Category Archives: Community News and Events

Fall Community Gathering Held to Share Redevelopment Site Plan

The Friendship Court community was invited to a community-wide dinner at as the site plans submitted for the first phase of the redevelopment were shared. The quarterly Community Gathering was held on Friday, October 12 and the neighbors took advantage of one of the first clear, dry days of the fall season to gather outdoors. Neighbors enjoyed the chance to get together and meet face-to-face with one another, Piedmont Housing Alliance, National Housing Trust-E representatives, and the members of the redevelopment advisory committee responsible for gathering and fostering ideas about the community into reality.

Dinner was served by Wayside and Afghan Kabob with ice cream for dessert. Kids enjoyed dancing to the tunes of a DJ, jumping in a bounce house, and getting their faces painted while parents discussed plans for landscaping, the existing fence around the community, and the phased development that allows for no displacement of current residents.

As we move into November, Piedmont Housing Alliance will be going door to door to ask residents for their thoughts on the fence. Thank you to all who came out and helped to make it a fun evening. We look forward to our next Quarterly Community Gathering in February.

 

Girls at Friendship Court Enjoy Creative Writing Program This Summer

Sonia MontalvoEach Thursday, several girls from the Friendship Court community come together for a creative writing program taught by Sonia Montalvo. Sonia, program staff at the Boys and Girls Club says, “I want to help the girls think differently about things through the creative writing process. Kids are so imaginative, if you can just give them the platform and space, it’s amazing what they can come up with!”

Girls are Alwrite

Sonia has led the girls in “The Girls are Alwrite” reading and writing program, working on activities to help their imaginations flourish.  They started with the idea of how to find beauty in themselves by finding the beauty in stories.  Sonia says, “Sometimes African American girls feel ostracized which makes it hard for them to find their voice.”  During their sessions together, Sonia plans some physical activity which she says helps the girls connect and get their creative juices flowing.

By the end of the seven sessions, the girls will have written one, possibly two stories that they will share with each other.  When they go back to school, Sonia hopes the girls will be able to draw on their experience and be more creative in their schoolwork. 

Sonia and kids

Sonia has help with her newly-formed business from her sister, Tracie Jamison, who acts as treasurer. With a recent grant from Equity Institute in the amount of $3,700, Sonia’s business is officially incorporated and she is working on becoming a 501(c)(3). Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Shelley Murphy connected Sonia to Friendship Court after meeting her through the Dream Builders Academy Business Development Class. During Sonia’s pitch on culmination night, Shelley offered to sponsor five girls from Friendship Court in her workshop and after meeting and discussing the idea with Community Organizer, Claudette Grant, they decided it would be a great fit!

Girls are AlwriteSonia says, “One of my long term goals is to incorporate my program into the local school systems, prominently into those with large African American and Latino populations. I’m working on getting my teaching certificate so that I might be able to do that.”

She added that she has had fun connecting so far with the girls and she says those connections seem to help the girls be more creative. Sonia says, “Creative writing can take a girl’s soul far!”

If you would like to learn more about Sonia’s workshops or The Girls Are Alwrite, feel free to contact her via email at sonia.montalvo11@gmail.com or by phone at 434-981-9998.

Community Gathering Held at Friendship Court

full tent On Friday, June 8, Friendship Court residents gathered for a summer Community Gathering. Residents of Friendship Court along with Piedmont Housing Alliance staff and board members enjoyed spending time together with surrounding neighbors. Kids played, got their faces painted, and enjoyed music, participated in raffles, and ate some food off the grill. “Though the weather was a little unpredictable at the start, those that came out for the event seemed to have a great time,” said Executive Director Sunshine Mathon.

Sunshine and gang

Residents got to learn more about the feedback from Piedmont Housing Alliance’s recent resident survey efforts on different areas including housing types, open spaces, and early childhood education.  They are very grateful for the residents’ participation which is helping shape the plans for the redevelopment of Friendship Court and its future.

Facepainted attendeeDenise from PVCCDenise McClanahan, outreach manager at PVCC, was available to speak with about upcoming classes and programs as well as the Office of Human Rights with the City of Charlottesville who was offering information about upcoming events they are offering. Dinner was provided by Mel’s and Afghan Kabob. Thanks to all the other partners who helped make this possible, including Expressions Face Painting, Coria RVA was once again our DJ, the Party Starts Here, and Virginia Tent Rental.

