December 2016 Around Town

Be a local hero with Second Harvest Food Bank

Heroes is a term often used to describe those who do the extraordinary. Ask Kay Carter, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, who her heroes are and she’ll give you an answer you may not have heard before.

“People say we’re heroes to the community. I appreciate that, but my heroes are the parents who wake up every day wondering how they’re going to feed their kids that day. Or, the senior citizens who fight the daily battle of choosing between life-saving medications and a nutritious meal. Those are the real heroes in our community and they’re people who deserve our help,” says Carter.

At Second Harvest, a food bank that serves 19 counties in North and South Carolina, Carter sees the people behind the statistics that compel donors to take action.

18.3% of the total population in the region served by Second Harvest lives at or below the poverty level. That percentage translates to more than a half-million people and it includes more than 188,000 children and 40,000 senior citizens. As the only food bank in the region, it serves more than 700 partner agencies. Those partners received more than 50-million pounds of food and household items from Second Harvest in their last fiscal year.

Many of the families they serve are the working poor. People who work, but aren’t able to make a living wage. Carter notes that in Charlotte, a market-rate two-bedroom apartment requires the household to have two-and-a-half minimum wage jobs. That means that both parents need full-time work and someone has to also be working a part-time job just to afford housing.

“I know there are a lot of people out there who can relate to the situations some of these people are in. Many of us could find ourselves in a similar situation if we were out of work for a year, or had a sick spouse that wiped out our savings,” she says.

It doesn’t take much to help Second Harvest make an impact. A one dollar donation provides 7lbs of food. Last year, 162,000 volunteer hours were donated which meant more money could be used to provide food to those who need it most. 97% of everything Second Harvest brings in goes to their programs.

This year, Second Harvest is expanding their Charlotte warehouse. The expanded facility will provide more storage, including additional refrigeration and cooling spaces that will help with dairy product, fresh produce and meat storage.

“When people think of the food bank, they think of cans and boxes. We work really hard to ensure we’re also providing milk, fresh produce and meat that ensures nutritious options for our families,” says Carter.

The holiday season is a time where the focus often shifts to those less fortunate in the community. Carter’s hope every year is that attention lasts the whole year. If it did, hunger could be almost non-existent in our region.

“Have you ever been through a day where you were so busy, you forgot to eat? Then, you know what it feels like to be hungry. Now, imagine being hungry and knowing your children are hungry too and not having a way to feed them. I can’t imagine anything worse than not knowing how I’m going to feed my child tonight,” says Carter.

“Think if everyone gave just $10, what would that do in a county the size of Mecklenburg County? All of us can feed just one person. If we think about it that way, if everyone does a little bit we could eradicate hunger in our area.”

What Can You Do to Help?

You can support Second Harvest Food Bank by donating any amount through uBack – via web or smartphone – anywhere and anytime. Here’s how:

  1. Download uBack in the App Store or in Google Play
  2. Search for “Second Harvest” in the charity list
  3. Choose Donation Amount
  4. Enter “South Charlotte” in the memo field

To donate via web, go to http://bit.ly/SecondHarvestMetrolina or visit our uBack ad!

Opera Carolina expands family programming and ensures it’s accessible for all

If it seems you’re seeing opera popping up everywhere this year, it’s not your imagination. Opera Carolina is expanding its reach outside the traditional venues and well beyond the mainstage season. And one of the most exciting aspects of the expansion is that much of it is geared to children and families. And it’s all low-cost or entirely free.

The Family Opera program is a core educational component of Opera Carolina’s Opera Unlimited initiative, which brings opera to the public square. This year, the program – featuring an updated version of The Tortoise & The Hare – will be performed six times in six locations. The first performance is Nov. 12 at the Albemarle Road Recreation Center (5027 Albemarle Rd.) 
in east Charlotte.

“This expansion isn’t just about the number of performances,” said Ashley Lam, Opera Carolina’s Director of Education. “It’s also a geographic expansion. We’re sharing opera with people all over Mecklenburg County. We’re trying to introduce the largest number of people possible to this art form that offers something for everyone, both young and young at heart.”

“Our Opera Xpress program, which takes opera to youth and into elementary schools throughout the region, has been a mainstay for nearly 50 years,” Lam continued. “But we want whole families to enjoy opera together. It doesn’t have to be limited to just the classroom –or just Belk Theater. So, we’ll continue to visit schools, but now we’re adding community and rec centers and inviting the whole family.”

Opera Carolina’s General Director & Principal Conductor James Meena has said, “We are ratcheting up our presence in all parts of the county this season thanks to the new support of Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates and Showmars Restaurants. If you haven’t been to the opera, we’ll bring 
opera to you.”

Family Opera is appropriate for children from ages 3 through 12. Performances are timed just right for children’s attention spans; they average 35 to 45 minutes in length. Performances are free, but donations are accepted. Performers are from Opera Carolina’s Young Artists Program; most are resident chorus members.

Family Opera is growing from two to three performances in years past to six performances this season. In addition to the first east Charlotte performance, other performances of The Tortoise & The Hare are planned for:

Concord at The Old Courthouse Theatre. January 21, 2017

Gaston County, Historic Courthouse in Dallas, March 4, 2017

York County, SC, February 2017, location TBD

Charlotte Country Day (This has been a Family Opera venue for years.) March 12, 2017

Davidson (during the town’s arts festival). April 2017

West Charlotte, location and date TBD

Check Opera Carolina’s website for updates.