Human trafficking can sound like a humanitarian heartstring issue, pulling on the fringe of society, and before meeting a victim - a college student who was coerced into what was advertised as a modeling agency career photo shoot - I coldly dismissed sex trafficking as the modern-day term for prostitution. I quickly realized this is real life where people are preyed upon, often drugged and abused.
Vulnerability creates desperation, and loneliness, low self-esteem, lack of familial structure or money trouble presents itself at a bus stop, a facade of a relationship,
Ubuntu is not commonly included in orientation at most schools, nor is it part of every day conversation in most English-speaking circles, but at (Knowledge is Power Program (aka KIPP: Academy Charlotte), this is their mantra. Ubuntu is an African word meaning, “I am who I am because of who WE all are.” There’s no denying we are intertwined. SHARE Charlotte is honored to be a partner with KIPP: Academy Charlotte, a free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public school serving almost more than 800 students in Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 4th-8th grades. KIPP: Academy Charlotte serves communities traditionally underserved and marginalized in education.
Mark Gordon’s grandfather and uncle were policemen and everyone else was in the military - a call to public service runs in their family veins. So, it was only natural as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools graduate, Mark Gordon joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in 2000. He wasn’t prepared to see the statistics LIVE. He knew them, but the amount of fatherless homes and the crime everywhere, no matter what part of Charlotte you lived in, was alarming.
Mark describes his childhood, living in the Derita community (now Mallard Creek) as, “a little town within the City of Charlotte, kinda like the movie Sandlot - we rode our bikes everywhere, especially to the pool.”
Zach Bolster was living the dream in New York when he received a trajectory-changing phone call - his mother, Gloria, was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He and his now-wife, Patricia, immediately moved home to Charlotte to care for her. During the hundreds of appointments, treatments -- in waiting rooms, lobbies, offices, they saw and heard the stress other patients were under because of transportation - family members unable to miss work to drive them to chemo, or rides falling through and the stress of their bank accounts dwindling to zilch as they fought just to live.
“Transportation?” Zach thought. There has to be an easy solution to ease this burden, and thus, ChemoCars started.
Our bodies are not whole - it’s nothing we like to face head on. In fact, we run in all directions, frantically trying to keep ourselves as whole as possible, and for some of us, it’s easier to do that because of money. We choose healthcare providers and remedies, try special equipment or prescriptions, schedule routine check ups - problem-solving. But for others there’s not a chance at renting or purchasing a machine to improve mobility or sleep apnea and dentist appointments are impossible when you’re thinking about how to pay rent and buy food. Healthcare costs become secondary when simply living is financially crushing.
For me, summer digs up memories of barefoot ballet leaps over sprinklers in a sopping wet backyard, moms’ bottomless, waterproof pool bags with one billion pockets, late night cookouts where it seemed parents almost forgot bedtime ---- almost! Fireflies and boat rides at dusk on the lake. I think of watermelons being sliced, potato salad getting dished out, and hamburgers grilling. Never once did I have to question whether I was getting a meal.
Unfortunately, this is not what summer feels like to thousands of children in Charlotte. Some kids are waiting - waiting for parents to come home from long days at work, waiting to see their aunt or guardian, waiting for someone to get to the bus stop to haul groceries back home, waiting to be taken anywhere.
We find it acceptable, to a certain extent, for older people to talk about their every ailment - bowel movement frequency, medication regimen, colitis episodes, etc. We all discuss headaches, soreness, allergies, while freely disclosing complete medical history in doctor’s office waiting rooms, well, almost complete medical histories.
We’re taught mind-body-soul early, and we learn to exercise and some of us, how to pray, but the health of our mind is not considered, and definitely not openly discussed except under the socially acceptable “self-care”. Do we even know a complete mental health history of those in our families? Probably not - It’s been taboo.
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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!!