Neighbor-to-Neighbor Outreach in Bella Sera

Earlier this year, when a Bella Sera Villas (Bella Sera Way) elderly resident showed signs of impairment and began walking the subdivision alone, alarmed residents took action.

Forming the “Neighbor-to-Neighbor Outreach Connection (network),” Jody Brewer, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Lorrie Klemons, RN, MSN & Senior Patient Advocate, marshaled their resources, drew from their professional careers and experiences and set out to blanket the 158-unit complex, in an effort to reach out and touch any/all of the mostly over-55+ residents to determine whether they were in need of a “check-in.”

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“There’s already a lot of connecting going on,” said Brewer, “especially in the cul-de-sacs.” However, Brewer added, that with an aging population going in and out of the complex and some “elder-orphans” (phraseology for those who are alone by design, death of a spouse or living far from relatives/friends), the necessity to stay-in-touch becomes paramount.

To date, the duo have gathered approximately 30 recipients/residents (adoptees) and approximately 15 volunteers/residents (adopters) who are now participating in this program.

To blanket the complex and do an accounting of the needs/desires of those residents choosing to opt in/out of the program, Brewer and Klemons (residents and co-chairs) used a spreadsheet, created flyers (since many older people don’t use computers) and met with the volunteer-residents to discuss a good way to approach often wary neighbors.

“There needs to be a trust factor,” said Brewer.

“(The intention was to show) How to be a volunteer, set boundaries, (learn) the best way to approach the residents, how to provide additional information,” said Klemons. “Very low-level stuff, not major.”

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According to the group’s brochure, the network has been created to address “social isolation, loneliness, no near-by family.” The intention is to reach out to others on a “semi-regular basis” to “make sure all is well.”

According to the group’s brochure, the network has been created to address “social isolation, loneliness, no near-by family.” The intention is to reach out to others on a “semi-regular basis” to “make sure all is well.”

“This (network) was intended to create neighborliness and to make sure that no one was sitting home alone, unattended to,” said Brewer.

Their flyer states that they have “decided to re-energize the “Wellness Check” program of the past. The  volunteer duties are to phone, text, email or knock on the door of a fellow resident” to determine the (ongoing) “wellness” of that individual.

All participants are given a senior resource directory and a “Vial of Life” kit for emergency situations.

Plans for the future include more meetings, more reach-outs and the possibility of sharing this program with other subdivisions in the area.

Morning Minute: October 17, 2018

News About Town: Thanks to Hurricane Michael (and Florence before) Republic Services is still behind with yard waste pick-up. Please be patient as they catch up with the overwhelming amount of compostables they’re collecting. Once again Public Works will assist in the collection. Make sure you follow the rules for easy collection: Leaves and grass clippings must be bagged in clear bags (tied) or other bags (left open) so the driver can see the contents. Branches and limbs smaller than five-inches diameter must be cut into lengths shorter than four feet and stacked in small piles. Please don’t leave yard debris in the gutter or street.


News Around Town: Mattress Firm, the largest specialty mattress retailer in the US, filed for bankruptcy protection last week and announced it is closing 700 stores nationwide. The retailer will close over 200 stores immediately, including two stores in Matthews. The company wasted no time and began moving product out of stores over the weekend. Two stores in Matthews will close: one near Harris Teeter (1834 Matthews Township Parkway) and another beside the now-vacant HH Gregg Store in the Windsor Square shopping center (9901 E. Independence Boulevard).

Photo courtesy Carolina Shows

Photo courtesy Carolina Shows

One Good (and Fun) Thing: Matthews-based Carolina Shows produces Christmas Made in the South every October. In conjunction with our interview, they’ve offered 2 pairs of tickets for a giveaway for our readers! Want to enter? Comment below or on our Facebook post. We’ll draw a winner Thursday!

