Hornets Foundation awards grant to organization that improves families and communities
CHARLOTTE — Thousands of dollars in grants from the Charlotte Hornets Foundation are being used to provide laptops and other technology to children at the Fran’s Kids organization.
“I was looking for something that was definitely educationally enriched,” said Fran Witherspoon, owner and director of the organization.
“It started after I had my kids,” Witherspoon said. “I all have boys and was looking for a qualified child care program to enroll my children in.”
Witherspoon, a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, created the Fran’s Kids daycare program.
Over 30 years, it has grown to include six programs across Charlotte. Four programs remain, all focused on education
One of them is Fran’s Kids Boys and Girls Center, which serves students, families and the community.
“Because it’s not just about the children we provide services to, it’s about the community as a whole,” Witherspoon said. “I’m a registered nurse, so because I’m a registered nurse, you always take a holistic approach in working not just with the patient and with that child, but with the family.”
Ethel Graham said she first walked through the doors with her high school diploma looking for a job.
“I’ve been with her for 15 years,” Graham said.
She found a job with Fran and the support to get a college degree.
“Other places I would look for a job, they wouldn’t talk to me because I didn’t have college behind me,” Graham said. “But when I look back, Ms. Fran gave me that chance.”
Witherspoon said one of her parents graduated from high school.
“My dad never graduated from high school, but it was definitely instilled in me,” Witherspoon said. “If you want to be successful, you absolutely have to educate yourself.”
The center’s investment in Charlotte’s West End has not gone unnoticed.
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The Hornets gave Fran’s organization the grant, which included iPads, laptops, smart boards and more.
“I came to pick up my daughter one day and saw the parking lot was full,” parent Jason Thompson said. “And I saw the Hornets truck and I said, ‘Am I in the right place? “”
Thompson first brought his son and daughter to Fran’s Kids.
“It’s very family oriented,” Thompson said. “All his boys are here. His boys are like big brothers to my kids now. We took them to bigger daycares and they were just random people we had never seen before. We haven’t seen them in grocery stores. We haven’t seen them anywhere.
“It would be thousands of kids that we had some impact with,” Witherspoon said. “Just for them to say, ‘Hey, I was at your center and that’s how you impacted me and that’s how you impacted my life. It makes me feel good because that was my main goal when I started over 30 years ago.
(Watch the video below: the hornets announce the week of service starting Monday)
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