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September 15, 2014

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
I have just learned of a human services issue that the Board should be aware of. Last Friday, DSS staff engaged in a work group discussion on the topic of unaccompanied/undocumented youth living in the County. There are currently 488 unaccompanied youth in Mecklenburg County.
According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), unaccompanied homeless youth are youth experiencing homelessness while not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. It is estimated that 1.6 to 1.7 million youth experience homelessness on their own each year. These youth live in a variety of unsafe, temporary situations -- including cars, parks, shelters, motels and homes of other people. Many unaccompanied youth are also undocumented residents.
DSS is working with the Latin American Coalition, CMS, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, area churches and medical service providers to develop a working plan. The group is in the very early stages of addressing this issue and is still in the process of creating a complete action plan with a timeline.
I will continue to update you on this issue as more information becomes available.
For more information about this topic, contact Community Resources Division Director Darrell Cunningham at or call 704 336-3286.
Mecklenburg County Values Employees
Each year, we set aside a few hours to recognize employees for their efforts and achievements throughout the previous 12 months.
Employee Fest 2014 is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Freedom Park. During that time, we will recognize several employees and groups who have gone above and beyond serving customers. The County’s Employee of the Year, the County Employee Team of the Year, and the Customer Service Hero Awards will be presented.
The celebration also includes diverse entertainment provided by numerous, very talented County employees and a traditional barbecue lunch served by the County Manager’s Cabinet. 
New this year, non-profit representatives will be on hand to answer employee questions regarding the Employee Giving Campaign. The charities will share how their contributions are used, and how employees can become more involved in their work.           
Board members are invited to attend. If you would like more information, contact Citizen Involvement Coordinator Sophia Hollingsworth via email or at 980-722-2111.
Health Department Partners with Junior League to Host 'Big Shot Saturdays'
North Carolina law mandates that all Charlotte-Mecklenburg school-aged children be up-to-date with their immunizations in order to be enrolled in school.
This year, the Mecklenburg County Health Department is again partnering with the Junior League of Charlotte to host two “Big Shot Saturdays” in an effort to provide parents with a chance to get their children up-to-date with required vaccinations without having to miss work or sit in a crowded waiting room.
The first was held on Sept. 13 at the Health Department’s Billingsley Road location and was a huge success. About 150 children received vaccinations.
The second event will be held Saturday, Sept. 20 at the Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, 1430 Alleghany Street. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
The Junior League provides volunteers each year to help with the effort.
Parents are reminded to bring their child’s official vaccination records and at least one form of identification. Some fees may be charged for certain vaccines.
Please contact Health Director Dr. Marcus Plescia at if you have questions.
First Ward Park Groundbreaking
First Ward is set to become a little more fun in uptown Charlotte.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, along with UNC Charlotte, Levine Properties, the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Center City Partners are set for old a groundbreaking ceremony for First Ward Park on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 at 2 p.m.
The ceremony will include remarks from:
  • Trevor M. Fuller, Chairman, Board of County Commissioners
  • Dena R. Diorio, County Manager
  • Michael Barnes, City of Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem
  • Daniel Levine, Levine Properties
  • Philip L. Dubois, Chancellor, UNC Charlotte
  • Michael Smith, CEO, Charlotte Center City Partners
  • Representative from Rogers Builders
  • Bob Szymkiewicz, First Ward Community Fund (Community representative)
  • Park and Recreation Director Jim Garges
The four-acre park will be built across from ImaginOn, between East 7th, 9th and Brevard streets, just east of the light rail tracks. Amenities will include:
  • Seat wall
  • Great lawn
  • Fountain plaza
  • Interactive fountain
  • Oval pool with trellis
  • Outdoor dining area
  • Outdoor chess board
  • Garden walk
  • Overlook terrace
  • Restroom building
  • Indoor flex space
  • Festival Street
  • Market walk
  • Flowerbeds
The park is expected to open in December 2015. View map
For more information, contact Park and Rec Director Jim Garges at 980-314-1012 or via email.