Embodying the Beloved Community, Living Esperanza

Reflection on creating community and hope in the midst of Covid-19

This reflection comes from Rev. Amy Cantrell, Co-Director for BeLoved Asheville, a Presbyterian Hunger Program grant partner.

Celebrating and sharing cultural flavors.

Ana is a community leader and a part of our Community Leadership Network. We met her early in 2020 as the pandemic descended. She is an essential worker and a passionate lover of her community, a large mobile home community in Arden, NC. Ana helped to engage in work of supporting her neighbors. She took masks, hand sanitizer, and COVID-19 information to her neighbors door-to-door. She helped to conduct a neighborhood needs assessment and helped us create a community needs assessment.

Providing masks Covid-19 protection.

In light of the assessment, we discovered many families had lost their jobs and had no access to food stamps, unemployment, and the stimulus checks that got so many families through these rough times. We began immediately to work with Ana and other neighbors in the mobile home community to create a Neighborhood Distribution Center directly in the mobile home community. The outdoor center served as a weekly free market for the neighbors in the mobile home community and anyone in South Asheville who was in need.

Free food offerings.

Ana helped us to also support neighbors who became sick with COVID-19 delivering food and hope to their doors with no contact deliveries. Our Latinx community has suffered the highest caseload in our County due in large part to this community carrying the weight of essential work. Ana talked to many mothers and fathers who through tears talked about not having diapers and formula for their children. We worked with Ana to create special cultural celebrations serving authentic food from her native El Salvador as a fundraiser to raise funds to purchase diapers. To make it safe for COVID, we offered porch delivery. This became a powerful way to support the needs of the community helping to raise thousands of diapers.

Taking care of our neighbors can be an intergenerational effort making sorting potatoes more fun!

Ana is an asylum seeker and has experienced the horrors of the American detention centers simply for fleeing horrific violence and threats in her home country. Despite all of this struggle, she has stood as a beacon of light and hope to her community. She knows how to stand rooted in love and community amidst struggles. She has taught this strength to the youth in her community and invited them into the power of serving and supporting one another with her talents and gifts.

Ana has been one of our leaders in changing the narratives about our food systems. She is also creating innovative ways of sharing food based in ancient indigenous ways passed on to her from her grandparents and to them from their grandparents.

BeLoved Asheville community members preparing meals (Ana is on the left).

We are so thankful for the work of Ana and her love for her community made evident as she puts her love into action via the Community Leadership Network of BeLoved Asheville. She wants to offer her thanks, that of her family, and her neighbors to the Presbyterian Hunger Program for the ways that you have believed in them and supported these efforts. It has deeply transformed our communities and created the ability to share our stories, transform systems, and survive by working together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to 

One Great Hour of Sharing.

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