Kinship for the King

 Connect Hub, COVID-19, Kinship, Kinship Kitchen, Neighboring  Comments Off on Kinship for the King
Feb 062021
 

For centuries Christians have faithfully removed stones, plowed the field, and sown the seed of the Gospel. We are in a season of harvest. Not because of what we have done, but because the Lord moves in the  hearts of people, perhaps based on our testimony and willingness to actually love our neighbor.

LHCC is embarking on a new initiative in 2021. Something very exciting, even extraordinary, that we see as synergistic with our existing program service offerings. In short, it is our belief that people generally want to love their neighbor, make an impact and build relationships across cultures all across the city. We are referring to the launch of our new Kinship initiative. Click here to learn more. We believe that mutually fulfilling cross-cultural relationships are the recipe for joy and happiness in the lives of our team members, volunteers and program recipients.

LHCC has been providing scholastic, spiritual, and social support to students and their families since July 2012 through homework assistance programs, enrichment activities, summer camps, and family stabilization services. We have learned that the most effective and helpful vehicle for change is mutually beneficial relationships which are based on trust and mutual respect.  Each party beings something of value to the relationship, and each receives something of value. We know that a hand up is better than a hand out; even better are hands together, working to achieve a common goal. That is the essence of Kinship. Kinship that is pleasing to the King and king of kings.

During Covid-19, out of necessity, we pivoted away from our traditional programs and took some new approaches to serving our students and their families, including support of on-line learning and food support. We were able to provide income to one of our families by utilizing their home-based catering services to provide meals in for our families in addition to meals from CMS and other charities.

In closing, here’s a reminder from the apostle Paul that we “were in darkness, but now we are the light in the Lord. Live as children of light” Ephesians 5:8. This verse means taking an interest in the well being of others, conforming to God’s standards, not the ways of the world and following the truth of scripture. It’s a testimony of goodness, righteousness and truth. That’s also the essence of kinship and of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Next post will delve into just such a picture of mutality between an eighty years young lady and her friends and our students, and what brings them together each week.

Until next time,

Brent M

February 2021

 Posted by at 1:41 pm

The space between us

 Attitude, COVID-19, Encouragement, Kinship, Mutuality  Comments Off on The space between us
Jan 202021
 

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for some time, but first, let me start by saying that today, more than ever, I pray for unity in our country. As our new president and vice president are sworn in at noon today, my hope that we are more accepting of our kin and our neighbors. This undoubtedly starts in our homes, schools and workplaces. Whether or not you voted for President Biden, we are called to respect our elected officials and the authority that their offices represent.

Now on to my thoughts on the road forward, and a question to think about. Have you wondered how you’ll respond when we get the post pandemic all-clear? I think I’m going to go hug 50 people … from the physical distance of the pandemic CDC guidelines to invading that infamous 6 foot distance and show some compassion and care, sans the mask.

God loves to use people that others seemingly overlook. Maybe that’s you, if you consider that you, yes you, can be the encouragement that others need. Perhaps put your, and their isolation and discouragement, to bed. Maybe reach out to the worker at the hotel, or the attendant at a gas station. Over the past two weeks, being the start of 2021, I have tried to put myself out there. I have two examples to share. The first instance was at a breakfast place where Jim was sipping coffee at the kitchen bar, minding his own business. We simply struck up a brief conversation. Delightful old man, with lots to share. The second was Robert, who I had seen previously at an out of town coffee shop. The quintessential village coffee shop greeter and PR guy. Interesting as all get up was Robert, single, never married, strong believer in Gods grace and mercy, who moved to Ashe county six months ago to be near to his niece, whose hubby is a local church pastor. Both these new friends were alone, and remarked that they were lonely, which is why they were out in public. Both were, however, strategically placed there for more than coffee. This is how God uses people to put a smile on someone’s dial, and make a new acquaintance, just by being out there and looking for divine appointments. People who have more to offer than receive. That could be you as well, if you, like me, take the time to slow down and listen. These are the beginnings of kinship relationships. All who wonder are not lost, but perhaps on a mission to improve life for someone else.

