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!

How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa

 Immigrants, Racism, Social Capital  Comments Off on How does Racism in the US compare with an Apartheid South Africa
Aug 052018
 

RACE RELATION SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND AMERICA

Guest Post by Lauren Morris

Lauren is the eldest daughter of our Executive Director, Brent Morris and spouse Caren. Lauren recently completed her first year at college and wrote an insightful history paper on racism, and interviewed her South African immigrant parents to get their perspectives.

The blog post that follows is a summary of her paper, with findings and parent perspectives:

The United States of America and the Republic of South Africa are the only two countries which employed legal segregation at some point in their histories. The way that segregation came about in each of these countries is vastly different, however, the effects that we are seeing today are interestingly similar. In America, legislation such as Jim Crow Laws were put in place in the late 19th century after slavery was abolished to keep African Americans separate from white people in the south. Jim Crow Laws forced Southern blacks to use separate public facilities and put them at a severe disadvantage by limiting their education and ability to vote. In South Africa, similar segregation laws were in place from around 1950 until the early 1990s under the apartheid system. Even now in the 21st century, both America and South Africa are still reaping the consequences of these laws through the racial tension between people groups within each of their countries.

Coming to America

South African culture and history have always been fascinating to me because I am the daughter of South African immigrants. For this {college} project, I had the opportunity to interview each of my parents about their journey to America, how South Africa is different from America, and what the racial situation was like in South Africa. My parents, Caren and Brent Morris, were married in August of 1991. Two weeks later, they made the 18-hour flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma so that my dad could “undertake a work transfer or 18-month secondment to receive international training.” Once their temporary work visas expired, they returned to South Africa for just less than four years before immigrating to America permanently in February of 1997. They made the tough decision to move to America for many different reasons. My dad, Brent Morris, said they decided to come to the U.S. “to secure a better future for our children, and ourselves, where they could be safe, get a good education, and find decent employment.” My mom, Caren Morris, added that they came “to get away from South Africa’s new government with its corruption and affirmative action.”

Once they arrived in America, it did not take them long to notice some distinct differences between South Africa and their new home. They were both amazed by seemingly simple things such as how large the vehicles in America were and the huge selection of grocery items and clothing.They also noticed how inexpensive everyday items were compared to South Africa. My mom was fascinated by the fact that homes did not have walls or fences around them for protection. Instead, they were open and had beautiful gardens with grass and flowers for all to see. My parents both enjoy living in America and became U.S. citizens in 2007. However, there are still some things about South Africa that they miss. Both of them said that they miss family and friends as well as the beaches and the tropical climate. My mom mentioned that she missed the “South African sense of humor” while my dad said he missed the South African food and sports and visiting game reserves and holiday destinations. Unfortunately, life in South Africa is not always picture perfect. The country suffers from much rising racial tension and problems following the end of apartheid.

Apartheid 

In 1948 during apartheid, “4.5 million whites, 11% of the population, govern the country of 40.9 million. Whereas the 2.5 million Coloreds (people of mixed ancestry) and the 900,000 Asians have some parliamentary representation, the 33 million blacks have no voice whatsoever inside the government.” This whole situation was destined for disaster for many reasons. First of all, the black people living in South Africa, referred to as “Africans,” were the indigenous people. The whites in South Africa came as Dutch (1652) and English (1820) settlers to what was at the time British territory. Eventually, this white minority formed their own government and began to enforce their laws on the black majority and gave them no say in the matter.

In 1991, the government under President F. W. de Klerk started to repeal the legislation that allowed apartheid to continue in South Africa.16 By the 1994 election, blacks were given the right to vote and Nelson Mandela was elected as President. Ever since that election, the African National Congress (ANC), which is mainly composed of Africans, has been in control of the South African government. This may seem like the way the government in South Africa should have been the whole time. However, this change of power is now causing reverse discrimination against whites. With quota systems that are currently in place, it is much harder for white citizens to find well-paying jobs, regardless of their education. Jobs are not allocated based on skill or education but based on the color of the person’s skin.

“The collapse of the apartheid system in the 1980s and 1990s sparked a (primarily white) exodus from South Africa” because of the lack of opportunities and the change of power. Between 1987 and 2001, about 310,000 people emigrated from South Africa and went to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Of those South African citizens who left the country, about 50,000 of them had professional qualifications. White South Africans began to realize that their “. . . whiteness might be a disadvantage in contemporary South Africa.” Not only did it become much harder for them to find jobs, but there was also a lot of racial tension and increased violence towards whites and they began to feel “increasingly threatened.” Thus, the end of apartheid and the transition of power resulted in the emigration of many educated, white South Africans, like my parents. This has come to be known as the “Brain Drain.”

Although legal segregation in America ended quite a few years before apartheid collapsed in South Africa and “nonwhites are the overwhelming majority in contemporary South Africa but a relatively small minority in the United States,” there are similarities between the issues each country has faced or is facing. African Americans have suffered through oppression ever since the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. Many slaves left the south and moved to the midwestern part of America after the Civil War to escape the Jim Crow Laws and intense racism. Unfortunately, “for some African Americans, even Kansas could not provide sufficient safeguard from Jim Crow’s touch, with many opting for emigration to Canada, Mexico,the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa as safer alternatives to life in the United States.” Even in America today it can be much harder for African Americans to get decent, well-paying jobs and have the same opportunities as white Americans. One of the reasons this is the case is because African Americans originally came to the country as slaves. Therefore, they did not have many opportunities to begin with. This could also be due to strict laws and stereotypes of African Americans which has caused so many African American males in particular to be incarcerated. In addition, some employers may be prejudiced against African Americans which can make it hard for them to land a decent job. Therefore, it can be much more difficult for African Americans to find good employment opportunities, in their own country, than their white American counterparts.

