Día de César Chávez ~ 31 de marzo

 Hope, Immigrants, Kinship, Mexico, Racism, Relationships, Upward Mobility  Comments Off on Día de César Chávez ~ 31 de marzo
Mar 202021
 
César Chávez se ha convertido en un símbolo de esperanza para los pobres y los indefensos. Sigue siendo una inspiración para los latinos en todas partes y un defensor fuerte pero pacífico en la lucha contra el racismo en Estados Unidos. César demostró que las personas que se unen y hablan con una sola voz pueden ser mucho más fuertes cuando están unidas que cuando están solas.

Nació en Arizona en una familia de aparceros donde trabajaban como trabajadores agrícolas migrantes. Comenzó a recolectar cultivos a la temprana edad de doce años. En 1962 cofundó la Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores Agrícolas. Se convirtió en el activista latinoamericano de derechos civiles más famoso. Fue más que el comienzo de una unión; fue el comienzo de un movimiento: un grupo de personas con ideas afines que trabajan juntas para compartir una idea y lograr un cambio. Su lema era Viva La Causa - Larga vida a la causa. Abogó por mejores salarios de las organizaciones que empleaban a trabajadores agrícolas para que pudieran ganar un salario decente y mantener a sus familias.

Chávez se inspiró en un sacerdote católico que le inculcó la necesidad de que todas las personas sean tratadas con justicia y respeto. Estos aprendizajes incluyeron la vida de un líder político llamado Mahatma Gandhi, un líder político en la India que creía en la paz y la no violencia. Gandhi se interesó en la lucha por los derechos civiles mientras trabajaba como abogado en Sudáfrica.

Era tímido y no era un buen orador, pero era un hombre decidido y trabajador. Creía en sacrificar tiempo y dinero para ayudar a los demás. Creía en la protesta, pero siempre de forma pacífica.

El día de César Chávez fue declarado por el presidente Barack Obama, el 31 de marzo que también es su cumpleaños. Hizo un llamado a todos los estadounidenses a celebrar los logros de César Chávez en todo Estados Unidos, ayudando en sus comunidades. Qué gran legado y mensaje para inspirarnos a todos a amar a nuestro prójimo, ganar perspectiva y reavivar lo que uniría a todos. Hablar con una sola voz ... unidos, como se esforzó por hacer Chávez.

Dios lo bendiga

Brent M
LHCC
Marzo 2021
 Posted by at 2:16 pm
Mar 092021
 

In the book, Peaceful Neighbor, the author eloquently described how some people get so wrapped up in consumerism and materialism, the trappings of life, that they lose what is real. He is of course referring to a quote by Roy Rogers who made the TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood famous in the 80’s. Rogers’ overwhelming desire was to help children realize that deep and simple are more important than shallow and complicated and fancy.

As promised in the February post, I want to introduce you to Tucker. Three days before the start of summer camp programs, in the middle of a pandemic, I received a phone call from Tucker. She is a dear lady with a heart of gold, and a dog handler with four trained pups of her own. She is associated with Invisible Pawprints, a wonderful organization that trains therapy dogs to provide hope to children and folks in hospital.

Tucker had learned of our LHCC ministry and was calling to inquire about bringing the pups and their dog handlers to our program to interact with our campers. My first reaction was “it’s too late”. The host church would probably give me a hard time about bringing dogs onto the campus. Besides, I would need to request further permission and amend our contract. There simply was insufficient time before the start of camp. Tucker explained that the pups had not been out to hospitals and schools since March and needed to put their therapy training into practice. As Tucker continued our phone conversation, it dawned on me that the pups needed the excursion outlet as much as the students needed the distraction from their reading chores. Our students genuinely needed their daily reading time. The dogs surely needed reading partners. The rest is history and we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with all the handlers and their pups ever since. You see, Tucker and her volunteers, along with their cute pups of course, have faithfully returned each week of our program

It really is a beautiful partnership, and one that extends from camps last summer and continues to this day. Our church partner, St Andrews United Methodist, is also very gracious and never hesitated to welcome our new so-called readers. The pups are the catalysts that brought an 80-year young lady and her crew together with our young students.

Greg Boyle, the author of Barking at the Choir and Tattoos on the Heart, and the biggest proponent of kinship I know, made a lot of great points about what it takes to reach kinship relationships. Fostering trusted relationships are what we seek. They are what Father Boyle refers to as the hallway to the ballroom. The ballroom where both parties are liberated and discover relationships that may lead to kinship, sometimes in unlikely places.

 Posted by at 10:25 am
Jan 082021
 

Happy New Year to all our blog readers and friends. Let’s be praying that we, as a nation, will start the process of uniting and showing respect for everyone we come in contact with, without bias or discrimination. Starting with those under our roof would be my recommendation, and I speak from real-world experience … Education and respect surely start in the home…

So we have a “Big Idea” for this New Year. LHCC has seen over the past 8 years that the zest for school seems to dissipate with our graduating fifth graders, as they move on from elementary school. Too often, it’s a downward slope of discouragement and disengagement.

A Gallop poll undertaken some years prior to the pandemic, found a disturbing slope in the wrong direction for fifth- to twelve-grade students in the US. Only 6 in 10 middle school students reported being engaged in school. That number goes further south, 4 in 10, for high schoolers. That metric started out at almost 8 in 10 for elementary school students. Gallop defines engaged as students who feel involved in the learning process and who have positive connections with teachers and the school. Feedback included the view that disengaged students felt they did not get the chance to do the things they are best at doing. Students will stay engaged if the encounter frequent successes, are given chances and have more positive interactions with adults.

LHCC is looking for practical ideas to help our secondary school students in 2021. By this I mean helping middle and high school students find their voice, show them that they matter, and can be trusted. As in-person school attendance has been very limited, or frankly non-existent for most secondary level students this school year, we are looking for ways to motivate them, to help them discover their passion for what they enjoy. We are therefore introducing a different perspectives on academics.

Creating a culture of Leadership

I love this quote by Sir Ken Robinson, from The Element. “The fact that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed. It needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions”

Learning is surely more that going to school and getting an education. Other vital dimensions of growing up include cross cultural exposure and learning life skills. Non scholae sed vitae discimus. We learn, not for school, but for life  ~ a sign in a high school entrance declares.

We are dreaming about a LHCC Leadership Academy for secondary school students

Ways to give our students a chance to be leaders. We believe that giving them responsibility can surely change their maturity. Make a concerted effort to ask their opinions and focus on listening and giving them a voice, and teaching them to use it

Pair our younger students with our older student leaders. Ask them to read to their younger siblings or play board games. Let them practice the language they will be graduating from American school, usually different from their home language

We are planning to develop a curriculum that is not just academic, but rather focused on skills like problem solving, public speaking and debating (kindly)

In closing, let me provide two more quotes by folks who are much more versed than I in weighing in on this topic of academics.

What students need to succeed in the 21st century is an education that is both academically rigorous and “real world” relevant. This objective of rigor and relevance is not just for some students, it is for all students  ~ Dr. Willard Doggett

The research is abundantly clear: nothing motivates a child more than when learning is valued by schools and families/communities working together in partnership … these forms of involvement do not happen by accident or even by invitation. They happen by explicit strategic intervention ~ Michael Fullan

At LHCC, we desire to inspire and motivate greatness in all our children … one child at a time … After all, the woods would surely be silent if no bird sang but the best. We’d love to have you join us in a united chorus of encouragement and hope as we bring in a new year.

Brent Morris

ED of LHCC

January 2021

 Posted by at 6:53 pm
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
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

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

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