While the UniverSoul Circus is popular for its hip entertainment and culturally themed shows, people aren’t always aware of what they do behind the scenes...
The UniverSoul Circus along with the S&H (www.shyas.com) Youth and Adult Services brought in about 100 people by bus, from various homeless shelters around Charlotte, for Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 2015, for their feed the hungry campaign at the Metrolina Fair Grounds.
Although S&H and UniverSoul Circus made great philanthropic strides to give back to the community, the warehouse wasn’t even close to full.
When we asked LaTanya Hardy (Owner and Director of S&H Youth and Adult Services) , the reason there wasn’t a big turnout, she said that they’ve partnered with many shelters around Charlotte to bring families out, as well as gathered volunteers for the event. Hardy said that they got the word out, but it was up to the families if they wanted to participate in the feeding.
The 34-year-old Hardy started the S&H Youth & Adult Services back in to 2007. She says that her mom was the biggest inspiration when she conceived the business.
LaTanya Hardy(Left) Volunteer(Right)
Hardy’s company has matured since that time, going from one person, to a team of approximately 38 people. S&H currently offers foster care options, courses for DWI, substance abuse, intensive outpatient care, parenting, life skills, management, as well as mental health, substance abuse, and outpatient counseling, in addition to the GED program, just to name a few services.
John Clifton(Center) Terese Swan-Hutchinson(Right)
We cornered John(Big John) Clifton during the event. Clifton is the counterpart of UniverSoul Circus’s entertainment alongside founder, Cedric Ricky Walker. He helped bring the Circus to Charlotte. You might remember one of their stage plays, “A Good Man is hard to find, in addition to The Cool Jazz Festivals, as well as their work with Salt & Pepper.
Clifton said that the Circus is doing very well this year with their newest feature, Christmas under the Big Top. They hope to take the Circus to Europe next year. Clifton also said that they are collaborating with a few organizations in Charlotte. “The Charlotte Market is growing, it really has. When you look at the numbers and demographics, Charlotte, it’s one of the fastest growing markets in the country and we can see it,” Clifton said.
“Entertainment is growing. Many things that bypassed the Charlotte market in the beginning are coming to Charlotte. We really wanted a bigger market, and we chose Charlotte. We want to see how well we continue to support the entertainment industry here. I want to Thank S&H Youth & Adult Services for supporting our cause.
The Thanksgiving dinner came up from me, and Cedric Ricky Walker, the founder of the UniverSoul Circus. We wanted the city to get involved with Thanksgiving. So, we chose to do this for the dinner.
Churches feed, and everyone else feeds, we wanted to give a little back, while we entertain, and let them know that there are services are out there to guide them. Not to enable them, but to give them a helping hand,” he said.
We caught Terese Swan-Hutchinson, owner of the Dooby Shop Salon, comingling with a crowd of volunteers. Teresa is a peer support counselor for the S&H Youth Services. She brought a friend out to volunteer for the Thanksgiving campaign. She said that you’d be surprised at how many people that wants to give back to the community besides herself. However, many of the volunteer services are full.
“I think this event is wonderful. I’m just glad to be a part of it,” says Hutchinson. “It’s a season of giving,” she said.
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