Sep 222019
 

Are you crazy busy? More to do than hours in a day to get it all done? Might we take a time out? Read on for a simple challenge this week …

A recent LHCC summer blog post called out neighboring as an art. We shared this concept with our LHCC families this past summer and the results are in. Summer camper families grew closer. Volunteers got to build deeper relationships with families and children. Parents invited other parents to our program and we got to enjoy an end of summer celebration together. It was awesome.

When serving our neighbors, are we trying to look good or do good? Inviting others to our program or opening our homes to others is a great way to show hospitality. Weary people may join us to share a meal and conversation and hopefully leave feeling refueled and refreshed. It can be stressful and awkward for both hosts and guests. We get worked up, tidying up and fed up, focusing perhaps on appearance rather than good ol’ southern hospitality.

In Luke 10, Jesus pointed this out to Martha when her sister Mary was feasting more on the friendship than faffing about the food. Christian hospitality has more to do with good fellowship than good food. In the book Crazy Busy, the author points out that there is a fine line between care and cumber. Less ado would serve better. “Feed people, not your pride.”

How about a little challenge for the coming week:

  • Slow down your hurried life. Go out of your way to greet and chat to a neighbor.
  • Be present with our family ( aka put down the phone?), and
  • Make time for daily meditation and devotion. 15 to 20 minutes, tops. This might just be the one thing strong enough to pull you away from your busyness, so you can be intentional about becoming a good neighbor.

Peace to you, take it easy and have a Mary-like week

Brent M

 Posted by at 8:49 pm
Aug 112019
 
 Posted by at 2:09 pm
Jun 262019
 

I was invited to the Copa Gold cup soccer matches this past Sunday at Bank of America stadium. It was an amazing experience. Most of the fans were clearly Mexican supporters. I mean, I am thrilled they beat Martinique 3-2, and the win was the cherry on the top of a festive, fun and entertaining evening. Had they lost, I would have run to get away from a potential stampede.

It was not difficult to spot who was there for their home country. They are all kitted out in green or white Mexican soccer team shirts and garb, faces painted in the national colors of the flag, boom boxes, Mexican flags flying, horns blaring, and many with masks. There were sombreros galore. They arrived really early and stayed well into the night. I also got to witness the Mexican wave … a crowd inspired “stand-up at just the right time and wave arms” as the momentum circumvents the field, much to the delight of all concerned. Growing up in South Africa, Mexican waves had just started to make their appearances at day/night cricket matches, when the going was slow. It was far from slow Sunday, and the waves kept on coming…

What struck me was how much camaraderie existed between seemingly complete strangers. They were out to enjoy themselves… Respectful, friendly, law abiding, and not overly rowdy. Frankly entertaining for this Anglo spectator. Families and friends were just hanging out together, singing, chanting, young children in their fathers arms and others in tow mothers guided them through the carnival atmosphere outside the stadium … and certainly inside. I have not seen so many similar happy immigrants together in one place. They were delighted to be there … together, without seemingly a care in the world. I had to marvel at the contrast from Nascar, basketball or football spectators, on so many levels.

The local press is full of stories about the harsh treatment of children, the caravans of immigrants at the border, and the dramatic rise in the Hispanic population in our Queen City as the 2020 census nears. One has to admire these peoples tenacity and perseverance. Families are here for a reason, even though most would prefer to be back home. That’s a true statement. This deeply divided city, nonetheless, is a great place to live, and a paradise compared to the trouble they are fleeing in their homelands south of our border. You see, these are our city neighbors, escaping unspeakable violence and persecution. If my family lived like that, I too would pack up and leave for a better future. I believe I did in fact do that. Therefore, as long as they are here, we should welcome them and treat them with respect and dignity. They have something the rest of us don’t seemingly possess. We might benefit from taking a page from their playbooks. In our line of refugee and immigrant ministry work, at LHCC, we meet a lot of awesome immigrant children and their concerned parents. We love on them and try to help with everything we possibly can and tend to their needs. They are grateful people.

What follows is a short, sobering perspective on what we ought to see with our neighbors, regardless of whether they are from Mexico or Timbuktu.

