Advocate Spotlight: Nura Smadi

Nura Photo CEF 2

When did you get involved? How did you get involved? 

Although I heard about CEF at the beginning of my journey at Duke, only last semester I finally got a chance to delve into the CEF world and not only learn about the wonderful work that the organization does in Durham, but actually work directly with the members of the Durham community. One of my best friends at Duke, Shafiq, got involved with CEF last year and through him, I noticed the extent of the impact that he was having on the Members that he was working with, and also the impact of the Members on him. Each Wednesday of last semester he would return from his Office Hours at the Dove House in Durham with a smile on his face. Throughout the semester his excitement only increased as his relationships with the Dove House members strengthened and as he got more involved in the critical backstage work that ensures the smooth operations of the organization. That, along with a persistent stream of weekly e-mail reminders from Quinn, really inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and venture into Durham with CEF.

What about CEF interested you in the first place? 

I have been involved with multiple service organizations in varying capacities since high school, but none have had the personal relationship-based approach that CEF is built upon. In the past, most of my service work has been rather impersonal; holding fundraisers, food-drives, or advocating for a particular cause. CEF has earned a very special part in my life because it provides me with the opportunity to actually connect with the Durham community members that it serves; in fact, I currently feel more in touch and more connected with the city itself due to my involvement.  What I love most is the fact that through the establishment of a collaborative relationship between members and advocates, this really cool and dynamic energy emerges that pushes both parties to set and achieve important financial goals.

What’s the most important lesson you think you’ve learned through working with CEF?

I think the most important lesson would have to be that relationships matter, and they matter a lot. Some may disagree, but I really believe that strong and powerful relationships can and do act as a catalyst for change, especially the type of change that CEF strives to accomplish. I have not been working with CEF for a very long time, but my experience so far has undoubtedly been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience at Duke. This would certainly have to be because of the relationships that I feel are actively forming with the members that I am interacting with.

Favorite Memory in CEF – Working with Ms. Habibah

Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting and working with such a fantastic member in Durham, Ms. Habibah. Every week I look forward to going to the Saturday Durham CEF Open Office Hours because I know I would see her again. Although I just met Ms. Habibah only a few weeks ago, she was so quick to let me into her life. She has so effortlessly welcomed me as her partner in this process of transition and financial goal setting. She is very inspiring actually; she has set very clear financial targets for herself from the start and since then she has not diverted her focus from reaching these goals. It is a wonderful feeling to know that my contributions and support as an advocate, although small in the grand scheme of things, can amount to something so important and meaningful for members like Ms. Habibah. I am so excited to continue strengthening our relationship and to be there with her as she reaches even more personal financial goals.

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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