Sharing love and blessings, one block at a time. With those words, a group of Charlotteans set out on a mission to help.
The idea for the group, Block Love CLT, started in 2014 when founder, Deborah Woolard, went out with her kids to try and meet the needs of people on the street of uptown Charlotte. Those were people who many call homeless, but Woolard calls them neighbors.
“I would just go out, open my trunk and share food or whatever I had,” Woolard said.
The need in our city continues to grow, and the coronavirus has complicated reaching those people most in need.
When Mecklenburg County enacts the “stay at home” order that’s usually not an option for our city’s homeless population.
“Since the coronavirus started affecting our neighbors, our biggest concern has been for food,” Woolard said. “Social distancing, restaurants closing, libraries closed. It’s all complicating things for the people we are trying to help.”
At the same time, these added complications seem to have made their volunteers even stronger, finding new ways to help. Other nonprofits in the community that aren’t open are able to funnel some resources to Block Love CLT.
“We are feeding at least once a day to make sure our neighbors eat,” Woolard said.
As Mecklenburg County announces the closure of nonessential businesses and schools, few have announced steps to protect the homeless from COVID-19.
Life on the streets isn’t easy, but the many groups surrounding and partnering in this collective are focused on doing their part for the common good of everyone.
While some of the people being helped don’t have a home, some are employed but just don’t have the means to pay for food, so this community of volunteer heroes have stepped in to fill the gap between bills and meals.
Another arm of this community collective has set up at the Cosmopolitan Hope Faith Community Church where you can find the group setting up food heating trays to make sure some of their neighbors have a warm meal for breakfast and lunch. They are making to-go plates and bagged lunches.
Block Love CLT is found every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of 9th and Tryon St. that Woolard calls “the block.” The area near there is also known as “the wall” where it is common for some less fortunate are helped with a meal, sometimes donated clothing or toiletries, a smile or a prayer.
“When I was growing up, we would meet on the block,” Woolard said. “I want to change the narrative. We are helping our houseless neighbors. These are our family, and we want them to know that there is someone who cares enough to care about them.”
With all the challenges facing our community, it is obvious that this team of caring Charlotteans will stay in place for as long as it takes, and they are working and serving every day.
With the uncertainty of how the “stay at home” order will affect our population in need, the people within and surrounding Block Love CLT continue to help, support and love.
Whether it is driving meals to senior citizens, feeding students a warm meal or taking food to a tent community of homeless, this kind of community heroism will be here after coronavirus leaves.
“We are neighbors helping neighbors,” Woolard said. “When people care, it just makes it a little easier every day. It will only get harder when people care less.”
The group also has a need for bottled water, drinks, snack crackers, cookies, fresh fruit, pop top canned foods like sardines, Vienna sausages, tuna, and soups. Monetary donations can be via Cash App at $blockloveclt or drop off donations at 1245 Tom Hunter Road.
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