Sunday, July 29, 2012

Host an Exchange Student

Got this from a friend of Common Heart.  Maybe you know someone who wants to host an exchange student.
Hi Keith,

This is Cheryl Stanley with Ciee, Council on International Exchange Education. I am a member of Triumphant Word Church, and brought my exchange students to help out at the cupboard for Thanksgiving one year

I wonder if you know anyone who would be able to host a student this year, or welcome one for 3-6 weeks until we can find a permanent family for them. If not, please forward this to your contacts. We still have a lot of students to place, and not much time to do so.
Founded in 1947, CIEE is a non-profit, organization specializing in international work and education. Our mission is “to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.” 
We are currently looking for families to host a high school exchange student for one or two semesters during the upcoming school year.  In return, host families can learn about another culture, enjoy lifelong friendships with students, fulfill the dream of a young person, be an ambassador for America, have a great experience, and much more.  

I am asking that you please forward this on to your contacts and ask them to forward it as well, so we can get the word out about this amazing experience. Ciee pays $50 referral to every family that you refer that ends of hosting.

Host Families:

·         Accept a student into their home as a “son or daughter”
·         Provide a bed and room (student can share a room with a host sibling of
The same gender within 4 years age difference)
·         Share 3 meals a day (if students choose to purchase school lunches it
·         is their responsibility)
·         Provide transportation to and from activities/school as needed
·         Claim a $50 per month deduction on their federal income taxes  


·         Are aged 15 to 18 (Grades 10-12)
·         Well screened
·         Speak English
·         Have their own spending money
·         Have full coverage health insurance

**   Here are some of our students that need a host family comittment this week so they can arrive in mid August:

CES12019 - Pai is a 15 year old boy from China. "I am outgoing and passionate. I love life and I am humorous. I always smile like sunshine." He enjoys traveling and camping with his family, playing basketball, swimming, playing piano, and making car models. He would like to play soccer during his exchange year GPA: 3.9 SLEP: 45 Allergies: Program Length: 10 months Arrival: Aug 2012
CTC12009- Tian Is a 16 year old boy from China. "Tian is a very sunny boy of 16 years old, he is healthy, happy, optimistic and helpful, he respects the older and protects the younger, he is the joy of my family." He likes to play Chinese chess and sing. He also likes to play basketball and swim. Here, he would like to join the basketball team and a drama club. He does not have any siblings. He does not have any pets but is ok to live with them. GPA: SLEP: 51. Program Length: 10 Months. Arrival Date: August 2012.
CBE12056 -Sharavanan is a 17-year-old boy from Germany.  "If my family, friends and teachers have to describe myself in three words, they would describe me as very patient, helpful and ambitious."  He loves to play basketball, and trains at the gym in his free time.  He enjoys music, and has started learning to play the guitar.  He also likes taking photos.  In the US, he would like to play American football or baseball, and be involved in a play.  He has a younger sister.  Diet: No beef for religious reasons.  GPA: 3.7. SLEP Score: 60.  Program Length: 10 months.  Arrival Date: August 2012. 8/15 orientation
CBE12043 -Phillipp is a 16 year old boy from Germany.  His mother says of him, "Philipp is a broad-minded, adorable boy.  He is very cooperative...and always very interested in experiencing and learning new things."  He describes himself as “friendly, cooperative, supportive, musical, and interested in diverse issues.”  Philipp has an older stepbrother, older sister, and twin brother.  He likes politics, listening to music, singing, playing the guitar, bowling, hiking, spending time with friends, and sports - especially soccer and Taekwondo (martial arts). He is excited to improve his English and experience the American school system, way of life, culture, tradition, and landscape.  Pets: No pets - allergies.  Allergies: Hayfever (trees, rye, grass, flowers). He is allergic to Animal hair (including rodents and birds).  PEX: Asthma GPA: 4.0.  SLEP Score: 42.  Program Length: 10 months.  Arrival Date: August 2012. 8/15 orientation
YES12022 -Rami is a 15-year-old boy from Gaza. "I'm an active person, easygoing, eager to learn without stopping, I love outdoors!" He loves to read, because as he says, reading "takes me to a world where I'm fully energetic, creative and in control!" He enjoys playing volleyball and basketball, and likes swimming and playing chess as well. His older sister is a CIEE YES student currently in the US. GPA 3.7. SLEP 64. Program Length 10 months. Arrival Date August 2012.

