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Bethel Enrichment Center Summer Camp invites area professionals for career day

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

As the gymnasium of Kannapolis’ Bethel Enrichment Center filled with an excited mix of more than 80 4- to 13-year-olds on Wednesday, Mayor Darrell Hinnant stood observing the mix with a smile twitching at the corners of lips.

Hinnant came as one of many featured guests during the third annual career day for Bethel Enrichment Center’s Summer Camp, and his smile communicated his feelings toward the invitation: “This is one of my favorite things I get to do as mayor,” he said.

The reasons for this favor were plenty: the interaction provided an opportunity to educate the citizens of tomorrow on the inner workings of their city, to foster positive relationships between the authority figures and the people they served.

But more so, said Hinnant, interacting with the community in locations such as the enrichment center offered benefit for community officials themselves.

“We believe this church is a large beacon in our community,” he said, “We love being here and finding out exactly what issues are concerning the people we serve. It really is a two-way street.”

Other professionals in attendance would echo Hinnant’s sentiments in their own rights, praising not only opportunities to get out of the office, but to spark passions and inspire in ways the now-working professionals had been inspired in their adolescence.

“I’m so grateful and thankful for each seed that’s planted in the lives of these students here today,” said camp worked Deborah Gill. “These seeds are going to continue to build each time these kids encounter these professions outside of these walls today.”

For Gill, this concept was personal. She recalled passing the Bank of America building on South Tryon Street in Charlotte as a child and her immediate desire to work there. The child-sparked dream would follow her into adulthood, and she’s now worked within the building for 17 years.

Camp director Lois Hunter has worked to encourage opportunities for inspiration all summer long, with trips to universities, colleges and community learning sites. The group takes trips each day and will even be featured on a PBS special this year. For the camp’s third career day, she invited professionals ranging from emergency services and law enforcement to a podcaster, security guard, members of the Cabarrus Health Alliance and more.

Antonio Johnson Jr., a podcaster with a focus on entrepreneurship, said the career day was helping offer students the chance to explore the opportunities of tomorrow.

“In today’s time, there’s been a shift in culture where people are really able to follow their passions,” he said. “Technology is taking over, and people are able to see through our platform the world of opportunities available for them.”

Destiny Moody, a mom accompanying 5-year-old Addisyn Collins, praised the camp for events like the career day as well as the staff’s attention to enrollees.

“This isn’t a camp where you just drop off your kids and they do their own thing for the rest of the day,” she said. “The instructors are really involved, and really working to provide experiences like these. I absolutely love it.”

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