BrentM

Oct 272018
 

Check out Britzia’s very own video 

We are very proud of all our students. Some have just started attending our programs this week, while others have been a part of the LHCC family of parents and students for over five years. Today, we introduce you to Britzia, a young 4th grade student who attends our after-school homework and reading program with her family of two brothers, along mom & dad. She is always ready to greet me with a hug and a smile, and just loves to hang out with her friends and all the other children, ages 3 to 13, before the program starts. She is precocious and always ready to share how the day at school has been for her. Then the homework comes out and the tutoring session begins… A little math today perhaps, a reading quiz some days, but regardless, a glorious opportunity to meet her where she is academically, and encourage her. She is paired with a retired school teacher, Ms. Bettie, who knows a thing or two about helping out. The partnership has been rock solid for over 18 months! Each homework session is followed by some much needed reading time. Last, but not least, some feedback for mom, so that valuable information can be exchanged between mom and Ms. Bettie on what she needs to work on. It’s what we call a cross-cultural exchange of thoughts, ideas, love and encouragement. This takes place for many of our students as well. Britzia is very grateful for the help, as is mom. Check out their very own video and see why. You see, there is something very special about this relationship and many others. It’s the strong participation of the parents in their children’s education and well-being, supported by active staff and volunteers, always ready with a word or two of encouragement!

For information on volunteer opportunities check out our volunteer page. Finally, if you missed our last blog, we featured our Fall fundraiser to seed our year round work. Read it here

Until next time friends, have a blessed weekend and thanks for reading and sharing our blogpost

Brent Morris

Executive Director ~ Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

October 26, 2018

Oct 192018
 

This month, we are raising funds to provide enrichment programs for immigrant and refugee families in Charlotte. Today, we launched our first-ever campaign to “fan into flame” the spark that happens for these children in our summer programming, with the purpose of sustaining that connection through year-round enrichment. LHCC offers homework help to the kids in our community in the evenings, while their parents study English. Our organization serves the Charlotte community in a genuine and powerful way that allows kids to increase confidence in reading and speaking English.

Your gift of support helps make our programming possible. Please consider making a contribution to LHCC today. Find fundraising link here

 Posted by at 9:17 pm
Oct 082018
 

This past Saturday, October 6, 2018, Learning Help Centers of Charlotte partnered with Pineville Neighbors Place and other “for-good” organizations and local churches to bag approximately 2,200 bags of potatoes for those in need in our local community.  What made the event so special was that the volunteers were from so many different organizations. Young and old, from various ethnicities and cultures, blue-gloved people standing shoulder to shoulder bagging thousands of 10 pound bags of donated potatoes, to feed the homeless and area feeding organizations, including Feeding America.

LHCC had a great turnout from our local South Blvd community. We had nine families represented. Moms, dads and 14 children. Every child in our program who attended came with a parent. That was the difference maker. It was also a first for us! Families serving together. It was a beautiful picture of everyone chipping in and making the event a huge success. Many hands made light work… Six big pallets of 4,000 pounds of spuds were sorted and bagged into 10 pound bags for delivery by eager volunteers.

Thank-you Pineville Neighbors Place for partnering with local churches and Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, and helping to show that unity and collaboration go hand-in-hand for area non-profits, who really do much better, working together and praying together.

See everyone next year, so another memorable community serve event!

 

 

Oct 072018
 
El sábado pasado, 6 de octubre de 2018, los Centros de Ayuda para el Aprendizaje de Charlotte se asociaron con los vecinos de Pineville y otras organizaciones “buenas” e iglesias locales para llevar aproximadamente 2,200 bolsas de papas para los necesitados en nuestra comunidad local. Lo que hizo que el evento fuera tan especial fue que los voluntarios eran de tantas organizaciones diferentes. Jóvenes y viejos, de diversas etnias y culturas, personas con guantes azules parados hombro con hombro envuelven miles de bolsas de 10 libras de papas donadas, para alimentar a las personas sin hogar y organizaciones de alimentación de área, incluida Feeding America. LHCC tuvo una gran participación de nuestra comunidad local de South Blvd. Teníamos nueve familias representadas. Mamás, papás y 14 hijos. Todos los niños en nuestro programa que asistieron vinieron con un padre. Esa fue la diferencia que hizo. ¡También fue la primera vez para nosotros! Familias sirviendo juntas. Fue una hermosa imagen de todos los que contribuyeron y hicieron del evento un gran éxito. Muchas manos hicieron un trabajo ligero … Seis paletas grandes de 4,000 libras de papas fueron clasificadas y embolsadas en bolsas de 10 libras para ser entregadas por voluntarios ansiosos. Gracias a Pineville Neighbors por asociarse con las iglesias locales y los Centros de Ayuda para el Aprendizaje de Charlotte, y por ayudar a demostrar que la unidad y la colaboración van de la mano para organizaciones sin fines de lucro, que realmente lo hacen mucho mejor, trabajando juntos y orando juntos. ¡Vea a todos el año que viene, así que otro evento memorable de servicio comunitario!
 Posted by at 8:28 pm
Sep 242018
 

“You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.”

