The Fashion & Compassion luncheon Uptown last week turned out to be more than a chance to buy jewelry with a purpose. It was an awe-inspiring morning as five local Charlottean women were honored for their work in our community for their acts of compassion.
Catherine Armstrong and Mary Engel were honored with the Community Award for their nonprofit “We Walk Together Charlotte.”
Catherine and Mary started We Walk Together Charlotte in response to the tragedy last summer in Charleston at the Emanuel AME Church. We Walk Together Charlotte’s goal is to walk from one neighborhood and house of faith (churches, synagogues, mosques, viharas) to another to symbolize physical connection in our community. They not only walk but speak with neighbors along the way, pick up trash and have even collected shoes to donate to Urban Ministries to allow them to “walk together” with the clients there. We Walk Together Charlotte walks on the 15th of each month and volunteers in the community on the 30th of each month.
Kathy Capps was presented the Hope Award for her work at Thomasboro Academy. Thomasboro Academy is a part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Project LIFT. Many years ago, Kathy became a “lunch buddy” at Thomasboro Academy and quickly became aware of the many needs at the school and of the students.
Kathy partnered with her church, local police department, neighborhood associations and other organizations to meet the needs of Thomasboro. She became an advocate for the school and went on to acquire three grants for the school to cover a leadership program and food and supplies for the students. She helps provide weekly snacks for students and staff, athletic sponsorships, clothes and school supplies. Kathy described the students as “my kids” and encourages everyone to get involved with their local schools.
Terri Powell was honored with the Dignity Award for her work at the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC). Terri’s passion is to serve women seeking assistance during unexpected pregnancies and women who have had abortions. At PRC, Terri listens to clients and provides them pertinent information to help them make informed decisions about their pregnancy. Terri becomes a listening ear and a voice of hope for many women in difficult situations. She is also involved in several local ministries who serve women seeking assistance.
Marci Mroz was presented with the Freedom Award for her time spent serving at Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency and Refugee Support Services. These groups help resettle legally documented refugees from countries suffering religious and political persecution and violence. Marci began serving by driving refugees to health care, school and social service appointments.
She later was partnered with a refugee family whom she helped navigate Charlotte until the family became self-sufficient which is the goal of the program. Along with volunteering weekly to help refugees with job applications, apartment issues and more, Marci collects and delivers household goods, furniture to refugees. She also helps tutor children and works with the Society of St. Andrew to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to refugees. During this process, Marci teaches the refugees life skills and helps them practice English.
These five women embody selflessness. Not just by the countless hours they put into serving our city but they each took time to thank others and acknowledge the teamwork and unity that is required to accomplish their goals of making a difference. Catherine, Mary, Kathy, Terri and Marci all appear to lead busy lives with their own families, yet they find time to pour into our community. I was moved at the passion possessed by these women to improve the lives of so many in Charlotte and simultaneously improve our city as well.