I was excited when I arrived to Lakewood Preschool Cooperative on a recent Friday afternoon. Located near the heart of Charlotte, this small preschool seemed to be making a big impact in its community.
Established in 1995 by First Presbyterian Church, the school’s goal is to meet the needs of the families living in the Lakewood Community of Northwest Charlotte. The mission of this tuition-free program is to prepare children emotionally, socially, physically, and cognitively for success in school and in life. Today they provide workshops, give resources, and offer support to parents and family members.
One Family’s Experience
During my visit to Lakewood, I talked one of the parents involved in the school, Be Lam. Born in Kampuchea Krom (now southern Vietnam), she came as an immigrant to the United States with her family. When she arrived, she couldn’t speak English. Fluent only in Khmer and some Vietnamese, she had a very hard time in school. She did not want her children to face the same challenges. When she moved to the Lakewood community, she learned about the school and immediately went with her sister to enroll her sons and her nephew.
“I want to see the kids in the school have an education. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive education in my own language and I don’t know how to read. And I don’t even know how the letters in my language look,” Lam said. “I went to school for a little while and now I can read English a little bit. I understand how hard it is to not speak the language. That’s why I keep pushing my kids.”
Lakewood Preschool Cooperative also had great things to say about Be Lam and her family. She has been a constant source of help as a volunteer. And she often supplies them with home-cooked meals.
All of Lam’s children have gone through the program. One of her sons is still currently enrolled. Her son and daughter have both graduated from the preschool and Myers Park Traditional School magnet in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has admitted them. Her children are performing well at the magnet, and they love going to school.
As I walked around the school, the smiles and warm laughter at this small school off of Kalynne Street overwhelmed me. by the smiles and love that were being spread around. The children had just finished a cooking lesson. As they cleaned up, I saw kids reaching for books off the shelves to read as their parents were coming to pick them up.
It was heartwarming to see their enthusiasm for learning. It made me reflect that as I go into Thanksgiving this week, I should be mindful of the great nonprofits like Lakewood Preschool Cooperative who continually give back to make North Carolina a great place to live.
Read more about our endeavor to give back to four fantastic NC non-profits this November.