CMS discusses return to school … here’s what LHCC is doing while we wait

 COVID-19, Education, Our Mission  Comments Off on CMS discusses return to school … here’s what LHCC is doing while we wait
Sep 162020
 

Tomorrow, LHCC pivots once again to what we call a Connect-Hub, where we will receive our students for a remote school day. A Connect-Hub is our term for a safe, group environment for students to sit at a desk and connect to the school learning platform, under adult supervision. Students complete learning modules, have recess, and receive meals and snacks. We are there to help and get our students feeling hopeful and encouraged after a rough start to the school year

This is LHCC’s response to the highest and most pressing needs of our families, based on our observations from our work over the past ten days, including home visits, conferring with parents, and meeting in-person with students for the past two weeks

  • Meet the Gomez family. Four school kids, none with their own room, two sleep in the lounge, no desks and no chairs, other than the small kitchen table. Mom is unable to cope and is increasingly frustrated that she can’t help her own kids in the new-normal home learning environment
  • Meet Josh, grade 5, whose internet connection at home precludes him from hearing his teacher audibly, let alone complete learning modules. Mom had no idea, but tomorrow all that changes. He will be flying on high speed internet.
  • Then there is Rebeca, who can now access her daughters progress on-line and ensure she completes her homework, and asks for help from her LHCC volunteer or teacher, when needed
  • Meet Lily, grade 6, who has yet to receive proper instruction on using a different tool to meet remotely with her ELA teacher. It’s week 5. She was in tears, sharing how frustrating she is with the lack of answers from the school.
  • Two of our youngest grades 1 students are hopelessly lost navigating an iPad, let alone understanding their remote teacher instructions
  • Lastly, kindly meet our new volunteer, Ms Reid, who identified that answers submitted in Canvas by her young student, are not properly read, due to a different syntax, rendering the answer incorrect, when in fact the student nailed it!

I could continue, but I think you get the point …

That’s why we need to get our students safely into classrooms. More importantly, the younger the student, the greater the need for guidance and supervision with technology, connectivity, lesson assignments and completing homework. Our Connect Hub is our response to meet these immediate needs that have parents in a tailspin, trying to manage kids at home and wondering when they can get back to work and help pay the bills.

Listening to the CMS Facebook live update on returning to schools indicates a pending, yet cautious return, starting with youngest students. That means a phased return, staggered entry for schools that pass readiness audits. Sounds like red tape and more delays for many. Students are resilient, but can’t afford to regress any further without the needed face-to-face classroom instruction.

Incidentally, LHCC is the only entity in the area providing both caterer-to-home meals and a remote learning program from a convenient central location. With the start-up of our in-person and remote learning program in August, we are now serving 50 percent more children and their families than pre-COVID.

Working while it is day

I am Brent Morris, Executive Director

Wednesday September 16, 2020

(Names and grades may have been changed to protect the identity of our families, and volunteers)

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
Aug 272020
 

Dear Friends of the LHCC blog,

The information presented below, and published weekly on the Mecklenburg Country Public Health Department website is hardly a case for keeping public schools virtual…

I have been supportive of the transition to Plan B from the get go (remember that was the original proposal, as in “if you want to return to school great, otherwise stay home”) …. as long as it is safe. The map tells me it’s safe. The families that LHCC serves are advocates for in-person schooling and tuition, and we expect them all to return as soon as they get the green light. We were also fortunate to have been able to prove that congregating can be safe as evidenced by our recently completed summer programs, provide we adhere to the 3 W’s. Incidentally we added a forth W for water, because we did most of the congregating outdoors under a big ‘ol oak tree in 90 degree temperatures. 100% of our kids, staff and interns are still healthy, and have lived to tell the tale of it’s possible to venture out and learn and play.

The near- and long-term effects of the lack of food insecurity, emotional teacher support, and supervision will be devastating for many years to come, unless we get this segment of the population back safely into the classroom. Grades Kindergarten to 2, in particular, are already struggling with technology at home, and potentially losing hope in only week 2 of virtual learning.

The folks at the Meck Co Public Health and the two large hospital systems apparently need to be more vocal with the CMS Superintendent and the CMS Board.

Please pray that students can start going back to school, perhaps as soon as mid-September, into a Plan B, as previously voted upon, highly anticipated and much needed, for the greater good of our youngest and often under-represented neighbors.

I appreciate your comments and perspectives

Blessings

Brent Morris

August 27, 2020

 Posted by at 3:50 pm
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