NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The community is coming together to ‘love Norfolk.’

ImpactVA Inc. is hosting the Love Norfolk block party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 720 Church Street in Norfolk to help unhoused people or families.

ImpactVA CEO Mechelle Hairston picked this area after the two stores closed in the Church Street shopping center. The Save-A-Lot grocery store closed in June 2020. Then in September 2022 the Family Dollar caught fire. It has not reopened yet.

“We are surrounded by individuals who really need a hand up,” Hairston said. “To bring the community together from all different walks from mental health to barbers. To give our neighbors access to resources that they normally wouldn’t have, especially right in their back yard.”

Free food and services will be available at the Love Norfolk block party. Personal care services such as mobile showers, haircuts, clean clothes will be offered.

Eastern Virginia Medical School, Sentara Health & Bryant & Stratton students will provide healthcare services. Mental health, housing, legal and employment specialists will also be there.

“Everything has been done off of faith,” Hairston said.

Early last year, she was recognized as one of Hampton Roads’ remarkable women for her work feeding the community. 

“It was surprising that someone would think of little old me for that, but I was really grateful,” Hairston said.

During her interview she credited her grandmom for her giving spirit. 

Unfortunately, later that same year, Hairston was shopping inside of a Chesapeake Walmart, when a Walmart employee started shooting, killing six people.

“In November and we were actually in the Walmart because we were getting ready for an event that we were hosting on Thanksgiving,” Hairston said. “It was a time period where we had to say ‘God, if this is our purpose, thank you for giving us a second chance.’ It was a rough spot but we knew that we had to continue on. Even on Thanksgiving we still continued with that event on that day.”

Hairston said despite the ‘rough spots’ she plans to forge ahead.

“As long as God gives me the strength,” she said, “I just keep going.”

Want to help?

The Love Norfolk block party is in need of volunteers and vendors. There is a Love Norfolk community meet and greet Wednesday evening at the Berkley Community Center.

Organizers are collecting clothes ahead of the event Saturday. The clothing donations will be cleaned before the event.