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Coming soon to SouthPark: Palmetto Moon, American Eagle and The Athlete’s Foot

SouthPark, the largest premier shopping destination between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., announced today that it will soon introduce Palmetto Moon, American Eagle and The Athlete’s Foot to its ever-evolving retail mix this spring. This announcement follows the recent openings of luxury candy boutique Sugarfina, home furnishing store Ballard Designs and the newly-expanded lululemon athletica.

“It’s important that we continue to bring in stores that complement the center’s ever-growing roster of coveted brands” said Holly Roberson, director of marketing and business development for SouthPark. “Not only will the addition of these three retailers diversify our options, but it will continue to enhance the exceptional shopping experience our guests have come to expect when visiting SouthPark.”

Set to open in March, Palmetto Moon specializes in southern fashion and offers clothing, home goods, collegiate gear and accessories from brands including Simply Southern, YETI, True Grit and more. The 4,761 square-foot store will be located in the Belk Wing near lululemon athletica. This is the brand’s first location in Charlotte.

The Athlete’s Foot, a global retailer for trendy athletic footwear and apparel, will also open in the Belk Wing this spring. This 2,929 square-foot footwear retailer will bring shoppers the best sports shoes in the hottest color profiles, along with limited edition styles and niche brands.

Opening this spring in the Macy’s Wing, American Eagle Outfitters will offer shoppers a wide selection of men’s and women’s jeans, t-shirts, shoes and more. Boasting 5,000 square feet, this new addition perfectly rounds out SouthPark’s varied mix of luxury fashion and casual staples.

About SouthPark
Located in the heart of the SouthPark area, SouthPark, a Simon mall, is a Charlotte landmark. Originally developed in 1970, it is the largest shopping mall between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Anchored by Nordstrom, Belk, Dillard’s, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, SouthPark offers stores ranging from luxury fashion such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton to casual staples such as J. Crew and Tommy Bahama. Six full-service restaurants, a Dining Pavilion, Symphony Park and a beautiful outdoor amphitheater make the area a popular dining and entertainment destination. Symphony Park at SouthPark is the summer home for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra with a concert series every Sunday during June. It is also home to the Movies Under the Stars summer movie series and a number of charitable events and festivals. In addition, shoppers are offered even more choices at The Village, which comprises 48,000 square feet of specialty retail. This concept of retail, dining and residential represents a unique lifestyle in the area, further enhancing the mall and village as one of the Southeast’s premier destinations. SouthPark’s most recent addition, a nearly 2,000 square foot play area, is located outdoors in West Plaza and is an ideal amenity for families to enjoy in between shopping and dining. For a map and store listings, directions, events and job listings, visit www.simon.com.

Genetic Test Helps Charlotte Area Woman Connect With Sister She Had Never Met

Erin McCullough (left in photo) never knew her biological father. And, in a quest to learn more about her heritage, the Gastonia, NC resident turned to 23andMe, a genetic testing service, to help trace her ancestry and learn more about her roots.

What she ended up discovering surprised her and changed her life. While reviewing her “DNA Ancestors,” an opt-in portion of 23andMe that connects users with those sharing similar DNA traits, McCullough, 36, discovered a name she didn’t recognize, who had the genetic makeup of a half-sister.

“I have two half siblings that I grew up with, one male and one female, so finding out that I had two more on my father’s side was a surprise,” said McCullough.

The name that appeared was Edith Stokes, and belonged to a woman who lives in London. As part of a course she was teaching on genetics, Stokes sent her saliva overseas to the California-based genetic testing company, which analyzes customers’ DNA and provides information on health and ancestry.

McCullough reached out to Edith through 23andMe’s website and learned that they shared a father. After connecting and learning more about each other and their family lives, they were invited to meet New York City.

In discussing her family with Stokes, McCollough learned that her father was Nigerian and passed away recently.

Excited to share her story, McCullough contacted 23andMe.

