Spartans have demonstrated a strong presence in the greater Greensboro community during the COVID-19 pandemic through various forms of outreach and engagement. One of those efforts has been through a partnership between the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC), a unit under UNCG’s Office of Research & Engagement that serves immigrants and refugees in the greater Greensboro area, and NC Fusion Foundation, directed by UNCG alumna Sari Rose.
Newly arrived immigrants and refugees have been hit hard by school and business closures as well as social distancing policies during COVID-19. Due to their immigration status and difficulties in navigating complex federal support systems, including the unemployment application process, immigrants and refugees are even more at risk for housing and food insecurity during this time. Additionally, they are at high risk for contracting the virus due to the number of immigrants that work in essential occupations.
“While COVID-19 has exacerbated the precarious conditions under which many of Greensboro’s most vulnerable communities already live, it has also thrown into sharp relief the resilience and persistence of those very communities, as exemplified by the wonderful partnership between the CNNC and NC Fusion,” says CNNC director Diya Abdo.
The existing partnership between the CNNC and NC Fusion has been instrumental in helping to ease some of the worry and anxiety of families that the CNNC supports.
Within the first couple of hours that Guilford County Schools announced it would transition to distance learning, NC Fusion Foundation director Sari Rose reached out to CNNC staff to see how they could help.
Each week, Rose drives to the neighborhoods where CNNC provides services to immigrants and refugees, going door-to-door to check in on families and delivering food.
In just two months, NC Fusion has provided over $5,500 worth of donations to families in need. The organization has been working with the Presbyterian Church of the Cross and West Market United Methodist Church – both in Greensboro – and NC Fusion’s individual supporters to provide items on an ongoing basis. Thanks to NC Fusion’s partnership with Marco’s Pizza, over 125 households have received hot pizza deliveries. Area McDonalds have also made contributions through NC Fusion to families in need of hot meals.
NC Fusion has also responded to needs beyond food. Households facing significant hardship have received rent, utility, and non-food assistance including clothing, diapers, and cleaning products.
Additionally, individuals and families with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have received much needed medical and protective supplies to help slow or stop the spread within the home. These simple gestures have made a huge impact upon many children who have been struggling with remote learning and have provided relief to parents that have been unexpectedly laid off.
In addition to being a longstanding partner of the CNNC, NC Fusion Foundation has a number of other connections to UNCG. They have worked closely with Dr. Tom Martinek (Kinesiology) for the past six years. As a graduate student of Martinek, Rose adopted the philosophy of his Project Effort program to guide NC Fusion’s work. The foundation works with approximately 1,000 kids each year through programs and partnerships, including the CNNC.
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications, and Lizzie Biddle