Following a figurative yellow brick road this month could help families in Charlotte who have lost their homes.
The first annual Yellow Brick Road, which will be April 15, will support Charlotte Family Housing, a newly merged organization that transitions homeless families into housing.
“Everybody can come to this event and walk together to create awareness of family homelessness,” said Jennifer Frey, development associate for CFH.
CHF was organized in mid-2011 from three organizations: Charlotte Emergency Housing, Family Promise of Charlotte and the Workforce Initiative for Supportive Housing (W.I.S.H.).
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The organization is now Charlotte’s only transitional shelter and housing agency focused solely on providing support to Charlotte’s homeless families.
Frey said families often will resort to living in a car rather than being split up in other homeless shelter programs.
CFH is one of few options for single dads with children, she said.
The Yellow Brick Road walk will wind two miles through the Elizabeth neighborhood, which is home to St. John’s Baptist Church and Hawthorne Place, six dormitory-style rooms in the church that are now used for transitional family housing.
Much of the natural support for families come from hope teams, volunteers – many from churches – who work with homeless families.
Many of the teams come from Forest Hill and Elevation churches.
“They provide encouragement and support for our families,” said Laura Marett, CFH hope team manager. “They help to provide an intentional relationship.”
Volunteer teams do everything from tutoring children to spending holidays with their family. They have picnics and advocate for the children at school.
The relationships bridge socio-economic gaps, Marett said.
“It’s extremely vital,” she said.
“It works hand in hand with our social workers to help bridge that gap of resources.”
The money raised from the Yellow Brick Road will help with CFH’s operating budget and family programs, Frey said.
Past fundraisers through W.I.S.H. raised $25,000 and $30,000, according to Frey.
The organization has expanded its transitional housing and works with about 125 families at a time. Families live in transitional housing at Hawthorne Place and Plaza Place while other families are housed for a week at a time in churches around Charlotte, Frey said.
Several Charlotte churches already are sponsoring the Yellow Brick Road walk, including St. John’s Baptist, Providence United Methodist, Myers Park United Methodist and Covenant Presbyterian. Fifth Third Bank is the event’s main sponsor.
The Yellow Brick Road walk is open to the community, and registration and sponsorships are available at www.CFHYellowBrickRoad.org.
Children can join the Lollipop Guild and receive a yellow box to collect donations.
Donations will be turned in at the walk, and children will receive a card for a free children’s meal at Jason’s Deli.