Conclusion

By comparing and contrasting cultures and racial issues in America and South Africa, one gets a deeper insight into the components of American culture that we would not otherwise think about unless we look at a culture that is different from our own. Through hearing of the struggles that many white South Africans face as the minority in the country, we can begin to get a feel for what it is like to be an immigrant or African American in a country where the majority of the people are white. In addition, we can see the numerous detrimental effects that racial segregation can have on countries regardless of their varying histories. It is also important to learn from the history of South Africa and America in order to better understand emigrants in America, as well as African Americans and ongoing challenges that each of these minority groups face.

Published with permission of the author

 

Jun 172018
 

So begins the long hot summer. Summer holidays for most children, the world over, are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family and friends. Many families travel together on school holidays. Not so for most impoverished families whose children are growing up in challenging circumstances, or close to it. We know this first hand, having offered year-round programs to predominantly immigrant and refugee families since 2012.

The US has the auspicious distinction of having one the longest summer vacations of any developed country. According to Organization for Economic and Community Development, the US doesn’t have a uniform school year and summer vacation schedule. It’s therefore hard to tell where American schools stack up in comparison with the rest of the world. But the largest districts in the US have a summer break of 11 to 12 weeks, or about two and a half months, according to data from the National Council on Teacher Quality. That’s more time off than kids get in France, Germany, and Poland, and a bit longer than Finland and Norway. This information is also supported by Pew Research

Summer is not a good time for underperforming children in our local public schools. Of the estimated 48,000 kindergarten to third grade students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), approximately 31,000 will not have access to summer enrichment programs. That’s a long 11 weeks to be without some level of enrichment while they often spend the summer cooped up at home, often taking care of younger siblings, and confined to the indoors.

Having provided programs for underserved communities and their children, we have seen the impacts of what is commonly called the summer slide. This is a well-publicized phenomenon whereby children from low-income families lose ground to their more affluent peers every year, on account of not having the needed encouragement at home, access to books, and access to similar literacy enrichment programs.

We, at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, are grateful to be able to address the summer slide for our children for the sixth consecutive year. We want each and every child to return to school more confident, hopeful and encouraged that they can be what they want to be, because they read great books that we provided for them, and spent some of the long summer reading and learning with cool and caring volunteers!

Most of our children join our program two- to three- reading grade levels behind their peers who speak English at home and whose parents most likely attended college. Our goal is to encourage reading and math intervention during the summer so that our students, ages 5 to 11 years, can start the new school year in September no worse than they ended the prior school year. If children stay at grade level that’s a huge win. If they work hard, and stay engaged through learning during the summer, hallelujah! We are doing our bit to encourage children to use their summer wisely. Most importantly, we are also educating parents that summer should not be a time to take a break. We provide various interventions for children and parents alike, so that the summer can be an opportunity to stay on track or make advancements, rather than slide back. Who wants any child of ours to get way behind, and then run the risk of dropping out of school in later years.  A good education should be within reach of every child, even those who could not afford to attend fun educational camps, like their more fortunate peers.

With an average 6 out of 10 (only 39% can read at grade level) to be exact) third grade students not reading at grade level, wouldn’t we be better off with a shorter summer and the opportunity to avoid the summer slide? We will continue to do what we do, one child and family at a time, as we treat all children as our children!

Jun 042018
 

The Leading on Opportunity Report included a definition that speaks to the secret sauce that could very well address the needs of under served children in our city… 

“Social capital is defined as the building of relationships and networks that may very well be the ‘secret sauce’ for helping economically disadvantaged youth navigate systems, gain access to information, and open doors to resources and opportunity. It could change the future lives of many of our community’s children.”

Our mission is aligned with addressing the upward mobility of children in Charlotte. And it’s important. Why? Because Charlotte was ranked dead last or 50 out of 50 major cities for upward mobility of children growing up in poverty.

See what we are doing to address the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force

 Posted by at 10:17 pm
Jun 042018
 

                                                                    Image result for child and adult holding hands

In order to have a thriving garden, one must start with caring for and nourishing each and every plant they have. Each plant is essential for bringing the garden together to create a beautiful landscape, therefore, they must be able to grow properly. With this said, no garden is perfect. Some plants may be left quenched and simply in need of more attention (and water). Like these plants, we believe the children of our nation should be granted the opportunity to flourish in their education in order to grow and contribute to what should be a wholesome beautiful landscape. However, we find that some children are left behind. Like a single plant, a child must rely on that of a provider to feed them with the necessary and vital elements that will grant them the opportunity to sprout. 

Here at Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, we find it imperative to improve the literacy rates for children who may not have access to all the resources necessary to help them learn. We find that when assisting a child with their reading skills that many other skills improve as well since all subjects entail some form of reading. 

We are seeking to expand our team of volunteers and interns this summer that can be those helping hands for these children and be the guidance they need. We are looking for high school/college students who are interested in pursuing English, Spanish, or Education to join us as we continue throughout the summer with a handful of summer camps that entail enrichment activities that will further the children’s reading skills. 

We hope that you will help us cultivate our garden of children to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity please click on the following link for more information;

Intern and Volunteer Opportunities

 Posted by at 4:32 pm