The entire staff of UNC Charlotte’s Housing and Residence Life (HRL) Office – 140 people – along with members of the Charlotte Action Research Project staked their claim to community partnership during a day of learning and service Thursday, Jan. 6.
Led by UNC Charlotte Crossroads Charlotte coordinator Susan Harden and assistant professor of geography Janni Sorensen, the HRL staff participated in a workshop on diversity and community building. The delegation of HRL student employees and professional staff also participated in a massive community service project in the Windy Ridge neighborhood. Activities included beautification, weatherization, security enhancements and youth activities (including distribution of information about college access).
The work is a continuation of a project begun by the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences’ Charlotte Action Research Project (CHARP) led by Sorensen. The CHARP agenda combines research, teaching and community partnership centered on low-income neighborhoods.
“In the spirit of true partnership, community residents identify and prioritize projects where we may provide service opportunities and community-based research,” said Sorensen. “Students and faculty work on highly tangible projects that enhance and build community in Charlotte.” Currently CHARP is working in the Enderly Park, Reid Park, Lincoln Heights, Farm Pond and Windy Ridge neighborhoods.
– Janni Sorensen, Assistant Professor of Geography
After learning about the University’s Crossroads Charlotte program, HRL’s Assistant Director for Staff and Leadership Programs Mason Reuter approached coordinator Susan Harden for help in identifying a service project where the entire HRL staff could engage.
“We participate in community service annually, and this year we wanted to build relationships in our community and do something sustaining,” said Reuter. “Susan introduced us to Janni and her department’s work in Windy Ridge. Our team felt that we could have a high level of impact working with the residents there. HRL would like to continue cultivating community relationships through CHARP.”
Student/Staff Training Committee Chairs Kathleen Lehman and Leigh Bartles help to facilitate HRL’s community service initiatives. HRL employs more than 120 students in the residence halls across campus. There are almost 20 professional staff members who work with them. Every staff member spent the afternoon working alongside the residents of Windy Ridge.
Photo by Wade Bruton.