Stories of Service: Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and Church of the Incarnation

Congratulations to Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and Church of the Incarnation of Charlottesville – winner of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Faith-Based Organization! The dynamic duo of Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and Church of the Incarnation are well known in the Charlottesville community for their outreach efforts and commitment to service. Since May 2020, these organizations joined forces with the University of Virginia Health System and the Blue Ridge Health District to conduct free COVID-19 testing events at each church. In addition to church leaders and staff, approximately 300individuals from the local community have volunteered their time and energy to plan, organize, and execute these vital events.

Located within highly populated neighborhoods, the majority of those tested have been members of the community’s most vulnerable populations who would otherwise be unable to receive free, consistent, and timely testing. The weekly community testing events have produced more than 8,000 individual tests! The majority of those served have had no option but to continue living and working in larger groups, often without the safeguards needed to stay healthy. Without this testing, these individuals, many of whom are often asymptomatic, would have unknowingly spread the virus.

Additionally, each of these testing sites were places where families could get financial support to pay for rent, medications, food, and PPE, as well as connect to resources such as mental health counseling or tutoring for students struggling with virtual learning. The sites have also been incredibly successful in addressing vaccine hesitancy and providing constituents with up to date and accurate information on the virus.

The collaboration between these two congregations shows what can be accomplished when we work together. Their selflessness and spirit of compassion not
only provided an invaluable service during an unparalleled crisis, but made an indelible impact on Virginia families by ultimately saving lives.

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