Your Guide to Giving Back 15

With our hearts and bellies full, this season is the perfect time to share that plenty with others—but it can be difficult to choose who, how, or where. That’s why we’ve compiled our Giving Back Guide. These nonprofits, all locally-based, work directly in our own community, improving the lives of those who need it most, especially during this season. Thanks to organizations like these and your help, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for everyone in Charlotte. 

Turning Point

The programming (and positive effect) at Turning Point is threefold: a Domestic Violence Center & Shelter provides a safe space for victims of domestic abuse; a Sexual Assault Resource Center assists victims of sexual assault both directly after and in the months following abuse; and the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center brings agency professionals together to quickly help children. 

Turning Point is special because of its breadth and reach. From 24-hour crisis hotlines to safe housing to medical assistance, the organization helps those in the most dire of needs and most vulnerable communities. “Turning Point has totally changed the way that I look at domestic violence,” says Emma Farmer of virtual assistant business Cybertary Charlotte. “It has been the most refreshing experience to serve on the Board because I was part of making a difference in the lives of thousands of innocent women, men and children.”

How You Can Help 

“We have a client holiday party every year that is amazing,” says Executive Director Ashley Lantz. “Folks in the community can adopt a family and assist them with presents and food. We also encourage people to cook a meal and deliver it to the domestic violence shelter for the clients residing here.” To coordinate donations, contact Kim Miller, volunteer coordinator, at KMiller@TurnToday.net. You can also help by shopping at or donating to one of Turning Point’s three boutiques (see page 24). 

The Relatives 

The Relatives works to be a safe place for Charlotte’s youth to turn to in times of need. “Our role is to be a trustworthy Relative who can help solve the problem,” says President Trish Hobson. Since 1974, The Relatives Crisis Center has offered a temporary home for children without one, as a result of homelessness or crisis situations. The nonprofit’s other programming—like the On Ramp Resource Center and Journey Place—helps young adults in crisis navigate toward stability and independence. 

“During the holidays especially, our kids need extra support. When you provide gifts during the holidays, you tell our kids that they are loved and valued,” notes Hobson, who hopes The Relatives’ diverse programming helps break the cycle of poverty and homelessness from the youth up. 

How You Can Help

The Relatives ensure everyone they serve feels loved through an annual holiday party, for which they take community gift donations. “The more support we get, the more we can provide our youth and young adults specific items off their wish list, but basic items like new socks, jackets, full size toiletries, backpacks, gloves, hats, etc. are also greatly welcomed,” says Erica Ellis, Development Officer. “To make the holidays extra special, we are always looking for volunteers who want to provide unique experiences and provide meals to all of our programs.” Contact Volunteer Engagement Officer Elizabeth McCollom at EmmCollom@TheRelatives.org or 704-501-8258 to help, or attend the neighborhood caroling event at the Crisis Center on Sunday, December 10. 

Good Friends Charlotte 

Good Friends Charlotte, a women’s organization supporting individuals and families with financial resources to improve lives and inspire hope, gives back to the disadvantaged in our community through small, measurable acts of kindness. From door locks for battered women to orthopedic shoes to daycare fees, the money collected by the nonprofit—over $3 million over the past 30 years—directly benefits those who need it most. Their signature event, a luncheon every December for members and guests, is an opportunity to share the love, hope and compassion the organization has fostered in Mecklenburg County throughout the year. 

“Women want to help in meaningful ways, and Good Friends Charlotte does just that,” says Joanne O’Brien Beam, Good Friends’ President. “Giving support to families who’ve had a bad break also gives them hope and encouragement. Often it’s the little things that can make a huge difference for a family to be able to move forward.”

How You Can Help

Good Friends Charlotte is open to all women who want to make a difference. Get involved and become a “Good Friend,” attend the Annual Good Friends Luncheon on December 14th, and donate funds through the website at GoodFriendsCharlotte.org.

Crisis Assistance Ministry

Since 1975, Crisis Assistance Ministry has helped Charlotte’s working poor get back on their feet—or never fall off them in the first place—with emergency assistance. The aid they provide is both appreciable, in the form of monetary assistance with rent and utilities, and tangible, with clothing and furniture, but it’s also transformational. Crisis Assistance Ministry is dedicated to ending the cycles of poverty through counseling and services that encourage financial stability, as well as bringing awareness to the realities of poverty in Mecklenburg County. 

“This time of year, many of us are looking forward to spending time at home with family and friends—to celebrating the season of hope and warmth,” says Carol Hardison, CEO. “But with rent skyrocketing, wages practically flat, and nearly 15% of our community living at the poverty level, that means too many of our neighbors are just one paycheck away financial disaster. One accident, one job setback, or an unexpected medical bill can send them into a downward spiral toward homelessness. Every day, nearly 200 families seek assistance at Crisis Assistance Ministry with emergency rent or utility assistance, clothing, household goods, furniture, beds, or appliances. Help for these neighbors only happens through the generosity of this community.”

How You Can Help

Make a contribution in honor of your friends and family, then share the news with vibrant holiday cards featuring artwork created by the children whose families were served at Crisis Assistance Ministry. Organize a furniture or coat drive, or volunteer with your family, house of worship or work group and spend a day sorting and inspecting clothing donations or providing meals to families waiting in the lobby (email Volunteer@CrisisAssistance.org for more information).

ourBRIDGE for KIDS

Charlotte’s community is growing exponentially, and some of those new Crown Town residents need your help. Transitioning into a new community, new language and new way of life can be challenging, especially for kids. Founded in 2014, ourBRIDGE for KIDS is a not-for-profit after-school program for refugees and immigrant children that helps them achieve academic success and integration into the community through innovative instructional methods and a celebration of cultural diversity.

“We offer a curriculum that helps our students achieve the fundamentals of English language acquisition (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) through activities that incorporate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) elements and encourage cultural pride and inclusion, civic engagement, community involvement, problem solving and critical thinking,” says Sil Ganzó, Founder and Executive Director of ourBRIDGE for KIDS. “Moreover, we strive to support the whole child by creating a nurturing environment where our children’s beliefs, experiences and opinions are heard, valued and embraced.” These kids aren’t just immigrants or refugees—they’re Charlotteans like us. 

How You Can Help

The holiday wish list for ourBRIDGE is simple: volunteers (reading partners, homework helpers, and kitchen/activity room assistants), gas cards for volunteers who take the kids home every night, art supplies and, of course, financial contributions. For more information or to donate or volunteer, visit JoinOurBridge.org.