How QC Family Tree is Adapting in the Midst of Uncertainty
Rev. Helms Jarrell | March 28, 2020
QC Family Tree is a community organization working at the intersection of faith, culture, and social change, rooted in the Enderly Park neighborhood of West Charlotte, North Carolina. QCFT practices cultural organizing to cultivate community for the common good. QCFT is creating little villages centered around justice, imagination, and mutual care.
At the onset of the Coronavirus in the United States, QC Family Tree began to organize folks to begin thinking about both the now and the future. We began to mobilize volunteers and donations to help stabilize families. We have collected and distributed food, cleaning supplies, and vitamins to approximately 20 households. We have created neighborhood newsletters and social media to distribute information and resources to neighbors and people outside of Enderly Park. We make daily visits to neighbors. We continue to touch base with 15-20 households three times a week and distribute food and educational resources.
We have installed three prayer stations on our block, encouraging folks to express themselves to God and one another. We have collected resources for homeschooling, digital services, children and grief and have distributed these resources via digital platforms and hard copy newsletters. We are starting to host nightly evening prayers online via Zoom. We are going to be hosting small segments on self-care, prayer, stories of resilience, etc.
QC Family Tree's leadership model has been based off of nearly all staff being bi-vocational. For both Co-Directors, our alternate jobs have been compromised due to cancellations. One of us often performs live music in venues and events throughout Charlotte. And, I am freelance artist that local projects and partners across the community. So, we're working to discover other ways to cover our finances, in addition to learning how to be homeschool teachers for our children.
As we think about the future, we have started to innovate around a non-Charlotte refuge that we can take folks to if things get bad (either temporary or long term). We are imagining a rural location with access to water and a garden. This idea appeals to us and it also is connected to our long-held admiration of the Catholic Worker Movement. We are beginning to imagine the possibilities and we are sounding the call for folks to join us in putting dreams to action.
• What are we going to do about school? The families we work with do not have internet access and do not have the capacity to homeschool their children digitally. We have considered, once the shelter-in-place mandate is lifted, to host an open air, six feet apart, small group school for our children. We are thinking about what kind of features we might need: plumbing at our tiny home, a large tent, technology.
• The Charlotte community is paying close attention to food and food distribution and we are grateful to be part of this outreach.
• The Charlotte community has put a temporary ban on evictions, yet we fear that this will not last long. At least three of our families are facing evictions soon. We are trying to conceive of options for their housing. Our current housing options at QCFT are totally filled.
Continuing in Faith and Hope
Brother Rashad walked up to the bush in our yard yesterday and put his ear close to the plant. He explained, "Even the bees have a wisdom about them." His reminder, and the visual reminder of irises and dogwoods blooming help me to "consider the lilies of the field."
Now is the time that we get to create a new and more beautiful world. We have been praying for the systems of oppression to be dismantled. Now is that time. And we get to be a part of the dreaming of something new.
Rev. Helms Jarrell has blogged a good bit about her own personal reflections in addition to what QC Family Tree is doing. You can find her reflections and a list of QCFT updates at helmsjarrell.com/blogspot.
As the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the National Benevolent Association partners with congregations, regions, general ministries, and a variety of Disciples-related health and social service providers to create communities of compassion and care. Founded in 1887 by six women responding to the needs of the day and on their doorsteps, for more than 130 years the NBA has continued to serve "the least of these." Learn more at www.nbacares.org.