Lake Norman Magazine

Helping Hands

Mooresville Christian Mission
Mooresville Christian Mission LunahZon Photography

December is often seen as the month of giving. For our Giving Issue, we decided to showcase a few of the charities serving the Lake Norman area that choose to give to others—not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year. Mooresville Christian MissionWhen the Mooresville Christian Mission was established by local community churches in 1939, little did they know it would go on to become the oldest non-profit in the Lake Norman area. What started out as an effort to provide clothing and food to those in need has grown to a multi-faceted organization that is dedicated to fighting poverty on an individual level.“Each family is unique in their challenges and what they need in order to become independent,” says Megan Lynch, development director. “It is not a one size fits all solution.”The mission aims to provide dignity, not dependency, by giving their clients the skills, tools, education, and support they need to get out of poverty.Currently, the Mission serves more than 5,000 local families and offers a variety of programs that include financial literacy, transitional housing, crisis assistance, mentorship, and job skills. In addition, they operate a food pantry that distributes more than 48,000 pounds of food per month. “We are working to break the cycle of poverty and help local families, especially the children, have a better, self-sufficient life,” says Lynch.“If we can come together as a community to lift these families up with the skills, tools, education and support they need to rise out of poverty, we will make Lake Norman a better community for all.”Serenity HouseThe end of one’s life should be a time of celebration and love, dignity, and respect. Hospice services often help families provide this environment. But with today’s constantly changing family dynamic, having a family member around as a full-time caregiver is not always an option.“Hospices call us when they have a patient whose family has become overwhelmed or exhausted and need to be moved from the home,” says Cheryl Pletcher, Executive Director.Both Serenity House of Mooresville and the recently opened Serenity House of Huntersville have a home-like atmosphere with a kitchen, living room, and two private bedrooms for residents. Volunteer staff are on-site 24 hours a day and take over family care for patients with a one to three month prognosis.“The care is generally simple,” says Pletcher, “like taking care of someone sick at your house. Our families are appreciative of the attentive care and feel the love. The care comes from the heart.”Both Serenity House locations operate through private donations and do not accept insurance or government subsidies such as Medicare. Instead, the average resident receives approximately $18,000 in donated care provided by volunteers, staff members, and hospice nurses.“We were recently told by a patient’s daughter that the family felt they had won the lottery of love when their mother was admitted to Serenity House,” Pletcher says. “Our entire mission is to give every family that same experience when they enter our doors.”Solace for the ChildrenSolace for the Children doesn’t just help to heal children’s bodies—they heal their hearts as well.The non-profit organization that started as Lake Norman Children’s Relief, brings 20 to 25 Afghan children to America each summer to live with host families for six weeks. While they are here, they receive much-needed medical care for a range of conditions from cleft palates and clubbed feet, to heart defects and prosthetic limbs. The services, that are not available in the child’s home country, are provided to them free of charge by physicians, specialists, and hospitals in the Lake Norman area.“By reaching out our hand of help, we are sending the message of love and compassion to all; we are one people living in one world,” says Sandy Tabor-Gray, host mother and Lake Norman branch coordinator.The children also attend social events and participate in team building games that focus on trust, friendship, kindness, and acts of service to others. An experience that’s almost as important as the medical care, since many of them come from warring tribes and have prejudices to overcome about one another or Americans.“My children now have a better understanding, as do I, of a people that have generally been portrayed in the media as our enemy, [but] really want the same things for their family as we do,” says Tabor-Gray. “They laugh like we do, cry like we do, hurt like we do and love like we do.”My Breast Friend“I felt like I was giving myself a death sentence.”That’s what Tempi Wilkinson thought to herself as she approached her very first mammogram at the age of 37. Although it was just a baseline mammogram and actually an empowering step for her own health, she says it didn’t feel that way.Instead, the whole experience felt sterile and left her feeling anxious and scared. It was a feeling she didn’t want other women to go through.“I want women to be excited to get their testing by making it a girls’ day out experience,” says Wilkinson.Which is just what she’s done with ‘My Breast Friend,’ a non-profit organization she started in June 2014 with her friend, Farrah Dixon. At least twice a year, My Breast Friend hosts free events that include swag bags, food, drinks, vendors, and guest speakers who give out important information regarding the mammogram process, breast cancer, and the importance of early detection. Most importantly, women have the opportunity to get their mammogram done in a comfortable environment, with their best friend and a glass of wine at their side, by visiting the Novant Mobile Mammography Unit parked just outside each event.“I want to encourage women to look forward to [their mammogram], while encouraging the special women in their lives to do it too,” says Wilkinson.Ada Jenkins CenterNo one is safe from crisis. And the Ada Jenkins Center wants to be there if and when it strikes.“Most people arrive at Ada in some sort of active crisis,” says Georgia Krueger, executive director. “Our role is to meet them in the active crisis, help to stabilize the situation, and then when the person is ready, move into a partnership with one another to work toward stability.”More than 20 different services are offered to meet a range of crisis needs, including a free medical and dental clinic, a food and clothing pantry, academic and social skill classes, fitness classes, case management, and financial assistance. They also maintain active partnerships with area organizations such as Davidson College, Loaves and Fishes, Lydia’s Loft, and Crisis Assistance Ministries.“We are able to offer an integrated approach both internally as well as with our external partners, making it much easier to provide the assistance needed,” says Krueger.Their integrated delivery of health, education and human services also allows an individual or family to enter through any portal, but receive comprehensive support in every area where they need help.“The Ada Jenkins Center and other agencies in our area work together to support fragile members of our community,” says Krueger. “It is a joy to be allowed to walk with [them] as they make massive changes in their lives.”