a study recently and it showed that the neighborhood where I live is a hot-bed for crime. The problem is, you can keep studying the demographics and taking the statistics, but if you don’t put a plan of action in place or get to the root of the problem, you’re never going to solve it. Then five years down the road, you’ll do another study…and find out the problems are all still the same. That’s just wasting time and resources and lives are negatively impacted.
When you’re allowing all these kids to have to live in basic survival mode, you’re just driving crime. If you care about our city…if you care about our communities…then you have to get involved. Come volunteer at the Community Hub, or become a tutor through the i-Ready program and help a kid learn how to read. Kids need to know they are loved and they have to feel safe. It doesn’t take a lot to change the course of a life. It just takes the knowledge that there is a need and the willingness to do something about it.
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