The year 2020 turned tortuous just weeks after the New Year as COVID-19 spread rapidly across America, sickening and killing people of all ages. This is not the place to recount the grim history. But Sarah Stevenson found herself entering a devastating year in a weakened condition. As family and friends looked in on her or employed helpers for her, Ms. Stevenson mostly stayed at home off Beatties Ford Road from January through August.
What’s below are notes shared by younger sister Elloree Erwin beginning in August after Sarah, having been treated a second time in the hospital, was transferred to a long-term care facility. Most of the notes below were published in the announcements of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum, which Ms. Stevenson co-founded in the 1980s.
Aug. 11, 2020
Sarah Stevenson’s family sent in an announcement that Mrs. Stevenson in the last months has been back and forth between home and hospital and rehab facilities. Each move has brought a period of quarantine and, as of Tuesday, Mrs. Stevenson is in another quarantine and is unable to receive visitors. Those wishing to send cards should send them to 2000 St. Paul St., Charlotte NC 28216 and the family will be sure Mrs. Stevenson receives them. Those wishing to speak to Sarah’s sister Elloree should call 704-398-8399.
The following is a note written today by Sarah Stevenson’s younger sister Elloree. Elloree said she had not been able to speak by phone with Sarah for about two weeks until a nurse put her through this morning. Sarah is in quarantine at a care facility in Charlotte. The nurse did not say how long the coronavirus quarantine would last. At the time she entered quarantine, Sarah reportedly tested negative for the coronavirus. Further updates from Elloree Erwin will be shared as they are available.
Wed, Sept. 2, 2020 5:16 pm
I had a video chat with my sister, Sarah, this morning. She is feeling that the end is nearing for her and she feels her work on this earth is done.
She asked me to share with you all, her church members, Prince of Peace Lutheran, the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club and NANBPW members, (National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women) that she loves all of you and that she hopes to see you all in heaven.
She said she’d like to go back to her home for one last night and she’s ready to meet Jesus. She said she’d reach 94 1/2. I advised her that she’s close to 95. This is September and her birthday is in October, so she’s closer to 95 that 94.
Her voice is strong, stronger than it’d been in awhile. She sang her favorite song, “To God be the Glory”, completely through. Of course, we cried a lot and I pleaded with her to hold on and not leave me during this virus.
Thanks to all of you for your love and support for my sister throughout her many years, and I’m praying that she’ll recover and have some more.
Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 5:25 pm
Good afternoon all. I was able to talk with Sarah a few minutes ago, and she is her old self. She didn’t mention anything about leaving this world. Thank God for this. She said to tell everyone that she loves you very much. Also, that she really appreciates all the cards she’s received. I told her about the calls I’ve received asking about her.
If, and when, she’s settled into a permanent location, we’ll provide that address. Until then, please continue sending them to her home address [2000 St. Paul St., Charlotte NC 28216]. And, as always, we appreciate your continued support and prayers.
Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 11:28 a.m.
I was able to have a telephone visit with Saran twice last week. I took her all the accolades that had been bestowed upon her by County Commissioners, the honor by Congresswoman Alma Adams, and the Observer’s article. She was in good spirits and was happy to get the information.
We talked about the Forum. She said she’d made the order in which the Forum would continue. She named the persons who’d agreed to preside over the Forum. She’s also ready to get her ballot so she can VOTE.
I’m so proud of her. We appreciate all the prayers and thoughts sent to her.
Monday, Oct. 5, 12:07 pm
I talked to her last week. She was very happy and very alert. She said to tell every thank you very much for all the cards, flowers and good wishes.
She’s still asking to go home, and she wants to vote. Her application’s coming. I went to the Board of Elections, filled out the form and the ballot will be mailed to my house. I too want to thank everyone for your support for my sister.
An update from Sarah Stevenson’s sister Elloree Erwin about plans for a drive-by Birthday Party for Sarah Stevenson on Monday, Oct. 26. The line is scheduled to begin moving around 11 a.m.
Fri, Oct. 23, 2020 2:08 am
MANY, MANY THANKS, for all your patience and understanding during this communicating and organizing process. Everyone please follow these instructions for everything to flow smoothly.
Have something PURPLE visible on your vehicle so you can be recognized easily by law enforcement. We will be on a very busy street, North Tryon Street, also known as Hwy. 29. Everyone must enter from this street.
Coming south on Hwy. 29, turn right on J.W. Clay Boulevard. Coming north past the hospital, turn left onto J.W. Clay Boulevard.
Once on J.W. Clay, follow officers’ directions but here’s the general route. Continue through (1) stop light to Doug Mayes. Turn right on Doug Mayes. Make an immediate right onto Glenwater and into the University Place facility on the right.