Whose quiet faithfulness has made a difference in your life? Do you wonder how you can perhaps serve God by serving someone else today?

Lord God in heaven, thank you for never overlooking me. I am thankful You can use me to make a difference wherever I am. Use me to show the love You have shown me as I seek to help your people, here on your mission field. Amen

God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people” Hebrews 6:10

May this year be filled with many conversations, with overlooked strangers, friends and neighbors, whether physically distant or not …

Brent M, LHCC

Adapted, in part, from a daily devotion by Our Daily Bread, written by James Banks, January 2021

 Posted by at 10:50 am

I missed my turn and ended up in Tent City … Charlotte

 Community Service, COVID-19, Neighboring, Social Capital  Comments Off on I missed my turn and ended up in Tent City … Charlotte
Dec 052020
 

I had good reason to travel to what used to be called the Urban Ministry and Men’s Shelter, off N Tryon yesterday. You see, I was on a mission, so to speak, to collect some food items for our LHCC ministry, that the renamed Roof Above were seeking to donate, but that’s another long story for another blogpost. My GPS had me locked in on the correct address. As I drew nearer I was shocked to see what I saw on both sides of the road. Charlotte’s thriving tent city. As I proceeded, I missed my turn … because I was thinking, “my destination surely can’t possibly be down there”. This is my way of stating that I lost my concentration and thought for a brief 90 seconds car ride that I was once again in a third world African country. Back to the task at hand, I’m in the Queen City, and looking for the now hidden and seemingly distant Roof Above.

A very recent WCNC article reported ‘There are places in the third world where refugee camps are more habitable’. It’s not that simple because I know that many organizations and kind folks are helping our cities citizens, like our friends at Roof Above. Their world also turned upside down in March when people showed up along with the thousands of food packages gifted by kind neighbors. Quoting the WCNC report “What’s more a local property owner has filed a lawsuit against the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The lawsuit alleges the city and county are herding homeless into tent cities that line the sidewalks, rights-of-way. It also goes on to read that the tents have crept onto private properties and parking lots along North Tryon Street.”

My point of this blog is that it’s hard to believe we’re in Charlotte, NC. While there is reportedly capacity in vacant Roof Above facilities and temporary room housing available, many of our unfortunate neighbors apparently still choose to stay in encamped in tent city. Barriers to entry into a temporary facility include COVID screening, behavioral restrictions and curfews, seemingly hurdles not low enough. There is no mass exodus from tent to housing, even with the promise of heat and utilities.

Maybe there is truth to the sentiment that your future is determined, not by your DNA code, but by your zip code. President Obama, once claimed “In this country, of all countries, a person’s zip code shouldn’t decide their destiny.”

If you need a road trip and have never seen tent city, not on TV, but live, right outside your car window, go take a drive to Roof Above, at 945 N College Street and see tent city for yourself. I am confident you’ll come away with more questions than answers. Oh, and trust your GPS and keep your eyes peeled. Count your blessings and thank the Lord you have a roof over your head this day. Thousands, not 10 miles from you, are not so fortunate tonight.

I am

Brent Morris

Executive Director, LHCC

 Posted by at 8:19 am
Nov 242020
 

This has been a tough year. A once-in-a-lifetime year of uncertainty and perhaps even loss, of someone or something. I lost my dad, as did my ministry partner, and my close friend. Three fathers all elevated to a higher status, all in the last 4 months. 2020 has been like a centennial flood that can be devastating. I was recently reminded of that with a slogan about storms, associated with Tropical storm Eta, “Not all storms come to disrupt our life, some come to clear our path.” Is a rainbow not a sign of hope, as promised by God?

Our pastor at Life Church Charlotte, mentioned this recently, in reference to the Platte River, 310 miles long but mostly shallow. Miles wide and inches deep is the expression.

At LHCC, it has never been about how many people we help. Instead, it’s about the hope we provide and the love and kindness we share to those we call the LHCC family. We would prefer, instead, to be miles deep and inches wide.

We have recently started down an exciting path in planning a new initiative around kinship. My last blogpost outlined a perspective on this topic.

