Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lunch(less) & Learn workshops!

We're excited to announce that Common Heart is hosting a series of FREE Lunch(less) & Learn workshops on the first Wednesday of every month.  

The workshops, which start next Wednesday (Sept. 2) will be from Noon to 1 pm and will be based on Bridges Out of Poverty which is a framework to understand poverty and promote individual and community transformation. Keith Adams, Common Heart Executive Director and member of the Steering Committee for Thrive! Union, will be sharing this vital information.

Next week's workshop is called "The Lenses by Which We See the World."  In this one-hour workshop we will explore mental models and how we as individuals approach our understanding of community sustainability and poverty.  The goal is to understand ourselves, our community, and our part in the community and how we can act as agents of change. Register online:

Please join us for this introductory workshop! Whether you are a concerned citizen, leader in business or government, social worker or educator, policeman or nurse, you will come away with a better understanding of those in our community who struggle and how to work toward increased economic mobility and sustainability in our community.

This workshop is a part of Common Heart's Economic Empowerment programs.

For over 14 years, Common Heart has provided the basics of food to those in our county who face food insecurity.  Four years ago we began our Economic Empowerment focus through the Bridges Out of Poverty framework and have become a community advocate empowering the lives and voices of those living in or near poverty in our community. 

When the stay at home order was issued during March of 2020 we shifted back to the basics of food insecurity.  Knowing the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be deep and hit those who have been struggling the most the hardest, we are seeking to get ahead of the game restarting and increasing our focus on Economic Empowerment in the fall of 2020. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Bank of America grant will help local families escape poverty

 Sarah Kimbrough signed up to take Common Heart’s Getting Ahead classes for the $425 in gift cards (the free weekly dinners and free childcare were nice bonuses, too). But this Common Heart focus group quickly became much more to Sarah and her family as they started their journey out of poverty. 
“During the very first class I thought ‘I fit in here. They understand.’ It’s not that I choose to be poor,” Sarah said. “It wasn’t just the contents of the workbook that helped me. It was what we were getting from each other. Helping others overcome their obstacles helps you overcome your own.”   At the start of Getting Ahead last year, Sarah -- a former paramedic and Mom of 4 -- had to hotwire her car on and off each time she needed to travel. Their cupboards always seemed to be running low and the bills were piling up. Her husband was working but she couldn’t find any jobs that would still allow her to care for their children -- three of whom have special needs. 
Sarah Kimbrough

Now, more than a year later, Sarah has a part-time job that works with her schedule to care for the children, thanks to networking and resource sharing at Getting Ahead. They have a reliable vehicle and she says they’re “working on not just paying bills, but saving for the future.” 
This Monroe native says the experience not only helped her family, but encouraged her to help others in similar situations. After graduating from the program, Sarah served as a co-facilitator for the most recent Getting Ahead group and has since completed training to facilitate the next group on her own. She’s also a key member of the Common Heart committee working to host the first official R Rules session -- a similar class for teens.    And thanks to a generous grant from Bank of America, Common Heart will be able to help even
more families like Sarah’s take those first steps out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. Bank of America and Common Heart are partnering to connect our community to empowerment resources. Half of the grant funding will support expanding the Getting Ahead work group sessions for families living in poverty as well as the teen R Rules class and an expanded series of workshops for families to build resources. These programs will be restarting online in the coming weeks. The grant also includes funding for Common Heart’s expanded food pantry services and adult literacy. 
“We’re impressed with the level of services and care Common Heart is delivering for Union County residents,” said Bank of America Charlotte Market President Charles Bowman. “At the core of what they do is a proven model for moving members of this community ​to a path out of poverty ​through impactful workshops and resource building.” 
 Sarah says she’s taking “baby steps” toward her long-term goals and can’t wait to facilitate the next Getting Ahead class & R Rules so she can share what she’s learned. 
“I was just really inspired by the whole Getting Ahead class, learning how to build resources and networking and understanding how to build my credit and move up the ladder,” she said. “During the first chapter in Getting Ahead you learn about how people living in poverty have a unique skillset. We’re amazing problem solvers and know how to survive and make things work. With COVID, there are many people who were never in a situation like this before but they are now. I’m excited that we know how to help and I can pass that information along and help them. Who knew that being poor would come in so handy?”  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Spreading T-shirt at a time

We got a phone call yesterday from a local grandmother who was so excited to share a story about the difference our volunteer T-shirt was making (yes....we said a T-shirt!). 

Her grandson volunteered with us for the first time at our Mill Grove food pantry and loved it so much that he's been wearing our volunteer T-shirt every. day. since. Yes-- every day! (but don't worry -- Grandma makes him wash it between wears). He's even been wearing it to work!

What's so special about this T-shirt?  Is it the color? The cotton/polyester blend? Perhaps it's the flattering cut? NO, the magical properties of this T-shirt are, well...not existent on their own. You see, each one of our volunteer T-shirts is designed with a quote about kindness or compassion. It's the "small revolution of kindness" message that resonates with people. 

Especially now, the world needs more kindness. Our expansion project to open the East Union Empowerment Center in Marshville is just another way -- a powerful way -- to spread kindness and help to our neighbors in need in a very underserved area of Union County. 

That's why we launched our #StrongerTogether fundraising campaign. We need help (especially in the form of monthly donors) to sustain this new location for years to come. We don't want this Center  -- which will include a food pantry, classroom space and a childcare area -- to be "just" a pandemic thing. We want the kindness (and help) to go farther, longer. And thanks to your help, it will! 

You can give now online at or mail us a check.