The sisters were invited to meet in New York City to attend a reunion held by 23andMe which included several families who discovered relatives through the service, a practice that has become more common as access to genetic testing services grows.


Charlotte Woman Featured in National Healing Campaign

Charlotte social worker Cyteria Knight is a local face featured in the national healing campaign from CaringBridge called “How We Heal,” sharing her journey of healing after suffering from a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke in January 2017.

CaringBridge, the global nonprofit social network, wanted to start a national dialogue to inspire hope and share the knowledge they have gained about healing, launching a new series called “How We Heal.” CaringBridge has provided a free online platform for hundreds of thousands of people to tell their stories and receive support during their health journeys over the last 20 years. From the millions of stories on CaringBridge, the “How We Heal” campaign hopes to broaden the scope of the conversation highlighting people from around the United States.

The series includes a short film, articles in collaboration with health industry experts, and a collection of stories featuring the photography and videos of National Geographic photographer and documentary filmmaker David McLain, who CaringBridge partnered with on the initiative.

The “How We Heal” team found that every approach to healing was different, from a Gulf War veteran who takes target practice against his cancer, to Charlotte’s very own Cyteria Knight who found her unique source of healing in Halo, her Pom-Chi (Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix).

Even while Cyteria was still in intensive care, her family ensured that she was able to see Halo. “The people at the hospital could tell that Halo’s presence was helpful to my recovery,” Cyteria said. With the soothing presence of her trusted sidekick, Cyteria is able to find some positivity in life, despite her rough road to recovery. “To be able to hold [Halo] in my arms and having her breathe next to my heart, those kinds of things feel great,” she said. To view her complete story visit: https://www.caringbridge.org/resources/cyteria-illness-find-way-look-positive/

By sharing these stories of those who have healed, CaringBridge hopes to lead a conversation that will provide some understanding of healing, and with the collaboration of researchers, explore the science behind it.  To watch the video and see the collection, visit www.CaringBridge.org/Healing.


Local RAIN Organization Awarded Funding For Youth Programs

From left to right: Catherine Kamara (Youth Navigator) – Professional Development Mentee and helps positive youth address holistic and social needs. Morque Bostic (Youth Navigator) – Professional Development Mentee and helps positive youth address holistic and social needs. Adrian Ross (Peer Navigator) – Mentor to the Youth Navigators and helps positive youth address medical needs.

Local Charlotte organization, RAIN, Inc., was recently awarded funding from ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action for Youth grant program.

ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company dedicated to delivering advances in treatment and care for people living with HIV, launched Positive Action for Youth in April 2017.

The program is a two-year, $1 million grant commitment in U.S. mentorship programs for youth aged 13–24 living with HIV as they enter and begin to navigate adult care. Positive Action for Youth builds on the existing Positive Action grants that have helped people living with HIV across the globe. Because of its dedication to making a difference, ViiV Healthcare initially launched Positive Action in 1992 as the first global pharmaceutical program to support people living with HIV, their caregivers and the HIV community.

About the RAIN, Inc., Program

Through this funding, RAIN, Inc., will receive support for the expansion and enhancement of a mentoring project for youth living with HIV aged 13–24. Peer Navigators will mentor Youth Navigators in development skills, while the Youth Navigators will mentor a small group of youth leaders to better serve youth living with HIV to enter and engage in their care. RAIN, Inc., is focused on providing personalized support services for people living with HIV and associated chronic conditions. RAIN, Inc., is also a community leader in reducing stigma.

To read more about the program and the other grantees selected to receive funding, please go here:https://us.viivhealthcare.com/us-news/us-articles/2016/viiv-healthcare-expands-us-commitment-to-youth-living-with-hiv-through-its-positive-action-program.aspx.


CPCC Breaks Ground For Largest Building Ever Built On Campus

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) officials broke ground Nov. 1 for the new North Classroom Building at the college’s Central Campus in Charlotte. The 154,100 square-foot facility will be the largest building ever constructed by the college.