Project Manager Beth Kennan said, “The Community Gatherings are a great way to get know the residents, and they are fun too! We are so grateful to our partners, both businesses and individuals that work as a team to make the Community Gatherings happen. We look forward to having one again in the Fall.”

DJ

Facepainted kids

Piedmont Housing Alliance sponsors community gatherings and events several times each year, in addition to ongoing programs and activities at the community center. Piedmont Housing is grateful to our residents, the Friendship Court Advisory Committee, and the Youth Leadership Team for ongoing guidance and support in preparing for these gatherings. To stay connected to happenings in the community, sign up for e-news here, see the monthly newsletters here and follow us on Facebook.

Happy Summer!

 

CHiP Neighborhood Outreach Stays Busy Helping Families with Their Health Improvement Program

Ciera, Family Support Worker does a home visit

Ciera, Family Support Worker does a home visit

Piedmont Housing Alliance connects with several area nonprofits to bring enriching support to the people we serve. CHiP is one of those partners, providing services to children and families throughout the area, including Friendship Court.

On any given day, you are likely to see a member of the CHiP Neighborhood Outreach team in a downtown neighborhood – visiting families at home, attending community events, or facilitating groups for teens and/or parents with young children.  Nurse Jessica might be checking in on a new mom to see how mom and baby are doing at home and answer questions about breast-feeding or how to know when to call the doctor. Naasira, one of the team’s family support workers, might be visiting a family with a busy toddler, bringing ideas for age-appropriate activities that can be created from simple household items.

Torri, Neighborhood Outreach Project Coordinator. Naasira, Family Support Worker and Regina, Community Health Educator help at market day in Friendship Court, photo credit Kayli Wren of Charlottesville Tomorrow

Torri, Neighborhood Outreach Project Coordinator. Naasira, Family Support Worker and Regina, Community Health Educator help at market day in Friendship Court, photo credit Kayli Wren of Charlottesville Tomorrow

CHiP is the Children’s Health Improvement Program.  Their mission is to partner with families to create nurturing home environments and promote the health and well-being of children in our community.  The CHiP program is completely voluntary and designed to serve families with children age 0-6.

Through home visits, CHIP works with children and parents in their own environment, eliminating the need to find transportation or childcare.  Home visits allow the entire family to participate. Meeting families where they live in those critical early years of a child’s life has proven to be the most effective model for helping kids grow up healthy and prepared to succeed in school and in life.

CHiP’s dedicated teams of community health nurses and professional family support workers meet with families to:

·        Promote family health and well-being through health assessments, health education, and facilitating access to health care.

·        Enhance parenting skills and confidence through a developmentally appropriate curriculum and building nurturing relationships.

·        Foster self-sufficiency by partnering with families to set goals, solve problems, and connect with community resources.

In light of the challenges our community faced in 2017, CHiP recognized that a distrust of systems and institutions are a barrier to health and well-being and contributes to racial disparities in care and health outcomes. Thanks to a grant from the Adiuvans Foundation, CHiP launched the Neighborhood Outreach Project, placing a team downtown dedicated to serving historically African American neighborhoods. In addition to the nurse/family support worker team, three part-time health educators were hired from within the community, all with the goal of building relationships and being a trusted neighborhood resource.

Teen Outreach and Neighborhood Outreach Project Coordinator, Torri Ayers, says, “We want to help parents be the best they can be, but it takes time for them to trust us. So we just keep showing up, without judgment, as a friendly, helpful neighbor.”

Bubble wands activity at Westhaven

Bubble wands activity at Westhaven

Torri has also been co-facilitating the girls group, Sisters of Nia, with City of Promise, and has started two more girls groups in Greenstone and Friendship Court. While CHiP’s Parenteen program provides unique support for pregnant and parenting teens, Torri’s work with pre-teen and teen girls is designed for prevention and long-term impact.  “I want to help these girls think differently, to expose them to new ideas and experiences so they can expand their imagination, hopes, and dreams for themselves and their family.”

 

CHiP means children’s health. If you want to learn more about CHiP or how to enroll in the program, visit www.jachip.org or call: 434-964-4700.

 

Behind the Scenes of C4K with Johnny (12) From Friendship Court

C4K-Learning-Partners-Basir-_-Luke-in-mentor-Studio-Photo-Credit-Johnny-web

C4K Learning Lab partners

C4K provides enriching programming in our community for kids like Johnny, a teenager at Friendship Court. We asked Liz Hoeppner, grants and communication manager at C4K, to share information with us about the program.

