Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Exciting news!

Have you heard???

We've started to move supplies into what will soon be the East Union Economic Empowerment Center in Marshville!

This 3,850 square-foot facility located at 6022 West Marshville Blvd., will serve as a staging area for this small revolution of kindness for our eastern Union County food pantries and outreaches. It will bring needed food resources to the most underserved areas of Union County. It will also become a hub of activity for volunteers and serve as collaborative space for partnering agencies to reach out to these communities.  
Our future home in Marshville!
6022 W. Marshville Blvd.

It will be a beacon in this community for Economic Empowerment lifting folks out of poverty and creating new future stories for families living in survival mode.

We're committed to help not only the current needs of our neighbors with food, but provide the tools and resources to help people get back to work and out of poverty.

In the coming weeks, we'll be asking for volunteers to help with painting and moving into this new space. If you'd like to help with either of those important tasks, email Volunteer@CommonHeart.org.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Covid-19: Together We Are Serving Our Community.

Common Heart is dedicating all our resources to continue to serve our community. We are focusing our service during this time of greater need on our food pantry programs. The immediate needs of the food insecure in our community has increased as the response to contain the Coronavirus continues to impact our daily lives. We are responding to that need.
Hello friends,

Last Saturday, folks from around the area brought food to the food and fund drive at Common Heart. Thanks for providing an essential need for our neighbors.

This past week, 60 volunteers worked individually or in small groups. Over 150 people have donated food and funds.

  • Together, since our last email, we made sure this that 180 families, our neighbors, received a week's worth of groceries. We are preparing to serve 100 more tomorrow!
  • Together, we collected over 3,000 pounds of food for our community in a time of increased need.
  • Together, we are showing strength through selfless service.
  • Together, we are a small revolution of kindness.

Thank you! Even in the midst of this crisis and in the midst of uncertainty, this community is pulling together, loving our neighbors.
This week

  • Food Drop-off & Fund Drive on Saturday, March 28, 9 to noon, at Common Heart, 116 Business Park Dr, Indian Trail, NC. Drop off non-perishables including canned meats, fruits & vegetables, peanut butter & jelly, canned soups, pasta/rice and cereal. If you can't make it on Saturday, you can participate by donating online at Donate.CommonHeart.org.
  • We are also needing healthy, not at risk individuals, to help by being a backup for several key volunteer roles weekday and Saturday mornings. To help out as a backup person to deliver groceries to a family or pick up grocery donations, please contact Volunteer@CommonHeart.org.
  • Our goal is to keep all our pantry programs functioning throughout the crisis. You can find a list of our pantry programs at TEFAP.CommonHeart.org

Thanks for your concern for our neighbors as we as a community continue to provide for the most vulnerable in our county.

Keith Adams
Common Heart
Executive Director

Please read more below about how to stop the spread of Coronavirus, our procedure enhancements and program updates.
Program Updates
  • Common Things Boutique & Thrift Shop is closed until further notice.
  • Literacy 201 Tutor Training (April 4) is canceled.
  • Adult Spelling Bee fundraising event (April 23) is postponed until early fall.
  • Retro Run fundraising event (May 23) is canceled.
  • Adult Literacy Volunteers will break from tutoring sessions and office hours until at least May 15.
  • Free Tax Service is closed until further notice. Stay tuned for details.
Our pantries remain open and operating as drive-thru pantries. Visit TEFAP.CommonHeart.org for times and locations.
Procedure Enhancements
To protect our volunteers, staff and the neighbors we serve, we are seeking to reduce the size of groups at our pantries.
  • Requiring that volunteers who are sick or an at risk individual stay home.
  • Requiring volunteer hand-washing prior to service and increased use of plastic gloves.
  • Starting Saturday, our volunteers and staff will be screened for flu-like symptoms and temperature.
  • We are limiting the number of volunteers and spacing out work areas. Please, no drop in volunteers. Schedule your time at by email at Volunteer@CommonHeart.org
  • Volunteers are using gloves and maintaining safe distances from neighbors and other volunteers.
  • Applications are being filled out by staff and volunteers.
  • Our pantries are now drive-thru.
  • We are prepacking non-perishables and fresh foods. Neighbors can not "shop" any more in our pantries.
  • We have increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus update

Common Heart is dedicating all our resources to continue to serve our community. We are focusing our service during this time of greater need on our food pantry programs. The immediate needs of the food insecure in our community has increased as the response to contain the Coronavirus continues to impact our daily lives. We are responding to that need.
Dear friends,

Last Saturday I sent out a message about new policies to keep our volunteers and neighbors we serve safe. We implemented them at our Saturday and Monday pantries and kept our promise to continue providing food to those who are the most vulnerable in this crisis.

  • On Sunday, the CDC said that for at least 8 weeks we would need to limit social interactions - 50 person limit.
  • Then came the announcement that schools were closed.
  • Then came the official advice that gatherings of 10 or more should be avoided.
  • Then came the closing of restaurants yesterday afternoon.

I am wondering what is next? I am sure you feel it too.

In the midst of this all, I also feel the plight of my neighbors dealing with meeting the basic needs of their family. I know that more of them are going to face hunger during this new reality, a very basic need.

Yesterday we closed our tax service, Literacy Program, Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead classes, and other programs to focus entirely on our food pantries. In a time like this we are focusing sharply on this basic need, food, and we need your help.

We are holding a drive-thru Food Drop-off & Fund Drive on the next two Saturdays, March 21 & 28, at Common Heart, 116 Business Park Dr, Indian Trail, NC. Food pantry shelves are running low on most nonperishables including canned meats, fruits & vegetables, peanut butter & jelly, canned soups, pasta/rice and cereal. If you prefer, you can participate by donating online at Donate.CommonHeart.org.

We are also needing healthy, not at risk individuals, to help by being a backup for several key volunteer roles weekday and Saturday mornings. To help out as a backup person to deliver groceries to a family or pick up grocery donations, please contact Volunteer@CommonHeart.org.

Our goal is to keep all our pantry programs functioning throughout the crisis. You can find a list of our pantry programs at TEFAP.CommonHeart.org

Thanks for your concern for our neighbors as we as a community continue to provide for the most vulnerable of our county.

Keith Adams
Common Heart
Executive Director

Please read more below about how to stop the spread of Coronavirus, our procedure enhancements and program updates.
COVID-19
Program Updates
  • Mill Grove UMC Monday Pantry & Union UMC Thursday Pantry - Converted to Drive Thru Pantries
  • Literacy 101 Volunteer Orientation is now online. Click to register.
  • Getting Ahead and Advocates for Change will postpone sessions till after the emergency.
  • Adult Literacy Volunteers will break from tutoring sessions and office hours until 3/31.
  • Free Tax Service will be closed until at least 4/1.
Procedure Enhancements
To protect our volunteers, staff and the neighbors we serve, we are seeking to reduce the size of groups at our pantries.
  • Beginning last Monday, we implemented drive thru pantries especially at our larger traditional pantry sites. This will reduce the number of people in the same space with social contact.
  • Volunteers interacting with neighbors in their cars will maintain a safe distance.
  • We are prepacking non-perishibles and fresh foods.
  • We are limiting the number of volunteers and spacing out work areas.
  • Volunteers are using gloves and maintaining safe distances from neighbors and other volunteers.
  • Increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
  • Requiring volunteer hand-washing prior to service and increased use of plastic gloves.
  • Encouraging "Air-hugs" and "fist bumps."
  • Requiring that volunteers who are sick or an at risk individual stay home.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Donor Spotlight: Food Lion Feeds




You’ve heard of Food Lion (we hope!), but have you heard of the Food Lion Feeds program? This charitable giving effort started in 2014 and we’re thrilled to say that Common Heart has benefited from several sponsorship donations for recent fundraising events, including last month’s Love in Action Banquet. 
 
“Our mantra is that people should not have to choose between rent or groceries or paying medical bills and nourishing their family,” Angela Wheeler from Food Lion Feeds said. “It’s who we are. It’s what we’re passionate about.” 