Morning Minute: October 16, 2018

News About Town: As Halloween approaches faster than you can say “boo”, it’s time to think about carving gourds into all manner of faces. (Pumpkins seem way easier to carve than beets or turnips.) The Town of Matthews wants to see what you make. Enter your creation in the Town’s Pumpkin Contest by dropping off your carved, painted, or decorated Jack O’ Lantern in the Park and Rec office behind the Free Clinic, 196-B S. Trade St., on Oct. 25 or 26. Entries will be separated into two age groups (16 and under, 17 and up) for judging. Winners will receive season tickets to Carowinds.


News Around Town: Early voting begins Wednesday! Stop in at the Matthews library and cast your ballot for the 2018 elections. Polls are open from 7:00am to 7:00pm on Wednesday, with additional schedule information available here. Not registered? No problem! North Carolina offers “One Stop” early voting where citizens can register and vote at the same time. You’ll need proof of residence (find a list of acceptable documents here). Post your “I Voted” selfies on our Facebook page!

One Good (and Fun) Thing: The Matthews Library needs your help for programming! Though they have a wide variety of classes on the schedule they’re looking for new and exciting classes to add. Have a mastery of Dungeons & Dragons? Want to explore the wonders of vermiculture? They want to know what you want to learn! Email Stephanie Lucas with your ideas.

Matthews Morning Minute: October 10, 2018

News About Town: At Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Paul Bailey opened discussion about excessive speeding and pedestrian safety in downtown Matthews. The board brainstormed ideas for deterring speeders - including the addition of traffic furniture, new, higher visibility crosswalks, and increased police presence. So if you’re traveling down Trade or John, heads up! The speed limit is 25 so slow down, enjoy our town! Help keep our town pedestrian friendly.


News Around Town: The Matthews Elementary Boosterthon has been postponed for two days, but don’t fret, hump day can still be fun. For a mere $5 you might discover the next big star to come out of Matthews! The Butler High School Talent Show is tonight in the school auditorium, starting at 7 PM. 1810 Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Matthews.

Photo by Norah Burke

Photo by Norah Burke

One Good Thing: IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!! Mount Moriah Church is having their fundraiser/BBQ next weekend (the 19th and 20th) and we’re excited to support our friends in the community.

Two winners!! We’ve purchased 2 dinners for 2 to giveaway to our readers! Comment on our Facebook post: what’s your favorite way to enjoy BBQ...chicken? Pork? Are you Team Tomato Sauce or Team Vinegar? We wanna know.

Entries close Friday at midnight. We’ll notify winners early next week.

Red Brick Partnership Under Scrutiny by Matthews Residents

Updated 10/9/2018 with corrections

Red Brick Partnership (RBP), a coalition of downtown Matthews businesses, was formed in 2015 by the Town of Matthews and its Economic Development Advisory Committee, and is currently co-chaired by John Urban* (Matthews Commissioner, owner of Urban Architectural Group) and Rob Jacik (owner, Carolina Beer Temple, Temple Mojo, and Seaboard). RBP’s stated mission has been to “promote the awareness of Downtown Matthews, the businesses and citizens that comprise the downtown area as a destination for residents and tourists.” There is presently no public list of Red Brick Partnership members.

Photo by Norah Burke

Photo by Norah Burke

The initial funding for Red Brick Partnership included donations from private businesses and a grant of $20,000 from the Town of Matthews, which was approved by the Town Commission, headed by then mayor Jim Taylor, and including current commissioners Chris Melton, John Higdon, Kress Query, and Jeff Miller. Town Staff provided information regarding actual town expenditures during this period.

In its first year of existence (2014/15), RBP received $10,600 in external donations and/or revenue, submitted directly to the Town of Matthews. With $12,515 in expenditures, the Town used $1,915 of the $20,000 approved by council to cover the difference. In its second year RBP received $7,925 in donations/revenue, and with $17,732 in expenditures the Town covered $9,807 of that amount. The RBP was administered as a town entity from its creation in fiscal year 2014/2015 until it incorporated during fiscal year 2016/2017. During this period Town staff managed and approved all funds going into and out of RBP.

