CHARLOTTE — Charlotte FC is aiming to make a difference off the field, and it’s starting with its neighbors who live on the streets.
In 2020, Rosie Krneta moved to Charlotte alongside her husband, Zoran Krneta, the sporting director for Charlotte FC. She got her first impression of Charlotte at a time when the entire world was shut down due to COVID-19.
“It was very apparent that Charlotte had an issue with homelessness because they were the only people I would see,” Rosie Krneta said. “And coming from London, which is a big city and has a huge problem with homelessness, I think I was shocked to come to a much smaller city and that was the first thing I was confronted with.”
Krneta says it was that confrontation that compelled her to do something. She’d spent years in the nonprofit sector, but says she always knew in her quest to make Charlotte home, she needed to find a meaningful way to leave an impact.
That led her to Roof Above.
“Well clearly the need is housing, or we wouldn’t be in business,” said Roof Above’s Lauren Cranford.
Cranford is the senior development officer for the Charlotte-based nonprofit.
“So the need is now more than ever, even though it’s not as visible,” Cranford said. “So I think what people can do is to see, and to care.”
The nonprofit serves nearly 1,200 people a day. It offers a range of services for people battling homelessness, including street outreach and emergency shelter.
Krneta is now among those who’ve committed themselves to volunteering weekly. She’s also bringing players and staff from Charlotte FC.
“So when the club had its first players coming in, I mentioned to people at the club I think it’s really important that they see the reality of the demographic of Charlotte,” Krneta said. “Who are the people that live in the city?”
Their goal is to each do a little, which collectively could leave an imprint.
“What Roof Above is trying to do is end homelessness not manage it,” Krneta said. “They’re not just providing soup kitchens or clothes to people experiencing homelessness; they are trying to end it. They’re trying to house people and that takes community effort.”
Cranford said the organization appreciates the team’s help.
“And come and serve during the season it’s just amazing. It’s a special treat for the people who are staying here and the staff. Just feel like they care and they care about Charlotte,” she said.
“Homelessness is a situation that someone is in,” Krneta said. “It doesn’t define who they are and I think to be seen for people like Charlotte FC -- young players who have no need to interact with the community -- or to come and volunteer just for some of those people using their services to actually feel that they’ve been seen.”
(WATCH BELOW: Statesville homeless shelter asks for more federal funding for affordable housing)
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