Jesus has high hopes that we will move from separation and division to unity and kinship. Our quest for mutuality is fueled by the engine of hope. If there is no hope, there is nothing to give others living on the margins of society. No kinship means no peace. No peace, no justice, no kinship, no equality. Quoting my latest read by author Father Greg Boyle, we ought to seek first the kinship and watch what happens. My thinking at this present time and given my experience with the LHCC family is this: we ought to see those we serve for the contribution they make in the relationships we share. There is much to receive and learn from those classified as being on the margins.

I was hungry, and you gave me to something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was hopeless and you gave me some. Adapted from Matthew 25:34-40

Thank you, Life Church, for joining LHCC in rolling out hope to our LHCC family this week with food hampers. We are grateful for your kindness and generosity.

Happy New Year from our LHCC family to yours.

Brent M, ED of LHCC, December 30, 2020

 Posted by at 3:15 pm
Oct 232020
 

Think of it as a safe place to do school work, play, enjoy a meal and connect with your friends …

LHCC launched our Connect Hub learning program in September. This coming week, we are adding a second school day to Thursdays-at-the-church -for -school. Connect-Hub now takes place Monday’s and Wednesday’s for students while their parents are at work. We have adequate outdoor and indoor space at St Andrews UMC and have upgraded our connectivity and welcomed our families with open arms. We are providing learning for students from five Title 1 CMS schools off South Blvd, along with child meals for our low-income neighbors. Connect Hub is our term for a safe, group environment for students to sit at a desk and connect to the school learning platform with adult supervision. Students complete learning modules, have recess, and receive meals and snacks. Parents participating in the Hub are paid for their time. 2020 has been such a challenging year for so many. It’s been really hard on our kids for sure. I cannot imagine the hardships for exceptional students, those with special needs or who are living with homelessness.

We covet your continued prayers for continued interventions, inspiration and motivation as we come alongside our LHCC families, and certainly many others like them. We are grateful for this ministry and for the opportunity to build trust and provide hope in these relationships. We certainly do not take this responsibility lightly. For the glory of the One we serve.

Thank you for reading and your support of our local communities

Brent M

October 25, 2020

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Oct 072020
 

Thank-you for reading our latest ministry blogpost. You will need to read to the bottom to find out about our latest award.

On the ministry frontlines, we have been walking alongside a young mother, Elizabeth, and her family for a couple of years. We have learned first-hand of the home-front struggles, firstly with COVID-19, and then of remote leaning over the past six long months, without any in-person help. Along with its technology challenges and the many language barriers trying to help her four children, three in elementary school and one middle-school student, we have witnessed the struggles of staying connected with the daily grind of being on constant Zoom calls. Peer socialization has all but disappeared and emotional support evaporated by being home.

LHCC has intervened to engage both teachers and school counselors to provide much needed encouragement and hope. We launched our Connect Hub learning program in September. This has been such a challenging year for so many. I cannot imagine the hardships for those with special needs or living with homelessness. Has the school system done these children a disservice, with delayed returned to class, especially now that the governor has opened up schools to return? How will we ever measure the impact on the COVID-slide?

Your prayers for continued wisdom, guidance and open conversations are appreciated, as we come alongside this young family, and certainly many others like them. Grateful for this ministry and opportunity to build trust and provide hope in these relationships.

Quoting one of my favorite bible teachers Chip Ingram, and one who I have listened to for years, “the big answer to our worlds chaos is not political philosophical or religious, its spiritual” Let’s keep our leaders. nation, schools and neighbors in our daily prayers. Chip goes on to say The greatest need in America and the world right now is for us to love our neighbor. Only radical Christlike love will heal racism, political division and reveal the love of the savior to fractured and hurting people. 

On a different note, LHCC is also pleased to have been awarded the 2020 Great Non-Profits award this month. Thank-you to everyone who wrote a review. If you still would like to add your voice to our work, kindly text 455097492 to 888-432-6659 and in 3 easy steps, you too can help make LHCC a great non-profit by sharing your feedback.

Appreciate what the Lord is doing through our ministry

Brent Morris

October 7, 2020

 Posted by at 12:16 pm

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