Written by Amy Andrews, Photograph by Lindsay Kappius
Changed Choices was created to empower currently or recently incarcerated women to achieve lasting positive change in their lives. It began in 1999 when founder Ruth Snyder was contacted by her friend at the chaplain’s office at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). He had come across two women who were brought in on charges, “they were terrified and feeling very much alone.” Ruth went to MCSO Detention Center to meet with the women, encourage them and eventually mentor them - and Changed Choices was born.
According to Katie Gauntner, Development Associate for Changed Choices, “the concept behind Changed Choices is straightforward - provide supportive relationships and walk beside clients so that their life looks different once their time is served.”
Written by Eden Estabrook; Photo Credit: Lindsay Kappius
Pots banging. Knives chopping. The smell of baked goods wafting through the air. As I walked through Community Culinary School of Charlotte’s (CCSC) location at 9315-D Monroe Road, the kitchen was alive with the sights, smells, and sounds of students and teachers preparing for the opening of the School’s Cafe in a couple of hours.
Saichelle McNeill believes in second chances. The owner of Washroom Laundryin Charlotte has found her newest employee through LifeWorks!, an employment program that helps people with criminal records reach their professional goals.
Over 10,000 returning citizens are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and land back in their communities often without much support or direction.
Further, approximately two-thirds of the 650,000 ex-offenders who are released from prison every year are likely to be rearrested within three years of release (Department of Justice). Why? Being formerly incarcerated comes with a host of barriers and obstacles as individuals strive to successfully reenter society and start a new chapter even once they have been freed, physically.
When Charlotte was ranked last in the nation for upward mobility, Frances Hall looked around the Beatties Ford corridor and felt compelled to action. The licensed mental health counselor saw an unaddressed correlation between stress and economic stability. So in 2016 she founded the Beatties Ford Vocational Trade Center, the first mental health agency and Black-owned trade school in Charlotte.
Why did you focus on vocational training, as opposed to, say academic education?
The future of leadership is female, and EmpowHERment is here to help
Written by Emiene Wright
Study after study has shown strong female leadership improves the status of families and lifts entire communities (The World Bank, Peterson Institute, MSCI World Index). Giving young women the support they need has the potential to change the world for the better. That is the guiding principle behind EmpowHERment, a Charlotte-based mentoring program that has created a pipeline for developing leadership skills in girls.
A True Sister’s Keeper: My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program
Written by Perrine DeShield
Homelessness effects every city in America and unfortunately, Charlotte is no different. Currently, the face of homelessness in the Queen City has evolved and now features the faces of many women. My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program is giving much-needed support for women in our community who may be facing sudden unemployment, drug abuse, recent release from incarceration, domestic violence or untreated mental health issues.
The My Sister’s House program empowers and encourages women to make healthy, positive lifestyle changes that will help them progress towards their goals and decrease their chances of returning to a state of homelessness.
“Dead beat dad” is a common stereotype, and I, admittedly, often assumed this was a choice, but what I’ve recently learned is sometimes it’s for lack of emotional or financial resources that a father is not able to fight for partial custody of a child.
According to this Charlotte Region report on Suburbanizing, Densifying, Diversifying, the African American population in the region has grown by 26% since 2010, driven largely by migration from larger northeastern cities as part of what demographers have termed a Reverse Great Migration to the South. While Charlotte is becoming increasingly diverse, minorities often do not have the same experiences due to racial injustices. That is why throughout August, which is Black Philanthropy Month and here locally #BPM2020CLT, we are highlighting Black-led nonprofits to share their stories and inspire you to donate and to drive change in our own community
We have so much great news to share from our nonprofit partners about their amazing work. But, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know if you have stories you'd like to tell and we'll make you a guest blogger!!