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

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

What’s not to Love

 Attitude, Education, Encouragement, Social Capital, Wisdom  Comments Off on What’s not to Love
Jan 262020
 

Take a moment to reflect on the myriad of influences and messages we receive in a given day. How do these forces shape you and those you love?

A recent study indicated that busy parents who believed that they spend 15 minutes with their children each day were actually spending a lot less than that in terms of interacting with and influencing their hearts and minds. This was closer to 37 seconds than 15 minutes. This ought to be a warning to all of us about what we allow to enter our homes, schools and media devices.

There are many belief systems that are influencing us as a society, as well as families and most certainly our children. TV shows, movies, music, teachers, friends, the media. Each of these carry assumptions. Some are obvious while others are perhaps a little under the radar. We can’t unwatch something we saw on TV. Children are exposed to things in this generation of media that is way and above greater than past generations. On the topic of faith, some are clear and concise. Others are exerting a subtle positive or negative influence. Just think of the many distractions alluring us away from what we know to be acceptable and true.

At LHCC, we conduct scholastic interventions. All our family interactions are intended to be social and ones that uplift, encourage and provide hope. We also exert a spiritual influence through prayers, bible lessons by doing and saying what we believe Jesus would have us emulate.

We are indeed grateful for the joy and privilege of gracefully nurturing children’s hearts towards God. In addition, any opportunities to instill similar behaviors in our own lives is worth noting, as we encourage others to do the same. Let us remain vigilant in doing good, so that the evil one not get a foothold.

“Continue in what you have learned … how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.

 Posted by at 8:40 pm
Nov 032019
 

This past Tuesday, the LHCC family came together to honor me with a post-program dinner celebration of my birthday. I am very grateful for their kindness and generosity in providing a meal to feed 5,000 … literally. The Hispanic culture dictates that all family meals are a pot luck. Everyone contributes something tasty and the volunteers are always the guests of honor for their generous time commitments. Our families are grateful for the help they get as well as their children. Reflecting upon this joyous occasion, I wondered what it would be like to be grateful like that every day, birthdays or no birthdays…

Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust posed the question of whether the primal sin of the first couple mentioned in the bible was ingratitude. Even before they were deceived and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.

I believe that people who have known tough life and death situations, suffering and know what it is like to need something so bad they will do anything to get it, have had to draw upon trust or something like it, to find joy in their lives. They have literally had to swim upstream against the odds. The poor give larger proportions of their income to charity than the rich, because they know what it is like to have needs seemingly beyond their means.

If you are reading this then surely you have much more to be grateful for. Living in a first world country with plenty of clothes, a warm home and one maybe two cars. I have much to be grateful if I consider how much better off we are than many struggling for survival each and every day. Let me use this reminder to count my blessings every day and to praise God for blessing me abundantly and most assuredly more than I deserve.

Until next time

Brent Morris Executive Director

October 20, 2019

 Posted by at 7:53 pm
Sep 222019
 

Are you crazy busy? More to do than hours in a day to get it all done? Might we take a time out? Read on for a simple challenge this week …

A recent LHCC summer blog post called out neighboring as an art. We shared this concept with our LHCC families this past summer and the results are in. Summer camper families grew closer. Volunteers got to build deeper relationships with families and children. Parents invited other parents to our program and we got to enjoy an end of summer celebration together. It was awesome.

When serving our neighbors, are we trying to look good or do good? Inviting others to our program or opening our homes to others is a great way to show hospitality. Weary people may join us to share a meal and conversation and hopefully leave feeling refueled and refreshed. It can be stressful and awkward for both hosts and guests. We get worked up, tidying up and fed up, focusing perhaps on appearance rather than good ol’ southern hospitality.

In Luke 10, Jesus pointed this out to Martha when her sister Mary was feasting more on the friendship than faffing about the food. Christian hospitality has more to do with good fellowship than good food. In the book Crazy Busy, the author points out that there is a fine line between care and cumber. Less ado would serve better. “Feed people, not your pride.”

How about a little challenge for the coming week:

  • Slow down your hurried life. Go out of your way to greet and chat to a neighbor.
  • Be present with our family ( aka put down the phone?), and
  • Make time for daily meditation and devotion. 15 to 20 minutes, tops. This might just be the one thing strong enough to pull you away from your busyness, so you can be intentional about becoming a good neighbor.

Peace to you, take it easy and have a Mary-like week

Brent M

 Posted by at 8:49 pm
Apr 072019
 

I have been tutoring at LHCC for 3 school years.  I find it to be a very worthwhile and encouraging ministry.  It is a real high to see the light go on in a child’s mind and their faces beam as they begin to grasp a concept that has been befuddling them.  It is also very gratifying to build relationships with the children as well as the parents.

This school year brought me a new challenge I was unprepared to handle.  In August, I started working with Jane (not her real name) a 5th grader.  At first, I was surprised to see how weak her reading skills were.  The following weeks I realized that even though she could barely read she had somehow been passed on year after year by the school system.  Not only could she not read, her math skills were barely at a second-grade level.  I spoke with her mother on several occasions but due to the language barrier and cultural differences, I was unable to properly communicate my concern.  Each week I became more and more desperate and frustrated in how to help Jane.  She was bringing in 5th grade homework but had no comprehension as to what to do.  Honestly, I cried in the car after each session the first couple of months.  I wanted to help Jane but felt so inadequate.

