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Cornelius News

Giving back: Options abound for charitably minded people

By Dave Yochum. The world of non-profits and charitable giving can be confusing if not overwhelming.

Choices abound. You need to consider where your money goes, geographically speaking as well as what social cause your donation aims to remedy and how good of a steward is the group spending your donation.

Some organizations are new, some have a years-long track record of serving others. Some seem like marketing platforms for entrepreneurs, others hew to a critical mission without duplicating charities with established channels of distribution.

There are other ways to give back, including churches and hospital auxiliaries, not just non-profits. Non-profits or 501(c)(3)s file income and expense reports with the IRS.  Here’s a look at five local non-profits that have a track record of serving people in need in Cornelius and neighboring towns and are open about finances. (In December we looked at five other non-profit efforts.)


Ada Jenkins

Volunteer/donor info:


Based in a former school in Davidson, the Ada Jenkins Center has served Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville residents in need for two decades. Focused on promoting the importance of education and equal opportunity for all citizens, the 501 (c) 3 non-profit seeks to help those in poverty break the cycle and gain economic independence. The 2017 annual report says nearly 4,000 neighbors visited the center

The Charlotte region is known nationally for having the least chance of upward mobility for those born or raised in poverty. Ada Jenkins addresses the root causes of the problem with tutoring, medical care and a food pantry. It also has a track record: AJC celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Its budget is more than $3 million a year. At the helm is Georgia Krueger, a respected leader in the world of non-profits.


Our Towns Habitat for Humanity

Executive Director:  Chris Ahearn

Volunteer/donor info:


The local branch of Habitat for Humanity is one of the oldest and strongest. The mission, to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope, resonates with people around the world, including its most famous supporter, former President Jimmy Carter. Its two main programs—new homeownership and critical repairs—build on sweat equity and community volunteers. Would-be homeowners serve 400 “sweat equity” hours, which are earned through working on the construction of their own home, volunteering on other build sites, in the ReStores and in the office. Habitat also helps families who already own a home and whose limited income makes it difficult, if not impossible, to afford essential repairs.


Smithville Community Coalition

Locally led by residents

Smithville CommUNITY Coalition on Facebook

The Smithville CommUNITY Coalition (SCC) was organized in 2011, years after its predecessor group, established in 1968 by the fathers and uncles of some of the current leaders, had become inactive. SCC is made up of residents, neighbors, non-profits and faith-based organizations. The goal is the revitalization and improvement of the historically black community just east of I-77 on either side of Catawba Avenue.  They have worked with other community partners to create a revitalization master plan, organize community clean-up events, create a community garden, repair homes and the very popular community jazz festival whose proceeds go to Send-A-Kid-To-Camp. Meetings are held the last Monday of each month and are open to the public. SCC is recognized by the State of North Carolina as a 501c3 Non-Profit. If you are interested in more information and would like to become a partner or donate, contact Lisa Mayhew-Jones at nmayhew0@email.cpcc.edu


Hope House Foundation

Executive Director:

Debbie O’Handley

Volunteer/donor info:


Dr. Lee Beth Lindquist, a long-time Cornelius physician, had a dream to help “situational homeless” women who had fallen upon life’s situations and needed time to get back on their feet. Realizing that there was no temporary housing support system for this vulnerable group within a 21-mile radius of Lake Norman (including Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties), she rallied the community to build and operate a transitional home. The Hope House opened its doors to full capacity in December 2009 with temporary assistance from The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. Their vision is to serve as a catalyst for social change to end homelessness in the Lake Norman area by providing and expanding transitional housing and supportive services. Hope House is run 24/7 by women volunteers who partner with a House Manager.


Angels and Sparrows

Executive Director: Jessika Tucker

Volunteer/donor info:


Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen was conceived a “calling” for founder Sandy Tilley, now executive director emeritus of the 12-year-old organization. She had just read “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren and began to contemplate her own purpose in life. Despite the apparent affluence of Lake Norman, she realized there were poor people all around without enough to eat. With support from churches and civic organizations, she opened a soup kitchen with gardens and a playground. Since then, Angels and Sparrows has served more than 300,000 meals and established programs that include daily lunches, take-home meals, the Summer Bag Lunch Program for Kids and meals transported to the homebound elderly. More than 300 volunteers and business sponsors help Angels & Sparrows support children, adults and the elderly Monday through Friday 11 a.m.  to 1 p.m. and year ‘round to anyone who needs their help.