How To 'Love Thy Neighbor' To Benefit Charlotte's Homeless
Life changed for Justin Fedor last year. Not for just the obvious reasons you would think of when considering what might happen to a musician during a year of social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. But also for one significant personal reason.
Fedor moved in with his partner and began helping with the parenting of her three children, now ages 7, 9 and 10.
“I spent the better part of the year facilitating home school and hanging out with the kids all day,” Fedor said.
That led to countless unexpected and interesting conversations, but none struck him to his core more than when they drove past “Tent City,” the encampment of tents that have popped up as temporary housing for homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic along 12th Street just north of uptown Charlotte.
“What’s going on here?” they asked.
What is going on there? How to answer that, and how to do something about it, Fedor mused.
“They absolutely were a catalyst to get me thinking about how it just isn't right to continue to just drive by that corner of our town and not do something, especially if you're in the ability to do so,” he said.
Fedor has both the ability and the experience to do something to help. For the past seven years, he has organized 17 Tribute To Benefit concerts to raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital. The annual concerts held at Neighborhood Theatre have raised at least $100,000 for the hospital. He’s not sure on the exact dollar amount.
“I’ve lost track,” Fedor said, “but it’s been wonderful.”
That experience has now spawned Love Thy Neighbor: A Tribute To Benefit Roof Above, a virtual concert Friday at 8 p.m. that will raise money directly for the nonprofit Roof Above, which offers housing and outreach to homeless.
The event features prerecorded video performances from Charlotte stars such as Adam Lazzara, Chris Shinn and the latest Amplifier subject, Moa, with Fedor performing with Fedor & The Denim Denim while also working in some moderating duties.
It’s technically free, but donations are obviously highly encouraged.
“We still have abundance here in Charlotte,” Fedor said. “And I think it would do us all a world of good if we took that abundance and just tried to help each other try to go into 2021 with the concept of ‘we're going to help each other’ this year — we're going to help each other get through it.”
Fedor has worked with HousingFest in years past, an annual music festival that benefitted Urban Ministry Center – which merged with Men’s Shelter of Charlotte to form Roof Above – and knew the organization has established results in actually helping people. Roof Above says its programs and services reach 1,200 people each day.
“I really just need 100,000 people to send me a dollar.”
But HousingFest this year almost certainly will be canceled, Fedor said, and he still wanted to find a way help. The best way he knew how was to help those who know what to do.
“I don't know how to help homeless people. I don't know how to get homeless people back on their feet,” he said. “That takes lots of education and psychology help that I'm not approved to help people with. So that's why I feel like it's imperative that we support these sorts of nonprofits like Roof Above because these people are qualified and they have quantifiable results.”
Fedor set a goal of raising $100,000 for Roof Above with the concert, and a GoFundMe established two weeks ago already has raised more than $6,000 toward that goal.
He’s optimistic his goal is within reach.
“I really just need 100,000 people to send me a dollar,” he said. “It's a game of numbers. And I think here in Charlotte, the game of numbers could really overcome this problem quite quickly. It's just people haven't been shaken to what's happening down there.”
This story originally appeared in WFAE's weekly arts and entertainment email, Tapestry. Subscribe here.