“With this new space, the college will be better able to equip students with the skills required to pursue family-sustaining careers and transform their lives,” said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, CPCC president. “I firmly believe we at the college are in the life-transformation businesses, and this new building will be an important element in this process.”

North Classroom Building Project Summary:
• Construction/Project Manager:  Rodger Builders
• Architect:  Bergmann Associates
• 154,100-square-foot project
• Total project cost:  $56.1 million
• Source of funding:  2013 Mecklenburg County bonds
• Scheduled completion date:  Open for classes January 2020

The North Classroom Building will include:
• 23 classrooms
• 29 computer classrooms
• 200-seat auditorium
• Four biology labs
• Two chemistry labs
• Faculty/staff offices

The six-floor North Classroom Building will be larger than the Overcash Building, also located on the Central Campus. The Overcash Building, completed in 2005, currently is CPCC’s biggest facility, with 128,304 square feet.

“This new building will provide much-needed classroom space to address student demand on this campus,” Deitemeyer added. The new building will sit on the Central Campus main quad.

The groundbreaking ceremony was one of several inauguration week events taking place at the college. On Friday, Nov. 3, at 10:30 a.m., in Halton Theater of the Overcash Building, Deitemeyer will be inaugurated as CPCC’s fourth president.

About CPCC
Central Piedmont Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the Carolinas, offering nearly 300 degree, diploma and certification programs; customized corporate training; market-focused continuing education; and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. CPCC responds to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies. Established in 1963, CPCC has provided more than 50 years of service to Mecklenburg County residents, business and industry. For more information, see www.cpcc.edu<http://www.cpcc.edu/>. Connect with the college on social media at www.cpcc.edu/social<http://www.cpcc.edu/social>.

Three Charlotte Area Towns Rank Among Best Places To Raise A Family

North Carolina is the ninth-most populous state in the country. Millions of parents in the Tar Heel state have to decide where to raise families. Should they go to Charlotte, a bustling city with the third-largest banking sector in the country? Or head west to live near the Great Smoky Mountains? Below we look at factors like housing affordability and job opportunity to find the best places in North Carolina to raise a family.


Moving to North Carolina? Check out local mortgage rates.

In order to find the best places to raise a family in North Carolina, we looked at data on 10 factors. We analyzed data on median home values, violent and property crime rates, unemployment rates, housing costs, percent of families in poverty, high school graduation rate, percent of residents under the age of 20, median household income and 5-year change in home values.

Key Findings

  • Best places come at a cost – If you want to raise your family in one of the best places in North Carolina, you’ll likely need to spend. Across our top 10 cities, the average cost of childcare and housing runs over $2,000 per month combined.
  • Raleigh ‘burbs – Our top 5 cities to raise a family are centered around Raleigh. This state capital offers stable employment with potential for high incomes. Charlotte suburbs also scored well and fill out the bottom half of the top 10.
  • Which big city?  If you want to live in the center of the action, Greensboro may be the best option. Greensboro is the third-largest city in North Carolina and ranked 18th in this study. Charlotte and Raleigh, the largest and second-largest cities, ranked 26th and 20th, respectively.

1. Holly Springs

Holly Springs is a town of about 29,000 people located in Wake County. Our data suggests that Holly Springs is one of the most economically prosperous places in North Carolina. The median household earns over $94,000 per year. Plus, only 1.8% of families are living in poverty. Holly Springs also has the second-lowest unemployment rate in our study.

The only concern might be affordability. Paying for the median Holly Springs home costs just under $1,500 per month, the most in our study.

2. Apex

Apex, a large suburb of Raleigh, takes second. This is a very safe place to raise a family. This city ranks fourth and fifth in property crime rate and violent crime rate, respectively. Another plus are the jobs one can find around Apex. This city has the 10th-lowest unemployment rate and the average household earns over $90,000 per year.

However, living in Apex can be pricey. Wake County, where Apex is located, has some of the highest costs of childcare in the state of North Carolina. Additionally, the average home costs just under $1,400 per month.

