Archive | September, 2015
At CEF we strive to “alleviate homelessness and poverty” by building relationships with members of the community, encouraging financial literacy and savings, and leveraging the passion and energy of hundreds of student volunteers. To this end, we’re excited to announce that this Fall and Winter, with the help of Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness (OCPEH), we will be launching an Integrated Services Center in our Chapel Hill office that marries our efforts with those of partner organizations in the area.
Many CEF advocates, members, donors, and board members understand deeply that the conditions that lead to poverty and housing insecurity are nuanced and complex. In most cases, there is no “quick fix” to the challenges members encounter. Rather, members must confront a range of issues—systemic, health-related, legal, and environmental—before becoming financially independent and healthy. Organizationally, we understand that in order to provide a quality and whole-person approach to working with members, we must collaborate and integrate services with partners and we are thankful that there are many organizations in Orange County that are able to stand with CEF as we aim to fulfill our mission.
We hope to build on the success of OCPEH’s 100,000 Homes Task Force, which meets monthly and seeks to collectively solve the problems some of our most vulnerable community members are encountering. We believe the next step for our community is direct and continuous collaboration in the service environment.
With financial support and encouragement from OCPEH and our early partners, Housing for New Hope, Critical Time Intervention, Durham VA (HUD-VASH), Orange County DSS, and Love Chapel Hill, we are piloting the Integrated Services Center from mid-August 2015 to February 2016 for the purposes of:
- Improving program member outcomes in employment, housing, financial literacy, mental health, and health access by providing whole-person support in a setting that reduces unnecessary barriers;
- Streamlining members’ access to quality person-centered and cross-program services that facilitate the path to self-sufficiency and well-being;
- Reducing the need for duplication of services between agencies;
- Leveraging the strengths and capacities of a variety of organizations and their complementary services.
This is a new and exciting endeavor, which will undoubtedly test the ways in which agencies and organizations effectively share information. However, we are certainly not starting from scratch. The ISC is modeled after the templates, research, and rich experiences of leading national agencies and foundations like the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), United Way, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, et al. We believe, with these examples and extensive research to guide us, the ISC will be an innovative mechanism for social service delivery in the area.
To be sure, we will be scrupulously measuring ISC’s impact and results, compiling academic research and gathering our own data and metrics as we move forward. Collaboration, integrated service delivery, and collective impact are essential for success in a non-profit environment that has very limited resources for myriad worthy organizations and projects. CEF aims to expand strategically through its ability to collaborate and problem solve alongside community partners so that we can fulfill our mission.
Please stay tuned to our blog, newsletters, and social media over the next few months where we will post Integrated Services Center updates!
After almost a year of meetings with the Board of Directors, the Alumni Advisory Council, Advocates, Members, and Staff CEF is pleased to present the “signed, sealed, and delivered” summary of our 2016-2018 three-year strategic plan. As a blueprint for our future growth and development, over the next three years we plan to:
✓ Work with partners to further integrate financial services into shelters, workforce development, and housing services
✓ Improve our ability to provide holistic support to members
✓ Solidify and strengthen job partnerships to help members achieve satisfactory employment
✓ Promote sustainable transitions into housing that keep members in stable housing
✓ And ensure that we stay happy and healthy as an organization to continue to serve members effectively
The following is a profile of a CEF donor/partner who was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about his life, his motivations, and his experience with CEF. We’re happy to introduce him to the CEF community and to thank him for his support, in all of its forms. We hope to continue to feature partners and donors in our newsletters to thank them and to help tell our story.
To create a musical harmony, the artist stacks pitches on top of each other to produce a chord — a simultaneous sound that is pleasing to the ear. As a result, harmony has come to be used as a descriptor of symbiosis, a relationship where elements work and exist well together, in many different forms.
CEF donor Jay Miller understands intimately the difficulty and beauty of harmony. A Duke graduate (‘80), Jay spent his undergraduate years as a “gopher,” or administrative helper, for famous jazz musician and Duke “artist-in-residence” Mary Lou Williams. Jay, a bass player entering college, happened into Williams’ “The Beginning of the Blues” class in his freshman year.
