New Intern!

Hello! I am a new face around CHARISM’s offices so I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Kirsten and I am the new fall intern. I am a senior at Concordia with majors in Global Studies and Spanish and a Business minor. I recently got back from a semester abroad in Argentina where I had an amazing experience practicing my Spanish, interacting with the culture, meeting wonderful people, and learning about myself. I love adventures, being outdoors, making music, and spending time with my family. After graduation this spring I hope to work as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Here is me with my friends at Little Learners!


I am excited for the opportunity to be involved with CHARISM this fall! I love seeing how CHARISM positively impacts the families and children in the community it serves. So far I have been able to work with the Grocery Assistance Program, as a mentor with the Little Learners after school program, and on some projects around the office. I have a project in the works relating to the GAP program that I am very excited about, and have been developing some fun relationships with the kids in Little Learners. It has been a joy to meet families and kids and every day I become more passionate about CHARISM’s work and mission.

I look forward to learning more about this great organization and continuing to develop relationships and skills!

Re “fresh” ing :)

The youth of our McCormick summer camp were fortunate, once again, this summer to have the opportunity to nurture a garden! The kids enjoyed watering the plants using recycled milk jugs, pulling weeds, killing weeds with a homemade weed killer (vinegar and Dawn dish soap), and anxiously watching the strawberry plants to see their first fruits! :)


Campers and group leader Andrew, watering the garden!

We are thrilled to finally harvest the first of the produce! (Due to the weather and waiting period for supplies, we had a slow start planting) We plan to participate in the Hunger Free ND program by donating a portion of the fresh produce from the youth garden, as well as the community garden, to the Great Plains Food Bank! The youth, as well as the adults, will learn what it feels like to “Give Back” to their community! :)


New Office!

Last week, we spent our days packing and preparing to move out of our Stonebridge site. Our staff got some great arm work-outs in as we hauled out items to donate to other local nonprofits, and we were able to downsize a lot of our supplies to only what we are going to need in the next year of programming. When working at a nonprofit, it is difficult to let go of things…you never know when you might need that random stack of bows and arrows found in the basement. We decided it was okay to donate 1 of our 4 coffee makers (Our summer intern Brittney somehow made it through the summer without becoming a coffee addict herself, despite our attempts to get her to join the club.).

(A huge thank you to Fettes Transportation, they made Moving Day on Friday an easy, pleasant experience!)

Photo: We are pack-pack-packing for our move back to the McCormick Park neighborhood, which we are so excited about! Stay tuned for our new office address!

Many boxes were utilized for the move!

CHARISM relocated its main office to the Stonebridge location 10 years ago, at the city’s request. We had the opportunity to build up a quality after-school program and a tutoring program in this location, while continuing some programs at the original McCormick Park site. While we have absolutely loved the time spent with families from around the Stonebridge neighborhood, we are thrilled to be moving back to the McCormick Park neighborhood full-time! We will continue our Grocery Assistance Program and All Stars tutoring at McCormick Park, as well as implement our Little Learners after-school program. We can’t wait to build up relationships with the wonderful families in the surrounding area!

Photo: We are officially moved in to our new office! Updated contact information will be posted soon!

Our new sign at our new office space near McCormick Park!

Our new office address is 2601 12th Avenue South, Suite A, Fargo, ND 58103. Our main phone number is now (701) 356-0260. Stay tuned for updates on what we are doing as we begin a new school year with a new office! Thank you for helping us make good things happen!

Learning the ABC’s!

At CHARISM’s All Stars Tutoring program, our tutors get to work with students from a wide array of reading and math levels. Some students are just learning the English alphabet, while others can read short chapter books. We focus on not only reading English, but also comprehension, word fluency, and the correct pronunciation of words.

Here is an example of some fun students who worked on mastering the alphabet during their semester in All Stars. They were always very enthusiastic about learning the names and sounds of each letter! Click on the title below to see this sweet example of their practicing:

Learning the ABC’s at All Stars Tutoring


What I Like About CHARISM…

The other day one of the boys who comes to CHARISM wanted to share what he likes about CHARISM.  Here were his comments:

  • laughing
  • acting goofy
  • being accepted for who I am
  • face to face connections
  • mentoring beyond pen and paper
  • dancing
  • smiles and high-fives
  • expression of emotions
  • reading and telling stories
  • cart wheels
  • computer time together
  • playing board games, even when [my brother] wins!
  • piggy-back rides
  • snacks (laughing with mouth full)

These thoughts are a glimpse into what why this child loves coming to CHARISM.  Not only did he enjoy the fun activities that CHARISM provides, but was also able to recognize the deeper connections that CHARISM brings to the plate.  This was such a sweet and thoughtful list that we as staff wanted to share it!

New Youth Intern

Hi everyone-

Just wanted to drop in and introduce myself. My name is Brittney, and I am the new youth intern at CHARISM.  I am a graduate Social Work student from UND, and I will be with CHARISM until August.  I am extremely excited to work with this wonderful group of people who are making such a difference in these children’s lives and the communities they reside in.

So far, I am had the opportunity to participate in a lot of events my first week with CHARISM.  My favorite part of my day is working with the youth that are in the Little Learners program.  Wednesday and Thursday CHARISM went on a field trip to Lein Farms where the kids were introduced to horses, jumped on the trampoline, and made a Mother’s Day flower pot.  We all had a lot of fun!!

Well that’s all for now. Talk to you all soon! :)

Brittney – Youth Intern

Women’s Fund Breakfast

This morning, CHARISM had the opportunity to attend the Women’s Fund breakfast and share with the audience what CHARISM does, as well as show our appreciation for their support of our Habits of the Heart and FACES programs.