3. Morrisville

Morrisville, another city in Wake County, looks quite a bit like the two cities ranked above it. Economic prospects are good here. The city ranks third in average household income and fourth in unemployment. It also ranks third in percent of families living in poverty.

One area Morrisville does not score as well in is the percent of children who live in the area. Only 29% of residents in this city are under the age of 20. That’s the fifth-worst score in the top 10.

4. Wake Forest

Just north of Raleigh sits Wake Forest, the original home of Wake Forest University. This city took fourth thanks to a young population and high median household income. Around 34% of residents here are under the age of 20, and the average household earns over $80,000 per year. In both metrics Wake Forest secures top 10 scores.

Like other cities near the top of the list, the cost of living can be high in Wake Forest. Data from the Census Bureau shows the median home costs over $1,300 per month.

5. Cary

Cary is the biggest city in our top 10. In the past, Cary has competed for the title of safest city in the United States. That safety is one reason Cary is a great place to raise a family. According to our data, Cary has the second-lowest property crime rate and the lowest violent crime rate in the study.

But Cary is more than just a safe place to raise a family. Its economic prospects are promising. This city has the lowest unemployment rate (4.5%) and second-highest median household income ($91,579) in the study.

6. Huntersville

Huntersville is the sixth-best place to raise a family in North Carolina. Local attractions include Lake Norman, a man-made lake, and the annual Carolina Renaissance Festival, which is held every year. Huntersville scored well in family poverty rate (only 3.2% of families are under the poverty line) and median household income (the average household earns over $90,000 per year). In both of those metrics, Huntersville ranked in the top five.

The area can be pricey, however. Our data shows that the median home costs over $1,400 per month and monthly childcare costs are just under $800.

7. Indian Trail

Indian Trail is a suburban town located outside of Charlotte. It got its unique name due to its placement along the trading route called the Indian Trail.

This is one of the best cities in North Carolina for the younger generation. The high school graduation rate around Indian Trail is over 93%. Plus, around 35% of the population is under the age of 20, meaning there should be plenty of opportunities for kids to make friends.

8. Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill takes eighth. This university town is best known for being the home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The university provides stable employment to local residents. Plus, Chapel Hill is part of the Research Triangle which offers high-paying STEM jobs to residents.

Overall Chapel Hill has the seventh-lowest unemployment rate and the average household earns over $60,000 per year. Homes are also slightly more affordable than in other top 10 cities. The average house costs just over $1,150 per month.

9. Hickory

Hickory is your best option if you want to maximize affordability. The average home here costs roughly $700 per month. Another plus is the local education system. Our data shows that high schools around Hickory have a graduation rate of 89%. That’s a top 10 rate in that metric.

One concern might be the slightly older population. Only about 26% of the Hickory population is under the age of 20.

10. Mooresville

Mooresville is the largest town in Iredell County and is a great place to raise a family, especially if you’re a NASCAR fan. This city is the home to a few NASCAR racing teams and the Universal Technical Institute’s NASCAR Technical Institute.

There are also non-NASCAR reasons to raise a family here. For one, this city has a fairly young population. About 31% of Mooresville residents are under the age of 20. Plus, only 7% of families find themselves under the poverty line, suggesting there are decent economic possibilities for most families in the area.

best places to raise a family in north carolina

Data and Methodology

In order to find the best cities to raise a family in North Carolina, we looked at data for 41 cities with a population over 20,000. Specifically, we looked at data for the following 10 metrics:

  • Median home value. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Graduation rate. Data comes from the EDfacts data files provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Data is for the 2014-2015 school year and is measured at the county level.
  • Percent of residents aged 19 or younger. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Median monthly housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Median household income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Property crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2014 and 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting database and local police departments and city websites.
  • Violent crime rate per 100,000 residents. Data comes from the 2014 and 2015 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting database and local police departments and city websites.
  • 5-year median home value change. This is the percent change in median home values from 2011 to 2015. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 and 2011 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2015 5-Year American Community Survey.
  • Monthly childcare costs. This is the median monthly cost of caring for an infant. Data comes from the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education.

