Celebrating the brighter side of Charlotte

Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.

Originally known as Birthday Blessings, Bright Blessings was founded in 2005 by Amy and John Cervantes of Mint Hill, who wanted to help children in need while instilling love and commitment for community service in their own young children.

“The goal of Bright Blessings is to bring joy, recognition and support to children and families during difficult and sad times in their lives,” Amy said.

Every year Bright Blessings makes a positive impact in the lives of thousands of needy youth and families across the greater Charlotte community.

“As a volunteer-led organization, individuals and groups dedicate time and resources all year long to ensure that Bright Blessings’ services reach thousands of local homeless children,” Amy said.

Bless-a-Baby is a program that not only brings happiness and stress relief to homeless mothers; it provides essentials for the care of needy babies, giving each child a healthier and more positive start to life.

“One of my favorite stories about this program is one day, one of our volunteers had brought the basket full of things a new born baby would need, to the mother, holding her baby in nothing but a towel,” Amy said. “She was so thrilled when we gave her the basket. The mother was so excited that she smelled the clothes.”

“Bright Blessings is a great passion that brings joy,” said Charlotte Renner, a 34-year-old volunteer. “Not only for me but for the people I help.”

In addition to local expansion, Bright Blessings began developing a national network in 2009, with pilot affiliate chapters now organizing and under way in cities across the nation.

Bright Blessings has 19 agency partners across a four-county area, one of them being the YWCA.

“The YWCA is where Charlotte and I go, every third Thursday of the month to go and celebrate with the children whose birthday is in that month,” said volunteer Julie Renner, Charlotte’s 32-year-old.

“There’s this one girl that I know. Every time I walk into her shelter, she gives me a hug and talks about her day,” Charlotte said. “She’s a sweetheart.”

“Charlotte has a ‘mommy bird’ feel to her,” Julie said. “She and I are very committed, doing community service for others not just for ourselves.”