As I become older and perhaps wiser, I have come to realize that spending time with family is one of my favorite pastimes. You see, Caren and I have three delightful daughters. The apple does not fall far from the tree, they say, and we see our personalities in each of them. I feel honored that these three American-born girls call me Dad. They call me other things too, but that’s another story …

Immigrants and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 86.4 million people, or 27 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to a national survey, taken in 2017.

One of the greatest blessings we have is our immediate family. I realize this more as an immigrant, living in the U.S. far from the rest of my extended family in South Africa. This situation is no different for the refugee and immigrant families we serve. Their families, usually, still live abroad. Visiting home is equally infrequent, so we have to nurture friends, and build new families state-side.

As believers in Jesus, we have a family who are related spiritually because of our common faith. This family includes mature men and women who love God and each other. Living in community, is to love one another, as hard as that may be at times. 1 Thessalonians offers some ageless advice in this regard:

  • Be at peace with everyone
  • Strive to do what is good for others
  • Encourage the disheartened, help the poor, be patient with everyone

So, even if we did not pick our family members, we can still find ways to love them, even when they may not deserve it. We can also add to our families, those that are like-minded, and who we can do life together with us.

For our upcoming blog posts, we will start to feature some of the families we serve, as part of an ongoing series, to learn more about their U.S. experiences living in Charlotte, and their children in our programs.  

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

September 22, 2018

Sep 152018
 

Hurricane Florence brings both devastation and opportunity. We pray daily for everyone’s safety, especially those on the coast and evacuated from their homes. Perhaps we are reminded by who really is in control. It is also an opportunity to draw close to family, as we gather together and ride out this storm. It is also encouraging to see how much good comes from events like this … helping neighbors, public schools converted to shelters and making provision for those displaced or seeking shelter.

Speaking of families drawing near, my daughter Lauren came home from college in Boone on Thursday. It’s a blessing to have time together at home, hunkering down and being a complete family again.

We are excited to see our extended families again soon. Our board is energized and ready for another year of promoting the mission and vision of LHCC. I refer of course to those we serve each week, in our various programs. We will recommence our after-school homework and reading programs again at the beginning of October. In addition, we have a community event, called a Potato Drop, on Saturday, October 6, hosted by Pineville Neighbors.  Check out our current events for more information. Until then, be safe and enjoy the things that matter most. Family. Our next blog post will feature an update from Britzia, one of our awesome students. Watch her short video as a teaser.  

Until next time …

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

 

Sep 092018
 

They say that when the world sends you lemons, make lemonade.

When I watch Shark Tank, I am always inspired by the innovation of entrepreneurs This short clip is about a company called Game Face However, there is a meaning hidden behind the mask, so to speak. When your optimism wanes after say a tough week, challenges persist, and trials get you down, it is easy to get angry and discouraged. But you can’t always show your emotions when you have children and their parents to serve. You have to keep your game face on.

I, along with our staff and volunteers, have been serving predominantly immigrant and refugee families and children through LHCC program services for the past six years. We do everything from after-school to summer camps, community events, and services for adults. It is easy to get to a point of saying enough is enough… Then you remember why God has you here. This is a calling. A calling to do for others what they can’t do for themselves. This is a labor of love and a lot of hard work, with plenty of sacrifices to be made. You gotta keep that game face on for the benefit of others, even when you don’t have the kind of day that justifies it. That’s called sucking it up, and trying hard to make every situation a blessing for others. If local ministry were easy, everyone would be doing it.

When the lemons are obvious, make lemonade. Promote and encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. We have much to be grateful for (as compared to so many of our immigrant and refugee neighbors) in our midst who have nothing to be happy about) even when we get sent lemons!

Sep 032018
 

It’s the beginning of September already. Where did the summer go? All CMS students have already returned to school after 11 long hot weeks of summer vacation… I was talking to a friend this week about the summer camps and the progress our students made during the five weeks of camps. We debated what the solution might be to helping children avoid the summer slide.

First, a recap of our camps. We welcomed children from 14 different nations, representing a beautiful tapestry of unity. Our daily morning worship and bible study programs focused on the book of Genesis and God’s creation. Our estimated 50 young campers each week read many chapter books and completed literacy and vocabulary building exercises. Afternoon excursions included arts & crafts, soccer, and swimming and visit to the Mint Museum and Big Air & Sky Sports trampoline parks. We have compiled a fun short video of our children during summer camp, thanks to Isabella, one of our awesome college interns, who is attending NC Chapel Hill as a junior this year.

