Archive | June, 2012

Friends on Franklin St.

By Kemper Ramsey

I have been working with CEF since the beginning of my freshman year at Carolina. For so many students, that first semester is a turbulent time – finding new friends, understanding a new town and a whole new group of people, and being pushed out of their comfort zone for the first time in a while. When I found CEF and started spending time with our members and advocates, I knew that I had found an amazing community of people.

Spending time in the office not only teaches how to navigate job searching sites, government programs, and credit reports, but also the most important business of providing support to CEF’s members as a friend and ally. I remember walking out of the office that first week I came in and feeling positively uplifted by the stories I had heard and the people I had met. I know I came into CEF thinking I would help people and educate people on their finances or how to build a resume, but I was unprepared for the genuine friendships and care that would come along the way.

So while CEF has helped so many in the Chapel Hill community to get jobs, become financially literate, and save toward their goals, the most incredible aspect for me has been the relationships I have built and the friends I get to see walking down Franklin street or coming into the office every week.


Could CEF Survive without Love?

By Keith Pulling, CEF Outreach Coordinator

“Could the Community Empowerment Fund as an organization survive without love?

“It’s an interesting question, and one that is not so irrelevant to our organization, or the world as a whole. It’s a question that was recently posed to me as part of a speech delivered by Sam Wells (former Dean of Duke Chapel). In the talk, Wells argued that people, and students in particular, are trying to create a world that can properly function without love. We are working furiously to design and implement economies that will maximize efficiency and equity. We are reforming our school systems to ensure an equal and challenging education for all children, regardless of class or race. We are reading history books to learn of the foreign policy mistakes of the past, to ensure that we don’t repeat them in the future. But are we doing all of this with a posture of love, compassion, and intimacy? What good is a world with maximally performing economies, perfectly reformed school systems (whatever that may mean), and just foreign policies if the people that fill that world are alone and left with a feeling of emptiness?

“Maybe the solution to our problems is to take the focus off of the problem and back onto the people. As young students intent on change and justice, we get so caught up in fighting against institutions that we forget that we are supposed to be fighting for people. This is not to say that sometimes fighting against an unjust system is not synonymous with fighting for people—because often it is. But what happens when we win the battle? When we finally find housing, or employment, or healthcare for one of members? Do we simply check that battle off the list, and go on to fight against bigger and more oppressive institutions? Or do we take time to rejoice, knowing that the work that we do is work for people, and not just against institutions? It is a question that is central to the work of CEF as an organization, and to our lives as people in a world that is in desperate need of justice and hope. It is my wish that we can answer the question of could CEF survive without love with a resounding no, as we come to realize that we do not exist merely to solve problems, but to love people as well.”

Keith Pulling is a rising junior at UNC, and is spending his summer teaching a middle school summer program at Student U in Durham and interning at CEF as the Outreach Coordinator and general chief-of-fun-events and community-building. Thank you, Keith! For all that you do and who you are.

This summer, you’ll hear from a different member of the CEF summer staff every week! We’ll be collectively writing reflections on the day-to-day work with our members, office happenings, and lessons we’re learning. Look forward to more to come.


"Removed from one's comfort zone"

This summer, you’ll hear from a different member of the CEF summer staff every week! We’ll be collectively writing reflections on the day-to-day work with our members, office happenings, and lessons we’re learning.

Our first post comes from Lucas Hernandez — Lucas is a Lend for America intern with CEF this summer, and is joining us from Rollins College in Florida! We are so grateful to have him as a part of the team this summer.

By Lucas Hernandez

Being removed from one’s comfort zone is always an adventure.

This summer, being a part of the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) family is living proof of this creed.

My name is Lucas Hernandez, a rising senior at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. I have the pleasure of spending my summer here in beautiful Chapel Hill thanks to the Aspen Institute and their Lend for America program, which looks to help college students pursue careers with a conscience. Along with the Community Empowerment Fund, university students are given the opportunity to work at the Capital Good Fund and the Intersect Fund.

Although I have spent only one week at CEF, I have gained a lifetime’s worth of experience and laughs. Viewing the videos on the website and reading stories about the organization prior to arriving at Chapel Hill I knew there was something difference about CEF. Many said it was about relationships and a sense of family. Having heard similar credos from other nonprofit groups in the past I took these viewpoints with a grain of salt. However, upon arriving at my first day in the office on Franklin Street I absolutely believed it. The energy, the passion and the dedication demonstrated on a minute-by-minute basis by both members and advocates is awe-inspiring. The individual attention and the connections that are developed clearly works beyond helping members find jobs or open savings accounts, it creates a sense of worth and empowers everyone involved.

Personally, I have helped members work through job applications, apply to social services and even finding affordable rates on taxicabs. As I work through these issues with members I realize how much I have taken my life blessings for granted. I knew there were issues in this world and there is no shortage of struggle or strife, but to view these struggles first hand is powerful. What is more powerful, however, is feeling so connected in friendship with CEF members so as to look beyond these struggles and solely see their wonderfully inspiring personalities.

I look forward to helping fulfill CEF’s mission of empowering community members and filling gaps in Chapel Hill. I particularly look forward to using my skills to help develop the newly launched CEF Latin@ business services. Until that point, I look forward to spending the rest of my day with friends and learning, even more so, the power of individuals coming together to simply just be with one another.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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