In the heart of IX Park, every day after school, youth and their mentors make digital apps, music, videos, robots, rockets, video games, websites, 3D models and forever friends. C4K (Computers4Kids) youth member and Friendship Court resident, Johnny, aged 12, has been documenting a ‘behind the scenes’ view of C4K life.

Tyrann C4K Member and Friendship Court Resident in Video Studio

“I love to meet with my mentor, Juan. He cares about me. We just finished building a scavenger-hunt video game together using Roblox. I am also developing my photography portfolio.” – Johnny.

Juandiego R. Wade

“C4K is a place for my boy to flourish. I love it. C4K is a place where being a nerd, is totally cool.” – Shay, Johnny’s mom & Friendship Court resident.

Elesia-C4K-Member-in-Audio-Studio-Sound-Booth-Photo-Credit-Johnny-web

Elesia in Audio Studio at C4K

“Charlottesville Schools depend on strong evidence-based programs like C4K to supplement what we do every day in the classroom. It is a joy and privilege for me to be a supporter and mentor with C4K.” – Juandiego R. Wade, Johnny’s mentor & Charlottesville School Board Member.

C4K (Computers4Kids) is an out-of-school mentoring nonprofit. We want our youth members to have choice in their lives, as choice represents freedom. We provide the knowledge, experiences, and skills – through mentorship and high-quality, STEAM-based programming – for middle and high school youth from low-income families to have choice. All projects are youth-driven, fun, project-based and directly applicable to real-world opportunities. Since opening in 2001, 97% of our youth have graduated from high school (local rate: 85%), and 92% went on to college.

Eniya C4K Member in Clubhouse

Eniya C4K Member in Clubhouse

All our programming is FREE. We offer:

●       One-to-one mentoring.
●       Drop-in group mentoring.
●       Camps, workshops, job shadowing, field trips.
●       Youth leadership on our Youth Council.
●       Access to industry-level software, Video & Audio Production Suites, Engineering & Robotics Lab, Clubhouse Makerspace and Mentor Studio.
●       Self-paced, self-guided projects.
●       A free laptop.

C4K is actively recruiting new youth members and volunteer mentors!

– Visit us: 945 Second St, SE, Charlottesville, VA 22902.
– Explore our space: here.
– Become a volunteer mentor: http://bit.ly/c4kmentor
– Become a youth member: http://bit.ly/c4kmember
– Support our work: http://bit.ly/supportC4k

All photos in this post were taken by Johnny.

ReadySteps from ReadyKids, An Important Partner at Friendship Court and Beyond

Piedmont Housing Alliance partners with several area nonprofits to bring enriching support to our client families. ReadyKids is one of those partners, providing services to children who live in Piedmont Housing Alliance supported housing, such as Friendship Court. We asked Shannon Banks, program manager for ReadySteps to share information with us about the program, and what ReadyKids provides the children at Friendship Court.

The ReadySteps Program at ReadyKids
By Shannon Banks, ReadySteps Program Manager

Every Tuesday morning, kids ages zero to five and their parents bounce into the Friendship Court Community Center ready for two hours of fun with the ReadySteps program at ReadyKids. The ReadySteps program takes a family-centered, holistic approach to school readiness, and supports the entire family to be ready for school. We support kids to develop the skills they need to enter school ready to learn, and we empower parents by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to support their child’s growth and development. In addition, we work to connect families to the resources they need to reach their goals, and help them to identify and address concerns.

How does ReadySteps Help Kids?

When our kids aren’t ready with the tools they need to succeed, they fail or fall behind. When our parents aren’t ready with the tools they need to succeed, it is much more difficult for them to support their children. We know that kids who participate in high quality early childhood education programs enter school better prepared and are more successful than their peers who have not had those opportunities. We know that having a primary caregiver with whom they have a strong, positive and nurturing relationship is critical to kids’ optimal growth and development. And we also know that when caregivers are supported to understand how their child is growing and developing, build relationships with neighbors, and are able to access to community resources, they are better equipped to make choices and decisions that help propel their kids to success.

What happens during a ReadySteps Playgroup?