Tips for Buying a Home in North Carolina

The cost of living in North Carolina is lower than the national average. This goes for both renters and homeowners. There are some places in North Carolina which can get pricey, however. Charlotte, for example, is more expensive than the rest of the state.

But still the long-term costs of owning a home in North Carolina are relatively low. The average effective property tax rate in North Carolina is only 0.84%, 20th-lowest in the nation. If you bought a $250,000 home in Wake Forest, you could expect to pay $2,153 per year in property taxes.

Of course, you have to buy your home before you pay your property taxes. To do that you will need a mortgageMortgage rates in North Carolina are a bit higher than the national average but there are some positive trends. From 2014 to 2015, the average mortgage rate in North Carolina dropped from 4.14% to 3.9%.

Leon Levine Foundation Awards Major Matching Grant to Charlotte Rescue Mission

Charlotte Rescue Mission was awarded a $75,000 matching grant from The Leon Levine Foundation at their annual Evening of Hope held October 24 at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Each year, Charlotte Rescue Mission hosts 300 guests at Evening of Hope to introduce new community members to the transformative work done at Rebound and Dove’s Nest. Throughout the event, guests heard compelling testimonies from individuals and families who have been helped by Charlotte Rescue Mission.

Board Member, Kim Overman, concluded the program with a personal appeal for donations, while announcing The Leon Levine Foundation matching opportunity. The Foundation committed to match, dollar-for-dollar every new and increased gift at the event up to $75,000. The appeal was successful, raising over $500,000 for The Mission, surpassing the previous years’ totals. All money raised will fund key programs at Charlotte Rescue Mission including professional counseling, job readiness classes, and medical services.

“At Charlotte Rescue Mission we offer our residents full transformation – a person struggling with addiction, poverty, and homelessness can become a contributing member of our community, gainfully employed with a place to call home,” said CRM President and CEO, Reverend Tony Marciano.  “All of the money raised through Evening and Hope and The Leon Levine Foundation’s generous match will offer services that heal from the inside out.”

The Charlotte Rescue Mission aligns well with The Leon Levine Foundation’s interest in helping  individuals and families attain self-sufficiency. The Mission will serve over 600 men, women, and children this year as they seek to rebuild lives shattered by addiction and poverty.

About The Leon Levine Foundation

The Leon Levine Foundation’s mission is to improve the human condition by creating permanent, measurable and life-changing impact. The organization invests in nonprofits with a successful track record and a focus on sustainability in the areas of healthcare, education, Jewish values and/or human services.

Started by Leon Levine, the creator of the first Family Dollar Store in Charlotte, N.C., in 1980, the foundation has grown into one of the country’s largest and most impactful philanthropic organizations. For more information, please visit www.leonlevinefoundation.org

About Charlotte Rescue Mission

Founded in 1938, Charlotte Rescue Mission has a long history of reaching out to the homeless and those battling addictions. Rebound, a men’s residential recovery program, works to empower individuals to move beyond cycles of homelessness and addiction to become productive citizens in the community. In 1992, Charlotte Rescue Mission opened Dove’s Nest to offer those same services to women and families. Both facilities provide free, high-quality substance abuse recovery programs to members of our community who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford such services. In addition, our graduates have access to after-care and continuing education programs.

For more information, visit www.charlotterescuemission.org or call 704-333-HOPE.

Always and Target Donate $1 Million To Charlotte’s “Girls on the Run”

Based on the insight from the Always #LikeAGirl campaign that half of girls lose confidence at puberty, Always is partnering with retailers to encourage girls to pursue their goals and build their confidence. As part of this work, Always and Target are pleased to announce their support of Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that provides a physical activity-based positive youth development program to girls in third to eighth grades.