After greeting Sarah, continue to the back exit and turn left onto Glenwater Drive and follow back around to Doug Mayes. Turn left on Doug Mayes and then right on J.W. Clay Boulevard. Proceed to W.T. Harris Boulevard, where you may go left or right on Harris.
GOOD NEWS: We’ve been advised that Sarah will be outside, weather permitting.
We’ll allow a minute or two to say hello to her, and then ask you to move on. As of today, we have 50 vehicles that’ll come through. No one can get out of their vehicle. Some people have time restraints and will be allowed to go through first. Remember to let me know of your constraints and I’ll advise the officers to get you in the line first.
Because of COVID-19, we’ll have drop baskets for any tokens of appreciation. Also, we’d like for everyone to have a business card or a 3×5 index card with your contact information on it so we can follow-up with an appropriate THANK YOU. Please list the names of all passengers in your vehicle on your card.
Please call me for any additional needs. I am at 704-398-8399 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. My cell is 704-582-1579.
On the Tuesday Forum site here is a report on coverage of the Oct. 26 birthday event.
Nov. 1, 2020
Elloree Erwin wrote:
“Again, Sarah sends many thanks to all who graced her with your participation on her 95th birthday. Her son, his wife and I had a Facetime visit with her last Thursday. She sounded very weak and somewhat disengaged and unhappy about our visit. She wanted to sleep.
“The mums have been planted in front of the courtyard where she was seated last Monday. Some of the monetary funds received will be used to place a permanent marker as the Sarah Mingo Stevenson Memorial Garden. If any of you can help with this, please let me know.
“The balance of the funds or future funds will be placed in an account at Mechanics & Farmers Bank to be used in developing a living legacy for her. Some of you may have been working with her on some possibilities; if so, please let me know. Sarah may or may not remember them clearly at this time.
“If anyone has sent monetary gifts to her at the nursing facility, please let me know so we can properly acknowledge you and keep an account of the funds. Please direct all future donations to me, as her personal needs are being met by the facility.
“Thank you again for your prayers and well wishes for Sarah.”
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Elloree Erwin also sent in some initial thoughts about “memorializing Sarah’s legacy.” The list included adding to the 2013 Samuel C. Stevenson Scholarship Fund at Johnson C. Smith University; creating a display at the rebuilt Excelsior Club for “trailblazers who were firsts in their respective endeavors;” a “River of Life” at the new Excelsior honoring those who contributed to the life of the Beatties Ford Road corridor.
“Please forward your input to me,” Elloree Erwin wrote.
Nov. 12, 2020
Elloree Erwin, Sarah Stevenson’s sister, writes:
“Sarah can now have in-facility visits. To make an appointment, call 704-549-0807 and ask for activities scheduling. Her room number is 301A at the University Place Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
“Visits are limited to two visitors for 30 minutes. All visitors will be screened for the virus before entering the facility.
“Expect scheduling to be difficult. The center has capacity for 200 residents and everyone will want to visit their resident.
“I’m happy to share this good news with you all, her friends.”
Dec. 17, 2020
Sarah Stevenson’s sister Elloree sent this update earlier today:
“There have been changes at the Nursing Facility where Sarah is. She is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. She still talks about going home. The in-house visits have been cancelled due to the virus. I was able to have 2 inside visits during that time. The meeting was in a meeting room at the front of the building, thus not exposing anyone.
“The residents are allowed only one contact per week, either by the window or Facetime via iPad. Her son, Tom, and I are alternating weeks, therefore, no one else will have any contact with Sarah.
“Those of you who gave Birthday wishes by check will know that they have not yet been deposited. We hope to get that done next week.
“Sarah wants me to look into what’s involved in continuing her Peer Mediation program in CMS. This could be a way of continuing her legacy. If any of you are familiar with this program, please let me know. Also, let me know if you’d be interested in helping with this.”
Jan. 7, 2021
Sarah Stevenson’s sister Elloree sent this update earlier today:
“Now that she is in a window room, she can have unlimited visits. Please continue to call 704-549-0807 to make arrangements. Her room is just beyond the courtyard where the Birthday celebration was held. It’s the 2nd window. It’s Room 402.
“I visited with her Tuesday, a week ago. She was doing well and wanted me to tell everyone that she loves all of you, continue to pray for her and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Of course, she wants to go home to 2000 St. Paul St.
“HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL from me as well and thanks for loving and caring for my sister.”
Jan. 15, 2021
In a e-mail update, Sarah Stevenson’ sister Elloree Erwin wrote, in part:
“I’m sorry to say that the facility has had some positive COVID-19 cases and has had to change their rules again. You may call the facility at 704-549-0807, and ask for the activities office. This is their main line, and they’ll let you know if you can be accommodated. This means that they’ll bring her to a window, through which you may talk for a short period, weather permitting.”