Through play kids learn about how the world and its people work. Jen Fenerty (Group Leader), Margot Pleasants (Educator), and Laura Somel (Family Coordinator), design and facilitate activities aimed at supporting child and adult growth in all areas of their life. Circle time offers the opportunity to come together and work as a group, and to practice taking turns and following directions. Stations with different educational activities allow kids the opportunity to make a choice, and decide what they want to do and how they want to do it, within the established limits and boundaries of playgroup.  They also provide parents the opportunity to follow their child’s lead, and become engrossed in play. Activities such as these, and many more, provide the foundation for learning basic math and literacy skills, such as counting and letter recognition.

How does ReadySteps Help Parents?

Our parent support and education activities give parents the opportunity to shine as the expert on their kids, learn new skills, and give feedback on the program. We collaborate with other programs and agencies including the Healthy Families Program, Women’s Initiative, PB&J Fund, Infant and Toddler Connection of the Blue Ridge, Charlottesville City Schools, and CHiP to provide information and services to empower parents. We also host a monthly Parent Advisory Committee, complete developmental screenings, and share helpful parenting information and ways to extend the playgroup learning experience at home. Kids do not come with an instruction manual, and everyone needs someone to support and encourage them.  ReadySteps works to do just that.

How do I get involved?

The ReadySteps program is free, and all parents or caregivers and their kids ages birth to age 5 years are welcome to join us. Our next playgroup is Tuesday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m.!

Girls at Friendship Court Benefit from Girls’ Mentoring Program

Mentoring

Each week, approximately eight to 10 girls from the Friendship Court community come together at the community center for an after-school mentoring program taught by Community Center Coordinator, Jessica Eldridge. Jessica, the founder of Impact My Life Mentoring, LLC says, “I believe even the slightest positive influence has the potential to change a child’s life.”

Starting in the fall of 2017 Jessica has led the girls in empowering activities and discussions about what it means to have self-confidence and self-esteem. During one of their discussions, the girls talked about how to distinguish between a friend and a frenemy (someone who acts as a friend, but when not around you, they do unfriendly things behind your back).

Girls mentoring

During another activity, the girls went outside and took five pictures of themselves, or five selfies, to create a group selfie art gallery. Then the girls wrote down a compliment about themselves on each picture. This small gesture allowed them time to think about who they are and how they are important, finding something to celebrate about themselves and share with others. On Diamond Keyes’ picture she wrote, “I like myself because I have a good personality and I am pretty, and I won’t think differently.”

Galentine's 4

Galentine's 1In January, the girls focused on New Year’s resolutions and what they hope to accomplish in the New Year.  Many of them talked about how they hope to do well in their next quarter of school and how they want to work towards getting good grades.  Then, in February, they celebrated “Galentine’s Day,” an unofficial holiday held on the day before Valentine’s Day in which ladies, young and old, celebrate themselves and others. In that session, they discussed the importance of making and having good friends as well as what types of characteristics they like to find in a good friend. They discussed positive qualities about themselves and how it felt when they looked in the mirror. Then the girls designed their own personal mirrors with paint, glitter, and stickers and enjoyed a meal together.

Jefferson Area CHIP has been partnering with the group as well. Their mission is to partner with families to create nurturing home environments and promote the health and well-being of children in our community.  Jessica says the girls have been enjoying their insight into their discussions and it also allows them room to interact with different people whom they’ve never met before – adults and young girls alike.

Jessica says, “The goal in teaching this program is for the girls to create a space that is all their own where they are free to express themselves in the way that they want without judgement from other people.”

She added that she has had some very proud moments so far with the girls and that she hopes to keep up the mentoring sessions for the foreseeable future.

 

 

February 2018 Redevelopment Update and Important Dates for Residents

The planning work for the redevelopment of Friendship Court continues with a community dinner this Thursday, Feb. 15 from 6-8 p.m., followed in the weeks to come by smaller meetings in each courtyard. We’re excited about improved housing for the residents and how redevelopment can help people have greater access to better jobs, education, and increased income.

Throughout redevelopment and beyond, we are committed to zero displacement. The first phase of housing will be built on the open land of the property. Once that housing is complete, some residents will move in. The first empty units will be demolished, and new housing will be built on that property. That process will repeat until all the new housing is built.

The first new housing will open in 2021. We are planning for four phases of redevelopment, with all residents in new housing by the end of the third phase. Each phase of the project will include housing affordable to a variety of income levels.

Resident Participation:

The Friendship Court Advisory Committee, which includes nine resident members, has been working to refine the plan.  We are seeking more feedback and input from the community of residents so that the architects and engineers can start their drawings for Phase 1 in April. Please join this month’s Community Gathering and Courtyard Conversations.