According to Girls on the Run, starting at the age of nine, girls’ confidence begins to drop, and by the time they reach the age of 10, their physical activity levels begin to follow suit. In the spirit of continuing to support girls throughout adolescence, Target with the support of Always is donating $1 million to Girls on the Run. As nearly half of participants require some level of financial assistance, this donation will help remove financial barriers and allow thousands more girls nationwide to enroll in Girls on the Run.

NC Ranks As No. 6 Most Sexually Diseased State

Just in time for a little Halloween horror, BackgroundChecks.org has updated their Most Sexually Diseased States in America report. Since we first looked at the data, the CDC has published new findings, with new data from 2016 available.

The 10 most sexually diseased states are currently:
1. Alaska (no change)
2. Mississippi (+2)
3. Louisiana (-1)
4. Georgia (+3)
5. New Mexico (no change)
6. North Carolina (-3)
7. South Carolina (-1)
8. Arkansas (+1)
9. Delaware (+5)
10. Oklahoma (-2)

The 10 least sexually problematic states are currently:
1. Vermont (-3)
2. New Hampshire (+1)
3. West Virginia (+1)
4. Maine (+1)
5. Utah (no change)
6. Idaho (no change)
7. Wyoming (no change)
8. Connecticut (-1)
9. Massachusetts (+1)
10. New Jersey (no change)

Also worth mentioning is the increase in reported gonorrhea cases. The top ten worst states experienced a rise in the rate of gonorrhea per 100k residents. In Alaska (#1), Mississippi (#2) and Georgia (#4), the rate rose by more than 40 per 100k. The across-the-board increase in gonorrhea infection is startling, and many experts attribute it to the rising prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease.

Originally released on February 7, 2017, the ranking was created from local county and state health data, social media surveys, and CDC data on the rate of incidents per 100k residents for the two most common STDs, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The results may surprise you.

The full report, with graphics, is available here: http://backgroundchecks.org/these-are-the-most-sexually-diseased-states-in-the-us.html

BackgroundChecks.org is an organization devoted to public safety, online privacy, home security, and open government.

Portrait Innovations Studios Offer Free Halloween Portrait Party for Kids in Costume

Portrait Innovations, one of the largest operators of free standing retail professional portrait studios in the United States, is pleased to offer parents with children dressed in costumes free portraits during its Halloween party taking place at all Portrait Innovations studios Monday, October 30.

Charlotte-area locations include:

  • Gaston Mall: 401 Cox Road, Suite 178, Gastonia
  • NorthCross Shopping Center: 9709 Sam Furr Road, Suite A, Huntersville
  • The Promenade Shopping Center: 5349 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Suite 700, Charlotte
  • Gateway Plaza Shopping Center: 2355 Highway 70, SE, Hickory

Photography sessions are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and parents will receive two free 5×7 portraits and high-resolution digital images on CD of each child dressed in costume. Employees will also be handing out candy to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. There will be no purchases during the Halloween party. Everything is FREE. Portrait photographers will focus on photographing children dressed in costumes for Halloween. To find your closest Portrait Innovations studio, visit www.portraitinnovations.com/Find-a-Studio.

Following the free event, parents can submit their children’s portrait as part of a fun Portrait Innovations photo contest for a chance to win one of three $1,000 cash prizes. To enter, participants should submit their Portrait Innovations Halloween portrait, and then encourage friends and family to vote for it. Three of the 20 portraits with the most votes will be selected by a panel of judges for costume originality and will be named winners. Learn more and submit photos at www.portraitinnovations.com/halloween.

About Portrait Innovations 

Portrait Innovations specializes in giving customers a customized portrait studio experience with creative options for beautiful, professional portraits and personalized gifts and keepsakes. Photographers at each studio have been trained in the newest posing and shooting techniques and work with newborns, children, families, graduates, religious milestones and large groups.

During the past 17 years, Portrait Innovations has reinvented the professional portrait studio experience, understanding how important capturing and sharing cherished family and personal memories, events and milestones is to its customers. The company is honored to be the studio of choice by customers selected to capture their important, personal memories. Learn more at www.portraitinnovations.com.