Archive | August, 2012

Advocate Training Sept 4th and 11th

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund is holding an Advocate Training! Learn everything you need to know to start working one-on-one with members of the community dedicated to their own success. CEF is not a charity – it’s a community approach to empowering individuals. Trainings on September 4 and September 11, 6PM to 8PM in the Campus Y, Room 207. CEF offers savings opportunities, micro-loans, financial education, and one-on-one support to people who are homeless, unemployed, or under employed

Join the Facebook Event!


Meet some of our Durham CEF members!

By: Lyndsey Fowler

Profiles of several of our Durham members!

Name: Jacqueline Bostick

Hometown:  Halifax County, Virginia.

Favorite Quote:  “Girl, Please,” she said as she giggled.

Interesting fact: “I’m the All-American Girl. I am capable of doing many things, I am positive and traveled; but I’m still just a plain Jane”.

Passions/Hobbies:  “I write short stories, plays, and skits. I’m also well-versed on the piano and with singing; artist of all sorts.”

Jackie is currently playing Angel, a mother of street children, in an upcoming play, “If the Drugs Don’t Kill You, the Streets Will.” She described the play as, “sophisticated, with a twist. Very hardcore.”

 “I’ve learned some good habits such as not using convenience ATMs, and the importance of saving. The people of CEF do have genuine concern about our welfare as far as our finances, job skills, etc. They have that drive and knowledge that inspires me to save more. “

 “I love the computer classes with Joe and TWB. I hate computers, I mean absolutely hate them, and if I don’t have to use them then I won’t. But through CEF, I’ve learned how to keep up with my email, surfing the web, and other simple things that are helpful and enjoyable to me. And the best thing about it is I get a laptop at the end. And if they let me keep coming, I plan on it!”


Name: Denise Mangum

Hometown: I am the fourth generation of Mangums to live in Durham, NC. My great-grandfather was a land owner and is displaying at the public library

Favorite Quote: My daddy used to say, “Gal, your eyes bigger than your belly huh gal.” He used to call us “gal”

Passions/Hobbies:  “My mom loved to sew and that’s something I’ve taken up. I can make almost anything, like patterns, selecting materials, and started out making dressed for my Barbie dolls! I used to sneak and use my mom’s single sewing machine and never stopped!”

“The jeopardy game with CEF was awesome. GO FOR THE BIG MONEY! ,” she said, “Learning about resumes was great as well. CEF is fun to be around, friendly, intelligent and good fellowship.”


Name:  Denise Dickenson, newly announced President of Dove House. “I feel that this is truly a privilege,” Denise says.

Hometown: Durham, NC

Favorite Quote: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!”

Interesting fact: “That girl can BURN in the kitchen!” – Vanessa Crockett, referencing Denise’s great skills in the kitchen.

Passions/Hobbies:  Denise wants to be the best grandmother possible to her new 6 -month grandchild, Aubrey.  She also enjoys reading, listening to music, and she says, “I’m funny too; I like to make people laugh.”

“I loved the jeopardy-millionaire game. Being involved with CEF through my safe savings account and the Opportunity Classes has helped me apply discipline in different areas of my life. Some of my favorite topics have been banking and staying on a budget.”


Name: Tanica Parker

Hometown: Durham, NC

Favorite Quote: “Worry about nothing, pray about everything.”

Interesting Fact: “I want to eventually open my own daycare, and I look forward to partnering with CEF to accomplish that.”

“I appreciate the togetherness of the opportunity sessions. I’ve learned financial skills that are already beneficial. The advocates are all so helpful and easy to talk to. ”


Name: Vanessa Crockett, Resident Manager

 Favorite Quote: “1. Believe you can and you’re half way there! 2. Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m Possible!’  3. In a gentle way, you can shake the world!”

Interesting fact: “I want to explore the deepest depths of the ocean. I believe in other life forms!”

Passions/Hobbies: “I would love to travel the world and become famous for my photography. Start a community garden. Write a book or screenplay. In my leisure I read and listen to all genres of music.”

“CEF has enlightened me with the importance of money management. CEF provides their time and service with an infectious enthusiasm. Their tenacity is a force to be reckoned with!!! CEF’s service work has heightened my sense of hope and self-sufficiency.”


“Thank you for believing in me.”

We got a really wonderfully nice voicemail from one of our members, and wanted to share!

Hello! I was just calling because I wanted to let you know that I got a job. I had an interview last Friday, and I start today, which is Monday.

I’m excited and scared at the same time. I’m hoping that everything will work out okay. I want to thank you so much for encouraging me and guiding me and believing in me. It means a lot to me.

I know some people think stuff like that doesn’t matter, but it matters so much to me because I know there are certain places I can’t get to in life without other people supporting or helping me. And I have never let anybody support or help me, I never did, and now I see that it’s okay to accept other people’s help or support in order to get where I’m going in life.

I’m glad, and appreciate all of your love and support, and know I couldn’t have done it without you, I know I couldn’t.

But I still want to come up to CEF! I want to save my money, I have to save my money. I have two savings goals by the end of December so I’ll still come up there and I need someone to help me with my money like we discussed, so I’ll still be coming!

Love you!


Featured Partner: HOPE Gardens

HOPE Gardens is a student-run community garden and urban farm in Chapel Hill, and has long been host to community potlucks and celebrations with CEF members. Their community garden workdays every Saturday have been a great way for CEF members to get active and grow their own veggies.