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break. Believe the best rather than the worst. People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them. Remember that true friendship is the basis of lasting relationship. (Author unknown)

These are people, not problems. They are our neighbors. Who wouldn’t want to live in peace and raise their children as best they can, in a safer environment? Let’s pray they are successful in school and in life, for a better future for everyone.

Until next time, I am

Brent Morris

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

June 25, 2019

 Posted by at 9:02 am
May 052019
 

Back in March, I challenged myself, and others to be a better neighbor. After Movement Day in March, I was inspired to practice what I preach and literally love on the neighbors on my street and in my neighborhood. I undertook to share my experiences here after these first 30 days. In addition, we at LHCC challenged our volunteers, and the parents and children we serve to do the same. Love their neighbor. Yes, literally.

What I put into practice was to be more intentional than I had been before. I made excuses to be in the front of our home, not hidden away in the back yard. I was intentional to slow down and catch up with my immediate neighbors and the people in my sub-division. My “hi’s” were extended to “how are you” and “it’s good to see you” kind of sentiment. What happened was amazing. I actually felt good about not been so hurried and I took the time to show kindness and caring. I shared this with various members of my church group and they too were encouraged to persevere with strangers and acquaintances and convert them to friends.

In the past 30 days, LHCC has hosted three community events. We saw families inviting their friends. Even an opportunity presented itself for those served to serve two of our volunteers. What I believe I have seen is that it feels good to slow down and engage people in our midst or sphere of influence. For the next 30 days, I will continue to encourage others to love their neighbors and be a blessing to their communities.

Until the next time, I am Brent Morris, Executive Director of Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, proudly serving alongside our staff and volunteers on the mission field that God has called me to.

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Apr 072019
 

I have been tutoring at LHCC for 3 school years.  I find it to be a very worthwhile and encouraging ministry.  It is a real high to see the light go on in a child’s mind and their faces beam as they begin to grasp a concept that has been befuddling them.  It is also very gratifying to build relationships with the children as well as the parents.

This school year brought me a new challenge I was unprepared to handle.  In August, I started working with Jane (not her real name) a 5th grader.  At first, I was surprised to see how weak her reading skills were.  The following weeks I realized that even though she could barely read she had somehow been passed on year after year by the school system.  Not only could she not read, her math skills were barely at a second-grade level.  I spoke with her mother on several occasions but due to the language barrier and cultural differences, I was unable to properly communicate my concern.  Each week I became more and more desperate and frustrated in how to help Jane.  She was bringing in 5th grade homework but had no comprehension as to what to do.  Honestly, I cried in the car after each session the first couple of months.  I wanted to help Jane but felt so inadequate.

Through an interpreter I asked her mother over and over if she would arrange a meeting for me with Jane’s teachers.  The mom listened politely but made no effort to arrange such a meeting.  Thankfully the school reached out to Jane’s mom via a letter that arrived the day before our tutoring session.   Mom invited me to attend and I jumped at the chance.  Sadly, the night before the meeting I came down with the flu and was quite ill.  I prayed feverently that the Lord would allow me to be well enough the next morning to attend that meeting because unless I was on my death bed I planned to be there.  I awoke the next day and was able to get dressed and get to the meeting which lasted almost 2 hours!  I was fine during the meeting but then went home and back to bed for two more days while my flu continued after that precious 2 hour break!

During the meeting it was discussed that Jane was becoming frustrated with school and made excuses every day as to why she didn’t need to go. It also became apparent that on the present course Jane would probably become totally lost in the system and eventually drop out. Her IQ is very low and her mother is ill-equipped to help her. As a result of the meeting, it was decided that Jane was not able to continue on a mainstream 5th grade level and would be moved into an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) but still remain with her classmates.  I was able to connect with her teachers and got help in how I could best help Jane.  This was such a blessing because now Jane is working at a level that she can handle.  She is happy to do her homework and her confidence level has soared as has our relationship.  This is especially important as next year Jane will go to middle school and if not for this change and new IEP probably would have drowned in the CMS system.

