What kind of world will 2017 kids inherit?
Advances in technology change lifestyles in a nanosecond, but numerous organizations continue to focus on providing necessities to local residents, working nearly around the clock to ensure that the citizens of the community have access to basics like food and shelter. Other organizations address needs of a different sort — legal and societal — and two of these groups were front and center on the events list this week.
Children’s Law Center Annual Birthday Blast
The Unbroken Circle, a multigenerational string band from Wake Forest University, provided music for the festivities and Millennium Center the picturesque backdrop at the 2017 Children’s Law Center Birthday Blast on Thursday. Food and libations were also part of the package, along with a shared vision for advocacy among guests.
“Tonight’s event has raised over $76,000 for the Children’s Law Center,” said Jessie Quick, who co-chaired the event with her husband, Robert. “That is a huge chunk of our annual budget of $430,000, and it’s important to recognize how much of a community effort this night is.”
Quick continued with thanks to key contributors including presenting sponsor Kilpatrick Townsend, several law firms and local businesses, as well as individual supporters. Quick then introduced CLC’s Executive Director Iris Sunshine, who shared a CLC client story before recognizing the evening’s honorees: Lorraine Mortis, David Sutton and the N.C. Bar Foundation.
“Tiffany is 9 years old and she has grown up with violence,” Sunshine said. “She was beaten by her father, who also hit her mother, and when she was sick, her father forced her to take his homemade medicine for strep throat.”
The medication landed the 9-year-old girl in the hospital where she finally received proper treatment, and the tragic experience prompted her mother to go to court for custody. A CLC staff member, Paige Gilliard, advocated for the mother and child, and the judge ruled that it was in Tiffany’s best interest to not be in contact with her abusive father.
“Tiffany attended our Camp Hope this summer and won the ‘energetic’ trait award,” Sunshine said. “She said that at camp ‘you feel accepted.’ This is what Children’s Law Center is about, fostering a sense of empowerment for children like Tiffany.”
Gilliard wore a different hat for the Birthday Bash, welcoming guests along with Jennifer Lyday and Lynne Fuller-Andrews. Before dinner, the honorees talked about their role with Children’s Law Center and why it is important to them to support CLC’s work.
“I’ve been volunteering since high school,” Sutton said. “My goal has always been to try to help the staff members consolidate the almost obscene amount of information that each case requires. I and others try to take chunks of the small tasks to make it easier for them to do what they need to do. Over the years, I’ve become more involved and some of these kids are like my own.”
Caryn McNeill represented the N.C. Bar Association for the night.
“The North Carolina Bar Association does public and pro bono work through our foundation and in addition, the Children’s Law Center has been a recipient of our grants since 2005,” McNeill said. “Our grants support the provision of legal services to the most vulnerable members of North Carolina.”
Over the past 13 years, Mortis has agreed to help in a least 20 referrals from CLC involving state mental health services, custody matters, domestic violence and child maltreatment, according to CLC representatives. Mortis said that her volunteer work reflects a commitment to the children represented by Children’s Law Center.
“Everybody deserves to have a voice,” she said. “Everybody deserves to be heard, no matter how old they or whether or not they have money.”
Day of Hope: The Kindergarten Project
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill joined Dr. Beverly Tatum for a discussion about race at Calvary Moravian Church on Sept. 9, part of the slate of events scheduled for the annual Bookmarks festival. Hill, host of BET News, political contributor for CNN, professor at Temple University and award-winning journalist, and Tatum, a renowned authority on racial identity and resegregation in America and author of “Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race,” spoke to a packed sanctuary for the event, following a meet-and-greet session hosted by Imprints Cares.
An early childhood education nonprofit with a mission of helping families break the cycle of poverty, Imprints Cares supports children through education and health services. Nikki Byers, Imprints executive director, Cindy McManus and Anne Cannon joined the small group for the meet and greet.
“The discussions today are a backdrop to the work we do with families,” Byers said.
The meet-and-greet was an informal precursor to the panel discussion, and Hill provided insight into some of the issues he addressed in his book, “Nobody.”
“We have to unlearn this idea, the narrative that some people are worth more than others,” he said. “That type of thinking shouldn’t shape the outcome of anyone’s life, but it does and we have to work to change that.”
Onstage, Tatum and Hill presented two viewpoints about race relations.
“My book was originally published in 1997, 20 years ago, and when I told friends that I was going to do a 20th anniversary update, they asked me, ‘Oh, are the black kids still sitting together,’” Tatum said. “I would say that schools are more segregated today than they were 20 or 30 years ago.”
“I knew a world where the idea of a black president seemed impossible and I was in the Fox newsroom that night when everybody was sad except for me and three janitors,” Hill said, prompting sympathetic laughter from the audience. “…I guess I am a prisoner of hope. We’re here in a church, where people believe Jesus died, but his death didn’t have the last word … the response to injustices and the emergence of a new generation of freedom fighters give me hope.”