HOPE Gardens is launching a new program that will ensure CEF graduates who have moved into their own apartments have access to fresh, healthy produce. For a sliding scale subscription payment, HOPE Gardens will deliver a box of fresh produce from the garden directly to the doors of CEF graduates. Low-cost access to fruits and vegetables make a big difference for CEF graduates, many of whom suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure and yet struggle to afford the food best for their long-term health.

CEF and HOPE Gardens are both projects of the UNC Campus Y committee HOPE (Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication), and have been closely connected to each other since we both were started in 2009. From CEF’s perspective, this new program at HOPE Gardens is a huge step towards making sure CEF graduates stay connected to resources and can sustain their transitions out of homelessness.


Featured Program: Renter’s Savings IDA Program


Along with housing comes a new set of bills, emergencies, and unexpected “when life just happen” expenses. With utility bills and rent taking up such a large portion of income, it can be difficult for renters to save. Even after saving, unexpected emergencies make it hard to hold on to that money. The Renter’s Savings IDA is meant to serve as an “Emergency Fund”—money set aside for financial security and peace of mind, and for use only in the case of an emergency.

The new program will be piloted with ten members currently in housing and ready to save for the long-term. While similar in set-up to our current Safe Savings Accounts, this program will last at least 2.5 years, be matched at 50% (up to $1,000 in matching funds) and participants may draw on the 50% match when the emergency occurs, meaning one emergency won’t wipe out all their hard-earned savings.

Participants in the Renter’s Savings IDA program have a number of requirements including being graduates from Opportunity Class, CEF’s financial literacy course. In addition, all participants will make at least three consecutive deposits to be eligible for the match, and help lead the CEF Alumni Leaders group, meeting monthly to discuss new goals like home or car ownership, building credit, career pathways, civic involvement, and organizing other CEF alumni events.

We are so excited for this new program that will provide CEF members the tools to save more at the next level to have more control over their finances and live more financially peaceful and stable lives. This additional rung on the financial ladder will enable CEF members who have successfully transitioned into housing to maintain that transition for years to come.


Member Story: Amanda Signs a Lease

“He had sneaky eyes,” laughs Amanda. Jon, now used to Amanda’s jabs, chuckles along as we all share breakfast in her newly moved into home. “I didn’t trust anyone at all back then.”

Jon, along with his friend Audrey, have been working with Amanda as advocates for about a year at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), a local non-profit dedicated to helping people transition out of poverty and homelessness. Amanda first came into contact with CEF a couple of years ago and has been a constant presence ever since, at one point organizing a student-homeless “switch day” event. For the last ten years Amanda has been homeless, spending her two most recent years in a tent in Carrboro.

For the first year or so the trio had their fair share of ups and downs. Their trust problems weren’t resolved until their first fight, remembers Amanda, when Jon stood up to her and fought back. Ironically, it took Jon refusing to back down for him to gain her trust. Over the next year, the group would work on anything from obtaining food stamps to applying for jobs and acquiring a cell phone. Searching for housing was not yet a serious option for Amanda and her advocates, who were still scarred from previous letdowns.

But after the right amount of time, thought, and care Amanda, Audrey, and Jon finally decided to start the long process towards applying for housing. The next month or so would take them on a maddening journey of paperwork and applications, summoning multiple organizations in her quest for a home. Hearing her run down the list of names and groups that helped her brings mind to images of a stringed quartet, which requires every player to be in perfect harmony with the others in order for the music to work. Remembering all the people that had a hand in her success, Amanda takes a deep breath and begins running down her list of shout-outs, fondly recalling Mike from Housing for New Hope, Pamela from CASA, Bebe her social worker, Dr. Schietman, Spencer from OPC, and the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which interviewed the local homeless population to catalogue the community’s immediate needs.

But even with a small army of committed volunteers, the march toward housing was at times frustrating. The amount of paperwork was occasionally maddening. Amanda, never lacking dramatic flair, groans that she felt like she would “drown in paperwork” as another application would seem to appear every time they thought they were nearing the end. The process, Jon reflects, was great but representative of how difficult it is to access community and government resources. It would be “pretty impossible” for any individual to do this on his or her own. The stress of searching and applying for housing added to the everyday struggles of homelessness would be enough to make anyone crack.

And Amanda almost might have done just that, if CEF hadn’t “kept on top of me” and continued to challenge and push her, reminding me of Amanda and Jon’s first trust building fight. Amanda had to fight back past demons, with the threat of possible failure almost driving her crazy. She was always “waiting on the big joke,” for everything to fall apart and go back to her tent in Carrboro.

But the joke never came. Instead, on one early summer afternoon, Amanda was signing the lease for her new home. Finally, she had her own place and her everyday life became “less about survival and more about living.” Having a home was an adjustment at first though. To solve the problem, Amanda decided to throw a slumber party and invite her team of volunteers to celebrate with dinner and a movie at her new home.

The celebration capped off a long process that was full of hope and fear, dreams and doubts. “For anybody that’s having to go through this, just be patient” Amanda declares. “Where do you see your future going,” I ask Amanda as we finish breakfast in her living room.  After telling of her dreams of going back to college and starting a rescue home for cats, she adds one final caveat: “well that’s the good thing about being Amanda, I don’t know. We just have to sit and catch the ride. And hang on for dear life, cause it is going to be rocky.” For Jon, Audrey, and Amanda, the past year has been just that. But whatever the future holds, Amanda knows that CEF will be by her side, and now she can “trust enough to accept help.”

Maybe Jon’s eyes aren’t that sneaky after all.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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