We are excited to welcome Shamaiye Haynes to the QC Family Tree staff, and to Enderly Park as a neighbor. She brings a personal history as community organizer and passionate advocate into our work. Since moving to Charlotte about a decade ago, Shamaiye has been a part of several important projects, including the founding of West Side Education Think Tank.
We talked with her, prior to her start, about a few memorable meals, and about building solidarity around the table.
“I recall a former co-worker,” she said, “who brought me a meal from his home country in western Africa. I opened up the container, and there was a bed of rice, cooked in beautiful spices, and a fish head staring right up at me! I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that.”
Shamaiye and a different co-worker learned the name of the dish, and found it in a cookbook. “It was a French cookbook,” she said, “my co-worker’s country had French influences, and they had influenced France. Well, I didn’t learn that recipe, but I did learn another one from the French cookbook, and I still use it today when we are having company over.”
Shamaiye loves about shared tables and meals that they create openings for people to connect. “When you’re eating together, you can find out what is really important to someone,” she said. And that is where great community organizing starts - when people begin to work together on the things that really matter to them. But, Shamaiye, said, it is important to remember that a meal is only a start. “It might help you mobilize, but it won’t get you the change you are seeking. That takes more work.”
We are excited to have Shamaiye on the team, and we are grateful for the energy and insight she will bring to our work.