Hickory – Do you have a New Year’s Resolution to make a difference in the community? Do you enjoy reading to children? Are you interested in mentoring or supporting families?

The Equity and Inclusion Task Force of the Hickory Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) invites public participation in the work of its committees aimed at improving equity in education for underserved children and families.Hickory NAACP Offers Opportunities

In cooperation with the Catawba County Council on Adolescents, the Mentoring Committee is seeking mentors to work with students in the Hickory Public Schools. Persons interested in participating are invited to attend one of the three information sessions scheduled as follows: Tuesday, January 11th at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 52 16th Ave., and Monday, January 17th at 1:30 p.m. following the MLK celebration at Ridgeview Branch Library, 706 First St., SW.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer reader, the Tutoring Committee is hosting a free “Reading to Young Children” workshop for prospective volunteer readers on Thursday, January 20th from 5:30pm – 8pm in Hickory. Volunteer readers provide kindergartners who have been identified as at-risk in this area with story time. The workshop will be conducted by Dr. Gail Summer, an expert in early childhood and early literacy and the KidsReady Project Coordinator for the Catawba County Partnership for Children. Workshop participants will learn how to put themselves back in the shoes of an emerging reader and create a reading experience that is educational and joyful for the child.

Hear what a past participant had to say about the workshop:

“The training session really opened my eyes to how a non-reader or early reader sees words on a page, and why it is so valuable to have an adult read to, and actively engage with, children in reading books. It was also interesting to learn more about different techniques that can help young children make the transition to being readers.” – William Pleasant

Following the training, volunteers are asked to indicate their school preference and to complete the online volunteer application for Hickory Public Schools. For more information on the Reading to Young Children workshop, please complete the contact form at http://tinyurl.com/hickorytutor.

The Family Support Committee has been focusing on learning for underserved families about the type of services they are interested in receiving to support them in parenting. In collaboration with the Catawba County Partnership for Children’s PEEPs group (Parents Empowering and Encouraging Parents), the committee is conducting interviews with parents of young children and will use the information gathered to plan future activities, such as parenting classes and support groups, increased access to early childhood services such as childcare and preschool, playgroups for children not enrolled in childcare, home visiting programs, and much more. Parents or other residents who have an interest in supporting underserved families are invited to join this committee.

The Early Childhood Education Committee is surveying parents to assess their experience and willingness to engage in pre-kindergarten education. This Committee is also providing STEM playdates to introduce children to science concepts and science-based activities, such as teaching children to code. Some of these activities will be provided at the Ridgeview Branch Library.

The mission of the Housing Committee is to increase access and equity through housing within our community. Methods for accomplishing the mission include an assessment of housing assets and needs through surveys, listening sessions, and community forums. Plans for responding to the assessed needs include Housing Resource Fair, Homeowner Education Class, Housing Points of Entry sheets. The committee cites this quotation as an indication of the importance of affordable housing:

“There are broad, long-term effects to affordable housing. People who are affordably housed earn more over their lifetime, they live longer, their children do better in school.”

— Sarah Mickelson, at the National Low Income Housing Coalition

One other committee of the Hickory NAACP Equity and Inclusion Task Force is the Economic Development Committee which is now accepting members. For information on these Committees and how to get involved, visit https://hickorynaacp.org/task-forces or contact [email protected].

The next NAACP Branch meeting is (open to the public) is 1-9-2022 at 3:00 PM. The agenda items will include plans for MLK Day events on January 17th and updates on the work of NAACP Equity and InclusionTask Force committees.

The January 9th Branch meeting will be virtual. The link to the meeting will be posted on the Hickory NAACP’s Facebook page.