Red Brick Partnership filed as a separate entity in 2016, prior to the separation they received $250 in donations. That year there were $20,040 in expenditures, including $18,393.10 provided directly to Red Brick post incorporation. The Town covered $19,790 in expenditures for fiscal year 2016/17. In RBP’s first full year as an independent organization (2017/18) the town provided $20,000. Total investment of town tax dollars has been $50,115 thus far, with RBP managing $38,393.10 without oversight from Town staff.In July 2018, the Board of Commissioners approved an additional contribution to RBP of $20,000 to be disbursed later this year.

The Town does not have a process to determine whether donations to RBP have resulted in a positive return on investment – through higher spending at local establishments or an increase in visitors to downtown businesses. The town has relied instead on the Town Council representative on the RBP board – currently Mr. Urban – and the representative from town staff – currently Assistant Town Manager Becky Hawke – to ensure town funds are being used appropriately.

Matthews’ continued investment of money and personnel has been provided with the assumption that RBP is a nonprofit organization. RBP’s domain extension (.org), further contributed to the presumption of nonprofit status. However, research performed by Matthews resident Gordon Clemmons uncovered that Red Brick Partnership filed for incorporation with the NC Secretary of State but never applied for nonprofit status with the IRS. As such, RBP has yet to file a 990, if annual donations and in-kind contributions exceeded $50,000 or a 990-N for nonprofits with less income. It is unclear if RBP has filed annual taxes as a business with income.

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At the Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, Mr. Urban addressed concerns. He maintains that the missed IRS filing was a simple error and was brought to his attention a few months ago. The organization is working to complete their nonprofit filing now. Mayor Paul Bailey expressed support of Mr. Urban and stated the funds approved in 2018 would be disbursed to the organization as soon as they have their paperwork in order.

Mr. Clemmons spoke during the public comment period. He brought up concerns about mismanagement of taxpayer money, potential conflicts of interest, and whether the organization is necessary given the existence of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Advisory Committee. He called for the return of funds given to RBP by the town, for an independent investigation of RBP’s finances, and for Mr. Urban’s resignation.

Mr. Urban did not respond to Mr. Clemmons public comment directly.

*Urban’s own documents and Facebook page denote himself as co-founder of RBP.

Morning Minute: October 3, 2018

News Around Town: While Matthews survived Florence largely unscathed, old trees shed a lot of twigs and limbs. As a result, Republic Services, the waste company that services Matthews, is a bit behind on yard debris pick-up.  Starting today, the Town of Matthews Public Works Department will be working with Republic to finish up Tuesday’s routes. Day-by-day they’ll continue working together until all of the routes are cleared.

Older trees are an interest point for the Town of Matthews.   News Above Town:  The heat is on as the temps climb back to the upper 80s. Expect some clouds.   News Around Town:  A local moms group rallied around Tammy Panovich as her husband, Brad, was kept at work (WCNC) watching Florence creep in. In an effort to provide meals to the station crew, the moms, led by Matthews mom Amanda McGrath, raised $1325 in under a day. The idea was so popular the  Fanovich tee shirt  was born. In two weeks 3,100 shirts were sold and $37,001.05 has been raised for charities aiding in storm relief.

Older trees are an interest point for the Town of Matthews.

News Above Town: The heat is on as the temps climb back to the upper 80s. Expect some clouds.

News Around Town: A local moms group rallied around Tammy Panovich as her husband, Brad, was kept at work (WCNC) watching Florence creep in. In an effort to provide meals to the station crew, the moms, led by Matthews mom Amanda McGrath, raised $1325 in under a day. The idea was so popular the Fanovich tee shirt was born. In two weeks 3,100 shirts were sold and $37,001.05 has been raised for charities aiding in storm relief.

amanda fanovich.png

One Good Thing: This Thursday don’t miss the First Thursday Crawl in Downtown Matthews. Expect to find food and drink specials at area restaurants, entertainment, and some local makers selling their wares around the green in front of Town Hall. The fun starts at 5 p.m. 

