Community Action Team

posted in: Uncategorized | 0


Team Leader Reflection:

Ms. Velma Perry has been a longtime leader in the neighborhood, but has recently had health issues leading to a stay at a rehab center.  For her to move back safely, there need to be certain physical repairs to her house.  Janie Alston, her cousin, advocated for Brush with Kindness to take on her house for repairs, and about two weeks before the repairs, they found the money to take it on.  In two weeks we were able to work with a Brush with Kindness to mobilize neighbors, high school students, people from partner non-profits and churches to come together and make a difference for Velma Perry!   Seeing people come together for someone who has been a longtime leader in our community is why we do what we do and I am excited that she can hopefully move home soon.


We have had a lot going on in the neighborhood!  We have continued our partnership with a Brush with Kindness and recruited for seven different days of volunteering.  With around ninety volunteers, we completed exterior repairs of three different Northside residents, mostly recently Effie Merritt’s home at 315 McDade Street.  These volunteers have been a mix of college students, high school volunteers, and long-term neighborhood residents and seeing the collaboration done under the direction of Brush with Kindness has been amazing.  If you are interested in being part of a future Brush with Kindness build, let us know.   In this vein, Zack Kaplan, one of our Bonner interns, is hard at work to develop more volunteer opportunities in the neighborhood, specifically at Northside Elementary, so that we can plug more University students into this community as members, rather than just transient disconnected residents.  He has reached out and already connected with fifteen students who have expressed interest in volunteering with Northside Elementary’s after school program.

In addition to plugging them into community work, we have also tried recruiting community-minded students into the existing student rentals in the neighborhood – shifting the pipeline of off-campus students to ones more likely to care about the fabric of our neighborhood.   We have also collaborated with UNC and the Town of Chapel Hill to pilot a new partnership to help build bonds between students and long-term residents.  This program has been labelled Neighborhood Outreach Coordinators.  These are students from the university with the explicit role of helping build relationships between students and neighbors. They have helped with Brush with Kindness recruitment, block party outreach and are also creating their own needs/interests assessment to help the next crew of Coordinators figure out how best to connect students and neighbors.

Before this partnership was created, the Jackson Center was beginning to have block events to help facilitate opportunities for neighbors to meet one another, or just hang out for the folks who were already friends.  On Lindsay Street, we had almost 20 people bring food and come out for a potluck in November.  Now that it is warm again we have a team of university students, who will be working hard to collaborate with students and long term residents to create more of these community building events!  We just had block events for the Starlite/ Sunset area, the Mcdade area, and the McMasters area of the neighborhood. Around forty folks showed up, and there were plenty of new faces that we had never met before.  We are excited to continue with different strategies to build community and create spaces for people to interact that normally do not exist.    

Additionally, we have a different group of students who are interviewing student residents on their relationships with their landlords and how knowledgeable they are on their rights as tenants and the existing town ordinances.  We hope this research will help us determine ways to better work with students and improve their housing situations in the neighborhood.

We have continued our housing efforts in the neighborhood, consistently using the Early Alert Network of neighbors to alert us when houses are coming up on the market so that we can connect them to our list of families who are interested in moving in through our Monthly Digest.   We are excited to continue strategizing with our compass group on how best to attract families into these houses to maintain the diversity and historical integrity of the neighborhood.

In an attempt to increase home preservation in the area, we have two different efforts going on.  Through partnership with Legal Aid and the Black Law Students Association, we have had 15 more wills done of people in our community!  In addition we are working with another group of law students on creating a Home Preservation Toolkit that can be used by neighbors to present the different options, beyond just wills, of what people can do with their home, based on their interests!

We are excited to continue our community action work built through listening and created with the collaboration of so many different parts of our community.  We are always looking for more folks to get involved, so please come by and join our efforts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *