News Post

Freshmen Start Yearlong Journey to "Be the Change"
Freshmen Start Yearlong Journey to "Be the Change"
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Providence Day School's freshmen class got to hear a first-person account about life on the streets, the first part of their yearlong "Be the Change" poverty awareness program.

Providence Day School’s freshmen class got to hear a first-person account about life on the streets.

Fred, who had been homeless for 20 years, and Liz Clasen-Kelly, associate executive director of Urban Ministry Center, spoke to the 9th-graders Oct. 16.

The visit was the first installment of “Be the Change,” a yearlong program in which 9th-graders study poverty in Mecklenburg County and obtain hands-on experience with different area organizations.

The intent of the program is not to “fix” the poverty problem in Charlotte, but to educate participants about the community’s needs, various ways in which they can become involved and to mold good community citizens.

Clasen-Kelly told the students about the history and statistics of homelessness in the Charlotte area and the many ways in which people find themselves on the streets.

Fred shared his story of how his addictions led to him losing his family and home. Having essentially lived under bridges for two decades, he spoke candidly about his hardships and how, through perseverance and the help of Urban Ministry Center, has been turning his life around — he is now moving into his own home and is looking forward to becoming a responsible citizen once more.

The three-part program will involved two project days — in the fall and in the spring — that will focus on seeing poverty firsthand, working directly with those in need and then studying the logistics of poverty, such as public transportation, housing and food.

Last year the 9th-graders voted on a recipient charity, Sow Much Good, during a "flash philanthropy" moment in April, choosing from the more than 30 local nonprofits they learned about or had hands-on experiences with over the course of the program. Class officers presented $1,000 to the organization last May.