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

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

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

Where have all the shepherd’s gone? Where are the fathers today?

 Family, Relationships  Comments Off on Where have all the shepherd’s gone? Where are the fathers today?
Feb 172020
 

My last post focused on parents being vigilant at home and keeping an eye on what our children are exposed to through the various media channels that we allow into our home. The learning principle was that while parents consider their daily interactions with their children to be adequate, the average time spend with children in a research study of high school students indicated that the average time spend by fathers with their children is a mere 37 seconds each day …

It takes years to figure out how to be a good parent. I’m obviously still learning to be a better father and to fulfill my role as dad. As the heads of the home, men are called to be shepherds, the designated teacher, the nurturer, the guide and of course, the leader. Shepherds might be carefully guarding their careers, vigilant over their 401k performance, protective of their professional reputations. However, their flock may have been virtually abandoned to fend for themselves against the secular humanistic, pluralistic wolves of society. The sheep are distressed, disorientated and oftentimes depressed. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 42% of girls and 27% of boys seriously thought about suicide.

We owe it to our families to remain vigilant. Children spell love … T-I-M-E. I have to find the right balance between work and play. As a father, and learning from the great shepherd, we have no greater responsibility to nurture and guide the sheep that God has entrusted to our control.

I am Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

February 15, 2020

Inspiration for this post is from a short book by the father of our pastor, Stephen Davey, who is the senior pastor of Colonial Baptist church in Cary, and the headquarters of Shepherds Theological Seminary. I am grateful for his passion to serve his flock and share his insightful resources.

 Posted by at 10:44 am

Happy New Year

 Encouragement, Family, Our Mission, Reading is important  Comments Off on Happy New Year
Jan 012020
 

Firstly, may I wish all our blog readers a very happy and blessed 2020.

Over the holidays, I received a wonderful Christmas greeting card from one of our families that bears repeating here. It was written by one of our 7th grade students on behalf of the family, to me and my family. At the start of the new year, this message is inspiring and encouraging to me, my family and our LHCC staff. I dedicate it to all our partners and supporters for the privilege of being able to serve on the mission-field in this powerful and fulfilling way. It is also no doubt intended for each and every one of our volunteers and staff members.

“Dear Mr Brent, thank you for making LHCC, a really good thing in our community. You help a lot of children’s education become more successful. Thank you for encouraging us students to read. I really appreciate it. Thank you for helping us with our work and making us be better at school work, it does really help us, and we all appreciate that.

Education is very important, and you make a child’s education better. I know every child of the LHCC group appreciates it, and their parents. We all love that you gave your opportunity to help us and care about us in LHCC.

Love Karina P “

Truly humbled, and grateful for what we get to do, together, through scholastic, spiritual and social supports for families who appreciate what we do.

Brent Morris Executive Director LHCC January 1, 2020

 Posted by at 4:08 pm
Nov 292019
 

We celebrated another enjoyable and festive Thanksgiving meal this week with our LHCC families. I learned of some of the heartache of family separation, as immigrants like myself, whose family is not all state-like. It’s been many years since we last embraced loved ones.

I was motivated to determine the origins of Thanksgiving and came across the Thanksgiving Proclamation made by George Washington, just 13 years after independence. It strikes me how far we have departed from the original intent of this annual American holiday.

Washington issued a proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence, and help in establishing the constitutional government.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor­ ­­­– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Thankful that we can pray and give thanks today and everyday…

Nov 212019
 

Many young at-risk children that we serve and growing up in crescent communities in Charlotte find themselves constantly on the move. Switching schools constantly as parents move to find affordable housing. Maybe seated in another new school classroom trying to learn their second language. Perhaps you have felt the same way at times. I know I did, when I moved to a new city and into a new school and the age of 6. Finding new friends and fitting in ain’t easy.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Sofia. Sofia and her sister Gabriella, along with mom, started attending our after-school program in 2018. They have attended each week for many reasons including receiving literacy and homework help. Sofia was in kindergarten when she started. She was shy and certainly quiet. Overwhelmed with learning English, she often seemed disengaged by the interactions and encouragement from her reading buddy. Then she met a friend, Samantha, at the start of grade 1 and together they soon struck up a friendship. Things started to change …

After some quality time together, having fun at summer camp and then homework and reading, they have become best buds. Both are helped by the same volunteer and are making steady progress. More importantly though, they have made a connection. Both learning together, taking in the new vocab words, reading the same book, together and solving the same math problems. Together. That’s the blessing here. They made friends and their outlook is looking up. This kind of friendship is blossoming in other areas as well, including between our students and their homework buddies.

We have some more volunteer spots to fill so that others like Sofia, Gabriella and Samantha can also get a helping hand. Forming friendships that we hope and pray will last well beyond vocab words and solving math problems. Come see the bonds that are being forged and be a part of something special while doing good. We have good to give. You have good to give! Connect with us in person at a program near you or via email

Happy Thanksgiving until next time. We have much to be grateful for.

Brent Morris

 Posted by at 8:35 pm
Oct 072019
 

Picture the scene. Ten or so pallets full of potato’s, totaling about 20 tons, being bagged by kind hearted folks into 10-pound bags on a cool Saturday morning. How did they get there you may ask? The potato’s that is…

It all takes place every year at Pineville Neighbors Place. A generous farmer donates what I call the gleanings in the form of potato’s, in support of the homeless and food banks. Gleanings is a term used in the bible and is defined as the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested. It is a practice arising over 2,000 years ago when it became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms.

Fast forward to Charlotte and the 21st century and it has taken on a more hands on meaning with a deeper connotation. Potatoes are trucked in from three hours away in central NC. Picture for a minute (or check out the video) random strangers, neighbors and school children standing in huddles around pallets of spuds, surgical gloves on, digging into the gleanings and bagging all 40,000 pounds of edible offerings until they are all bagged. It’s a beautiful picture of collaboration and unity across all races, cultures and people of different socio-economic backgrounds. High fives every time a pallet is transformed to handfuls for easy distribution. Organizations represented included Atrium Health, Cardinal Innovations, Pineville Elementary School, Learning Help Centers of Charlotte and Pineville United Methodist Church, to name a few. There were the many young, the young at heart, ambitious teachers and pastors, church congregants and community helpers. It was another awesome drop.

So, now you know what’s a potato drop. Lots of potato’s going to a needy cause, for sure, but more importantly, a show of how a community comes together, extends some love for the less fortunate and helps one non-profit make light work of an otherwise huge truck load.

Thank you, Jane Shutt and Pineville Neighbors Place, for blessing our neighbors and the LHCC families with a fun community service event, and more importantly a show of good neighborliness. Till next year …

Video credit to Mr. Morry Alter, who does great productions for non-profits like LHCC and PNP

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