Archive | General

$1,000,000 Dollars Saved!

🐖One giant pig. One million dollars saved.💰

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to the Piggy Bank Bash to celebrate CEF Members’ amazing accomplishment last night. We’re proud to be part of such an amazingly supportive community and extremely thankful for all of the warmth and encouragement shared and received last night. We’re also filled with gratitude at the generosity of Grub, who generously hosted and fed us all for free, and all of our West End neighbors and friends, who pitched in with raffle prizes ( Pauli Murray Project, The Cookery, and Steel String  ) and supplying a sound system (the Durham Co-op Market 🎤).

Partners from Families Moving Forward, Self-Help, Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, Vimala’s Curryblossom Café also came out and shared their support in full force! If you want to continue partying it up with CEF this year, we hope to see you at Steel String on Wed, November 14 at CEF’s Night Out at Steel String

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CEF: Hurricane Response

Hurricane Florence and Matthew have deeply impacted the CEF community. Apartments and homes that are at risk of flooding are most-often the more ‘affordable’ units in our communities; and so CEF Members have been coming together to find resources, to relocate, and re-build together. Many have joined CEF as new Members, connecting for the first time to navigate these crises.

In the days leading up to hurricane Florence, CEF assembled and disseminated a Hurricane Resource Guide in English and Spanish, and our Chapel Hill office served as a distribution center the Thursday before the hurricane arrived. That day, over 60 folks dropped by and collected non-perishables, hygiene supplies. We contacted almost 100 people staying outdoors or in unstable housing, and connected them to emergency shelter for the storm! Some highlights from the day: Jon calling in orders of food and supplies to bring to Members on Franklin St., keeping our eyes peeled for and updating the resource document over 368  times, and generally creating a collaborative and supportive environment in the office!

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Piggy Bank Bash – 2018 Celebration

When: Monday, October 29th, 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Where: GRUB Durham, 1200 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701

Ticket Price: $30 (100% donated to CEF)

Your $30 donation gets you a ticket to:(discounts for Members/Advocates/Students)

🥘A delicious GRUB Dinner (w/ vegan options) & 1 drink!
👂A chance to learn more about CEF’s work in housing and economic justice!
🎶Songs by the CEF Advocacy Choir!
🎉Hang out and celebrate with the CEF crew!
⁉ What’s in the box?! Find out the secret!
💸The best part? 100% of ticket proceeds go to CEF!

The first 30 folks to use “EARLYPIG” get $10 off the regular price!

We have an exciting secret to share! Join us on Monday, October 29th to support the innovative work of the Community Empowerment Fund through a fundraiser hosted by GRUB Durham. This will be a night of education, food, drink, and camaraderie. There will be ample opportunities to learn about CEF’s work and mission at the event while meeting CEF members, supporters, West End neighbors, and more.

100% of the ticket proceeds benefit CEF. Purchase tickets here. The GRUB Durham team looks forward to celebrating and supporting CEF’s continuing work with you!



About CEF: CEF supports over 1,000 Members in Durham and Orange Counties experiencing homelessness or financial insecurity to gain jobs, secure housing, and build savings. Founded in 2009, CEF coordinates hundreds of trained volunteer Advocates, primarily from area universities, to work alongside CEF Members towards achieving their personal goals.

Can’t make it to the party?

Sponsor a ticket for a CEF Member / Advocate! 

$

Event Location

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CEF Featured in Prosperity Now’s Financial Coaching Design Guide!

Prosperity Now’s new “Financial Coaching Program Design Guide: A Participant-Centered Approach” is hot off the press! It’s an incredible guide for organizations interested in creating or refining a financial coaching program and it features great work and wisdom from CEF and other partners across the US! We loved working with the Prosperity Now team to bounce thoughts about what makes a good person-centered financial coaching program, and we learned a ton from fellow advisors as well!

Check out some samples below from CEF’s featured work!

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Meet Liz and Leah: CEF Housing Justice Fellows

It’s been just over a month since Liz and Leah, CEF Housing Justice Fellows for 2018, started on-boarding at CEF and shaping vision into action! They’ve jumped in and are meeting with members from all over the community to carefully discern the best steps forward for their work. They were generous enough to share some reflections for their work this year in a Q&A!

Liz Brown, 2018 Durham Fellow

Leah Whitehead, 2018 Chapel Hill Fellow

What led you to this work?

I began working with CEF my freshmen year in an attempt to engage more intentionally with the Durham community, landing on CEF because of their relationship and systems-based approach towards anti-poverty work. I’ve never looked back! I was brought to the Housing Justice Fellowship role through various conversations with the Durham staff team regarding the enormous potential for change wrought by an organized Member base. The opportunity to deepen my relationship with CEF, grow in my organizing capabilities, and continue to do ‘the work’ is truly a dream come true.

