Aug 112020
 

The thought of children being placed in a cage at the border really sickens me. No human being let alone young innocent children should ever have to be subjected to that kind of anxiety and abuse, like a captured criminal, awaiting their uncertain fate.

One of the many benefits of building relationships with our families and children is learning more about their stories, their culture and what brings them to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Perhaps you might recall reading about the immigrant containment at our southern border. There have been many years of articles written about this atrocity, and I researched one  such article by the Council on Foreign Relations here Two of our kids were in apparently in a migratory group seeking asylum with a mother/aunt a couple of years ago.

There is no doubt that this was a traumatic experience for any child. Perhaps thinking, will we survive, was this journey to the big unknown worth the risk and will I see my family again.

Eileen recalled how their family of three travelled in a caravan of immigrants towards El Norte, a common term in Spanish for the USA. They seemed to walk for days on end in the hot sun, recalls Eileen, until they reached the border. Once detained and apprehended, she remembers how scared she was, being separated from her mother and cousin. Men and boys went one way, the women and children, another. She spent 3 days in a cage with other young girls, no doubt scared and very afraid of what might happen next. Upon reconciliation they were somehow allowed to proceed. The details are blurry at this point, and that’s OK. We do not seek answers or probe for a better understanding. It’s simply just too painful to recall that horrifying migration episode from two years ago. Fast forward to today. The good news is that they are here with us and with family. Safe as they will ever feel perhaps and making a go of a new life, in order to remain safe from trafficking, drug lords and struggles to make ends meet in a hostile environment back across the southern border.

A theme of our summer camp was “Count your Blessings”. When I think of the ordeals of others and the daily struggles of so many, I am compelled to thank God that I did not have to endure what others like Eileen will surely never forget …

The reasons for immigration are so complex, it would take more words than these to explain why this process, that has existed since before Jesus walked the earth, continues to this day. Everyone has their reason for leaving their families, as hard as that is, in order to find a better future for themselves and their kids. Eileen and her family found LHCC through neighbors.  We are thrilled that we get to serve families who have endured more than we will never fully understand.

In closing, I am reminded about the words of the Messiah from the gospel of Matthew 19:13-15. “Let the little children come to me, and do hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Our land of opportunity is no picnic and certainly no heaven, especially not during a pandemic, but let it be a place of safe harbor until we leave this earth for the splendor of heaven one day where there will be no pain, no suffering, no condemnation and no cages. There will only security for every wandering child and family member who seeks and also finds safety in the love of Christ. Please pray for our less fortunate neighbors among us and for the precious children in our care.

Until next time,

Brent Morris

brent@lhcclt.org

Jul 232020
 

Since our new normal began in March with a stay-at-home order including school closings, our LHCC programs have taken on a new course of serving our neighbors. There have been blessings setbacks and disruptions.

As schools reopen on August 17, whatever that really means, in our “new normal”, the future of our after-school program remains uncertain…

What lies before us are a few options for helping our kids similar, to how we used to do, way back before time began, in mid-March…

  1. Virtual homework help by phone or video
  2. Live evening homework help at the church as we used to go, but no groups, just one on one help
  3. Weekly daytime check-in at the church for scheduled help. Parents bring kids by appointment and receive help from a volunteer for an hour or so
  4. Do nothing for kids directly, due to safer at home protocols, and support parents instead with how to help their kids at home

There are surely other choices. Our mission at Learning Help Centers is to provide scholastic, spiritual and social supports to our under-resourced families. The degree to which we can accomplish our goals varies for each of the options outlined above. Perhaps there are a combination of choices to best meet the needs of:

  • Our families, as well as
  • The varying schedules of our volunteers and staff.

We covet your feedback. Perhaps you know of other organizations similar to ours that have had more time than we have to think this through, while we’re been busy delivery over 25,000 kids meals and planning for summer enrichment camps. We value your opinion and hope that you will join us. Thank you in advance for praying for the safety and protection of our families and for helping LHCC determine how best to serve their ongoing needs during the pandemic.

