Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Neighborhood blog helps near and wide

Nichole, mother of three in the Steele Creek community in southwest Mecklenburg, has long been inspired by this Ghandi quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

To that end, she and her family have donated to a variety of charities, their main interests: Cancer, the homeless and children. Those interests stem from her father dying of brain cancer; their desire to feed the hungry and supply food and other necessities to the homeless; and their ambition to raise awareness about catastrophic illnesses in children.

Noble work, but she longed to do something bigger -- and came up with a community help blog (http://www.ourcharitywork.blogspot.com/) to raise money and supplies for the neediest of charities in Charlotte, and needs of her neighbors.

"We are not affiliated with a church; we are just a family that believes in the greater good and that it is imperative to give back and help people in need," Nichole wrote The Cliff in an email.

She doesn't want her last name used -- but names are not the point. Her blog is. It's an example of what people are doing to reach out and help, even in the smallest ways, with energy and pluck.
Her blog has become a community-wide effort in Steele Creek. A friend and neighbor, Melissa, signed on to find volunteer opportunities.

Each month, they and other neighbors search for charities in need through government Web sites, and ask around the community for anyone who needs help. Their current project is gathering household items, clothing and other supplies to donate to the Charlotte Emergency Housing, a shelter for the homeless.

Recently, the neighbors got together and packed up 40 bags of food for Stand Up for Kids, an organization that provides guidance, food and supplies for homeless children -- only to find that the Charlotte chapter had dissolved and their donations went to the Raleigh chapter.

"This is important," Nichole emailed. "Our local homeless/street kids are not getting the help that they desperately need." She's part of the program support team responsible for collecting items for the organization. Volunteers are needed as "street outreach" leaders to help find and stabilize these children. If anyone is interested they can contact Crystal here.

She laments that many people don't donate to charities because they feel their "small efforts" won't make a difference. "The wonderful thing about our projects is that every little bit counts," she said. "If we all just give a little, we can make a big impact."

She's inspired by another quote, this one from legendary basketball coach John Wooden: "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."


Debi Abercrombie said...

StandUp for Kids - and its Charlotte program - has not "dissolved" - it's alive and well and currently seeking volunteers for a variety of tasks.

Whatever link was provided to "Crystal" (and we have no idea who that is within our local org), it's not working. Those interested in raising money, providing supplies for food and/or hygiene kits, doing street outreach or working w/ various community groups that, in turn, work within our demographic, can go to www.standupforkids.org and click on NC, then Charlotte, to access further information. For Orientation dates & times, check out our calendar of events and send in an RSVP.

StandUp for Kids is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that's been working w/ runaways, street kids and at-risk youth across the nation for over 20 yrs. The program came to Charlotte Dec 2006 after careful assessment. At that time, Meckelenburg County reported approx 1800 homeless youth. As of May 2009, that number had exceeded 3,000 and volunteers, at all levels, are needed more than ever.