Author Archives: Nicole Plavnick

Ada in Action: Ada Cooks

In this video we feature the “Ada Cooks” program. The Ada Jenkins Center teams up with Davidson College to teach and promote healthy life choices. The program includes cooking classes for children and adults, with a focus on healthy eating. In addition, we have doctors, researchers and nutritionists from Davidson and around the community get involved to help showcase how healthy eating can have a positive impact on your life.

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Thank You Janet!

Janet McFadden was many things to many people, but mostly she was loved. For us at Ada Jenkins, she took care of many of our pets, but she also gave back to our community through Ada. In recent years for Christmas in Davidson, she sponsored our Christmas tree. She had even reached out a couple of weeks ago about this year. She was already planning. Now her children are bringing things to the Center. I think it is a way that they are honoring her.
We miss you Janet, personally and professionally. Thank you for all that you’ve done for so many of us.

Ada in Action: Ada’s Story

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This week we’re sharing a heartfelt letter we received from one of our clients. We love this type of feedback!

The Ada Jenkins Center,
It is with a huge sense of gratitude that I now write this long overdue note of praise and appreciation to the staff and volunteers at The Ada Jenkins Community Center. I am in awe of the kindness, warmth, compassion, sensitivity, and love that I have been shown through such a difficult season of my life’s journey.

I have always found it very difficult to ask for help or to accept help from others. Many days I found myself in tears because I was in pain and in great need but yet, I did not want to go to a social service agency for help. Someone suggested that I go to Ada Jenkins. I was embarrassed, truly embarrassed. I never thought I would find myself without employment, no food, no financial resources, and a plethora of other problems on top of those already named. I felt that I could not have gotten any smaller as a human being. I felt defeated.

God gave me the strength to go to Ada Jenkins. The strength and push from God was exactly what I needed, even though I cried through most of the trip. When I reached The Ada Jenkins Center, I was in awe of the strength I felt from the staff and volunteers. Please forgive me for identifying just a few of the people who touched my life in a way that I will never forget. Jenni, Cara, Michelle and Julie … pulled me out of my nightmare. I didn’t feel as if I was just a number to them. I felt as if I were a person that they cared about with great conviction. They treated me as if they had known me for years. They listened to my story and didn’t turn away from my tears. I was grieving, and they allowed me to do that.

It is important to understand that it is difficult for me to write just a few lines about my experience with The Ada Jenkins Center. I am so grateful that this human services agency exists. As I’ve waited in the reception area for an appointment or for services, I have been amazed by the staff and volunteers who have handled some “trying” clients with such professionalism and patience. I don’t know if I could ever work in social services without a high degree of burnout or other issues. Yet, I have never seen staff and volunteers display any degree of frustration, impatience, or lack of concern.

I will end now with the greatest THANK YOU that I can ever say. Those words, however, are not enough to convey my appreciation and gratitude to everyone at Ada Jenkins for seeing me through a horrendous storm.

Life is slowly getting better for me. I may still need some assistance from The Ada Jenkins Center, but I won’t be as timid about calling on my friends at Ada Jenkins for help.


May God Bless All of You,
Ada Watson-White

Ada in Action: Charlyn’s Story

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This week we’re sharing another story from another happy client. The Ada Jenkins Center takes great pride in what we do and we truly appreciate hearing back from those who we have helped.

“Ada has meant the world to me. These are people who empower, who are knowledgeable, and who offer solutions and are aptly prepared to handle ANY crisis! I look forward to opening those big red doors again soon.

I’ve always gotten positive feedback and they have NEVER been too busy to come to my rescue, whether it was offering direction or just a listening ear. I consider them my “angels” on earth! Ada means the world to me.”

Charlyn Paige

Ada in Action: Ivonne’s Story

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This week Ada in Action features another testimonial from one of the many people we have been able to help through a tough situation. We know that all people have the ability to improve their lives, and we are here to help them do so.

“It means so much to me that I was able to receive help when I found myself in a very difficult situation. For me, this is a very valuable center for us who are in need and for us who have limited resources. It is a place of hope.

I am incredibly grateful for the people that make up the center – staff, volunteers, students, listeners, and friends. They make it possible for us to feel respected and cared for. The center is made up of super personnel, they are very kind and caring and I am thankful for everyone.”

Ivonne Lopes Caldeorn

Ada in Action: Alanulfo’s Story

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Here at the Ada Jenkin’s Center we love hearing back from those who we have helped. Our reach goes beyond the center itself, and stories like this would not be possible without your help!

“I thank God for sending me to the Ada Jenkins Center, and for all the support and encouragement that they have given to me, my family, and to all of the people that are truly in need of encouragement and support. Whether that support is providing clothing, food, medical visits, dental care, furniture, or much, much more…thank you.”

Alanulfo Ojeda Celetino

Ada in Action: Jacob’s Story

Ada Jenkins Center

This week kicks off the first round of “Ada in Action”, our latest series of blog posts in which we will be sharing stories of how the Ada Jenkins Center helps the people of our local community. Stories like this are what keep us motivated to work hard and help those in need. 

“Jacob is a student in our LEARN Works program and a Cornelius resident. We received some great news from his school last week; Jacob made tremendous gains in both his reading and math scores over the course of the Fall 2015 semester. His MAP reading score jumped from a 162 to a 176, and his math score jumped from a 182 to a 195. Over the course of the year, a third grader is expected to grow 8 points in reading and 11 points in math. Jacob has gained 11 points in reading and 13 points in math. That’s a full year’s worth of growth, and then some, in just a few short months.