YES12031 -Hassan is a 15-year-old boy from Lebanon. "I'm an active, open minded, family oriented young boy with great self-confidence." He loves working with electronics and cars, and hopes to be either a mechanical or computer engineer when he is older. His favorite sports are soccer, badminton, and volleyball. In his spare time, he enjoys watching sports or movies, reading, and listening to music. He has two younger brothers. Religion: He is Muslim and attends services regularly. Diet: No pork. Allergies: Dogs, cats, dust, cold places. Pets: No dogs or cats. GPA 3.4. SLEP 59. Program Length 10 months. Arrival Date August 2012 

FUT12012 -Zhuoran, is a 15 year old girl from China. She enjoys jogging, gymnastics, hiking, playing the guitar, winter, singing, and traveling. She looks forward to learning how to play tennis and joining the drama club in the US. She is an only child. GPA: 4.0, SLEP: 46, Program Length: 10 months. Arrival Date: August 2012
FUT12015- Jingyi is a 16 year old girl from China. "I am an outgoing and optimistic person." She likes animals. She is interested in music and enjoys singing, dancing, and playing instruments. She plays the Zheng and guitar. She also enjoys reading, painting, photography, She is an only child. GPA: 4.0, SLEP: 47, Program Length: 10 months. Arrival Date: August 2012
CBE12048 -Sophie is a 16 year old girl from Germany.  Her English teacher says of her, "she is a very ambitious and aspiring student" who "displays great communication skills" and is "reliable, determined, mature, and motivated."  Sophie lives with her mother and has an older half brother that lives separately with her father.  She has two pet rabbits.  Sophie enjoys outdoor photography, drawing/painting, cooking, listening to music, dancing, swimming, jogging, volleyball, and soccer.  She would be interested in drama club, soccer, running, cheerleading, or hockey at her American school.  She is excited to improve her English and learn more about the American culture and people.  GPA: 3.8.  SLEP Score: 50.  Program Length: 10 months.  Arrival Date: August 2012. 8/15

CBE12035 -Layla is a 15 year old girl from Germany. Her mother says of her, "She is very responsible and self-reliant...But she is also full of life and enjoys many activities. All of us like music and dancing." Layla enjoys singing, playing flute, dance (ballet and ballroom), and other musical pursuits. She also likes shopping, reading, movies, ice skating, and spending time with friends. She would be interested in joining drama club, choir, and maybe cheerleading at her American high school. She has a younger sister. Layla is excited to make new friends, get to know American culture and traditions, and share her German culture. Allergies: Certain raw fruits and vegetables, some pollen, cats. Diet: Allergic to some fruits and vegetables. Usually doesn't eat pork. Pets: Allergic to cats - only okay if they live outdoors. She is very afraid of reptiles. GPA: 4.0. SLEP Score: 56. Program Length: 10 months. Arrival Date: August 2012DPOK. 8/15 orientation
FLX12001LP - Aigerim is a 17 year old girl from Kyrgyzstan. "I'm friendly and sociable." She loves animals and has one cat and 3 kittens. She enjoys reading horror books and studying different languages. She has one sister and one brother. She would like to learn how to swim during her time abroad.  GPA: 3.6 SLEP: 50 Program Length: 10 months Arrival: August 2012.
FLX12011-Anna is a 15-year-old girl from Russia.  "I know her as a very talented and kind girl.  She is open and responsible.  Ann is ambitious, intelligent, helpful and creative."  Her favorite sport is swimming, but recently she has been focusing more on her photography and art.  She likes going ice skating with her friends, visiting museums, and volunteering in her community.  She loves to visit her grandparents and go fishing with them or cook a meal.  In the future, she wants to become an international journalist, so she works hard learning new languages to help her reach this goal.  She is an only child.  GPA 3.9.

SAM12005- Marija is a 17 year old girl from Serbia. She says of herself, "I'm friendly and communicative person so I hope that I will get friendly with a lot of people in America." Marija enjoys school activities, music and movies, travel, and reading. She is passionate about acting and hopes that she will have the opportunity to show her new host family her talent and participate in drama activities in school in the U.S. Marija lives with her parents, grandmother, older brother, and brother's fiancé. She says they are a "big and happy family" and enjoy spending time together watching TV, playing cards, having meals, or doing housework. Marija is excited to see America and meet people from different cultures and is looking forward to teaching her host family and others about her home country and Serbian customs. GPA: 3.94. SLEP Test: 51. Program Length: 10 months. Arrival Date: August 2012. Religion: She is an Orthodox Christian and indicated that she needs a special place for prayer. Diet: No meat or dairy on Wednesday or Friday. Pets: Allergic to animal hair and feathers. Allergies: Animal hair, feathers, pollen, possibly medication - unclear on health form. PEX: Abnormality of nose or throat, lungs, heart, and thyroid. See health form for details, but student will require monitoring by cardiologist, endocrinologist while in U.S.

