Archive | October, 2011

Lunch and Learn 10/26

The Community Empowerment Fund invites you to
participate in our first:

Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
12:00pm – 1:00pm
CEF Office, 133 ½ E. Franklin Street, Suite 104

Join CEF’s student volunteers and members in our Franklin Street office for an hour of food and fellowship.
Together we will discuss local issues of homelessness and poverty, and share stories of hope, resilience, success, and beloved community.

Box lunches provided.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, October 25th to Maggie West at


Member Story: Gary

Gary, a St. Louis native, has been involved with CEF since participating in the Opportunity Class earlier this year. The road that brought him to where he is now is long, but it began with a decision to take steps to overcome his addiction. “I was down in Florida for a little over a year and I moved back to Chapel Hill,” Gary said. “I was dropped off at the men’s shelter and that’s when I decided that I needed help with my alcoholism. That was fourteen months ago and I haven’t had a drink since.” Overcoming addiction was not easy, but Gary was committed to quitting, and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly, often three days a week for six months. “Once I got focused on letting go of the bottle I wanted to pursue better things, get a job to where I could hold a job and I couldn’t do that in the shape that I was in,” he said.

Once Gary found the support he needed through AA, he began exploring new ways to make progress when he found CEF. Gary participated in the twelve-week Opportunity Class and, after completing it, got a job working for the PTA Thrift Store through connections he made in the class. Through the class Gary learned to budget his money, in addition to building lasting relationships. “I became friends with all the CEF people either through Talking Sidewalks or the CEF program,” Gary said. “We just all pulled together, networked. Financially, they are still helping me out, showing me how to manage my money to the point I can become functional.”

Asked what was special about CEF compared to other social service programs, Gary said that difference was the relationship-oriented approach. “They care. They care. They really do. I’ve been around [other] places but they didn’t really take the interest or the time to get to know you like CEF does.” Working with CEF member advocates, Gary has set both immediate and long-term goals for himself. “Right now I’ve got a goal of saving up two thousand dollars to get me a place of my own, so I can have my own keep,” he said. “My long-term goal is to restart a handyman service and maybe hire a couple of people.” Speaking from his own experience with CEF, Gary has this to say to others working through similar problems: “Hang in there. It’ll come to you. Don’t give up on yourself first of all.

CEF will provide the information needed and they have been a great help to me. So just hang in there.” He understands the hesitation some experience before they join CEF. “I didn’t want to come at first,” he said. “I said no, if I can’t get a job it was because of me. I wasn’t the type of person to really go out and ask for help, until I got sober, then [I realized] I was able to lean on someone else. It’s ok to ask for help, what you do with it is on your own.” Gary has made amazing progress since reaching out and joining the CEF family.

Interview and Article by: Tim Longest


CEF Alumni Association

Once a Member, Always a Member: CEF Alumni Association
The CEF Alumni Association launched this month! The Association consists of members who have graduated from one or more of CEF’s programs and desire to stay involved. Our purpose is to keep building communities and to create a network of ongoing support for all of us as we strive towards our dreams. We are here to help, listen, support, advocate and connect with CEF members. We will plan social gatherings to keep the alumni connections strong, including cook-outs, group hugs, meet-and-greets, presentations, and outings. Together, we will keep each other informed and offer advice and positive reinforcement. The Alumni Association will help our fellow members to succeed. Become a member today! Contact co-chairs Equashia Mumeen and Tommy Owens


Featured Partner: Love Chapel Hill

Love Chapel Hill

The Community Empowerment Fund appreciates the support of its partner, Love Chapel Hill. Love, a Chapel Hill-based church, became involved with CEF one year ago.

The relationship began when David Kayler and David Horton, members of both CEF and Love, came to Love with an idea. In their work with CEF, the two students had seen a major need for transportation among CEF Members. Time and again, unemployed or underemployed Members were forced to spend large portions of their savings on bus passes or cab fare in order to get to and from job interviews and educational opportunities – opportunities which would lead to further income in the long run, but were turning into financially drains in the short run.

“We’ve seen what a struggle and challenge it can be for people to find transportation around the Triangle for life-changing appointments” said Justin Simmons, executive pastor of Love. “We are glad to work with CEF to find those needs and help fill the gaps.” After forming a partnership with Triangle Transit Authority and doing some in-house fundraising, Love began providing bus passes and other forms of transportation assistance to those in need, and “Grace on Wheels” was born.

Along with Grace on Wheels, Love also aids CEF through its promotion of CEF events and service opportunities to Love members. Love is a natural partner for CEF given the fact that the two organizations share a common passion: building community and serving those experiencing homelessness and poverty.

“We’ve seen the proven success of CEF in helping to get people on their feet and well on their way to sustainability,” said Simmons. “We absolutely want people in our community to know that they are loved. CEF has an ability and proven track record to not only offer extremely helpful services, but to offer a real, authentic community among those who are living in or on the verge of poverty.”

The Love-CEF partnership will only continue to improve in the future. Love and CEF hope to expand Grace on Wheels and Love hopes to garner more member involvement with CEF.

CEF wants to thank Love for their continued support. Here’s to Grace on Wheels, to ending poverty, and to fighting the good fight together!


Candidate's Forum – Tuesday October 11th!

On Tuesday October 11th, CEF will be co-sponsoring a Candidates Forum (in partnership with CURB, EmPOWERment, The Jackson Center, NAACP and Neighbors for Responsible Growth). All nine of this year’s Town Council Candidates will be participating in this event, answering questions on issues ranging from race to affordable housing to homelessness. This is a great opportunity both to make our voices heard and to educate ourselves on the positions of those who may be making the big decisions in this town in the years to come.

All CEF Members and Advocates are highly encouraged to attend. The Forum will be held at St. Joseph’s (510 West Rosemary Blvd) from 6:30 to 8:30. We hope to see you there!

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

Chapel Hill: 919-200-0233 Durham: 919-797-9233