OK, let’s get back to a possible solution to avoiding the summer slide, where teachers spend between three weeks and one quarter reteaching children what they learned before the summer. In my opinion, there is a simple answer with a complicated solution: eliminate the long summer vacation with year-round schools. This is the precedent in Wake county in our state capital, Raleigh, so why not in the largest school system, Mecklenburg county? The greatest push-back will likely be faculty and teachers who have come to enjoy the long summer vacations.

For children who get plenty of summer intervention, reducing long summer vacations could also be seen an encroachment. For under-served families, summer is the worst time of year, likely sitting at home taking care of younger siblings for their working parents, who might take advantage of “making hay while the sun shines”. Speaking of a harvest, when last did the whole family spend the summer months, planting and partaking in crop harvesting? I’m thinking way back in the pilgrim era. If we cared enough for all children struggling in public schools, and considered all children to be our children, we might see a pathway to year-round intervention and avoid the summer slide.

We were able to accommodate every request to attend summer camp! Hundreds avoided the summer slide and were not subjected to child care at home, watching TV and playing video games. We appreciate your support. If you would like to make a donation, please kindly visit our homepage. We could not do this important work with children, without supporters like you!

Learn more about our summer camps here

The next blog is titled Game Face, and will include an overview of our LHCC program services. 

Until next time,

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

September 1, 2018

 Posted by at 11:42 am

How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa

 Immigrants, Racism, Social Capital  Comments Off on How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa
Aug 052018
 

RACE RELATION SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND AMERICA

Guest Post by Lauren Morris

Lauren is the eldest daughter of our Executive Director, Brent Morris and spouse Caren. Lauren recently completed her first year at college and wrote an insightful history paper on racism, and interviewed her South African immigrant parents to get their perspectives.

The blog post that follows is a summary of her paper, with findings and parent perspectives:

The United States of America and the Republic of South Africa are the only two countries which employed legal segregation at some point in their histories. The way that segregation came about in each of these countries is vastly different, however, the effects that we are seeing today are interestingly similar. In America, legislation such as Jim Crow Laws were put in place in the late 19th century after slavery was abolished to keep African Americans separate from white people in the south. Jim Crow Laws forced Southern blacks to use separate public facilities and put them at a severe disadvantage by limiting their education and ability to vote. In South Africa, similar segregation laws were in place from around 1950 until the early 1990s under the apartheid system. Even now in the 21st century, both America and South Africa are still reaping the consequences of these laws through the racial tension between people groups within each of their countries.

Coming to America

South African culture and history have always been fascinating to me because I am the daughter of South African immigrants. For this {college} project, I had the opportunity to interview each of my parents about their journey to America, how South Africa is different from America, and what the racial situation was like in South Africa. My parents, Caren and Brent Morris, were married in August of 1991. Two weeks later, they made the 18-hour flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma so that my dad could “undertake a work transfer or 18-month secondment to receive international training.” Once their temporary work visas expired, they returned to South Africa for just less than four years before immigrating to America permanently in February of 1997. They made the tough decision to move to America for many different reasons. My dad, Brent Morris, said they decided to come to the U.S. “to secure a better future for our children, and ourselves, where they could be safe, get a good education, and find decent employment.” My mom, Caren Morris, added that they came “to get away from South Africa’s new government with its corruption and affirmative action.”

Once they arrived in America, it did not take them long to notice some distinct differences between South Africa and their new home. They were both amazed by seemingly simple things such as how large the vehicles in America were and the huge selection of grocery items and clothing.They also noticed how inexpensive everyday items were compared to South Africa. My mom was fascinated by the fact that homes did not have walls or fences around them for protection. Instead, they were open and had beautiful gardens with grass and flowers for all to see. My parents both enjoy living in America and became U.S. citizens in 2007. However, there are still some things about South Africa that they miss. Both of them said that they miss family and friends as well as the beaches and the tropical climate. My mom mentioned that she missed the “South African sense of humor” while my dad said he missed the South African food and sports and visiting game reserves and holiday destinations. Unfortunately, life in South Africa is not always picture perfect. The country suffers from much rising racial tension and problems following the end of apartheid.

Apartheid 

In 1948 during apartheid, “4.5 million whites, 11% of the population, govern the country of 40.9 million. Whereas the 2.5 million Coloreds (people of mixed ancestry) and the 900,000 Asians have some parliamentary representation, the 33 million blacks have no voice whatsoever inside the government.” This whole situation was destined for disaster for many reasons. First of all, the black people living in South Africa, referred to as “Africans,” were the indigenous people. The whites in South Africa came as Dutch (1652) and English (1820) settlers to what was at the time British territory. Eventually, this white minority formed their own government and began to enforce their laws on the black majority and gave them no say in the matter.

