Archive | December, 2013

Holiday Party 2013

Thanks so much for sharing your time, your lives, your stories and food with us at our Holiday Party this year. We’re so humbled and enriched by what you all bring to this community! Thanks to Chapel of the Cross for hosting us this year, and to Mellow Mushroom, Pita Pit, Mcalister’s Deli, Chapel Hill Sportswear, Johnny T-shirt and Foster’s Market, for all the food and raffle prize donations you made to help make this such a special occasion!


CEF Leader Mike Wood Receives Chamber Award!



Great news! CEF’s very own Michael Wood is being honored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce during their 2013 Salute to Community Heroes!

Mike received the award for Volunteer of the Year from the Chamber. We are so proud and deeply thankful for Mike’s leadership within CEF and our community. He is such a gift and has had an amazing impact on many CEF members.

Join us at the celebration Thursday, December 12th from 6pm-8pm at the University Mall main stage.

More information here.



Beloved’s Lamplighter Award Nomination for CEF

CEF recently received one of the highest honors any organization could possibly aspire to achieve
— one of the members of CEF’s program nominated us for an award! We were truly humbled by her nomination — first, that she thought highly enough of her personal experience with CEF to nominate us, and secondly, because the essay she submitted with her nomination is truly beautiful.

Beloved, a really and truly lovely member of the CEF community, wrote a nomination for the Lamplighter Award, a humanitarian award given annually by 103.9 FM “The Light,” a local gospel radio station. And still even more amazing, CEF was selected as a finalist for the award! Beloved represented CEF at the black-tie event on Saturday! We are truly and deeply honored by Beloved’s nomination and the opportunity to be considered for the award. The Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association won the final award for their great work for racial and environmental justice in Orange County. We are delighted to have been included in such great company!

Beloved’s beautiful essay is included in its complete form here. Thank you, Beloved, for your leadership, care and commitment!

The Light 103.9 FM

“Community Empowerment Fund is a non-profit organization serving the people of Orange and Durham Counties. Co-founded by Jon Young and Maggie West, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduates, CEF’s foundation principle is preserving human and civil rights in the community. CEF connects current UNC and Duke Students who choose to volunteer their time in the organization, with individual members in the community who are seeking aid in any manner. CEF trains its advocates and volunteers, preparing them to serve people with the same dedication and principles it possessed at the opening of Community Empowerment Fund in 2009. Today, CEF is a thriving place, aiding folks of all ages and races, celebrating one another’s differences and empowering them to live above their circumstances.

“CEF is proud of people. People of all walks of life are welcomed. This organization offers a multitude of community resources to help and assist people in their time of need, whatever and however one may need. CEF is a place where individuals come to receive free services such as job seeking assistance, resume building, computer skills classes, cooking classes, sponsored plots in a local garden, along with the seeds and the necessary education needed in order to plant and harvest. CEF has weekly Opportunity Classes where several topics are out in the open, discussed across a meeting table, where coffee and pastries are served along with the uplifting, soul searching conversation. All input is welcome and received; it is a place to speak your mind and listen, a place to sit and build structure into one’s life. Papers are handed out on issues such as conflict at work, budgeting, among many other pertinent, life skill subjects, much needed in our society at hand. Once a member has completed the 8 sessions and reached their savings goal, they are eligible to receive a savings match in their CEF account of 10%. Community Empowerment Fund is built on providing people with the tools they need to be financially independent.

“The most powerful component of CEF is their belief that relationship is the starting point. Advocates are thoughtfully paired with individuals seeking membership and those relationships are brought together in concise ways, acting as friendships over a long period of time; multiple years. The relationships that are provided and strengthened offer peace and trust, where people have lacked it. Accountability is brought to the surface in a pleasant and mature process of ups and downs, and the acceptance therein. Support is offered, cell phone numbers are openly and easily exchanged. One wonders why they ever sought therapy and paid out of pocket for it, when human affairs are exchanged and treated so civilly. Likewise, attention is given foremost to the person who walks in, whether they are homeless, in a shelter, or in stable housing. Fare is given for those in need of public transportation to get to where they are going. Questions are not asked. Phone lines and internet lines are open and awaiting individuals who walk in who need them. Anything that would benefit a member is sought and found by their advocate or the founders.

“‘A tool shop for humanity,’ one could call it. An aversion from the norm. “True southern hospitality”, is perhaps what Community Empowerment Fund embodies. Biblical truth is what is represented and acted out. Works, works, and more works, all outlined in faith, though they are not a faith-based organization. Certainly, they attract many believers and probably turn more people into one than some churches. For one long time member whose iron count went low, a weekly box showed up at her doorstep, abounding with fresh produce from a local farm. Who made this happen? Her advocate and CEF’s co-founder, with their connection to a farmer food share. Another member with a medical issue and no transportation was supported to own her own car with CEF’s partnership with a local car donation organization and through building her CEF Safe Savings Account.

“All around, CEF enables empowerment among the peoples, and is always seeking out more ways to applaud their members who they so diligently support. Eradicating homelessness is their anthem, providing aid to live one’s life to its fullest is their mission.”



Thank you note from CEF Member

Malcolm pictured above after successfully saving to purchase a vehicle through Wheels4Hope!

Malcolm pictured above after successfully saving to purchase a vehicle through Wheels4Hope!

This letter was written to CEF by Malcolm, one of the wonderful members of our Durham program. Malcolm is truly an inspiration to all of us and has an incredible story to share — one that beautifully demonstrates the value of both advocate relationships and community partnerships in CEF’s work. Thank you, Malcolm, for your leadership. 

Dear CEF,

On the 14th of October 2012, I arrived at Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD). I was homeless, penniless, jobless, completely computer illiterate, troubled, angry, and battling a life of substance abuse.

I joined the Hope Recovery-Journey Outreach program at UMD in order to battle the substance abuse because I needed help to conquer the addiction to drugs and alcohol, for, at this point, my life was totally unmanageable and I knew that I was powerless over the drugs and alcohol.

While I was in the Hope Recovery Program at UMD, they introduced me to a few other programs, which have helped me tremendously along the way. One of those programs was the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF).

I first met with Janet, Chad and Alice [CEF student volunteers from Duke University], who introduced me to the laptop computer for the first time in my life. They told me to attend six classes and I could actually buy a computer for $130.00. So I started going to the classes every Saturday in the UMD cafeteria. The CEF staff were excellent teachers. They taught myself and the rest of the people in the class something new every week. At the end of the six weeks, I knew how to type, space, punctuate etc. By the time I was presented with my computer, I had learned enough to go to Durham Economic Resource Center (DERC) and enroll in college at Durham Technical College, where I took some advanced courses in computers. With the use of my new computer from CEF I was also able to sit with the CEF group on Saturdays and fill out applications online, surf the web, Google, text, email and things of that nature.

The honest truth is, because of CEF, today I am working at MERCK as Production Management Assistant/Logistics in Kanban. This deals mostly with computers. Sort of like a miracle, you know?

I still meet with CEF on Saturdays–not as often as I should, but I will improve on that. When we meet we work on things like employment income, barriers to income, finances, and health. For instance, they help me to find the proper health care provider and things of that nature.

Thank you CEF. You are truly a Community Empowerment. You have certainly Empowered my mind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and because you have put something positive on my mind, I have one year and two months of uninterrupted SOBRIETY.

Thank You All at CEF. So many of you have given of your time and effort to help me, so many friends, too numerous to mention, your vibration is Positive. Thanks again.

Truly Yours,

Malcolm Clemens
CEF Member

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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