Thank-you for reading my volunteer story …

D.O. ~ third-year volunteer with LHCC

April 2019

I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte

 Attitude, Education, Family, Immigrants  Comments Off on I was moved at Movement Day Charlotte
Mar 192019
 

I went to Movement Day Charlotte this past weekend. The day when local church pastors, non-profit and marketplace leaders come together to get their marching orders, to quite literally keep moving. Six years ago, at the inaugural predecessor conference called The Justice Conference, I was profoundly moved to consider my movement into ministry. If you are wondering whether I got the big white phone call from God, I did… A month later, I went on my first mission trip to Haiti with my church, Forest Hill. A month later, I handed in my resignation. If you want to walk on water, you got to get out of the boat.

Joined by 1,000 pastors and ministry leaders yesterday, I was again reminded of why I quit my job to take a small role in the local mission field. It is an honor to serve our neighbors. We are a deeply divided city and the needs are ever present. The only key metric of progress since the prior Movement Day is literacy rates have improved by 1%. To 40%. That’s 4 out of 10 grade 3 students reading at grade level. The rate for our target audience is even lower, at just 24%.

Last week’s blog was about the value of persisting with reading over the long summer months. I am more convinced than ever that the benefits are more than just school reading grades. What I heard yesterday is that we have to put our words into action. Go do something…We are going to spend 30 days focusing on our literal and physical neighbors. Ask yourself the question “Do you know the names of the ten or so families occupying the households where you live?” Can we convince the families we work with to do the same? I’ll report back in 30 days. How can we fulfill the great commission to love our neighbors if we don’t even know their names?

Until then, I am

Brent Morris 

 Posted by at 7:56 am
Mar 102019
 

In 2017, an independent report comparing four CMS schools for year-round consideration, compared with the rest of the CMS schools brought unexpected results, in my opinion. Neither the shorter summer breaks nor the extra time produced measurable academic gains, after three years. I am referring to the March 3 Charlotte Observer article, entitled “Concerns over year-round school benefits led to board’s decision“, well written as always by Ann Doss Helms. I was dismayed. Actually, I was self-evaluating how these results could possibly be true, as I weigh up everything I have learned and experienced from delivering summer enrichment camps for the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte. The video below speaks to the value of bridging the gap for low-income children, who would otherwise experience limited learning, not to mention reading encouragement during the long summer months.

Summer Reading Loss simulation, comparing the have’s with the have not’s

I will not argue or refute the results of the multi-year study of the sample four schools from West Charlotte, included in this study. These schools no doubt have many challenges before students even sit down in class to learn. High levels of absenteeism in July, when other CMS schools are still out enjoying pool-time or vacation. What I will argue is that I disagree that additional summer literacy interventions and a shorter summer vacation are not beneficial for our young English Language Learning students. I have seen first-hand the extraordinary benefits of summer learning activities. I know that the parents of the children we serve expect us to be the encouragement for their children over the 11 weeks of summer. I also have it on good authority that teachers spend anywhere between three weeks and an entire fall semester reteaching their elementary school students what they have forgotten over the long, hot summer months. Case closed… At LHCC, we remain optimistic about the what we do and the potential value of year-round schools. We know that the 11-week summer vacation is highly disruptive for continuous learning. Therefore, we will continue to promote summer literacy camps, along with a fun learning experience during our summer program. We are pleased to be offering summer camps again in 2019, for our seventh year. Who’s going to support us in offering this invaluable program to our awesome children?

We appreciate your comments and support of our families

Feb 282019
 

I am scared of heights. Always have been … I used to bend my knees looking over a wall from a five-story block of flats where I grew up in South Africa. I would really rather just stay on terra-firma, feet-on-the-ground … unless I am swimming.

