Burch S. Mixon was as advocate for Freedom School Partners and the scholars and families we serve, beginning with the Seigle Avenue days. He served as a Board member (twice!), and also served as our Board Chair from 2012-2014. His presence will be greatly missed in the Charlotte community. Freedom School Partners recently had the honor of speaking with Burch’s wife, Arrington Mixon, reminiscing about how FSP impacted not only Burch’s life, but the family as a whole.
You and Burch shared a deep commitment to making Charlotte a better community for all. How did Burch’s passion for giving back impact (or imprint) your lives?
The Charlotte community is our home. It is where Burch grew up, where I started my first job out of college, and where our children were born. Taking care of our home and our community is something that has always been important to us.
Burch graduated from West Charlotte High School in 1980 – and he worked to put himself through college at UNC Chapel Hill. Those experiences taught him the importance of education and the significant difference that can be made when a community stands behind the right of every child to have access to education. And to Burch, education was more than just learning facts and figures. It was instilling in a young person a life-long love of learning – including the freedom to ask questions, to challenge, to listen, to experience new things, and to find your most authentic self through the process of learning.
What is one of your favorite memories of Burch during his time serving on the Board of Freedom School Partners (and/or Seigle Avenue Partners pre-2009)?
Burch loved nothing more than being in community – working together to solve a problem – and celebrating mutual accomplishments. He loved being part of Harambee – a time when the Freedom School Scholars and Servant Leader Interns celebrate who they are and what they can be. Harambee means “all pull together” – and that so resonated with Burch and the way he lived his life.
One of our favorite memories was in the early days of Seigle Avenue Partners, when we hosted a holiday party for the board and staff members at our house. At a time when the party would have normally wound down, someone found our piano and the party restarted with singing, laughing and celebrating. Our children, who were very young at the time, came downstairs in their footy pajamas and joined the party. It was our own personal Christmas Harambee – and our house remained open for FSP’s annual holiday gathering for many years to come!
How did Burch’s involvement with FSP impact you and your family?
Both of our children served as interns for FSP one summer. Elise worked on the administrative side and helped to coordinate the various site needs as well as the Jubilee. Our son, Burch, worked with the scholars as a junior servant leader – and loved playing sports with the kids. They learned that many of these kids had obstacles to overcome that we could barely imagine. We had many dinner table conversations about the amazingly resilient children and families served by FSP and how a good education and a supportive community can open doors that are too often closed to many bright and promising young people.
All of us loved the unbridled joy and community experienced at morning Harambee and annual Jubilee! Burch was all about smiling, laughing from your toes and dancing – and Harambee was a great opportunity to do all three!
Burch’s legacy is very much alive within Freedom School Partners; what is one thing that you hope to see come to fruition with FSP in the coming years?
One of the many things Burch loved about FSP was that it was so much more than a summer literacy program. It empowered children to believe in their intrinsic self-worth. It also inspired young servant leaders to become teachers and mentors. Burch would want to make sure we keep Freedom School fun – and to continue to expose the scholars to things they may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. He loved their annual trip to a local farm where they saw how the food they ate was made – and had the joy of being in a wide-open space. That is what summer should be about for all of our children.
Burch introduced FSP to our church as part of its relationship with Rama Road Elementary School. As much as it changed the lives of the kids who participated, it also changed the lives of our many parishioners who served as volunteers. He would like to see more churches and schools and community organizations partner with FSP so that it can continue to expand its reach and its impact on the children of our community.
What about this fund named in Burch’s honor excites you?
Burch served on the boards of SAP and FSP for many years – and participated in many fund raising and strategic planning efforts. He saw the organization grow exponentially and, with that, came unexpected challenges and opportunities. He knew the challenge of meeting an unanticipated need when there was no room in the operating budget. We hope that this fund will give the board additional flexibility when an opportunity arises to enhance the FSP scholar experience during the course of the year. To give towards the FSP Burch S. Mixon Endowment Fund click here.