Yolonda Ross is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.
Yolonda has been a resident of Friendship Court for five years, and her daughter attends Clark Elementary school. She has a particular interest in representing the perspective of community residents who are working, and are interested in better local employment opportunities.
She is a graduate of Fluvanna County High School, and of National College (formerly, National Business College) where she received training as a medical office specialist.
The design team returned to Charlottesville again this May to meet with stakeholders, Piedmont Housing Alliance staff and residents of all ages at Friendship Court Apartments. A variety of meetings were held also with the City of Charlottesville and other SIA participants to further collaborate on the redevelopment plan for Friendship Court.
One of the highlights of the trip was the resident dinner held at the community center on Thursday, May 12. Moe’s Original BBQ was set up outside providing a tasty meal while Piedmont Housing Alliance’s CEO, Frank Grosch, made a presentation on the current status of the redevelopment with several illustrations and potential renderings of the new site. After dinner, as people trickled in and out of the center to grab dessert from the Sweet Tooth ice cream truck, the design team members made themselves available for kids and adults alike to respond to questions and to hear first-hand exactly what they are working on. Karen Reifenberger, Piedmont Housing Alliance’s COO added, “It was such a great opportunity for the residents to get out and be able to see real renderings of what’s to come and for them to be able to ask concrete questions about the redevelopment.”
Claudette Grant, Community Organizer at Friendship Court who was present for the teen workshop with Liz Ogbu said, “Teens were very excited to see the renderings of the potential apartments. They could not believe it!” One young teen in the workshop commented, “It looks like a place where rich people live.”
June 20, 21, 22 marks the final visit by the design team who plan to unveil the master plan which will really give everyone great insight into the final plans for a brighter future after 2018.
Crystal Johnson is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life.
Crystal is a mother of six children. Her school-aged children attend Charlottesville City Schools, and her family has lived at Friendship Court for a total of ten years. A domestic violence survivor, Crystal says she is interested in being part of the positive changes she sees happening in her Friendship Court community, and has gotten to know other families who feel the same way. She wishes to be a part of a more unified neighborhood and community, and is interested to learn about what her neighbors think and care about through her work on the Advisory Committee.
Crystal is a member of First Baptist Church, where she has volunteered as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teaching assistant. She will be graduating from Piedmont Virginia Community College this spring, and plans to continue her studies at Mary Baldwin College.
Kathy Galvin, a member of Charlottesville City Council, is serving on Friendship Court’s Advisory Committee, formed in February 2016. The committee is providing guidance to the Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. The active involvement of City officials in the planning process is an essential element of grant support, provided to Piedmont Housing by the City, for the project.
Kathy owns her own urban design and architectural practice, which is designated a Virginia “Woman-Owned Small Business.” She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia. Kathy has worked on such projects as the Eastern Planning Initiative, the Crozet Master Plan, the Places29 Master Plan and Transportation Study and the Uptown North Orange Form-Based Code.
Kathy notes that “as an architect, urban designer and planner with about 30 years of experience . . . she has a trained eye when it comes to matters of sustainable, equitable neighborhood design.” She also believes that “it’s important to have people at the table with institutional memory so that expressed community values aren’t forgotten.”
Kathy received a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Geography from Boston University, and a master’s in Architecture from the University of Virginia.
Quanelius Tinsley is one of seven residents of Friendship Court nominated and elected by her fellow residents, in February 2016, to serve on the Friendship Court Advisory Committee. The committee, which has been meeting regularly with the project’s design team, is providing guidance to Piedmont Housing Alliance in two primary areas: physical revitalization and community life. Quanelius is a senior at Charlottesville High School and has lived at Friendship Court for ten years. She plans to start her college studies in the Fall.
Myrtle Houchens, another member of the Advisory Committee, knows Quanelius from her summer work providing dinners for Friendship Court’s children and youth at the neighborhood’s community center. Quanelius has been helping with this effort for years and, “at this point, she could probably run the kids’ café herself,” Myrtle says, admiringly.
Quanelius says she loves her community and wants it to be better for the newcomers who will be moving to Friendship Court in the future. It’s this energy that a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to The University of Virginia, supporting Piedmont Housing’s redevelopment efforts, seeks to tap into. The grant, of $100,000 over two years, supports community engagement at Friendship Court, in particular the involvement of teens, like Quanelius, in the planning for the future of their community. The program will include lessons about sustainable, equitable land-use and urban planning.