Building hope, breaking intergenerational poverty

For more than 1,300 residents in the Renaissance and Little Rock Apartments neighborhoods, Renaissance West Community Initiative (RWCI) is their “community quarterback.”

The nonprofit organization uses holistic community revitalization efforts to promote a collaborative community and fight intergenerational poverty.

“An innovative and collaborative approach enables us to respond to the dynamic needs of the community,” said William “Mack” McDonald Jr., chief executive officer.

That approach includes transformative programming and infrastructure targeting mixed-income housing, a cradle-to-career education pipeline and community health and wellness provision.

However, like many area nonprofits, RWCI is feeling the financial and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic — particularly with fundraising and resident needs.

“The demand for case management, life navigation and direct services has risen significantly due to the pandemic,” McDonald said.

Since March, 26% of its residents receiving case management support have been laid off, received reduced hours or have resigned to stay home with their children due to school closings.

“The role of RWCI as the community quarterback for COVID-19 relief and response in the neighborhood has been critical for preventing residents’ immediate crises from turning into tragedies,” McDonald said.

RWCI was recently awarded $125,000 as a COVID-19 Response Fund Grant recipient.

“Thanks to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, RWCI has worked with many of our partners to meet the needs of our most severely impacted residents,” he said.

With the grant, the organization has assisted residents with meeting critical needs such as unemployment claims and rental, food and toiletries assistance. It has also made mental health and support group services available to residents.

‪We are extremely grateful to the United Way of Central Carolinas + Foundation For The Carolinas COVID-19 Response Fund...

Posted by Renaissance West Community Initiative on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Additionally, the organization has ensured that its students have access to virtual learning using Chromebooks and hot spots.

“We hope that the impact of virtual learning and lack of classroom time does not increase the achievement gap for our school-aged children, McDonald said. “Summer programming for the children in the neighborhood is critical to limit and prevent summer academic loss. We are having to be innovative and thoughtful about programming activities for the children.”

When asked what his hope is for the community during this time, McDonald replied: “Regarding the community at large, we hope that all children are able to get the best education our schools can possibly provide. We hope that the economic recovery is rapid and the impact on government support programs is minimal.”

RWCI is one of many organizations working to support Mecklenburg County residents in need of food, financial and housing assistance.

Over the next month, Crisis Assistance Ministry expects an unprecedented emergency for our neighbors who have lost their jobs or had their work hours cut amid the crunching economic downturn, and due to the financial repercussions and disasters the virus has caused people.

Crisis Assistance Ministry provides assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.

The combination of difficulties people have paying rent, mortgages, utility payments, spikes in foreclosures and evictions, asserting tenant's rights, homelessness, and a second wave of the coronavirus this winter will be a heavy weight on tens of thousands of families.

WSOC-TV has launched 9 Crisis Help. The funds collected will go directly to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help people pay essential bills.