Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Walking to feed hungry families

YOU can help feed hungry families in our community just by walking!

We're adding the Freedom from Hunger Walk to our Common Heart Firecracker Run festivities in Lake Park the morning of Tuesday, July 4. The walk will occur at the same time as the race. Participants will collect donations for Common Heart before the event and walk (or run, hop, skip or jump!) to help end hunger in our community. These participants will enjoy FREE event registration and can win prizes based on the amount of donations collected.

It's easy!!!
  • Collect donations from your friends and family. Just $20 feeds a family for a week!
  • You'll have a personalized website to collect donations online and donation forms to collect in person donations.
  • You'll receive a participant T-shirt   and a chance to earn prizes!
  • There's no cost to participate. Each Walker commits to raising at least $100. But take note - our first-time walkers on average raise $700 or more! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

'For my kids'

With the inaugural Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World graduation ceremony on Tuesday, we're sharing stories from a few of the participants.  Today we meet Italy --  a working single mom of four who is eager to save money for her children's needs. 
Join us Tuesday, May 23 at 6 p.m. at Mill Grove UMC's Sun Valley campus for dinner and a celebration for these graduates and their families. Sign up here to let us know you're coming. 

In the past, it's been hard for Italy White to save money. The working single mom of four – ages 12, 10, 9 & 3 – is a school bus driver who first came to Common Heart last year seeking help with a rent bill. 
Italy White is saving the $25 Wal-Mart gift cards from Getting Ahead
classes to buy clothing and school supplies for her kids.

Her job means evenings and summers off with her kids, which also saves money on childcare, but makes it hard to pay the bills and put food on the table, she said. She was first interested in the Getting Ahead workshop because there's a free meal and childcare included each week.   

After just the first few weeks of Getting Ahead, Italy told us she had already learned a few things and was grateful to be part of the study group where they learn from each others' experiences. Recently the group was discussing budgeting and sharing tips for saving money. Each participant receives a $25 Wal-Mart gift card for each session they attend.   

“I'm learning how to save more money. I realized if I'd been saving it, I'd have more things and better things by now,” she said. “That's why I made the decision to save these $25 gift cards to buy clothes and school supplies for my kids during back to school time.”   


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Living paycheck to paycheck

With our first Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World graduation ceremony coming up next week, we're sharing stories from a few of the participants. Meet Rose Belcher-- a hard-working Mom of three who struggles to pay for the basics but still wants to help others. 
Join us Tuesday, May 23 at 6 p.m. at Mill Grove UMC's Sun Valley campus for dinner and a celebration for these graduates and their families. Sign up here to let us know you're coming.

Rose Belcher supports her three kids – ages 14, 13 & 9 – by cleaning local businesses and homes.
Rose Belcher
Because she knows what it's like to live in poverty, she started her own nonprofit to help people “break that cycle.”  The Dove Ministries of Union County networks with other local nonprofits and businesses to find jobs and other resources for those in need.

And, often, her family needs help too as she struggles to make ends meet while facing the stress that comes with economic instability.

“If your child is sick and you miss a day of work, that puts you in a really tight spot if you're already living paycheck to paycheck,” Rose said. “It's been interesting to hear examples of what other people worry about: car, childcare, lawyer fees. We're concentrating on the necessities and by the time we're through with the bills – or before we're even done – there's no money left. What's tough for me is never being able to do the 'extras' like going out to dinner or allowing my kids to participate in sports. We just don't have the money.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cori's story: "God provides"

With the inaugural Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World graduation ceremony coming up next week, we want to share stories from a few of the participants. Meet Cori -- a neighbor in need who also helps others in our community struggling to buy groceries.
Join us Tuesday, May 23 at 6 p.m. at Mill Grove UMC's Sun Valley campus for dinner and celebration for these graduates and their families. Sign up here to let us know you're coming.

Cori Favor is a volunteer delivery driver for our Common Cupboard food pantries who also receives
Getting Ahead participant Cori Favor
food for herself. In fact, until recently the 44-year-old didn't have a place to call home – she was finding shelter sleeping on friends' couches in Monroe. It's better than sleeping in her car, she said.    

With a background in Christian ministry, Cori has lived life in various economic classes. Until last month when she found a full-time job, she was working just 10-12 hours a week at Family Video. Her husband, recovering from a drug addiction, is in prison and will come home next month.  

“I've been in such diverse places economically. I've lived in a mansion and I've lived on the streets,” she said. “I think the biggest difference is ignorance of the other person's situation or knowing how to communicate.”

Despite the difficulties, Cori's not scared or depressed about her future.  

“God has provided. I don't always know how it's coming or when it's coming, but God provides,” she said.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Record-breaking free Income Tax Service!

Once again, our amazing free Income Tax Service volunteers had another record breaking season!

These caring folks filed a staggering 492 income tax returns for our friends in need – for FREE!
This year's free service saved residents an estimated $86,000 in tax preparation fees and got them almost $500,000 in total refunds.  WHOA!

This was the sixth year we offered free tax services, which are completed by trained and certified volunteers as part of the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program. This year, appointments were available in Indian Trail and in Monroe thanks to a partnership with The Lion & Lamb Family Advocacy Center at Memorial UMC in Monroe.

We were so thankful to be able to help neighbors from all walks of life -- college students, fast-food workers, teachers, hair stylists, retail staff, local government employees and retirees. Our free tax service helps take the stress out of tax time and allows our hard-working neighbors to use the money they save on tax preparation fees for other needs like food, rent or medical bills. 

GREAT job tax service volunteers!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

In her own words ... one volunteer's story

One of our Cupboard volunteers, Lisa Richards, surprised us recently by submitting Common Heart for consideration as the Nonprofit of the Month with her employer, Chronotek in Waxhaw. We were thrilled to be honored with a donation and these kind words from Lisa.   
Lisa Richards

Check out her Common Heart story ...

About seven years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Keith Adams. An ordained minister, Keith has a heart for sharing God’s love with people at their most basic need: food. He is passionate about building bridges with those who live in poverty and decided that is where God needed him most.

This wonderful organization has grown from a few friends delivering food in 2006 to over 700 families being fed each month today. I have loved our family’s connection to this relational ministry that encourages not only monthly food delivery, but the fostering of friendships between people who may never meet in any other circumstance.

The friends that I have met when I deliver their groceries are dear to my heart and I look forward to my monthly visits with them. I have been a part of their struggles and joys and they of mine. I have been able to celebrate new babies and a wonderful young man entering college… the first in his family. I have been to funerals and checked on my friends when they are ill.

It’s amazing how God has opened my eyes to the similarities in all of His children, even those who may seem incredibly different.