The program has 30 food bank partners in 10 states and Wheeler said they’re proud to partner with Common Heart. Our food pantries benefit from their generosity year-round with weekly food pickups at local stores and a special holiday program that sends lots of nonperishables our way. Food Lion employees can often be found out and about volunteering in our community!   


  “Common Heart’s mission aligns with what we’re trying to do to help local towns and cities to provide them with those basic needs like food,” Wheeler said. “Learning more about Common Heart has been an eye opener for me and we love to know how many meals each donation is providing. It was a no brainer to support you guys.” 

Thank you Food Lion & Food Lion Feeds!!! 

 




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bridging the Gap: Literacy by Keith Adams

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” Kofi Anan

I’m going to confess: my biggest fear is not being able to express myself.  A friend had a stroke this year and lost the ability to read. That scares me. Why? Being able to read and write, or speak and understand English is so important to me. Without it, my family and I would be stuck, economically disadvantaged, and we would be unable to participate fully in this community.

Really, if you think about it, the ability to express ourselves verbally and in writing is at the foundation of our American experience.  It’s so important that it is in the First Amendment … freedom of speech, the press, religion, expression is core to what it means to live here in America.  I was shocked that this summer the Literacy Council of Union County lost its funding and lost hope in accomplishing its mission, abandoning students and tutors.  Fortunately, members of this community, over 60 of them, felt strong enough to start to do something to reignite the adult literacy mission in our county.   

How did we get connected with adult literacy?  In June I heard about the closing.  I mentioned it to my wife, Deb. She was emphatic that we couldn’t let it die.  She noted how essential literacy is not only for getting a good job, but for daily life. So, I brought it up in a board meeting and we had a very engaged conversation about how important literacy is to our economic empowerment agenda. The board told me to find out what I could.  I made some calls and Linda Moyer reached out to me. Linda was one of the Council’s co-founders and is passionate about adult literacy. I had a visit from former board members, who like Linda, were outraged. As was Kelly Norton, a former Executive Director.  

Like in the early days of Common Heart, a small group of people spread the word and before long over 60 community members became part of the conversation representing education, churches, government, social services, and nonprofits. Former and current volunteers, tutors and staff of the Council joined with other community members and our volunteers and staff to start reviving adult literacy in Union County.

By August, it was decided that what we are calling the Literacy Volunteers would have a home at Common Heart and become one of our major program areas! We’re so excited! Gwen Bothun, Felicia Radcliff, Syl Walker along with Linda Moyer, Kelly Norton and I would be part of a steering committee coordinating the efforts of 3 teams of volunteers. Our task: support the current tutors and students, re-establish a presence in Monroe, expand the new program throughout Union County -- all on a shoestring budget driven by volunteers. 

Thanks to the generosity of friends who put up a matching grant and a local church we began raising funds. Lee Park Baptist Church committed to pay 3 months rent for our Monroe office which will be our connection in the community and house our computer lab. Thanks to the amazing vision of Signposts Ministries to provide a co-working space for nonprofit agencies near downtown Monroe we will be opening Common Heart’s newest location in Monroe this month. Watch for a grand opening and ribbon cutting once we are all set up and going!!

There’s so much to do to restart this program in our community. Three community teams are busy determining curriculum, policies for the program, setting up background support systems for tutors and students, and looking for funding.  Your help is needed!  This month we will be moving to our new Monroe location setting up the office and computer lab, and recruiting and training office and lab volunteers. It won’t be too long now!  If you are interested in helping, reach out to LiteracyVolunteers@CommonHeart.org

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Volunteers needed to continue adult literacy program in Union Co.

Common Heart is spearheading efforts to continue adult literacy tutoring following the recent closure of the Literacy Council of Union County ... and we need YOUR help!


An interest meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Community Shelter of Union County, 160 Meadow Street, in Monroe. We're looking for input from the community including past volunteers, tutors and just anyone else who wants to help other adults learn to read! We will be forming a steering committee.  RSVP to LiteracyVolunteers@CommonHeart.org or call Keith Adams at 704-218-9060. 

“Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring is critical in our community and needs to continue,” said Keith Adams, Executive Director of Common Heart. “We’re going to support the continuation of this important mission however we can. We’re looking to partner with individuals, churches and other organizations to keep the mission going. This is a group effort.”

Kelly Norton, a former executive director of the Literacy Council, said until you meet an adult who can’t read you don’t realize just how important literacy is.  

“Literacy impacts every part of a person’s life,” she said. “Every day we read street signs or a note from our child’s teacher without thinking about it. But for so many of our neighbors, reading is a life line.” 

Literacy Council co-founder and former director Linda Moyer has been working and volunteering in literacy since 1983 and was key to the Council’s founding in 1998. She’s hopeful that the work will continue in Union County and says she believes in the mantra: “If you can read, you can teach someone to read.”

“Other than the ability to read, a volunteer needs no special skills. A great literacy volunteer just has patience and the desire to help a neighbor,” Moyer said. “We need volunteers from a variety of backgrounds who have a passion for adult literacy.”

For more information about volunteering or joining the steering committee, email: LiteracyVolunteers@CommonHeart.org or call Keith Adams at 704-218-9060.  We hope you can join us! PLEASE SHARE this meeting with anyone you think may be interested!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Common Things Boutique & Thrift Shop: More than just a great deal!

Common Things is not your ordinary run of the mill boutique or thrift store.  Just ask our customers, donors,  volunteers and staff!
Common Things offers great items at great prices and is also a place where our awesome volunteers enjoy coming to join us in our “small revolution of kindness.”  Common Things often plays the role of Common Heart’s “welcome center.”  Every week new customers come in and immediately notice that Common Things is different.  Not only does Common Things strive to create a well organized, clean and creatively eclectic shop but its mission is to support the efforts of Common Heart.  

When customers realize that a purchase of $20 feeds a hungry family of four for a week, they feel good about their purchases.  The same is true of our donors who often tell us that they are bringing their donations to Common Things because they know that they will make a difference in the community.
We regularly receive name brand, like new clothing donations like American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Charlotte Russe, Lucky Brand, Aeropostale, Calvin Klein, LuLaRoe, Levi’s, Under Armour, Carhartt, Lilly Pulitzer and much more.  Common Things offers these at less than half of what customers would normally pay at consignment shops and most of our new and nearly-new clothing is priced below $5!  On top of that, twice a year our customers can literally purchase an entire wardrobe of clothing for $10-$15 during our famous bag sales, which are great for families with growing children.   
Common Things has something for everyone and every budget.  You can always find great bargains on home decor, linens, books, toys, antiques, collectibles, jewelry and much more.  Each week a plethora of items are put on the sales floor so that customers are always seeing new merchandise.   We often receive unique items that make us laugh or remind us of when we were young.  Sometimes we find that a donor has given us a “diamond in the rough” and with a little bit of elbow grease we’re able to sell that item and feed several families for a week.  
Common Things is also a place of healing for many who have walked thru our doors.  Whether it's our dedicated and hardworking staff stopping to pray with a crying grandmother worried about her grandchild or gathering clothing and blankets for a homeless resident, Common Things is here to help.  Our caring volunteers have often comforted and offered a listening ear to folks who are coping with the recent loss of a loved one or a terminal medical diagnosis.  Common Heart is about caring, loving and making a positive difference.  
“Even in those early days, it was very apparent that Common Things was much more than a thrift shop,” Associate Executive Director Deb Adams said. “Common Things is an extension of Common Heart that has touched the community in a way we never expected.  I’m honored and humbled that the Lord would channel His love through this small shop to those in desperate need.”
You never know who will be walking through the doors of Common Things and what adventures and opportunities will intersect and possibly change lives forever.   
Volunteers are always needed and appreciated!  We offer community service hours for high school and college students and others who may need them. Common Things also offers volunteer opportunities for groups of up to 10 people (teens & adults).  We Love our Volunteers & Our Volunteers Love to Serve!  
To volunteer at Common Things, email Deb@CommonHeart.org or call 704-234-8168.