“I was so taken with that,” he remembers fondly, “I was totally into jazz.” Williams was Jay’s inspiration to start playing the saxophone, and, referencing the time spent working for Williams, he admits, “I was willing to do anything because I could sit in there [Williams’ office] and listen to her practice.”
Music, both playing it and selling instruments, turned into a profession for Jay upon graduation. He opened a small music shop off of Ninth Street in Durham, which he spun into a chain of very successful music stores that spanned North Carolina (“Winston-Salem to Wilmington”).
However, Jay noticed a dissonance in his early post-graduate years while he was playing music professionally, a sound was out of place in his life: “I developed a drug and alcohol addiction.” He explains, “I don’t mind talking about it because I think the stigma is really unfortunate around a lot of mental health issues and I would rather just talk about it and maybe it will help somebody.”
Fortunately, Jay sought help early, consulting a substance abuse counselor in Durham and starting to attend regular Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the age of twenty-five. He is quick to note, although he maintains sobriety, “I have not really moved past my addiction issues, they are with me every day — it’s something that has to be managed for life for most of us.”
Ever cognizant of the value of the help he received from Durham County, and grateful for his good fortune, Jay wants to give back, “That’s kind of formed my basis in mental health interest.” Helping others, he says, has the added benefit of keeping him “on track” in his daily effort to manage his addictions.
Jay has given back in a big way since selling his music business in 2002. He and his wife Ebeth Scott Sinclair — a visual artist herself (http://ebethscottsinclair.com/) — started the Shared Visions Foundation to help non-profits in Durham and Orange County, especially those that serve individuals with mental health issues.
Jay’s musical ability to listen for missing notes and fill that space, creating harmony, has equipped him well in the non-profit sphere. To him, creating harmony means offering essential business advice and financial counseling to non-profit organizations and leaders, “I feel like a lot of non-profits suffer from not paying attention to the business of the business, if that makes sense. And so my original idea is that was how I would help non-profits.”
A perfect match for CEF, Jay has already participated in Opportunity Classes and will be assisting with training our volunteers in financial coaching. We are so grateful for the gift of his time and energy, in addition to his generous financial contribution through the Shared Visions Foundation. We’re looking forward to continuing to make music together!
Interview conducted by Ayana Sadler, CEF Summer Intern
Anne Yeung was a one-year Community Engagement Fellow working full-time out of the CEF Durham Office, helping foster CEF’s relationship with the Duke Office of Durham and Regional Affairs, building CEF programs, and supporting volunteer advocates. She chose to work with CEF because she was seeking a professional experience that ethically and impactfully addressed systemic problems in the community.
How long have you been with CEF?
I’ve been with CEF for about three years now — two years as a volunteer while I was at Duke and this past year working as full-time staff.
What did you study at Duke?
I graduated from Duke in 2014. I was a public policy major, pre-med, with an interest in public health and social medicine.
What are your job responsibilities with CEF?
I work full-time as the Durham Program Coordinator. I would say the work is like three “buckets,” though they aren’t really buckets because they all kind of work together. The three categories are advocate support — supporting our wonderful student volunteers to do both the direct service work that they do and the administrative back end support they do to make CEF run; community partnerships — being out in the community and talking to other partners out in the area and getting CEF’s name out there and figuring out how we can best work together to support our members; and then the third category is program development — putting the previous two things together and thinking about, what do our programs need to be, where do they need to be to best support our members. How do we improve them? How do we grow them?
How has your position evolved since you first started?
I would say that the biggest difference about my position is that I really don’t support students as much anymore. The reason is that they’re all supporting themselves, they’re all supporting each other. And, they have grown tremendously our capacity for leadership and the structure where people have their purview of responsibility and decision-making, then take it and run with it. So, I kind of find myself sitting back and watching a lot more, which is really awesome.
What are some challenges you faced while working for CEF?
The biggest challenges are probably moments of helplessness. We all live within these systems and we are subject to the faults and failures of these systems; so, despite people’s incredible resilience and resourcefulness and creativity, sometimes you just bump up against the system and there’s not much you can do about it. Whether it’s lack of affordable housing or the way our criminal justice system works or something else…just moments where you are just one person and no matter how amazing you are as a person, you are just one little person in this giant system and that can feel very helpless and really hard.