Matthews Morning Minute: September 28, 2018

News About Town: If you’ve driven down Fullwood Lane recently you might have seen the message board about the town lowering the speed limit. On October 1, 2018 the speed limit will be reduced from 45 to 35. This change came about based on the Public Works Department’s recommendation to the Town Council, who then voted to lower the speed limit.

Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

News Above Town: Afternoon showers and temps in the mid-80s. Speaking of mid-eighties, the high humidity puts Motley Crue #hairgoals well within reach.

News Around Town: Early voting begins October 17, 2018. Polls will be open at the Matthews Library for early voting, but the Matthews location is currently short-staffed. The Mecklenburg Board of Elections pays $12 per hour and the application can be found here. Please contact Marti Duncan ( for more information.

Native plants attract all types of pollinators.

Native plants attract all types of pollinators.

One Good Thing: Backyard Birds in Matthews Festival has a busy Saturday planned. First they’re hosting Lisa Tompkins, owner of Carolina Heritage Nursery, with a native plant sale. Lisa will be on- hand to answer your questions about plants appropriate for your particular yard. Then Debbie Foster, Habitat Steward, Central Carolinas Master Naturalist, Audubon Ambassador, and contributing Beacon writer will be explaining the simple steps toward creating a wildlife habitats. Saturday, September 29, 2018, 11 AM til 1 PM; full details here.

Matthews Morning Minute: September 27, 2018

News About Town: If you’re already making plans for the weekend, make time to meet the Matthews Board of Commissioners for coffee and conversation this Saturday (September 29) at 9:00 a.m. at Bruegger's Bagels (1905 Matthews Township Parkway). These gatherings are a great way to bend an ear of our local leaders and get the firsthand scoop on things going on with the Town of Matthews.

Native asters to brighten a humid day.

Native asters to brighten a humid day.

News Above Town: The Weather Channel says there’s a 90% chance of rain so grab the closest umbrella.

News Around Town: While we’re on the subject of the weekend, this Friday is the last Food Truck Friday of the season. You can’t go wrong with any of the trucks, but our friend Lynn sings high praise for Yummi Banh Mi. The Entertainers will get you dancing after you’ve filled up your belly. If you’re a drinker and plan on visiting the beer tent, bring your ID, they card. Trucks start serving at 5 and event goers will already be in line.

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One Good Thing: Matthews is a town with a giving heart, as evidenced by the incredible nonprofits based in our town. Thompson Child and Family Focus is one such nonprofit. Founded in 1886 as an orphanage, Thompson now serves at-risk children and families from four campuses. Using therapy, education and prevention-based care, in 2017 Thompson served 12,811 clients and provided 225 full-time jobs.

Matthews Morning Minute: September 26, 2018

News About Town: During their November 27, 2017 meeting the Board of Commissioners approved a preliminary design for a pedestrian crossing at North Trade Street between Matthews Station and Brakeman’s/105 Cigar. Town staff estimated hiring a consultant for the preliminary design work would come in around $10,000.

When proposals came back Alta Design, the best qualified firm estimated $81,221 for the preliminary design work. No decision was made and the Board has asked town staff for more information.


News Above Town: If humid and sticky is your thing then you’re in luck this week. The last couple times the Weather Channel has called for storms the forecast changed, but right now they say we can expect afternoon storms and a high around 87.

News Around Town: For more than three decades ArtFest, now Artwalk and MusicFest, has been bringing art to the forefront in downtown Matthews. Beyond the usual Juried Fine Art Show and High School Art Exhibit, and live music, the Matthews Chamber of Commerce has expanded the kids art area as well as  craft beer & wine. Get some extra culture this Saturday, September 29, on the green in front of Town Hall from 10 AM until 6 PM.


One Good Thing: We have a giveaway on our Facebook page! We’re so proud of our Matthews-centric postcards (plus who doesn’t love receiving mail?) that we have 2 sets to giveaway. There are three easy peasy ways to win and you can do any or all for three chances to win!
**Find your favorite post here, then tell us which is your favorite over in the comments on the giveaway post on Facebook.
**While your there, tag a friend in the comments on the giveaway post
**follow us on Instagram

Matthews Morning Minute: September 21, 2018


News About Town: Responding to a request from N.C. State Emergency Management, Matthews Police Department sent four officers to assist Fair Bluff, NC with recovery efforts from Hurricane Florence.

