Over the past two years, RTGC has focused our major home repair efforts in the Druid Hills neighborhood through our Building a Healthy Neighborhood program. We were able to identify 16 residents in need of critical home repairs in large part due to the support of Reverend Darryl Gaston, the former Druid Hills Neighborhood president, and his wife Melissa, the leader of the North End Community Coalition.
Before completing projects and moving on to our next target neighborhood, we wanted to host one last community event in Druid Hills. RTGC staff worked with Darryl Gaston to plan a neighborhood clean-up event that was designed to thank homeowners for letting us come into their community to repair their homes. Unfortunately, a few weeks into the planning process, we received heartbreaking news of Darryl’s passing. Faced with the discussion of whether to continue with the event or not, and with the feedback of Darryl’s wife Melissa Gaston, we soldiered forward with the event. But the event took on a whole new meaning.
Darryl’s Day of Service was born out of a desire to help beautify the Druid Hills neighborhood through a neighborhood clean-up, while also serving as a way to pay tribute to the late and great Darryl Gaston and all of the fantastic work he did in the Druid Hills community. Darryl’s Day of Service took place on Saturday April 17th, 2021. On the day of the event, volunteers met at Heist Brewery and Barrel Arts where they were welcomed with warm smiles, through masks of course. The event then proceeded with opening remarks from Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte Executive Director Beth Morrison, Darryl Gaston’s wife Melissa Gaston, and Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte’s AmeriCorps Program Coordinator Kristine Chukwuma. Following the brief words from the three ladies, volunteers were divided into groups of three and four. Each volunteer was then given a safety vest, gloves, and trash grabber donated by “Keep Charlotte Beautiful”, a Charlotte-based affiliate of “Keep America Beautiful.” Volunteers wound their way through the Druid Hills neighborhood for two hours collecting debris. At the end of the event, all volunteers met back at Heist, where they mingled amongst themselves and reminisced about the wonderful man that was Darryl Gaston.
The RTGC team is honored to have worked with Darryl Gaston, Melissa Gaston, and Druid Hills community residents for the past two years. The Druid Hills neighborhood is rich with history, caring neighbors, and a vision for the future. As we move forward to provide services in other neighborhoods, we will continue to be fueled by Darryl’s positive attitude, servant’s heart, and passion for his neighborhood and the North End.
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator, 2020-2021