Like so many organizations, the past year has looked dramatically different for local non-profit RunningWorks. This Charlotte-based non-profit has a keen focus on stopping the destructive cycle of homelessness through its values-led, mentorship-driven programming.
RunningWorks was established in 2012 and promotes volunteerism as a key component of rehabilitation as it promotes dignity and purpose for team members who are struggling through hard times. The goal is to foster self-improvement over the long term through the development of discipline, confidence, team-work and self-respect.
Bright Blessings lives up to its name, as a bright spot in the lives of local homeless and impoverished children by helping them celebrate their birthdays. Bright Blessings has grown since its founding by Amy and John Cervantes in 2005 to now include programs like Bless-a- Baby, which provides baskets of newborn items for new homeless and impoverished mothers and babies.
“COVID has certainly affected what we are able to do now, as a great deal of our birthday care packages were delivered via CMS schools which are not in person right now,” shared Tisha Henderson, Executive Director, Bright Blessings. “We are still sending supplies to shelters, which have been each handling their celebrations differently.”
Life has dealt Jenny Van-Strahlen some blows. At five, she lost her Mom and spent her early childhood in a foster home and with extended family. In her mid-20s, her first marriage ended, and she found herself homeless. But today? She’s close to completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services at Montreat College. In May, she’ll attend the University of Kentucky School of Social Work for a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is a well-known institution, beloved for its mission to provide a safe, caring and affordable home-away-from-home for families with children receiving care in local medical facilities.
Despite the pandemic, RMH of Charlotte has kept its doors open since March 17th when most things shut down. According to Kristin Young, Associate Director of Advancement for RMHC, “We have been and will continue to be here to house families whose children are sick or injured.”
It's one thing to dream. It's another thing entirely to have a team behind you as you reach for that dream. For a growing group of young people, Carolina Youth Coalition (CYC) is the team helping them become first-generation college graduates who are equipped to make a difference in the world.
"Talent is distributed equally throughout our communities but the opportunity is not," says Carolina Youth Coalition Co-Founder Aaron Rudolph. "CYC empowers our hardworking, first-generation college students with the resources and strong support network to graduate from college, spark economic mobility, and return to their communities as leaders, innovators, and advocates for others."
Shay Hunt burst into tears when she got the call that Raise a Child of the Carolinas, the nonprofit she founded just a year ago, had won a $5,000 grant through SHARE Charlotte from the Amy and Brian France Foundation. “Oh my gosh when they called me I started crying. I could not believe it, my voice was shaking,” Hunt said.
You Can't Pull Yourself Up by the Bootstraps if There Aren't Bootstraps to Pull
“Families in our program are the hardest working, most caring parents, not clients. We really get to know them,” Families Forward Founder, Carrie Christian explained to me. “We’re working primarily with the adults in the family for the parents to learn skills, through the workshops they attend and family support they receive, so that they can pass down to their children. They are incredible and our volunteers give so much of their time to others. It’s the hands-on relationship, and it takes time - the impact of what you’re doing - doing with and not for is key in our program.”
While educators have long lamented the summer learning loss that occurs every year after summer break, they now have a new wrinkle to deal with: the “COVID slide.” One recent report by NWEA found that school interruptions due to COVID-19 and summer break may cause students to lose over half of what they learned in math in the 2019-20 school year.
It's a challenge Heart Math Tutoring is meeting head on, even if their program looks a little different this year. “It’s incredible what our program staff, our volunteers, and our families have been able to do,” says Mary Gamble, donor relations coordinator for Heart Tutoring. “It’s encouraging to know our program works virtually as well as in person.”
The billboard on I-77 South recently caught my eye - “6 ft shouldn’t sound like 60 feet apart,” it read. Hearing loss exacerbated is yet another effect of COVID. People with hearing impairments can sometimes get by with lip-reading, but masks have made that almost impossible.
Therefore, Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center (CSHC)’s Giving Tuesday’s goal is to raise awareness of and funds for their mission- to provide the gift of speech and hearing to all those in need in the Charlotte community, regardless of income or other barriers.
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!!