Working while it is day

Brent Morris

July 23, 2020

 Posted by at 6:35 am

The new COVID slide, as if Summer slide was not difficult enough …

 COVID-19, Education, Reading is important, Relationships, Summer Camp, Summer Slide  Comments Off on The new COVID slide, as if Summer slide was not difficult enough …
Jun 262020
 

As summer 2020 gets underway for my three teenage girls, thoughts for me drift towards what students and children are supposed to do for the next nine weeks. Under normal circumstances, summer would be a stay-at-home break from school, but who needs yet another stay-at-home day of what has been the norm for the past 100 days? How will kids stay positive about learning and be ready to face the start of the next school year mid-August?

Summer slide is the term used to refer to children sliding backwards (from reading and learning) when out of school for the summer break. COVID slide is an inevitable extended super-slide, that began mid-March, that will set many of our young learners back, as they have not all been able to maintain steady reading and virtual class time.

How have the past three months been for you and your household? Have your kids kept up the good fight to complete projects, homework assignments and kept up with the Zoom calls with teachers? Our girls fared well to begin with, but as the weeks clicked over, there interest seemed to wane… a lot.

The ELL students we serve have honestly not fared too well overall. Despite their best efforts and intentions, parents just could not sustain connections to teachers and keep their kids occupied. Many obstacles lay in the way.

We also surveyed our persistent volunteers to find out how much contact they had managed to maintain with their student. It’s been hard to provide help and encouragement from the awkward distance, week after week.

This summer, we conduct some literacy and enrichment activities. Not virtually but at a distance, if you know what I mean. Some of the same as in the prior years, but also another new adventure of an away overnight camp to the mountains for kids, to be joined later by their parents and younger siblings.

If a normal summer of learning loss is upon us, this year is going to be more challenging, and not so normal. Social distancing and PPE will dictate some added guidelines and fun activities. This summer, we are also recruiting out-of-work parents to help with crafts, cleaning and cooking.

If you’d like to volunteer as an intern, or volunteer your high school or college student, please connect with us through our website link or email us at info@lhcclt.org. Make the best of the new normal and cheer on a student near you. Let’s reverse the COVID slide and get kids ready for another year, together.

I am,

Brent Morris

Executive Director

June 27 2020

 Posted by at 12:44 pm

A world where every neighbor is a friend

 COVID-19, Family, Neighboring, Racism  Comments Off on A world where every neighbor is a friend
Jun 222020
 

I will no doubt date myself by telling you that I was big fan of the Swedish supergroup ABBA in the 70’s. Listening to the lyrics of their hit Happy New Year today on a run, one could not miss the words of the repeating chorus …

May we all have a vision now and then

Of a world where every neighbor is a friend

… May we all have our hopes, our will to try

If we don’t we might as well lay down and die”.  

Abba sang this song about the dawn of the new year of 1980, with a question to ponder what the sentiment would be at the end of the next decade. How about 30 years later? If ABBA a were still cranking out pop ballads, you have to wonder what they would be saying in 2020.

After yet another week of protests … some peaceful, some not, one has to wonder what it would take to address racism once and for all. The Black Lives Matter movement moves forward. Black lives do matter. Period. 

There was only one race, the human race. What would it take if we all put love into action and really stamp out racism. What a great day it would be if every neighbor is a friend.

 Posted by at 5:48 pm

Why we dropped 140 meals in one week, literally

 COVID-19, Our Mission, Reading is important, Relationships, Summer Camp  Comments Off on Why we dropped 140 meals in one week, literally
Jun 142020
 

This week, LHCC Mobile Meals enters its 13th week of delivering kids meals to our families in the South Blvd corridor. Volunteers have been fantastic about showing up at our catering kitchen to pack and deliver meals each weekday. Thank you for continuing to be a big part of LHCC Mobile Meals and for your loyalty to our program.

Chuck Coonradt once said, in his best-selling book Game of Work, that to people who don’t matter, you merely tell them what is going down. For people you really value, you tell them the “why”. We have made a few changes that we want to share with you.