For more information about becoming a host family, here's a link to our host family web site. When you get ready to fill out an application, please click on the following link 

**Please reference, Local Coordinator Cheryl Stanley as to how you heard about our program and call at 704-668-8125 for more information, and to let me know if you filled out an application.


Cheryl Stanley
Ciee Council on International Educational Exchange 
Local Coordinator
Open your home and your an International exchange student

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meeting the Ongoing Challenge

Common Cupboard has been facing a regular shortage of can goods. In the past we have gotten most of these through Second Harvest.  However during the past several months we have seen a significant drop in the availability of the kinds of food that we need. Last year we experienced this just during June and July.  We have been in this drought of can goods from Second Harvest for at least 3 months so far and it shows no sign of letting up. 

We are looking for new resources for these kinds of items.  We need your help to meet this need.  We have a plan to address this long term, but it requires 3 families to step up and be willing to organize volunteers for one day food drives at local grocery stores once per quarter. 

Can you help in one of 3 ways? – (1) Ask your friends for groceries and bring them down to the cupboard. This will help us with our immediate need.  (2) Would your family or small group step up to organize a day long food drive once a quarter? Or (3) can you give to our virtual food drive by clicking here. You can even chose to automatically give every month if you chose.

Thank you for your help. 

Commonplace Growth Spurt

“Ever since Common Cupboard began we often talked about starting a thrift store to help maintain and increase our efforts,” said Debra Adams, Common Things Thrift Store Shop Keeper. And in May 2011, this idea came to fruition at 116 Business Park Drive in Indian Trail, N.C. “The front of the building was perfect for the store, and the warehouse in the back became the Cupboard’s processing and donation area. We started with just a handful of volunteers.” Deb knew they would need more volunteers and ongoing donations, and her prayer was answered, fast!

“The donations came in quicker than we had room for so we were continually adding more shelving, clothing rods, tables and bins,” said Deb, “[but] the store went from eclectic to cluttered.” She knew it was time for a change when she noticed a difference in the customers’ shopping experience. Not to mention that Keith Adams, executive director, was still housing his office and running Common Cupboard under the same roof. Needless to say, it was a huge blessing when the space adjacent to The Commonplace became available.

Staff and volunteers are already enjoying the extra leg room. The 700 square feet of new office space is backed by Bill’s Garage (formerly the “Man Cave”) and a processing area totaling 1100 square feet for the store. A renovated Common Things Thrift Store – which now totals 2200 square feet full of brand new merchandise – takes up the preexisting area. Common Cupboard’s 1100 square foot warehouse stayed put

 “The biggest advantage to me personally was the desperately needed processing space.  We had been tightly squeezed into an area that was not designed for sorting, cleaning or pricing, and we had to constantly shuffle items back and forth every Thursday and Friday to accommodate the functions of the Cupboard,” Deb said. This was costing the nonprofit many valuable man hours. “None of this is possible without our wonderfully talented, hard-working volunteers. We are so thankful to them for all they do.”

While there are still installations and other work to be done, the new space it already making a big difference. Volunteers and donations of gently used items are always needed. The store is open Wednesday – Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and sells everything from common things – like books, tools and clothing – to antiques and treasures. To help at Common Things Thrift Store, contact Deb at

This is just one of many exciting things happening at Common Heart over the next year, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A New Face

Have you noticed the new face popping up around The Commonplace? You may have seen him while Keith, Deb and others moved Common Heart’s offices into its new space and reorganized Common Things Thrift Store. Or maybe you noticed him adding fresh produce to grocery bags full of government commodities at the JB ACTS food pantry. He even makes occasional trips to the North Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, businesses and individuals’ homes to pick up donations. And that was just his first month on the job!

So, who is this busy guy? Joshua Hoke, our summer intern. Joshua is a senior at Western Carolina University majoring in psychology who was recruited primarily to help develop Common Heart CONNECTS, the branch of Common Heart that provides information and resources about nonprofits and government organizations to community members in need of vital services.

“At first I was reluctant to start because this job because it has more of a social work aspect,” Joshua admits. His experience, however, has been priceless. As a trained benefits counselor, Joshua has been able to help underprivileged residents of Union County in a huge way.

“If anyone who comes into our food pantry on Tuesdays needs food stamps, I am able to…do a quick check to see if they are eligible for receiving that type of aid,” he said. Benefits counselors like Joshua help simplify the process of applying for government programs, cut out long lines at Social Services and foster personal relationships. “When people come to me, it's a one-on-one basis…I can find out if they need any other help and set them up with potential resources if needed.”

This past year, Common Heart CONNECTS has been in its developmental stages. Our VITA tax preparation program, which was a success completing 45 tax returns for households earning less than $50,000 annually, is just one part of CONNECTS. In 2013, Common Heart will fully launch its benefits counselor services. Get involved by contacting Keith at