We just observed Veterans Day across the United States, but for the Charlotte-based team at Veterans Bridge Home, the work continues every day—and it's the best kind of work they could ask for.
Veterans Bridge Home is on a mission to build stronger communities, one Veteran at a time. And in a city with more than 150,000 Veterans, the nonprofit has plenty to do. Through a network of partners, the organization helps Veterans navigate employment, create social connections, and settle their families.
But it's not just Veterans who benefit—the entire Charlotte community gets better when Veterans make a successful transition from military to civilian life. Just ask Nick Maglosky, CEO of Charlotte-based ecommerce software provider Ecomdash.
Bailey has overcome more in 11 years than most people face in a lifetime. Born prematurely at 28 weeks, Bailey spent the first two years of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her left arm was amputated when she was 26 days old. She lives with autism and is non-verbal.
Now in her first year of middle school, Bailey and her mom, a U.S. Navy Veteran, have persevered to overcome some serious challenges. Needless to say, a family vacation wasn't in the cards for this family.
If you've ever taken a Level Up workshop at Bold Missy, struck a warrior pose in the Triple C barrel room, or crushed in trivia at 26 Acres, you know that when it comes to the Charlotte craft beer scene, community is everything.
When Janiah's doctor recommended physical therapy utilizing horses, her father thought it would be a fun activity that might also help loosen up her hips. Cerebral palsy made it tough for Janiah to walk by herself, and her dad, Todd, carried her most of the time, even though she was six.
This is not a question we tend to ask ourselves in our thirties. Jen Pagani didn't have a choice. Shortly after having her second son, Jen was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer—an aggressive form of the disease that she fought with the same tenacity she'd brought to two Ironman Triathlons. Her fighting spirit gave her more than six years to spend with her two boys and her soulmate and husband Joe. It also gave us the Go Jen Go Foundation.
"Someone is going to do something for the babies."
That's how Sonja Chisholm reassured a mom in her Gracious Hands transitional housing program who was worried that her kids would have a Christmas with no presents under the tree.
Gracious Hands provides temporary shelter while educating, encouraging and empowering women with children to attain a brighter future economically, socially and spiritually. Up to five women and their children are able to live in the comfortable home provided by "Miss Sonja," so they can get back on their feet and find self-sufficiency.
Amanda Ruiz knows there's no "perfect time" to start going after your dreams. All she wanted was a college degree, but life kept throwing obstacles in her path. Her father suffered permanent brain damage after being assaulted, and her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor that same year. Meanwhile, Amanda was dealing with her own health issues on top of it all.
At age 18, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease—an illness with no cure and potentially life-threatening complications. All of these health problems wiped out the family's savings and forced Amanda to drop out of East Carolina University. "We lost our house, boat, cars and any security I ever felt," says Amanda.
The dictionary defines a gem as "a precious or semiprecious stone cut and polished for ornament." Another definition is "a highly prized or well-beloved person." Kendra Scott and her jewelry company value both of these definitions equally.
Creating timeless and broadly appealing jewelry is Kendra Scott's specialty, and the company excels at it. Just check out the "Caught you in your Kendra" posts on the @kendrascott Instagram account to see celebrities sporting Kendra Scott pieces.
Nikkia Barkley has been working since she was 15. Even when she was working in restaurants and retail stores, she had a vision of doing something different. When she got accepted to the University of Miami, she planned on studying computer engineering.
She decided to decline her admission offer when she learned she was expecting. She didn't want to take her son away from his father, and she was the caretaker for her mom, who was often sick.
Fast-forward 20 years to the end of 2018. Nikkia and her husband had four more children, and, although he was disabled with liver issues, her husband did everything he could to support the family.
After three transplants, doctors told Nikkia's husband that there was nothing more they could do. That's when Nikkia and her husband had to start talking about a possible future without him.
To understand why Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation has been racing to end childhood cancer for 20 years, look at Merritt. She just turned two years old, but her smile will brighten even the darkest day. She's fighting Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of soft tissues, and recently underwent surgery at Levine Children's Hospital here in Charlotte. But that doesn't stop her from laughing and making silly faces every chance she gets.
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!!