Written by Amy Andrews, Photograph by Lindsay Kappius
Changed Choices was created to empower currently or recently incarcerated women to achieve lasting positive change in their lives. It began in 1999 when founder Ruth Snyder was contacted by her friend at the chaplain’s office at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). He had come across two women who were brought in on charges, “they were terrified and feeling very much alone.” Ruth went to MCSO Detention Center to meet with the women, encourage them and eventually mentor them - and Changed Choices was born.
According to Katie Gauntner, Development Associate for Changed Choices, “the concept behind Changed Choices is straightforward - provide supportive relationships and walk beside clients so that their life looks different once their time is served.”
Since arriving here nearly 15 years ago, U.S. Bank has put down deep roots in the Charlotte community.
The bank has more than 850 employees in the area working in a variety of businesses, and just last fall launched a retail banking expansion that features an innovative new branch on Tryon Street. Later this fall, the bank willl open a second branch serving Pineville and the greater South Charlotte market.
In Charlotte, like in all the cities where it operates, U.S. Bank is committed to supporting local nonprofit organizations. Its employees also donate thousands of volunteer hours to the charitable causes that mean the most to them.
Written by Eden Estabrook; Photo Credit: Lindsay Kappius
Pots banging. Knives chopping. The smell of baked goods wafting through the air. As I walked through Community Culinary School of Charlotte’s (CCSC) location at 9315-D Monroe Road, the kitchen was alive with the sights, smells, and sounds of students and teachers preparing for the opening of the School’s Cafe in a couple of hours.
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.
Over 10,000 returning citizens are released from America’s state and federal prisons every week and land back in their communities often without much support or direction.
Further, approximately two-thirds of the 650,000 ex-offenders who are released from prison every year are likely to be rearrested within three years of release (Department of Justice). Why? Being formerly incarcerated comes with a host of barriers and obstacles as individuals strive to successfully reenter society and start a new chapter even once they have been freed, physically.
When Charlotte was ranked last in the nation for upward mobility, Frances Hall looked around the Beatties Ford corridor and felt compelled to action. The licensed mental health counselor saw an unaddressed correlation between stress and economic stability. So in 2016 she founded the Beatties Ford Vocational Trade Center, the first mental health agency and Black-owned trade school in Charlotte.
Why did you focus on vocational training, as opposed to, say academic education?
16K CMS students are in need of hotspots in order to engage in virtual learning. The CMS Foundation is fundraising to secure more devices for students The cost for the device as well as 12 months of service is $260. Donations can be made to the CMS Foundation, here..
The future of leadership is female, and EmpowHERment is here to help
Written by Emiene Wright
Study after study has shown strong female leadership improves the status of families and lifts entire communities (The World Bank, Peterson Institute, MSCI World Index). Giving young women the support they need has the potential to change the world for the better. That is the guiding principle behind EmpowHERment, a Charlotte-based mentoring program that has created a pipeline for developing leadership skills in girls.
A True Sister’s Keeper: My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program
Written by Perrine DeShield
Homelessness effects every city in America and unfortunately, Charlotte is no different. Currently, the face of homelessness in the Queen City has evolved and now features the faces of many women. My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program is giving much-needed support for women in our community who may be facing sudden unemployment, drug abuse, recent release from incarceration, domestic violence or untreated mental health issues.
The My Sister’s House program empowers and encourages women to make healthy, positive lifestyle changes that will help them progress towards their goals and decrease their chances of returning to a state of homelessness.
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!!