We will continue to work with Jacob, his peers and their families to improve their reading and math skills but more importantly, to instill a love of learning. Jacob has family members involved in other programs at Ada Jenkins. This year, we’ve hired a Family Engagement Specialist to coordinate with our Human Services staff to build on success for the whole family. We cannot do this work without your support.”

Stay tuned for a new “Ada in Action” story next week and in the meantime, learn how you can get involved in our community!

Putting Food Back on the Table: Ada Jenkins’ Holistic Approach to Solving Food Insecurity

Scarcity. It is the fundamental economic problem of having unlimited wants and needs in a world of limited resources. For many of our neighbors in North Mecklenburg County, scarcity presents itself through food insecurity. Families struggling to make ends meet have incredible difficulty finding quality and affordable food on a limited budget, if they have any income at all. Food is the fuel needed to get through a normal day; lack of quality foods leads to poor nutrition habits, physical and mental health issues, and setbacks for children in school. At the Ada Jenkins Center, we address food insecurity holistically through our health, education, and human service programs.

When someone is food insecure, they are without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious foods. According to the Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC), 17.3% of North Carolina households were food insecure in February of last year. In Mecklenburg County, 18% of residents are food insecure. Many of these people have access to SNAP benefits, but transportation problems make it difficult to access full-service grocery stores. Take a look at this map; nearly all of the Food and Nutrition Services locations in Mecklenburg County are located well within the 485 loop.

 

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For the populations we serve, Food and Nutrition Services are often too far away or too expensive to reach by public transportation. Many of our client-partners have little choice but to shop elsewhere, such as a convenience store or fast food joint. The limited choices offered at these stores lead to poor nutrition and health problems. At Ada Jenkins, we eliminate barriers to access through our food pantry. We partner with Loaves and Fishes, the Davidson Community Garden, grocers, area houses of faith, and generous community members to offer quality choices for any family size.

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The Davidson Community Garden. Last year, volunteers harvested over 1500 pounds of food for our pantry. 

Once they have obtained a shopping referral, client-partners may visit the pantry once every forty-five days. We provide food for one week for the entire family, regardless of whether that’s a family of two or a family of eight. And we don’t just serve food; our pantry offers household goods as well! Toiletries, vehicle fluids, pet food, and various other supplies can be found on its shelves. We know that sometimes, life happens whether you trip over your own feet or have the rug pulled out from under you. We ensure that we’re offering products that can help weave a safety net for any given crisis.

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Ada Jenkins Pantry. A current list of most needed items can be found at adajenkins.org.

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Cannon School senior students painted this mural for the pantry’s waiting room.

 

When resources are scarce, oftentimes we don’t get to choose what we want to eat. Our pantry operates as a client-choice pantry; shopping for items is just like shopping in a grocery store. Trained volunteers shop one-on-one with client-partners, swapping recipes, building rapport and sharing good will.  Beans, potatoes, fresh produce and multiple grain options can generate a variety of different recipes. It is an honor and a privilege to provide these options, and especially healthy options, to client-partners. This year, we have expanded our Healthy Eating Initiatives program to encourage client-partners to make healthier choices. We offer a recipe bank, monthly food demonstrations, and AdaCooks!, a cooking class taught here at the Center in English and Spanish.

Research conducted in Mecklenburg County shows that access (or lack thereof) to quality food was closely related to health outcomes. Areas that are food insecure have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Some experiencing food insecurity are forced to make the difficult trade-off of food versus medical care; at Ada Jenkins, they don’t have to. Each Thursday night, hallways and offices transform into a full-service walk-in primary care clinic for uninsured and underinsured individuals in North Mecklenburg. Doctors, nurses, specialists, and college students volunteer their time to provide quality care to  patients. Community Health Nurses then coordinate with NC Medassist and local pharmacies to get patients the prescriptions they need at little to no cost. These cost savings allow families to reallocate funds in ways that are best for their individual needs.

Our goal is to help entire families build success and healthy habits; this is achieved through a multi-pronged approach as well. Many client-partners utilizing Ada’s services have a child or children in the LEARN Works after school enrichment program. Each year, we serve 125 elementary and middle school students who are referred to our program by a school teacher or administrator. All 125 students participate in our Healthy Eating curriculum, and many choose the popular Cooking and Organic Gardening clubs for their enrichment activity. A recent grant awarded by the Burt’s Bees Foundation will allow us to further expand the garden, create a solar-powered irrigation system, and build a small greenhouse.

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The LEARN Works organic garden. Expansions will begin in the next two months.

 

 

“What I like about the club is how much it teaches you about food,” says student James Drayton. “We also learn about leadership and how to help people.”

Would you like to help too? Support our efforts to combat food insecurity and its related health issues in North Meck. Here’s how you can be a part of the solution:

Donate. Donate pantry items or a few extra bucks to our food pantry. Get your neighbors involved in a community food drive and see how much of an impact you can make.

Advocate. We need help spreading our message! Come and take a tour of the Center and see what program or service area touches your heart the most. Tell others about what you’ve seen, and educate your friends and family about important issues facing our community.

Serve. Become a volunteer and work with our client-partners one-on-one. Develop relationships and carry those relationships out beyond the walls of this Center. Food may be scarce for some families in our area, but love doesn’t need to be.