  • We have reduced our kids’ deliveries from over 160 to 90 kids, or 180 meals per day
  • We have reduced our driver routes from three to one, so that only one driver and delivery crew can deliver more meals to about the same number of addresses
  • The delivery should take about 60 to 75 minutes

We plan to deliver meals to the families who are both directly a part of our program and really couldn’t receive meals any other way. Here’s the why…

  • Many of our families have only one vehicle that leaves for dad’s work early each morning, leaving mom at home without transportation for the day.
  • We have always been big on not providing hand-outs, choosing instead to serve others only when they can’t reasonably do it for themselves.
  • We also made sure that we did not leave any family high and dry. We have directed families to local feeding sites, including CMS schools to collect daily meals. We assure you none of the families we have served will go hungry.

LHCC continues to provide:

  • Weekly bulk food deliveries to our family, thanks to donations by the community.
  • Volunteer help for our caterer, at Nations Ford, Charities Kitchen
  • Support a single mother of two who prepares adult meals for our families without employment.

Thank you to each and every volunteer who has supported our families since mid-March. We look forward to seeing all our kids together for our annual summer program in late July and early August to prepare our kids for their return to school after five long hot summer months.

If you would like to volunteer, or volunteer your high school or college student, please have them connect with us and sign-up for a small role during our summer camp through our website link

Until next time, have a blessed week and stay safe.

Brent Morris

Executive Director, Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

June 15, 2020

 Posted by at 8:06 pm

How North Carolina ranks in the Hunger Charts

 COVID-19, Family, Our Mission, Relationships  Comments Off on How North Carolina ranks in the Hunger Charts
May 252020
 

I had no idea that North Carolina had the 10th highest hunger rate in the US. Among senior citizen’s it’s even worse, where we are ranked 4th! Food hardships particularly for children have risen to unprecedented levels.

Based on a recent study from UNC at Chapel Hill, one in seven of our neighbors can’t get enough to eat. 23 percent of NC households currently lack the money to obtain enough food. Families with kids obviously have a tougher time keeping food on the table, where 35 percent don’t have enough to eat. Pause and let that sink in … that’s one in three families are struggling to feed themselves.

When LHCC started delivering kids meals ten weeks ago, in mid-March, I was pretty sure the kids meals program would soon fizzle as kids became tired of the catered food. Not so fast. I soon realized that demand was increasing each day during those early weeks and has not dissipated since. Parents were adamant that the food was needed and have assured us “Please don’t stop, we can’t get enough”. Parents have made it clear that they do still need daily deliveries. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I guess.

Every kids meal we supply means more money for the family to make their third pandemic era rent payment, due in a few short days. In case you were wondering kids meals are complemented by adult meals as well as weekly grocery deliveries, provided by LHCC.

Times like this surely bring out the best in people. New LHCC volunteers have helped for the past 50 weekdays, with food bagging, packing, driving and delivery. Families are also sharing food and distributing meals with their neighbors.

We are contemplating a reverse pivot back to our normal summer focus. Should we discontinue food delivery, in order focus on our usual summer camps, kids education and readying everyone for the next school year? After reflecting upon these state-wide hunger statistics and associated hunger challenges and feedback from the families we serve, we’ll just keeping driving forward with our LHCC Mobile Meals Program. We’ll ensure that food insecurity, like poverty and unemployment does not become yet another uncertainty and cause for further pandemic anxiety.

Volunteers are needed and certainly most welcome. Please sign up here or view our homepage for ways to get involved

Desde el Corazón de Nuestra Respuesta Pandémica

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Desde el Corazón de Nuestra Respuesta Pandémica
May 082020
 

Hoy, nuestros voluntarios se levantaron de sus residencias para quedarse en casa, nuevamente, se levantaron de la cama y manejaron sus ruedas unas 10 millas para ayudar a LHCC a empacar y entregar otras 314 comidas a los niños de nuestro vecindario. Día 40 hecho y espolvoreado. Casi 8 semanas de entrega diaria de alimentos. Aquí está nuestro reciente video clip de LHCC Mobile Meals, gracias a mi buen amigo, el Sr. Morry Alter.