Eventually a total of 18 of Matthews’ Finest will travel to Fair Bluff, a small town still reeling from Hurricane Matthew.

News Above Town: Don’t get too excited, but temps will reach a mild 86 degrees today. Is that fall calling from the distance?

News Around Town: Chris Sottile, the man about town whose personality is as robust as the cheese he mongers, will be doing the final chef demo of the season at the Farmer’s Market this Saturday, September 22.  Be there by 8:50 to get a good seat, the demo starts at 9.  A trio from WDAV's Classical Harvest Concert Series will serenade the main market while you peruse peppers, while Nick Tutwiler, a fourteen-year-old fiddler, will entertain the tailgate section.


One Good Thing: If you’re looking for a way to help, local fire departments are collecting food, bottled water, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies for areas hit hard by Hurricane Florence.

Loose items should be boxed and labeled for quick identification and processing. Deliver donations to the Matthews Fire Department, Idlewild VFD, or Mint Hill Fire & Rescue by September 30.

More Than A Minute, September 13, 2018

CMS schools are closed today and tomorrow so some of the campuses can house Hurricane Florence evacuees.

In lieu of our regular Morning Minute we’ve put together a list of fun things to do with your kids during the extra-long hurrication.

1. Visit the Matthews Library, 230 Matthews Station Street, before the hurricane gets here and stock up on books.

2. While you’re there, head upstairs and see the Town Hall. The Board of Commissioners and Mayor likely won’t be there, but the reception area is an impressive room appointed with local art and historical items.

3. Stay parked and walk over to Edible Art, 130-H Matthews Station Street. During hurricane breaks it’s perfectly normal to have cake for brunch. (Edible Art opens at 11.)

Edible Art at Matthews Station is, in fact, an aesthetic feast.

Edible Art at Matthews Station is, in fact, an aesthetic feast.

4. The next block over from Matthews Station Street is Charles Street. Stop by Karrousel Kids, 120 East Charles Street, for a new board game. 

5. Continue up Trade Street to Renfrow’s* for some sand bags (because you never know), farm fresh veggies (to balance out the cake), and cold weather vegetable plants. Create a temporary indoor garden for green relief during what looks to be very grey days ahead.

6. Stop by Zab’s Place, 101 North Trade Street, Matthews, for Pinterest-worthy upcycling ideas and a fancy outfit for a Hurricane Tea Party. 

7. Once you’re back in your car, head to Your Mom’s Donuts, 11025 Monroe Road, for either a snack or to stock up on sugar-laden bribes.

8. If the kids are all hopped up on sugar, drop them off for some play time. Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading, 11011 Monroe Road, Matthews, is hosting open gym hours from 1:00-3:00 PM, both September 13 and 14 for five year olds & up. Cost is $10/child.


Later, when you’re stuck in the house: 

1. Make a rain gauge

2. Don your new Zab’s Place outfit and have a Hurricane Tea Party. Invite your neighbors, too!

3. Scrounge around for some socks and make a  puppet show with stuff around your house.

4. If there’s power, use the free, downloadable  movies from the library's website to your advantage. 

A few cancellations to consider: 

  • Matthews 101 postponed from September 13 to September 20.

  • Jekyll & Hyde Taphouse’s Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day celebration is postponed from September 14 & 15 to September 21 & 22.

  • Backyard Birds visit from the Raptor Center scheduled for September 15 is cancelled.

  • Matthews Community Farmers Market is cancelled for September 15. 

  • Matthews UMC Fall Consignment Sale (September 15) is cancelled.

*Renfrow’s is a sponsor of the Beacon, but they did not ask for inclusion in this article, we just think an indoor garden is a good idea when the world outside is rainy and blustery.

