On a day in late October, Social Worker Terry Tiamd
, with Mecklenburg County Community Support Services,
received an outpouring of support for her idea to collect umbrellas and give them to those who are most in
need -- individuals who are homeless. She partnered with Beatrice Thompson
, news and public affairs
director at WBAV (101.9 FM) radio, and the County's Homeless Resource Center housed the one-day drive
called "Umbrellas for the Homeless." Tiamd, who is part of the CSS Homeless Support Services Division, talks
about the 2011 event in the following Q & A. (Photo by Ron Ross)
How long have you worked for Mecklenburg County?
I have been with Mecklenburg County for 13 years; coming upon 14 years in February 2012.
Where did the idea for the umbrella drive originate? Why did you want to do this project?
I got the idea for the umbrella drive on a rainy day while standing at the door of the Salvation Army Center of Hope. A mom and her children were leaving with plastic bags covering their heads. That scene did not resonate with my heart, so I gave the woman my umbrella. Since then, I have given several more umbrellas. This project was implemented as a stretch goal for my County Work Plan.
How many umbrellas did you collect on that day? Are people continuing to give you umbrellas?
On the day of the drive, we collected 539 umbrellas and ponchos; mostly umbrellas. Yes, people are still
giving umbrellas. I recently celebrated my 65th birthday with a luncheon hosted by a friend. I asked for umbrellas in lieu of presents for me, and all of my guests came through. We collected 20. As of today, December 7, we have collected 706. Additional support came from Bea's listeners, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, and some more of my relatives/friends.
Why do you want to do the work that you do on behalf of people who are homeless? What motivates you?
My respect and reverence for human beings. When I can serve others, I feel good; my heart opens more and
more when I am able to share my energy, material resources and compassion. I am motivated by my
reverence and respect for people.
Do you have another project in mind that you’d like to see become a reality? What will it take to make it
I don't have a different project in mind at this time. I am committed, however, to repeating the umbrella
drive for next year. Several groups who did get in on this one have asked if they could participate next year;
one has already begun thinking through the logistics of it all. The rain will continue to pour and some folk will
remain without cover. I look forward to doing the drive, again...this time with greater numbers.
Although you did not ask, I thought you would be interested in knowing where the umbrellas went:
- A Child's Place
- The Urban Ministry Center
- The Salvation Army Center of Hope
- The Homeless Resource Center
- The Men's Shelter of Charlotte
- Crisis Assistance Ministry
- Alexander Youth Network/The Relatives
- Blessings In The Storm
- YWCA's Women In Transition and Families Together Programs