Important Dates:

Community Dinner: February 15, 6-8 p.m. This is your opportunity to learn, ask questions, and give feedback about the redevelopment plan with your neighbors.

Courtyard Conversations:

February 20, 6-8 p.m. in Courtyard 1: Units #400, 402, 404, 406

February 22, 6-8 p.m. in Courtyard 2:  Units#408, 410, 412, 414, 416

February 27,  6-8 p.m. in Courtyard 3:  Units #401, 403, 405, 407

March 1 , 6-8 p.m. in Courtyard 4:  Units#420, 422, 424, 426

March 3, 1-3 p.m. in Courtyard 5: Units #409, 411, 413, 415

If you have questions or comments, please contact Sunshine Mathon, executive director of Piedmont Housing Alliance at smathon@piedmonthousing.org or call 434-817-0661.

ACAC Coordinates Holiday Gift Drive for Friendship Court Families

Thanks to the ACAC Downtown team and community, families at Friendship Court received gifts through a special drive organized by the neighboring athletic center to help bring joy to the neighborhood children. “ACAC has been a wonderful community partner in making sure many of the children and families who live at Friendship Court are able to enjoy Christmas in a special way,” said Claudette Grant, Friendship Court community organizer.

As one mother said, “ACAC outdid themselves this year. My children received so many amazing gifts. We are set for several months because of the generosity of this community.”  The gifts are much appreciated. For many of the Friendship Court families, Christmas would be difficult without the generosity and support of ACAC Downtown. The staff and patrons of ACAC not only give so freely of their time to make sure this event happens every Christmas, but they take the act of giving to a higher level. On several occasions, members of the athletic center checked in with staff to make sure families in need received the items requested or would have enough assistance to put together certain toys. “It is nice to know we have so many angels in our community who make sure Christmas is joyous for several happy little ones,” said Claudette.

Thanks to Paul Kyriacopoulos, assistant general manager, who with his team, organize and deliver hundreds of gifts for Friendship Court residents each December. Thanks ACAC community!

 

Unity in the Friendship Court CommUNITY Anti-Bullying Event

Anti bully eventThe Love No Ego Group, LLC, in collaboration with Piedmont Housing Alliance, Friendship Court Community, Portico Church, Impact My Life Mentoring, LLC, and the Bridge Ministry came together on Friday, September 15 to present a much-needed motivational speaker event called Unity in Friendship Court CommUNITY.  Kids and several adults packed into the community center to hear two speakers, Freddy Jackson and Jay James share their own inspirational life experiences.

30% of U.S. students in grades six through ten are involved in moderate or frequent bullying as bullies, victims, or both, according to the results of the first national school bullying statistics and cyberbullying statistics survey. “This topic is important, very timely for the community”, said Friendship Court Community Organizer, Claudette Grant.

Freddy Jackson is the founder and president of The Love No Ego Group, LLC, an organization empowering youth through motivational speaking. It focuses on the suppression of all egotistical behaviors, while recognizing and uplifting the greatness within, and promoting honest and genuine self-reflection that allows positive and effective communication to happen. “Every person is meant to be awesome, especially our youth. That’s where it all starts. And my job is to get them to do a bit of self-reflection, and have them realize on their own exactly where they are living and operating from. Is it from a place of love or is it from a place of ego?” Freddy said.

Jay James anti bully eventJay James, assistant director of The Bridge Ministry, discussed the power of forgiving and explained how negative things happen in life, but that they should never stop you from living the best life possible. Jay encouraged the youth to do the same because he said, “there will be a time in their lives when something will not go as they would like it to, but they have to choose to make good out of a bad situation.” The Bridge Ministry works to transform the lives of troubled men and their families through a faith-based program grounded in Christianity, providing mentoring, skills, and relationships to “bridge” the gap from bondage to productive community and family life.  As Jay concluded his talk, he encouraged the kids to use a positive mantra for themselves, something like the famous lyrics of musical artist DJ Khaled, “Nothing can stop me! I’m all the way up!”

Break dancers

Some of the children recited poetry and displayed artwork focused on anti-bullying and the group enjoyed a breakdance presentation, thanks to dancers from Portico Church. Pastor Desmond Glenn from Portico Church collaborated in the organization of the event to help make it an inspirational evening.

Anti bully event reciting