Category Archives: Friendship Court

Spring Brings Changes at Friendship Court

Piedmont Housing Alliance (Piedmont Housing) will begin managing the Friendship Court community in May. While Piedmont Housing is already an owner of Friendship Court and leading the redevelopment planning, Edgewood Management, manages the property. This transition marks the next step in ongoing efforts to make Friendship Court a wonderful place to live. Staff is already being shored up to meet the residents’ needs.

As previously announced, Shawna Wells joined Piedmont Housing in her new role of Economic Opportunity Coordinator (EOC) on March 11. The EOC role is based at Friendship Court. Wells will provide financial and employment coaching, create the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program at Friendship Court and connect residents to employment opportunities and related resources.

Other changes at Piedmont Housing include Amanda Chandler transitioning from her Interim Regional Community Manager to a permanent position as the Regional Community Manager, heading up Piedmont Housing’s property management operations. Chandler originally joined our staff as Assistant Regional Community Manager in August 2018.

John Bunch, who joined the team as Maintenance and Facilities Supervisor, is now Regional Maintenance Manager. The title change was made to make room for other tiers of maintenance positions as we staff Friendship Court.

At this stage in the transition, Piedmont Housing already finalized decisions about what Edgewood staff will stay on at Friendship Court. We are recruiting for a Community Manager, Maintenance Supervisor, Community Administrative Assistant, and a Community Center Coordinator.

Adding to the changes, Friendship Court Community Organizer, Claudette Grant, departs the team on April 16 to join Big Brothers Big Sisters.

During her time at Friendship Court, she played a key role in fostering the resident participation that continues to guide the future of Friendship Court. We will never be able to fill Claudette’s shoes, but will work to honor and build upon her legacy.  Claudette guided the Advisory Committee to a place of trust and vision. She helped facilitate the redevelopment plan that residents co-designed.

Claudette and Sherri with kids that live at Friendship Court

Claudette, pictured here on the right, is shown with some of the younger Friendship Court residents and Community Outreach Assistant, Sheri Hopper.

Follow the Drum

If you visit the Friendship Court Community Center on Thursdays, you may be greeted by the sound of drumming and joyous laughter and chatter.

Saman Dashti, also known as Macaco Nova York, makes it a point to volunteer at Friendship Court once a week in some capacity, not an easy commitment because he travels regularly and is also a Capoeira enthusiast and instructor. Dashti discovered the Friendship Court community when he first moved to Charlottesville with his wife. “I moved here and figured out what was going on and came here [to volunteer],” he said.

Dashti said he was surprised back then that there were not more groups and individuals volunteering their time and talents at Friendship Court, but said that he thinks that with the redevelopment others will want to come to the community.

Naylia was one attendee, of about seven participants, at a recent session and said she comes every week that Dashti is present because it is fun. When asked what kind of music she likes she said hip hop and “the music we make.”

Naylia enjoys working with Saman.
Naylia enjoys working with Saman.

Dashti’s program consist of drumming, education on beats and rhythms and movement. On this particular day, he mentioned that Ms. Sheri, Piedmont Housing Alliance’s Community Outreach Assistant (and resident member of the Friendship Court Advisory Committee), will be making new shields used in a dance with the youth.

Dashti recognizes the importance of afrocentric programs in predominately black communities and touts them as motivation for kids living there. While emphasis is often put on athletic and STEM programs, he is furthering the arts as a means to an end to introduce kids to themselves and the music they can make themselves.

After drumming, kids and their families can enjoy warm meals provided for the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays by Piedmont Housing Alliance, catered by JBD Mobile Catering. Friendship Court residents can learn more about this and other programs by contacting Claudette Grant at 434-422-4846.

Saman and his wife teach youth how to make beats and music.