“Volunteers are truly essential, especially for these children who benefit from a high level of attention, Pat Shaw, Director of La Escuelita Bilingual Preschool in Davidson, explained. “They (volunteers) speak English with the children - different accents, different backgrounds and different vocabularies. Plus, they share invaluable talents. These interactions are cultural experiences for everyone,” said Shaw.
In 2010, Dale Gillmore, had a for-profit business but wasn’t seeing the community impact where he was donating and desired to be more vested in social programs helping children. Corporations often have entire departments for social responsibility initiatives, but Gillmore experienced little tangible tie to the projects in which his small business was investing. Thus, he started Make an Impact Foundation (MAIF) as a grant program to promote the education and well-being of children, so he could directly invest in the lives of children in the Charlotte region. MAIF identifies children in severe need (homeless, impoverished, etc.) as well as those with learning or emotional needs, disabilities, diseases or chronic illness and creates opportunities to produce change in their lives.
If anything else, COVID has taught us that we can pivot digitally to try and connect, learn, plan, meet, etc. Children sit by the millions in front of screens for school, Zoom lessons, video games, and the recent digital surge thrust upon us has organizations like Digi-Bridge finding ways to connect their mission to current needs.
“We meet students where they are. Whatever your environment is, we ask how do we integrate our learning into your environment?,” Digi-Bridge CEO Alyssa Sharpe explains.
Project Scientist was the catalyst for Aida to choose biomedical engineering as her field of study at UNC Charlotte. Project Scientist has middle schooler, Bennett, conducting all kinds of environmental experiments at home. These are two of thousands of girls whose STEM interests have been piqued thanks to Project Scientist, known for its programs that challenge the status quo by exposing girls, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and now location to quality programming centered around science, technology, engineering and math.
“I didn’t want to be just a person getting by, I wanted to LIVE and also show my children that it’s a part of life - that the harder you work, you can make things better for yourself,” former Charlotte Family Housing (CFH) Client and now Board Member, Lamont, reflects.
Thanks to CFH’s partnership with Goodwill Career Center, Lamont participated in a 12-week training program for HVAC repair and now has his own business and owns his own home.
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.”
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.
“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.
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!!