This past Saturday, we treated some of our community-minded LHCC families to a Rewards Day at Sky High Sports. You see, back in October, one of our community partners, Pineville Neighbors Place, organized their annual Potato Drop. Our LHCC families and children helped bag about 4,000 10 lb. bags of spuds, for donation to local food banks and low income communities. As a show of appreciation, Sky High Sports saw the opportunity to reward the children from our LHCC program for their service by inviting them to a fun morning at their awesome trampoline park, adjacent to our Pineville serve location. After the usual jumping and laser-tag activities, our energetic kids spotted the ropes course some 12 feet above their sweaty heads. They donned harnesses and then undertook some bold steps along suspended ropes and platforms. This was rather intriguing to me. Most had never undertaken this kind of adventure before. Some may have ventured out previously during our LHCC 2018 summer camp, but for most part, this was a new experience filled with trepidation. They swallowed their pride, and bravely took their first steps, guided by parents shouting encouragement from below. “Don’t let go!” they pleaded. They were dependent on a harness that seemed all too necessary all of a sudden.

We were very proud of them all. Some had tears in their eyes, as they overcame their fears and made it across the rubicon from one platform to another. Others were stage struck, unable to move a muscle. Words of encouragement were everywhere and they did the necessary with wide eyes and tensed muscles. Courage was in play, as the support from others was palpable. I knew how they felt. I had felt that way many times before as a young kid, but the life lessons were priceless. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was just thrilled to be able to witness this experience, hold their hands as necessary, and see their delight at overcoming their fears, and accomplishing their what they thought was not in the realm of probability when they began. It is a joy to serve these families. I thank God that He made this provision for me and my family to be His hands and feet in serving our neighbors.

Until next time, I am

Brent Morris

February 24, 2019

 Posted by at 9:23 pm
Feb 162019
 

Spotting Reading Disorders in our young students

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Spotting Reading Disorders in our young students
Jan 032019
 

This week’s blog was kindly written by one of our volunteers, who received a Governor’s Award in 2018, for commitment and excellence in serving with LHCC. His comments are published here with his permission. He has chosen to remain anonymous, but we know he has a tremendous heart to serve our children! This is why we serve children who need extra help. And as you can see, our volunteers are grasping that this process of helping them is much more than just checking a box…it’s intentional, impactful and very much appreciated by the families we serve…

“I think it would be helpful to encourage our LHCC volunteers to research the signs of learning challenges, such as dyslexia and ADHD. I regret that I did not have that information earlier. There are so many resources online. Rather than providing links to specific ones, just encouraging volunteers to do research those topics would be helpful. There are probably more kids in the program with varying degrees of these. Attention deficit and hyperactive disorder are not always linked. It is possible that a child could have one and not the other. 

Once I determined that {my student} was dyslexic changed my way of tutoring her and I hope that I can do a better job with her for the rest of the school year. I confirmed my thoughts that {another student} is ADHD with {her tutor} and researching that led me to understand how similar the process of tutoring the two is, even though the problem is caused by different underlying conditions. Both benefit from multisensory learning. I am going to get some wooden alphabet tiles and some small large piece puzzles to use with them.

I am going to try to work with Jane and Sue. Since Sue is there early and Jane is usually there late, I can spend some one-on-one time with Sue at the beginning, do some reading with both of them, and then spend some one-on-one time with Jane. Not exactly a perfect solution, but until we can get a volunteer to work with the other on a consistent basis, that will at least give her some consistent attention. I will talk with Sue and find out what school she attends and if she is getting any one-on-one help at school. Then we can approach the parent and facilitate a conversation with the school to ensure we encourage and support her in the best way possible.”

Comments by a delightful retired gentleman who has been serving as a volunteer for over two years at LHCC! Names changed to protect privacy.

 Posted by at 7:11 pm

Who wouldn’t want more Wisdom in 2019?

 Attitude, Positive Encouragement, Relationships, Wisdom  Comments Off on Who wouldn’t want more Wisdom in 2019?
Dec 312018
 

When you think wisdom, do you envision an old man with grey hair sitting on a stool imparting his worldly knowledge? Perhaps someone you know who has lived a long time, gained experience and therefore acquired untold insights that have resulted in what we call wisdom?