Through an interpreter I asked her mother over and over if she would arrange a meeting for me with Jane’s teachers.  The mom listened politely but made no effort to arrange such a meeting.  Thankfully the school reached out to Jane’s mom via a letter that arrived the day before our tutoring session.   Mom invited me to attend and I jumped at the chance.  Sadly, the night before the meeting I came down with the flu and was quite ill.  I prayed feverently that the Lord would allow me to be well enough the next morning to attend that meeting because unless I was on my death bed I planned to be there.  I awoke the next day and was able to get dressed and get to the meeting which lasted almost 2 hours!  I was fine during the meeting but then went home and back to bed for two more days while my flu continued after that precious 2 hour break!

During the meeting it was discussed that Jane was becoming frustrated with school and made excuses every day as to why she didn’t need to go. It also became apparent that on the present course Jane would probably become totally lost in the system and eventually drop out. Her IQ is very low and her mother is ill-equipped to help her. As a result of the meeting, it was decided that Jane was not able to continue on a mainstream 5th grade level and would be moved into an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) but still remain with her classmates.  I was able to connect with her teachers and got help in how I could best help Jane.  This was such a blessing because now Jane is working at a level that she can handle.  She is happy to do her homework and her confidence level has soared as has our relationship.  This is especially important as next year Jane will go to middle school and if not for this change and new IEP probably would have drowned in the CMS system.

Thank-you for reading my volunteer story …

D.O. ~ third-year volunteer with LHCC

April 2019

Oct 272018
 

Check out Britzia’s very own video 

We are very proud of all our students. Some have just started attending our programs this week, while others have been a part of the LHCC family of parents and students for over five years. Today, we introduce you to Britzia, a young 4th grade student who attends our after-school homework and reading program with her family of two brothers, along mom & dad. She is always ready to greet me with a hug and a smile, and just loves to hang out with her friends and all the other children, ages 3 to 13, before the program starts. She is precocious and always ready to share how the day at school has been for her. Then the homework comes out and the tutoring session begins… A little math today perhaps, a reading quiz some days, but regardless, a glorious opportunity to meet her where she is academically, and encourage her. She is paired with a retired school teacher, Ms. Bettie, who knows a thing or two about helping out. The partnership has been rock solid for over 18 months! Each homework session is followed by some much needed reading time. Last, but not least, some feedback for mom, so that valuable information can be exchanged between mom and Ms. Bettie on what she needs to work on. It’s what we call a cross-cultural exchange of thoughts, ideas, love and encouragement. This takes place for many of our students as well. Britzia is very grateful for the help, as is mom. Check out their very own video and see why. You see, there is something very special about this relationship and many others. It’s the strong participation of the parents in their children’s education and well-being, supported by active staff and volunteers, always ready with a word or two of encouragement!

For information on volunteer opportunities check out our volunteer page. Finally, if you missed our last blog, we featured our Fall fundraiser to seed our year round work. Read it here

Until next time friends, have a blessed weekend and thanks for reading and sharing our blogpost

Brent Morris

Executive Director ~ Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

October 26, 2018

Sep 152018
 

Hurricane Florence brings both devastation and opportunity. We pray daily for everyone’s safety, especially those on the coast and evacuated from their homes. Perhaps we are reminded by who really is in control. It is also an opportunity to draw close to family, as we gather together and ride out this storm. It is also encouraging to see how much good comes from events like this … helping neighbors, public schools converted to shelters and making provision for those displaced or seeking shelter.

Speaking of families drawing near, my daughter Lauren came home from college in Boone on Thursday. It’s a blessing to have time together at home, hunkering down and being a complete family again.

We are excited to see our extended families again soon. Our board is energized and ready for another year of promoting the mission and vision of LHCC. I refer of course to those we serve each week, in our various programs. We will recommence our after-school homework and reading programs again at the beginning of October. In addition, we have a community event, called a Potato Drop, on Saturday, October 6, hosted by Pineville Neighbors.  Check out our current events for more information. Until then, be safe and enjoy the things that matter most. Family. Our next blog post will feature an update from Britzia, one of our awesome students. Watch her short video as a teaser.  

Until next time …

Brent Morris

Executive Director

Learning Help Centers of Charlotte

 

Sep 092018
 

They say that when the world sends you lemons, make lemonade.

When I watch Shark Tank, I am always inspired by the innovation of entrepreneurs This short clip is about a company called Game Face However, there is a meaning hidden behind the mask, so to speak. When your optimism wanes after say a tough week, challenges persist, and trials get you down, it is easy to get angry and discouraged. But you can’t always show your emotions when you have children and their parents to serve. You have to keep your game face on.

I, along with our staff and volunteers, have been serving predominantly immigrant and refugee families and children through LHCC program services for the past six years. We do everything from after-school to summer camps, community events, and services for adults. It is easy to get to a point of saying enough is enough… Then you remember why God has you here. This is a calling. A calling to do for others what they can’t do for themselves. This is a labor of love and a lot of hard work, with plenty of sacrifices to be made. You gotta keep that game face on for the benefit of others, even when you don’t have the kind of day that justifies it. That’s called sucking it up, and trying hard to make every situation a blessing for others. If local ministry were easy, everyone would be doing it.

When the lemons are obvious, make lemonade. Promote and encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. We have much to be grateful for (as compared to so many of our immigrant and refugee neighbors) in our midst who have nothing to be happy about) even when we get sent lemons!