Por un lado, estoy agradecido de tener la energía y el entusiasmo para hacer lo mismo. Salga de la cama, sabiendo que tendré una misión esencial e inspirada para el día. Cuando las puertas del apartamento se abren y los padres nos saludan, a menudo con niños somnolientos que se levantan de su propio sueño, todo parece valer la pena. Las sonrisas siguen, y también las nuestras.

Tengo la fuerte sensación de que los niños se están cansando realmente de las hojas de trabajo, las llamadas de Zoom y las interacciones ocasionales de los maestros. Fue un esfuerzo noble durante las primeras semanas. Aparentemente, todos los niños de la escuela se graduarán … independientemente, siempre y cuando fueran aceptables, mucho antes de que esto comenzara, aproximadamente el viernes 13 de marzo. La presión para hacer el trabajo escolar es, en mi opinión, lo que es muy lamentable. Basta de esta locura, es agradable … Continuamos alentando a los padres a mantener a los niños enfocados en alguna forma de educación, juegos, lectura, etc. después de todo, es por su propio bien, no para sus maestros … o sus padres.

¿Por qué estamos haciendo esto? Es una cosa de Dios. En 2012, me sentí llamado a servir a los menos (las familias inmigrantes en el corredor South Blvd para ser específicos), y aquellos que no siempre pueden ayudarse a sí mismos. Es una bendición para nuestro equipo y voluntarios de LHCC, y estamos agradecidos de poder servir en el campo misionero de Dios, junto con otros dispuestos a ayudar. Esta mañana me acordé de 1 Corintios 13: 1. Queremos alentarlo hoy con una palabra sobre L-O-V-E. Si hablo con una lengua sobre el amor, pero no tengo amor en mi corazón, solo soy un gong o un símbolo en conflicto. Solo un ruido. No cuenta para nada.

Rezo para que nuestras familias vean el amor de Cristo en nuestros voluntarios y personal, y no solo una comida, o veinticuatro, en su puerta cada día.

Que tenga un día bendecido y esté seguro allá afuera. Fase uno, ¡adelante!

Estoy trabajando mientras es de dia

Sr Brent

8 de mayo de 2020

 Posted by at 7:58 am

From the heart of our COVID-19 response effort

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on From the heart of our COVID-19 response effort
May 072020
 

Today, our volunteers rose from their stay-at-home residences, again, rolled out of bed and drove their wheels about 10 miles to help LHCC pack and deliver another 314 meals to our neighborhood kids. Day 39 done and dusted. Almost 8 weeks of daily food delivery. Here is our recent video clip of LHCC Mobile Meals, thanks to my good friend, Mr Morry Alter.

For one, I am grateful to have the energy and enthusiasm to do the same. Roll out of bed, knowing that I will have an essential and inspired mission for the day. When the apartment doors open and the parents greet us, often with sleepy kids rising from their own slumber, it all seems very worthwhile. The smiles follow, and so do ours.

I am getting the strong sense that kids are getting really tired of the worksheets, Zoom calls, and occasional teacher interactions. It was a noble effort for the first few weeks. All school kids will seemingly graduate … regardless, as long as they were passable, way back before this started, on or about Friday, March 13. The pressure to do school work is off, in my opinion, which is most unfortunate. Enough of this craziness, its nice outside… We continue to encourage parents to keep kids focused on some form of education, games, reading, etc. after all, it’s for their own good, not for their teachers … or their parents.

Why are we doing this, you may be asking?” It’s a God thing. In 2012, I felt called to serve the least of these (immigrant families in the South Blvd corridor to be specific), and those that can’t always help themselves. It is a blessing for our LHCC team and volunteers, and we are grateful that we get to serve on God’s mission field, alongside others willing to help. I was reminded this morning about 1 Corinthians 13:1.  We want to encourage you today with a word about L-O-V-E. If I speak with a tongue about love, but don’t have love in my heart, I am just a gong or clashing symbol. Just a noise. It counts for nought.

I pray that our families see the love of Christ in our volunteers and staff, and not just a meal, or twenty four, on their doorstep each day.

Have a blessed day and be safe out there. Phase one, bring it on!

