Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives, but a local nonprofit organization doesn't wait until November to say thank you. They do it 365 days a year, and their gratitude is targeted toward the first responders in our community — the police officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel who show up for us in crisis situations.
November 8 is National STEM Day, and a nonprofit that started right here in Charlotte is celebrating in a big way. Project Scientist kicked off a campaign on International Day of the Girl (October 11) to raise enough funds to provide high-quality STEM education programs to 60 under-resourced girls. The nonprofit, which was founded in Charlotte in 2011, hopes to reach their goal by National STEM Day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept millions of school-aged children at home, and it's made the digital divide and educational opportunity gaps even worse than they already were. Children from under-resourced communities are being hit hardest and are losing opportunities to experience hands-on teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math.
In an era when things feel more divided than ever, it's a relief to know the Carolina Thread Trail is weaving us together. The "ribbon of green" encompasses 300 miles across 15 counties, two states, and 2.9 million people.
Glenn Smith heard the same thing over and over in the life skills classes he led at the Mecklenburg County Jail: If I had learned this stuff when I was younger, I probably wouldn't be here.
After hearing this refrain for six years, Glenn proposed a youth prevention program to the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, the group that decides which organizations get money from the crime prevention funds the NC Department of Public Safety gives the county each year. Glenn ended up getting his program funded, and he set to work, inspired by those words from the inmates at the county jail: If I had learned this stuff when I was younger, I probably wouldn't be here.
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.
The Hornets' Nest is not your mother's Girl Scout council — or maybe it is. The Girl Scouts have been blazing trails since 1912, when founder Juliette Gordon Low started a movement to redefine what was possible for girls everywhere. The nearly 12,000 girls served by our local council continue to redefine what is possible for themselves and the communities they will someday lead.
The Hornets' Nest Council calls itself a "hive of activity." This year more than ever, many of those activities have a distinct racial justice lens, and Council leaders are determined to make sure every girl has access to Girl Scout programs, regardless of her neighborhood or zip code.
When Erin Welborn was a child, her mother always told her, "If anything ever happens to me, everything you need is in the green box." Erin was too young to know about the importance of insurance policies and birth certificates. She just knew to give the green box to an adult if anything should happen. "Mama said it, so it must be true," laughs Erin when she recounts this story.
As an adult, Erin recognizes the kindness her mother showed by making sure her children wouldn't have the burden of finding important documents in an emergency. It's a kindness Erin inherited, and it keeps her motivated to give families in Charlotte their own "green boxes" for security and peace of mind.
That's PFLAG Charlotte President Karen Graci summing up the first time she attended a support group offered by the nonprofit that supports families, allies and people who are LGBTQ. Karen had worked in the Diversity and Inclusion field for 10 years, and when her daughter came out as transgender she and her husband were "supportive but petrified." Karen says even parents who want to support their loved ones don't know what they don't know in the beginning. "When your child first comes out there are so many emotions. We felt a myriad of conflicting things. We loved our child unconditionally and of course we would support her. At the same time we felt lonely and we wondered how we didn't see the pain she was in for so many years. We didn't know anyone else who was openly transgender, and we didn't think there would be any support locally."
The Lake Norman Community Health Clinic has been providing quality healthcare at no cost to uninsured people in Mecklenburg County for 22 years. So when a global pandemic hit home, they didn't miss a beat. In fact, they were so proactive that they were a model to FEMA and clinics in other states for how to best serve patients during an unprecedented health crisis.
Meet Charlie. He's only five, but he's already a three-year cancer survivor. Charlie was born with Down Syndrome and Transient myeloproliferative disorder, which transitioned into leukemia when he was 16 months old. When other babies were experiencing crucial brain, physical, and social development, Charlie was undergoing high-dose chemotherapy, long-term hospitalization, and isolation. As a result, Charlie experienced physical regression and delays in his motor skills.
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!!