Benjamin Franklin said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. It is a saying that is viewed as a commonsensical proverb. This proverb actually originated long before Franklin’s time. It was seen in print as early as 1496, in a piece called “The Treatise of Fishing with an Angle” where it is referred to as an old English proverb: Also, whoever wishes to practice the sport of angling, he must rise early, which is profitable to a man in this way. That is, to wit: most for the welfare of his soul. For it will cause him to be holy, and for the health of his body. For it will cause him to be well, also for the increase of his goods, for it will make him rich. As the old English proverb says: “Whoever will rise early shall be holy, healthy, and happy.”

My wife, Caren, gifted me this Christmas with a “Wisdom for Each Day” inspirational quote calendar. She must surely think I need it, right? Well, who would turn down a daily dose of wise counsel from a trusted theologian and man of God like Rev. Billy Graham, along with its numerous quotes from the holy scriptures?

I also recently came across an excellent read called Gospel Fluency, that contains a remarkably insightful chapter near the end on growing in love and wisdom. The book concludes with the premise that wisdom doesn’t actually come from our education after all.

From my study I have learned that wisdom isn’t just increased knowledge. As the book illuminates, knowledge without grace leads to pride, and pride leads to destruction in our lives and the lives of others. Wisdom is knowledge applied so that we do the right thing, at the right time, with the right motive, in the right way. I like that perspective a lot. Knowing what to do at the right time, and having our motives in check is an improvement on merely having the knowledge. To expand upon this truth, wisdom is gracious, loving, kind and gentle.

In the new testament, Paul instructs the church in Colossae: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6. Wisdom is a gift and all who have it are a blessing.

As I reflect upon the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, and all the relationships we have established, I contemplate the many ways to help the communities and families we serve through LHCC. There are many opportunities to collaborate with community partners, donors and volunteers. If we get it somewhat right, we will enjoy another beneficial year for everyone. We can do our tiny part to enhance the lives of all community members, who cross our paths, in the two regions of the city we call the “ends of the crescent”.

I, for one, can and will take heed of the wisdom insights gleaned from my latest read. I also eagerly anticipate the wisdom truth reminders contained in my new daily devotional calendar. One of my goals this coming year, is to gain greater perspective and also seek wisdom, by firstly praying and secondly, being present, rather than simply doing what I usually do. Might I rather seek to walk in wisdom, and show care and kindness, toward others, as I endeavor to be loving, gracious and gentle, just as Jesus modeled for all of us. This is the wisdom that I will aspire to acquire in 2019!

Wisdom perspectives and comments adapted from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt chapter 15, Grow in Love and Wisdom, pg. 197

 Posted by at 7:05 am

LHCC 2018 Annual Review

 Annual Review, Community Service, Education, Family  Comments Off on LHCC 2018 Annual Review
Dec 282018
 

Our mission remains grounded in serving our families with grace and dignity.  We are less focused on the big production, that often does not adequately build relationships and has even less longer-term impact.

Our relational and educational goals for the coming school year are as follows:

  • Engage a greater number of families, and engage the whole family, as we seek buy-in to their children’s education and character-building interventions.
  • Target a pre-elementary school child group, where we can collectively make a significant impact in early-learning, before children even start school.

We have deliberately chosen to focus on families with young children, those parents have demonstrated an interest in learning English alongside their child

In 2018, LHCC was one of three organizations selected from over 30 to join the inaugural Cultivate cohort of non-profits in January 2018. CULTIVATE, an incubator and accelerator for emerging nonprofit organizations managed by Next Stage, a Charlotte-based strategy firm for nonprofits. Together with Next Stage, we have developed a strategic business plan as a means to sustaining and growing the mission and vision of LHCC for the next 5 to 10 years.

During 2018, we accomplished the following:

  • Introduced a new east-side program, serving over 70 students in partnership with Missionary Athletes International (MAI) and Albemarle Road United Methodist Church
  • Increased emphasis on family engagement and conversational English with parents of students, creating a very effective cross-cultural exchange
  • Three after-school programs launched in the fall 2018
  • 300 children served during five weeks of summer camp
  • Estimated 4,500 meals served during the summer and 3,000 during the school year
  • Highest percentage of children passing YMCA swim proficiency tests in three years
  • Improved ratio of participants to volunteers in after-school program (less than 2.5 to 1)
  • Three mission-based partnerships directly supported our daily VBS intervention
  • Average 2 hours of literacy or reading intervention per child/day during summer programs
  • Estimated 5,500 hours of literacy/reading intervention during camp ~ highest in 6 years
  • Significantly increased number of parents participating in year-round program since inception

MISSION: Learning Help Centers of Charlotte provides scholastic and social supports to families, mired in generational poverty.