I was first drawn to CEF because of their emphasis on relationships. CEF doesn’t generalize or oversimplify about how to show up for someone. CEF creates an opportunity for people to get to know each other and say, “hey, I see you, I hear you, and I got you.” This philosophy really resonated with me and I was drawn to this role because it felt like an opportunity to be a conduit for collaboration across sectors that could spread that same spirit of support. I mean, imagine a community where the primary message we are sending each other is “hey, I see you, I hear you, and I got you.” That’s what keeps me going when the coffee wears off!

How would you describe the work you will do in the CEF community through your role?

I’m working to support community, foster inclusion, and build power among and within the CEF Durham Member-base. In my role, I will act as a community organizer, convener, and advocate for the greater incorporation of CEF Member voices and experiences in CEF, Durham, and the systems that bind us. My goal can be summed up rather simply: create more Member-driven structures at CEF.

I’m piloting a Housing Locator position that will serve all of Orange County. We know that private landlords are key partners in housing justice; my job is to engage those landlords to understand the barriers they face in keeping units affordable and serving tenants who are regularly excluded from housing opportunities. Ultimately I will be a bridge between private, public and non-profit partners to come up with creative solutions that ensure affordable housing opportunities are accessible to those who need them and sustainable for the landlords and property managers who steward them.

What strengths, skills, and experience do you bring with you?

I bring with me 4 years of CEF experience! During my time as an undergraduate Advocate with CEF, I served as the Communications Coordinator and Advocate Engagement Co-Coordinator, working to incorporate Member stories into our internal communications and organize the Duke student body around economic justice and affordable housing. I also bring with me experience organizing with Durham CAN and the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, DC. I am a people person in the truest sense of the phrase, and I am ecstatic to bring my love of stories, the people that hold them, and the power they possess to the CEF team.

I’ve worn many hats at CEF since 2015, from Member Advocate Coordinator to Training Team member to Advocacy Choir participant! My degree in public policy gives me a socio-political and racial-equity lense to housing justice and a background in economics, both of which informed the last three years of direct experience liaising with landlords and working with Members on housing. Those experiences have been steeped in the importance of relationship-based support and driven by the greatest strength I could bring to this work, a wholehearted, deep-in-my-bones, core-of-my-soul kind of commitment to finding creative and collaborative ways to make this community a home for all people.

Where do you expect to find energy and renewal?

I expect to find my daily energy through the Durham staff team: Donna, JV, Jess, and Janet. I expect to seek inspiration from CEF Members fighting the fight day in and day out at both the individual and structural levels. I expect to find renewal in our victories, whether they come in the form of increased affordable housing stock or the precious moments when a Member stands up to power and is heard at last!

I expect to absorb energy and renewal from the resilience of each and every person who walks through CEF’s doors and from the interwoven community of folks who stand up for every person’s right to safe and affordable housing. But also the other day I literally “whoopee-ed!” because a landlord responded to my email, so it’s the small things too!

Where do you expect to find challenges and how do you hope to find the best way forward?

There is no hiding that this work can be challenging and emotionally taxing. I know there will be days when I am tired and beaten down, wanting to give up after a poorly-attended action or a run in with a  persistent and seemingly immovable instance of injustice. These moments, I am sure, will not be uncommon, nor will they grow less painful to endure. The CEF ethos, however, in its dynamic understanding of trauma-informed care, healing centered engagement, and self-care offers a unique way forward. The guiding and life-giving question becomes not “What’s wrong?” but rather “What can be better?” With this framework at our backs, we move forward.

It is no doubt that the housing landscape in Orange County is challenging at best. I’m under no illusion that I will find the magic key to the affordable units that address the massive and growing needs of our neighbors and I’m aware of the unique challenges that come with working cross-sector in a system of scarce resources. I hope to find a way forward by seeking input from community partners to understand their needs and concerns, staying relationship-centered, and finding the areas where we can support each other in building a thriving community that serves all of our neighbors.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

I love CEF!!!! I’m so pumped for this year and all of its many challenges, hopes, dreams, moments of immense failure, moments of bitter success, laughs, stories, cries, shared meals, shared rides, actions, reactions, conversations, fights, and victories. I am so grateful for the Housing Justice Fellowship and hope it continues well beyond this year of exploration, growth, and hopeful progress. I’d love to hear from you at lizb@communityef.org!

I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to be a part of this important work! Not sure how or why you might have a stake in creating affordable housing opportunities in Orange County? Please reach out to me (leahw@communityef.org) ! This is a community-wide challenge and requires a community-wide solution! We got this!!

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Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable 2018

“Nothing we’re doing in Durham right now is more important than this.”
– Steve Schewel, Mayor of City of Durham, NC Government

These were the closing words at the third annual Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable, which took place on Monday at Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. The Roundtable is an annual event dedicated to engaging private housing providers towards the goal of ending homelessness by creating access to affordable housing. Over 115 property owners and managers, tenants, community organizations, and housing advocates came together to share experiences, brainstorm solutions, and explore the opportunities and complexities of Durham’s private rental market.