What is your most memorable moment with CEF?
My most memorable moment with CEF is the first time we had “House Course,” which is our Duke for-credit, semester-long, academic course that is our training for all of our advocates in Durham. That was fall 2014, and it was the end of the semester and we were doing reflections, so everyone was going around talking about some high or low that they had or a memorable moment during the semester, working with a member, or during Office Hours. And, I felt like I heard 30 times what had happened for me, and I was watching it happen for 30 other member-advocate pairs. That was just astounding and so awesome, and I almost cried — I didn’t cry, but I almost cried — because I think the coming together of two people and the magic that can happen there where you learn about yourself and you learn about somebody else’s story and where you help each other in different ways is really beautiful. And I will never forget that moment.
How has CEF inspired you? Either a member, advocate, peer, co-worker, etc.
This is a hard one because there’s a lot you could say. There’s two things I would say. I’m inspired by people’s enormous capacity for growth: just watching someone be over here, and then a semester later, or a year later, or even a few weeks later be totally over there, and just have changed fundamental parts of themselves. And I think the second thing that really ties into that is people’s commitment to wanting to learn and grow continuously, and to always evolve and not be complacent about where you are. I’ve seen that in our members, our advocates, staff around me — that has definitely been really inspirational.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be going to Georgetown School of Medicine in August. Actually, my first day of classes is August 10th. I’ll be going into medicine, and I hope to practice for some of my time and spend the rest of my time leveraging the direct physician caretaker perspective to work on more of a systems level.
I don’t know if that will mean working for a non-profit, or working in medical academia, or working as medical director of a state health department, or something like that. I’m not sure yet, but I look forward to it whatever it is. And, one thing that CEF has taught me is that life can change dramatically in a very short amount of time; so, that’s my answer for now, but who knows?
Can People Experiencing Homelessness Acquire Financial Assets
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, December 2015, Volume XLII, Number 4
By: Allison De Marco, Molly De Marco, Alexandra Biggers, Maggie West, Jonathan Young, and Rachel Levy. A collaborative publication between Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Community Empowerment Fund, and the UNC School of Social Work. This report is a qualitative study of the results of CEF’s Safe Savings Program compiled through the conduction of extended qualitative interviews with program participants.
Home health was the vocation for Denise Rush. Her upbringing shaped her to care for the elderly in ways that afford them dignity, but finding work with bene ts and regular hours had been a long-standing struggle. Denise moved her family into the shelter following an accident on black ice that caused her to lose her job and home.
Each week in the Genesis Home living room, Denise and her advocate Quinn Holmquist, a Duke student from Charlotte, NC, met to complete job applications. Their perseverance paid o when Denise was offered two positions, but they came with challenges: “People don’t know that you have to go through a lot to be a [Certified Nursing Assistant].” She worked 50-75 hour weeks, and spent time and gas driving to clients’ homes, which was uncompensated by her employer.
Denise’s kids worried, “Mom, we haven’t seen you for a week.” Even Quinn grew anxious over her lack of sleep. “So I started saying ‘no’ to the hours. My employer’s attitude was, ‘How dare you not want to work all these hours?’ They sent me an email saying, ‘Your services are no longer needed.’” Fortunately, Denise and Quinn had been applying to better-paying jobs. Shortly after her dismissal, Denise called Quinn, exclaiming,“Duke called me!” She had received an offer for a salaried CNA position at Duke Hospital, with benefits and consistent hours that made it a keeper.
Denise’s experiences have given her a powerful voice in Raise Up for 15, a national movement campaigning for a $15 minimum wage. She has given speeches in Durham, Chicago, and Atlanta, and was featured in the New York Times. “My mentality is that we come together and pull each other up. That’s how I was raised growing up in the Caribbean – there is unity.” At Raise Up for 15 events, she has met college professors who live out of their cars, and civil rights activists who marched alongside Dr. King. “Back then, their working conditions were horrible, and because they fought, conditions improved.”