In 1991, the government under President F. W. de Klerk started to repeal the legislation that allowed apartheid to continue in South Africa.16 By the 1994 election, blacks were given the right to vote and Nelson Mandela was elected as President. Ever since that election, the African National Congress (ANC), which is mainly composed of Africans, has been in control of the South African government. This may seem like the way the government in South Africa should have been the whole time. However, this change of power is now causing reverse discrimination against whites. With quota systems that are currently in place, it is much harder for white citizens to find well-paying jobs, regardless of their education. Jobs are not allocated based on skill or education but based on the color of the person’s skin.

“The collapse of the apartheid system in the 1980s and 1990s sparked a (primarily white) exodus from South Africa” because of the lack of opportunities and the change of power. Between 1987 and 2001, about 310,000 people emigrated from South Africa and went to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Of those South African citizens who left the country, about 50,000 of them had professional qualifications. White South Africans began to realize that their “. . . whiteness might be a disadvantage in contemporary South Africa.” Not only did it become much harder for them to find jobs, but there was also a lot of racial tension and increased violence towards whites and they began to feel “increasingly threatened.” Thus, the end of apartheid and the transition of power resulted in the emigration of many educated, white South Africans, like my parents. This has come to be known as the “Brain Drain.”

Although legal segregation in America ended quite a few years before apartheid collapsed in South Africa and “nonwhites are the overwhelming majority in contemporary South Africa but a relatively small minority in the United States,” there are similarities between the issues each country has faced or is facing. African Americans have suffered through oppression ever since the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. Many slaves left the south and moved to the midwestern part of America after the Civil War to escape the Jim Crow Laws and intense racism. Unfortunately, “for some African Americans, even Kansas could not provide sufficient safeguard from Jim Crow’s touch, with many opting for emigration to Canada, Mexico,the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa as safer alternatives to life in the United States.” Even in America today it can be much harder for African Americans to get decent, well-paying jobs and have the same opportunities as white Americans. One of the reasons this is the case is because African Americans originally came to the country as slaves. Therefore, they did not have many opportunities to begin with. This could also be due to strict laws and stereotypes of African Americans which has caused so many African American males in particular to be incarcerated. In addition, some employers may be prejudiced against African Americans which can make it hard for them to land a decent job. Therefore, it can be much more difficult for African Americans to find good employment opportunities, in their own country, than their white American counterparts.

Conclusion

By comparing and contrasting cultures and racial issues in America and South Africa, one gets a deeper insight into the components of American culture that we would not otherwise think about unless we look at a culture that is different from our own. Through hearing of the struggles that many white South Africans face as the minority in the country, we can begin to get a feel for what it is like to be an immigrant or African American in a country where the majority of the people are white. In addition, we can see the numerous detrimental effects that racial segregation can have on countries regardless of their varying histories. It is also important to learn from the history of South Africa and America in order to better understand emigrants in America, as well as African Americans and ongoing challenges that each of these minority groups face.

Published with permission of the author

 

All kids are our kids ~ Welcoming the Immigrant

 Immigrants  Comments Off on All kids are our kids ~ Welcoming the Immigrant
Jun 242018
 

So much news this past week about immigrants on our southern border. Did you know that many border detention centers are for-profit prison businesses that are paid over $100 per day to hold a prisoner while requiring that prisoner to work for below minimum wage? GEO is the largest for-profit prison business in our country.  Southwest Key Co. runs large child detention centers in Texas. Both receive enormous government contracts. That’s one aspect of the storyline. The other is that there are real human beings behind all the numbers and news headlines.

According to the latest Pew Research, 58% of Americans say that having an increasing number of people of different races, ethnic groups and nationalities in the U.S. makes the country a better place to live; just 9% say it makes the country a worse place to live

As believers, we ought to recognize that our faith dictates how we are to treat the ‘foreigner’ and ‘sojourner’ We ought to be praying for all people in need and study what the sacred texts tell us and shape your perspective.

This past week, we started our first week of summer camps. We have a great time with over 45 children each day, from ages 4 to 17, from various countries including Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Chile. It was a blessing to see these children integrating, playing and having fun, together. We started each day in a large circle, along with over 20 student volunteers holding hands signifying a big multi-ethnic multi-generational family. We prayed together, learned about creation together, and went swimming together. We love on all our kids. We also love their parents who participated right alongside us. We love the diversity. And our children love the facility to learn, read, develop life skills and enjoy their freedom in a safe environment. Please pray for all families seeking asylum around the world and those seeking a better future for their children. The two main reasons for Central American immigrants coming to the US? Escape violence, including drugs and trafficking, and the inability to earn a decent wage to support their family. Which parent wouldn’t go to extraordinary lengths to provide a safe environment for their children?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our program sponsors, partners, mission groups, volunteers and interns for supporting our first week of summer enrichment programs for the under-served in our city.

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

June 24, 2018