We are so grateful and thankful for the host of collaborators who volunteered their time at the 2018 Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable! A special shoutout to the 13 table facilitators, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare for providing refreshments, childcare and photography volunteers, hands-on support from Housing for New Hope staff, and Trinity Ave Presbyterian Church for hosting the event. A huge shoutout to all of our speakers who opened up the conversation, including Mayor Steve Schewel, Anthony Scott and Denita Johnson ( Durham Housing Authority ), Terry Allebaugh ( North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness), Ryan Fehrman ( Families Moving Forward). Big ups also to Megan Noor and Gino Nuzzolillo for their phenomenal event coordination!

The Roundtable took place as part of the Unlocking Doors Initiative, a community collaborative coordinated by CEF. To learn more about this Initiative:

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Financial Independence Day 2018

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Celebrate Community and Financial Independence

You are invited to CEF’s annual Financial Independence Day, Saturday, July 7th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at Umstead Park in Chapel Hill! It’s a community cookout with fun activities to acknowledge and celebrate the fight for freedom from financial burden. We’d love for you to come and be a part of the:

  • Community Cookout: Chilli, Pasta Salad, Hot-dogs, Veggie Dogs!
  • Raffle with Prizes
  • Beautiful Crafts
  • A Showcase of talent! (poetry, song, dance, or anything else)
  • Expressing what financial independence means to you!

RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/oyBKbBNBXSJbXizI2

Photographs from Last Year’s Party!

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Featured in “Make a Difference” Magazine

CEF is featured in the Spring 2018 edition of the Triangle Community Foundation’s “Make a Difference” Magazine!

Started as an undergraduate organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), CEF very quickly grew into an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit to meet increased demands. [CEF has] built numerous community relationships, engaging in broad-based partnerships due to the cross-sectoral nature of the work. What makes CEF unique is their relationship-based support in delivering financial services that achieve equity.

In order to sustain transitions out of homelessness, CEF combines financial services and holistic, one-on-one coaching. Advocates at CEF do not just sit down and explain how to read a credit report. Instead, advocates and volunteers collaborate with the same people for years, working together to see the long-range progression from severe and acute instability to financial stability. The relationship-based nature of the work is evident in the community credibility CEF has built. “Almost 50% of our new members hear about CEF from word of mouth. The work we do is so intimate, it’s really helpful to have that immediate credibility.”

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Maggie-We-Love-You Party

“I just want you to hold on for a minute and live in the fullness of what it is to be a part of community—an endless and abundant family, with unbounded opportunities for connection. And to feel the way that each of our hearts is so connected, and that each of us is just so ready, to be loved and to love. That feeling is what I take away from my time at CEF and it’s the greatest gift of my life.”

— Maggie West, CEF Co-Founder & Co-Director 2009-2018

It was hard to find a dry eye at the “Maggie-We-Love-You” Party! On Saturday, June 2nd, CEFers gathered to celebrate almost 10 years of deep dedication and vision that Maggie has shared with the CEF community as Co-Founder and Co-Director.

The day was filled with so many mystical moments, imbued with meaning and drenched in love. Here are just some of our favorites:

  • A Community Yard Swap organized by Maggie’s family! Many of us brought treasures to share, and walked away with a bag or basket full of treasures that was new to us.  🎁
  • We co-created community art projects to chronicle beautiful time shared together—one a gift for Maggie, and one for display in our Chapel Hill office. We also put together a scrapbook with notes of appreciation and blessing for Maggie.  🎨
  • The Advocacy Choir sang one of Maggie’s favorites (Lift Every Voice and Sing), and wrote a special new song (based upon Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road”) to share our special blessing with Maggie!  🎶
  • The helpers of an anonymous Elf delivered to Maggie a gift from 30+ friends, family, and co-workers: plane ticket to Peru! There, we hope that Maggie can get some well-deserved R&R, share time with her community there, and continue discerning the next steps in her journey!  ✈
  • We shared good food, including all kinds of offerings brought by guests, as well as some CEF party staples (like Maggie’s coleslaw recipe)!  🌭
  • In honor of the creative savings initiatives that Maggie has ideated at CEF, a real-life pig named Sugar made a celebrity appearance! 🐷
  • Maggie invited us to join hands, to be present with the fullness of CEF as a community. (See the video above!) 🧀❤

There is no greater way we can say thank you to Maggie for all that she has done at CEF, other than to lean into her invitation to “live in the fullness [of] what it is to be a part of community—an endless and abundant family, with unbounded opportunities for connection.” Thank you and we love you, Maggie! 

 

Special thanks to the Jackson Center, Bread & Butter, and to the countless people that showed and contributed to make this celebration so unforgettably special!

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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

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