March 2019 Neighbor Spotlight Rena Pinnix
Mrs. Pinnix has lived in the West End for a little over three years. When she first moved in, she was surprised by the level of hunger many seniors and children faced. After knocking on neighbors’ doors and learning they didn’t have any food in their home, she started to buy food. She told them, “If you buy medicine, I’ll make sure you eat every month.” She’s kept that promise.
“If they call and tell me we need emergency food, I will make sure they get it, even if it’s the next day. A lot of times someone will call and just want someone to talk to, I just listen,” Mrs. Pinnix explained. “This is the way I was brought up- to take care of your neighborhood. It’s not about rescuing, it’s about making sure elderly have what they need- not worry about if they have a meal today. It’s just that simple.”
Thanks to her work with the City and community partners, she’s seen a big improvement in the neighborhood. She says, “it’s a place that you can live and get along with everybody, friendly neighborhood, most like to garden. We all get along.”
She continues to work with End Hunger Durham, Feed My Sheep, Network of Families, and other local partners to make sure residents get the food they need. She delivers food to elderly neighbors in the West End and Hosiery Mill, helps Parkwood Elementary distribute food, and cooks meals at Maplewood Square. She’s also working with the Church of Philadelphia to start a food pantry and a community garden in the West End. Mrs. Pinnix hosts neighborhood potlucks to bring together her neighbors, and encourages others to volunteer with the food bank.
In addition to providing nutrition, Mrs. Pinnix helps connect neighbors with other local resources, including housing, counseling, and employment, through her relationships with Duke Chapel, Alliance Behavioral Health, and Lincoln Community Health. She is on the board at DCLT advocating for homeowners and renters. “I’m always at DCLT finding out what can be done in the community,” she says. After voicing her concern about speeding cars, she worked with the City to pilot and install a project to slow traffic.
Most recently, she is preparing to move closer to her new grandbaby. To ensure her work carries on, she’s started soliciting younger people and training them.
Her advice other community members:
- Just being in relationship with someone and reducing their isolation can lead to longer, better life
- I get up every day and put a smile on my face and treat everybody like I want to be treated
- You can’t please everybody. Do for those you can help.
- Get out and just do it- get out there and see what is needed in their community. Be a pest like me. Find out what can be done. Communicate more with people in neighborhood. Mostly I listen to people.
- If you don’t understand, pick up phone and ask
- Pull in outside sources to pull people in.