Matthews Morning Minute, September 12, 2018

News About Town: All eyes are on Florence. FEMA has a thorough list for preparations. has information regarding all of North Carolina. Locally, stay updated with CharMeck Alerts.

ReadyNC has an app where you can follow developments of Hurricane Florence.

ReadyNC has an app where you can follow developments of Hurricane Florence.

News Above Town: They keep saying thunderstorms, but we’ve only had a few rumbles. What will tomorrow bring? Humidity for sure, and maybe scattered thunderstorms.  Temps will reach the upper 80s. The big question is, what will Thursday bring?

News Around Town: The forecast has us avoiding the worst of the storm, but that hasn’t stopped residents from rushing for supplies. It’s breaking news when a lucky few find bread, water, or gasoline.


One Good Thing: Tickets are available for Blues & BBQ, an annual fundraiser for COS Kids, October 5. COS Kids fills a niche in Matthews by offering affordable full day childcare. Blues & BBQ supports the efforts to provide safe, accessible child care for single parents through an evening of lively music and delicious fare.

Matthews Morning Minute, September 11, 2018

News About Town: Earlier this year the  Board of Commissioners approved FY 2018-19 Town Budget, which included a 1.5-cent property tax increase. A portion of this tax increase was designated to fund 10 full-time employees for the  Matthews Fire Department. The Fire Department is hosting a recruitment open house on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 10 AM til 1 PM.

News Above Town: The thunderstorms continue as reminders of Hurricane Florence. Town Officials are working with state and local partners to stay informed and ensure the town is prepared for the storm.


News Around Town: The Town is holding a Finest Fido contest. Check out the fabbest five pups in Matthews then “like” your favorite to vote.


One Good Thing: Seven members of the Matthews Fire & EMS Department participated in The 2018 Charlotte Firefighters 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

Each firefighter climbed the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center to honor fallen heroes from the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers.

Matthews Morning Minute: September 6, 2018


News About Town: The Cottage Greenway Project goes before the Board of Adjustment next Thursday (Sepember 13). Town Public Works department has recommended construction of a private road for the subdivision. According to the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance, all streets must be dedicated public. The quasi-judicial Board of Adjustment must determine several findings before approving or denying the request for variance.


News Above Town: The Weather Channel says we’re heading back to the 90s, but don’t start singing Pearl Jam yet. The evenings take us back to the low 70s.

News Around Town: It’s time for the September First Thursday Matthews Crawl. Check out the vendors on the green in front of town hall, then hit up Moe’s BBQ for a Thanksgiving Sandwich or $1.25 ribs.

One Fun Thing: The monarchs are here! Monarchs migrate in the spring and again in the fall. It’s not quite fall, but a few have been spotted around town on their way to Mexico. How’d they know Matthews is a pit stop on the Butterfly Highway?

Matthews Morning Minute: September 5, 2018

News About Town: Just on the heels of the John Street widening project, NCDOT unveiled their plans to widen Highway 51 between Sardis Road and John Street. This is the first phase of a widening plan that will extend to Mint Hill. NCDOT’s goal is to improve traffic flow with the most current designs, including a continuous flow intersection. Neighbors through the corridor are left with uncertainty about their homes.


News Above Town:  The Weather Channel shows highs in the upper 80s and lows around 70. Don’t turn off the AC yet.

News Around Town: Baked Well’s made-from-scratch Cookies for Claire satisfy your sweet tooth and your desire to do good deeds. Fifty percent of each cookie sale goes to Claire’s Army, a non-profit that supports families fighting childhood cancer and your desire to do good deeds. (Image from Baked Well’s Facebook page)

Open Tuesday thru Sunday, 7 AM - 2 PM; 10915 Monroe Rd. Suite D, Matthews


One Fun Thing:  Head out to the Sportsplex for an international match as Charlotte Independence hosts six-time Liga MX champions, Club Santos Laguna.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018; 7:30 PM until; 2425 Sports Parkway, Matthews;  $30+.