VISION: In partnership with like-minded non-profits, community partners and residents, who live in the communities in which we serve, we advocate for, invest in and mobilize resources to benefit awesome, yet vulnerable, children and their families.

CORE PROGRAM SERVICES:

  • After-school homework and literacy support
  • Summer enrichment & literacy camps
  • Family stabilization and English Language Learning (ELL)
  • Family enrichment
  • Community engagement & community events and celebrations 
 Posted by at 6:00 am

Holiday greetings from LHCC

 Attitude, Family, Immigrants, Positive Encouragement  Comments Off on Holiday greetings from LHCC
Dec 242018
 
 Thank-you for taking a minute to read our holiday greeting…
 
During this special time of year, with family celebrations, gifts to buy and meals to prepare, we hope you will take a moment to cherish the good news of great joy given us in the birth of our Savior. Because of Jesus and the mission He began when He came into the world, we are grateful to have the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel with everyone we encounter, from young children, their families, and our volunteers! May the message of our Saviors birth have special meaning for you this holiday season, as you count your blessings and praise the One who came to give us eternal life!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

For the honor of serving Him,

Brent Morris

Executive Director 

December 24, 2018

Dec 132018
 

Dear LHCC family and friends,

I would like to introduce the newest member of the LHCC family, Ms. Laura Neal.

Laura comes to us from Missionary Athletes International (MAI)/ Charlotte Eagles soccer club, a faith-based partner organization that works with the families and children on the East-side. Laura grew up in Birmingham AL where she spent 7 years working as a full-time hairstylist before she felt the Lord calling her to work in ministry. She moved to Charlotte NC in 2013, and began working with the Charlotte Eagles in their Urban program in East Charlotte. 

Laura has previously mentored and coached elementary and middle school age girls. While making her transition from the Charlotte Eagles to LHCC, she will continue working with those same young girls and many more of our children on the east-side commencing this month. She will also oversee our tutoring programs in East Charlotte, as well as building relationships with refugee children and women by starting ESL classes in their refuge neighborhood. Laura will begin college in January at CPCC to work toward her goal in becoming a Childhood/Family Counselor. She is a member at East Charlotte Presbyterian Church, and along with Central United and Albemarle Rd Presbyterian churches, will help LHCC to grow partnerships and nurture deeper family relationships in east-Charlotte, many of whom know her as she has developed relationships with them while at MAI over the past 5 years. Laura has been involved in our LHCC summer camps at Central United Methodist Church for the past three years.

Kindly join me in welcoming Laura to our ministry and family! 

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

December 7, 2018

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
Nov 252018
 

As we count our many blessings at the beginning of this festive season, we are very grateful for all of our supporters, volunteers, and of course, the families and children we have the honor of serving.  You are all tremendously important to Learning Help Centers of Charlotte.  2018 has been an exciting and transformative year as we have continued to serve many more families in our community. Especially gratifying is the growth in our south-side program at St Andrew’s, where two key changes have taken place. Firstly, we have engaged the whole family, with the result that more parent’s are getting involved in our organized activities and educational programming. The second change, which we did not make without prayer and discernment, was to discontinue transporting children to and from the program. The results have been an absolute blessing to behold. Parent’s are more vested in their children’s well-being, and are all bringing their children. It’s a win-win for all. Everyone benefits. See video

Parents were able to show their appreciation this past week and provided a hearty Thanksgiving meal for our awesome volunteers who pour into their children each week. The result? Family, fellowship, and of course food. It was a beautiful picture! Enjoy the festive season. Until next time, so much as it depends on you, be at peace with one another.

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!

 

 

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

Jun 172018
 

So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.

The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research

Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.

Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.

We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!

Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years.  A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.

With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!