Executive Director Julie Gunkelman

Executive Director Julie Gunkelman described the educational and skill-building youth development programs at CHARISM. We mentor the wonderful and brilliant children we get to work with, helping with their reading and homework, as well as teaching them about hygiene, nutrition and leadership. We discuss the future, what the children hope to achieve as they grow older, and how important it is to be kind and responsible.

In the fall of the school year, CHARISM teaches a group of girls from Discovery Middle School the curriculum Habits of the Heart, which is supported by the Women’s Fund. The curriculum introduces the girls to a word: philanthropy. In the beginning, they just practice saying the word, and then they move on to discussing what “philanthropy” means, how it is practiced, and how it can affect the lives of those both close and far away. The curriculum explains the vital role that philanthropy plays in American culture.

These are very interactive sessions with lots of discussion. At the end of the 10 weeks of the curriculum, the girls select a nonprofit with which to practice their newly-found philanthropic skills and they award the chosen organization with a monetary gift. How rewarding for these girls to get to put the philanthropy they learn about as part of Habits of the Heart into practice right away!

Youth Director Shanda Hakk

In the fall of the school year, CHARISM teaches these girls the curriculum Habits of the Heart, which helps them learn about giving to others. In the spring, the girls learn about loving themselves through The FACES Project.Shanda Hakk displayed an example of artwork that was created as part of CHARISM’s FACES Project, a female-only program for junior high girls which encourages the girls to focus on their goals, talents, and to realize their self-worth. A portraiture artist is hired, and the girls get to learn about expressing themselves by painting their self-portraits. For 6 weeks they learn about beauty and indiviuality, colors and shadings. On the 7th week, they celebrate with an art showing at ecce art + yoga in downtown Fargo.

Discovery Middle School student Rita Nimpaye

Rita Nimpaye, a 7th grader at Discovery, participated in The Faces Project. She shared with the Women’s Fund breakfast audience about what she learned from the program.

Rita Nimpaye, one of the young women who has benefited from CHARISM’s FACES Project and the Women’s Fund’s Habits of the Heart curriculum!

CHARISM is so thankful to have the opportunity to invest in the lives of young women in our community, thanks to the Women’s Fund’s support and their Habits of the Heart curriculum. We are so excited to have been granted the opportunity to expand Habits of the Heart into even more schools, thanks to the generous support from the Women’s Fund. Thank you to the Women’s Fund to supporting our FACES Project and for believing in the Habits of the Heart program!

Spring Party!

Last week we hosted a spring party for families in the McCormick Park neighborhood! The kids got to enjoy eating dirt cups, a fun activity, and playing in the spring sunshine.

It was fun for CHARISM staff to reconnect with kids who have participated in our summer and tutoring programs!

Farming with Little Learners

Yesterday and today we had the privilege of having a visit from Ann Ueland, who lives on a local farm (and also happens to be my mother!). Many children in the Fargo-Moorhead community have never been to a farm despite living so close to so many farms, and so many different TYPES of farms! Some of the children in our Little Learners program have been to farms in other countries, but never an American farm. We were excited for them to learn about agriculture in the Red River Valley and in North Dakota.

Ann presenting information about farming to some of our Little Learners.

Little Learners

Ann taught them about crops that are typically grown in North Dakota, such as wheat, corn, soybeans and sugar beets.

A growing corn plant

A sugar beet

She also showed them models of equipment used to plant the seeds and harvest the crops, including tractors, combines, and Quadtracks.

Model farming equipment

The kids then got to learn what each type of crop looks like when it’s harvested. They glued sunflower seeds to a picture of a sunflower, sugar to a picture of a sugar beet, etc. Then they saw examples of food made from these crops, such as cereal!

We love getting to teach the kids about new things, especially things that are a big part of their community here in the Red River Valley, such as agriculture!

Great Plains Food Bank: Teaching Life Lessons

Last week we took the kids on a field trip to the Great Plains Food Bank. The Great Plains Food Bank is a huge warehouse in North Fargo that serves as a part of a larger network of food pantries.

The kids were amazed at how large the building was. And of course were eager to use the scaffolding as a jungle gym.

The Great Plains volunteer coordinator explained that we would be putting ingredient labels on packages of sauce. Every food item that is sent out by the food bank must have the ingredients listed on it. These packages were not intended to be sold individually, but by placing a small sticker on it, the food bank would be able to distribute the packages.

We gathered the children around two tables and after some minor squabbling over packages of sauce and sheets of stickers, they quickly got the hang of it. In fact, within 5 minutes of starting, the table I was helping had formed their own assembly line. The first child would prepare the package by squishing the sauce around until it was flat. The second would pass the package to the third person, who was taking stickers off a sheet and placing them on the package. The fourth would place the finished package into the complete box.

It was impressive how well they worked together, with very little direction. The only instruction was not to cover any other directions on the package by the sticker. In addition to the main assembly line on our table, several pairs of kids also realized that when they worked together they could do more in the same amount of time than what they could do by themselves.

The kids spent that afternoon volunteering. Even though they didn’t get to work directly with the people they were helping, they understood that someone needed to do this job, and because they were the ones to do it, they were a part of the bigger process.

Even more than that, I hope they took away a lesson that many adults continue to struggle with, including myself.

When we work together, we get farther than when we try to do it alone.

They each could have worked individually, and we would have finished several boxes. But they realized that when they worked as a team, not only were they more efficient, but they had much more fun. We filled over 30 boxes that afternoon.

It was a great day for CHARISM.

-Intern Tori