I am working while it is day

Brent M

May 7, 2020


 Posted by at 10:09 am

There’s only good news here … this blogpost is about kinship and caring

 Community Service, Neighboring, Positive Encouragement, Relationships, Social Capital  Comments Off on There’s only good news here … this blogpost is about kinship and caring
Apr 052020
 

Times like this bring out the best in people. Four weeks ago, we pivoted from gathering and started delivering Meals on Wheels to the kids in our after-school program. Volunteers signed up to help as they usually do, and we increased our daily meal count for 38 kids to over 150 meals this past week ahead of the Easter weekend. We were very surprised that the need for kids meals was there from the get-go.

Requests for nutritious kids’ meals (consisting of lunch for today, breakfast for tomorrow) soon increased and requests included worksheets, chapter books, games and puzzles to keep kids stimulated and away from technology, at least for a little while each day. We were happy to oblige and meet the growing needs.

Our volunteers have gone to great lengths to stay in touch with their students and to encourage them during the stay-at-home period.

  • Phone numbers have been exchanged between volunteers and parents (and kids)
  • Hand written letters are being written by volunteers to kids and delivered by US Mail
  • Video calls to children so they can get help with their school worksheets and daily reading
  • Volunteers are reading bible stories and chapter books using FaceTime and other technology tools
  • Baked goods have been prepared and delivered for kids and adults
  • Birthdays have been celebrated with cup cakes and birthday cake
  • Moms are making meals for other moms who are no longer working and therefore staying at home

Naturally, the appreciation barometer has gone way up. Letters of appreciation, drawings and thank-you notes from children and parents are being shared with us on a daily basis.

What a healthy perspective on caring for others in an unprecedented time of need.

Thank you volunteers for your support and for coming alongside our appreciative families. This is no-doubt kinship 101 and walking the talk towards making a meaningful impact.

We’ll get through this pandemic, together.

The holy scriptures assure us that we have nothing to fear. Not even COVID-19. We are to be still and know that God is God and still in control. Psalm 46:10. Additional inspiration, comfort and hope can be found in Psalm 119:49-56

Until next time, I am

Brent Morris ED LHCC April 9, 2020

Hispanics most often associate with Whites on Census Forms (part 1 of 2)

 Family, Immigrants, Racism  Comments Off on Hispanics most often associate with Whites on Census Forms (part 1 of 2)
Feb 232020
 

The 2020 Census is taking place later this year. It is going to be interesting to see the impact of the much-debated Latino representation. There has been much controversy over how Hispanics might identify themselves on census forms, as they are not identified as their own race or group, unlike Whites, Blacks (African Americans), American Indian, Asians or Pacific Islanders. Those are their only choices…

A recent Pew study of census data shows that many Hispanics are identifying as white. This could have implications in national politics and can certainly influence where parties spend millions of dollars in appealing to get people out to vote. This research suggests that the longer Hispanics have been in the U.S., the more likely they are to indicate that they are “white”. 

There is however a caution in treating whiteness as ideal social baseline; America is much more than the complexion or the color of our skin. We ought to be recognizing our diversity in terms of culture, ethnicities and in the knowledge that all people were created equal and were intended to live together and treat others with respect. 

Consider for instance this Pew Research Center study of census returns that showed that significantly more Hispanics are now identifying as white. The research was completed in 2019 and presented at the recent Population Association of America meeting. 

Some news reports suggested that Hispanics, rather than solidifying a distinct ethnic identity and becoming the driving force of a “majority-minority” future, might instead try to be the latest group of immigrants, such as Italians or Jews, to “become white.” 

If this shift is real, it could have big implications. 

Take for example national politics, where the Republican Party plays to a shrinking, aging and questioning base of historically white voters. If large numbers of Hispanics were to start thinking of themselves as white, that could alter the calculations and messaging of the party and its incumbent president. 

It turns out such scenarios are at best premature. What the new research really appears to reveal is just how confused we continue to be about race. Amidst this confusion, being identified as someone who is white is a label that Americans must deal with rather carefully. 

Next blog will be a continuation of the Pew Research and why whiteness ought not to matter …

Until next time, I am Brent M, Executive Director of LHCC and today is February 21, 2020

 Posted by at 9:52 pm