Jun 042018
 

The Leading on Opportunity Report included a definition that speaks to the secret sauce that could very well address the needs of under served children in our city… 

“Social capital is defined as the building of relationships and networks that may very well be the ‘secret sauce’ for helping economically disadvantaged youth navigate systems, gain access to information, and open doors to resources and opportunity. It could change the future lives of many of our community’s children.”

Our mission is aligned with addressing the upward mobility of children in Charlotte. And it’s important. Why? Because Charlotte was ranked dead last or 50 out of 50 major cities for upward mobility of children growing up in poverty.

See what we are doing to address the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force

 Posted by at 10:17 pm
Jun 042018
 

                                                                    Image result for child and adult holding hands

In order to have a thriving garden, one must start with caring for and nourishing each and every plant they have. Each plant is essential for bringing the garden together to create a beautiful landscape, therefore, they must be able to grow properly. With this said, no garden is perfect. Some plants may be left quenched and simply in need of more attention (and water). Like these plants, we believe the children of our nation should be granted the opportunity to flourish in their education in order to grow and contribute to what should be a wholesome beautiful landscape. However, we find that some children are left behind. Like a single plant, a child must rely on that of a provider to feed them with the necessary and vital elements that will grant them the opportunity to sprout. 

Here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, we find it imperative to improve the literacy rates for children who may not have access to all the resources necessary to help them learn. We find that when assisting a child with their reading skills that many other skills improve as well since all subjects entail some form of reading. 

We are seeking to expand our team of volunteers and interns this summer that can be those helping hands for these children and be the guidance they need. We are looking for high school/college students who are interested in pursuing English, Spanish, or Education to join us as we continue throughout the summer with a handful of summer camps that entail enrichment activities that will further the children’s reading skills. 

We hope that you will help us cultivate our garden of children to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity please click on the following link for more information;

Intern and Volunteer Opportunities

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
May 282018
 

                                                                                                     Image result for nostalgic summer photos

School is wrapping up and children are hustling and bustling to finish the last of their schoolwork and end their year strong. The nostalgic sound of splashing pool water and the warmth of summer sun is motivating them to give their last push to reach the finish line. We have witnessed their hard work and have engaged with them through teaching and helping them with concepts in areas they have struggled with, however, we believe this period of assistance and enlightenment should not end as summer begins.

Many students suffer from the “summer slide”, and although it sounds fun, it most definitely is not. Children unfortunately slide back on their reading grades when they do not take part in reading activities during the long summer months. That’s why summer reading is critical to ensuring that our children return to school at or ahead of where they were when the summer vacation commenced.

Aside from developing literary skills we also believe it is important to develop other educational skills along with some social and character building skills as well. This helps keep the minds of the children constantly stimulated and prepared to take on new challenges their upcoming school year.

That is why here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte we will be offering a series of summer camps that will help build character, improve literary comprehension, and go on excursions that will cross summer adventuring with mental exploration. The results of our past camps have been very encouraging and we intend to ensure every child is ready to start the new school with a great start. 

Serving this community to help children grow and advance is what fulfills all of our hearts here at LHCC. Educating a child is what helps build a bigger and brighter tomorrow where each kid is able to use their identity, uniqueness, and intelligence to build a more cohesive, healthy, and progressive society that is filled with endless potential. Educating each and every one of our children is a promise we should all keep.

We will be hosting two weeks worth of summer camps each month starting in June and continuing on until August. Our camps will occur from Monday to Thursday from 9-3:30 and will either be set at St. Andrews United Methodist Church or Central United Methodist Church!

Summer Enrichment and Literacy Camp Dates: 

·         Week 1:  June 18 – 21 (St. Andrews United MC – south)
·         Week 2:  July 9 – 12 (Central United MC – east)
·         Week 3:  July 16 – 19 (Central United MC – east)
·         Week 4:  August 6 – 9 (St. Andrews United MC – south)
·         Week 5:  August 13 – 16 (St. Andrews United MC – south)

Hooray to the end of the 2018 school year and a big whoop whoop for a beautiful, productive summer to come!

 

 Posted by at 12:02 pm