Archive | Highlight

“Knowing you were there was enough”

Dear CEF Family,

One day, after passing out suddenly at work, Deborah was airlifted to UNC for critical care from her home in Johnston County. While completing medical rehabilitation, she knew she needed to find a way to remain close by her doctors, so she joined CEF and began working with Advocates to secure a place to stay in Chapel Hill. The housing search was difficult. At her lowest point, Deborah was two days away from being released from rehab with nowhere to stay. 

Showing up to CEF’s office each week, Deborah found a community that gave her the faith to keep going. “Everybody just needs some encouragement—that’s what I get when I’m at CEF. I get encouragement, whether I’m there for five minutes or all week long.” Finally, she and her Advocates found an apartment. “It was all by faith,” Deborah will tell you.

This year, Members told us what has mattered most: that CEF has faith in them.

“This place makes you feel like you’ve got somebody on your side.” 

“CEF believes in the people they serve.” 

“Knowing you were here was enough.” 

These past ten years, CEF has been able to stand by Members because so many supporters in our community have believed in us. As founding board member Dr. Gene Nichol reflected at this year’s Piggy Bank Bash, “CEF has learned that the power of working together in community effort is the greatest economic development tool. And after 10 years, CEF is not just going, it is thriving, it is busting at the seams. It is the great institutional story of commitment in the community—of striving, of hoping against hope, to push back on the challenges of poverty.” 

We frequently get asked about CEF’s “Secret Sauce.” The ingredients of the sauce, of course, are not so secret after all: it’s linking arms in community and having faith in each other. We see this faith put into action every day, as Members gain income, find their own homes, and build financial well-being alongside their Advocates. “We’re hands-on people,” as Deborah puts it. “If something’s going to change, somebody’s going to have to do something to change it.” 

Thank you for believing in CEF and in the change that our work makes possible. By donating to CEF, you are putting your faith in CEF Members—you are telling our community that you are on our side. We hope you’ll make a gift to CEF this year, and join us in sustaining this beloved community. 

With deep gratitude, 

The CEF Team 


Thanks to a generous group of CEF donors who came together to match year-end donations, your gift to CEF will be doubled through December 31st, up to $38,000!

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Annual Report 2018 : “it takes a collective”

“We are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to grow with the over 1,000 Members and 250 Advocates who show up every day to care for each other. It encourages us to learn from and lean on one another as we move forward together. Thank you for believing in this community of boundless support as we grow towards the abundant possibilities we have before us.”

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Piggy Bank Bash – 2019 Celebration

100% of tickets sales and donations made until Nov 8th will be matched 1:1

thanks to an anonymous CEF supporter!

When: Monday, Nov 4th, 5:30-8pm

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

Ticket Price: $40 (100% donated to CEF)

10 Reasons to Celebrate at the Piggy Bank Bash this Year:

1. 🥳Celebrate CEF’s 10-years of transformative work in our community!
2. 🍽️Enjoy a delicious GRUB Dinner (with vegan options) & 1 drink!
3.
🏡Learn more about CEF’s innovate work in housing and economic justice!
4. 🎵Listen to songs by the CEF Advocacy Choir!
5.
👂Hear from Gene Nichol, founding CEF Board Member, local hero, UNC law professor, and author of “The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina.”
6. 💸All ticket sales and donations will be MATCHED to $10,000!
7. 🎊Hang out with the CEF Community (the Bash sold out last year!)
8. 🎭See a sneak-peek performance from the Affordable Housing Musical!
9.
🎁Win raffle prizes — a $100 gift card, a signed copy of Gene’s book & more!
10. 💯100% of ticket proceeds go to CEF!

Are you a present or past CEF Member or Advocate? Use the coupon code “CEFMEMBER” or “CEFADVOCATE” to gain access to a reduced-priced ticket of $15! CEF Members can also request a sponsored ticket ($0) by using the purple button below!

Join us on Monday, November 4th 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, Advocates, supporters, 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!

Can’t make it to the party?

Sponsor a ticket for a CEF Member! 

$

2019 Piggy Bank Bash Sponsors

grubdurham.com/           |       susanhertz.bhhscarolinas.com        |        alfredwilliams.com

 

                 

centerforintentionalleadership.com   |     candlescience.com           |      roblammepolicy.com


1 Anonymous Donor

Interested in Sponsoring the 2019 Bash? Email Keely at keelyk@communityef.org



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.

Event Location

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Financial Independence Day: Photo Gallery

We had an incredible time celebrating our community at Financial Independence Day on Saturday! We ate dinner together, listened to live music (and participated in some impromptu karaoke!), and reflected upon what financial independence means to ourselves and our community. Very special thanks to Love Chapel Hill, for their collaboration in planning and hosting the cookout; to the Hargraves Community Center, for generously allowing us to use their picnic area space for the celebration; to Rachel Despard, for sharing her musical talents by providing live music during the event; and to Buns Chapel Hill, for donating 200 delicious hot dogs that we thoroughly enjoyed! We’re looking forward to doing it again next year!

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Meet Our 2019 Chapel Hill Interns!

Meet Serena.

Serena Singh

What brings you joy?

Advocating for what I believe in brings me so much joy. I have seen firsthand the power of activism, and every baby step towards tangible change is always so refreshing. Additionally, the people closest to me bring me more joy than anything. No matter what’s going on in my life, I know I can depend on a core few to stand in my corner.

What about CEF excites you the most?

The perspective I have gained on oppressive systems and the world as a whole definitely excites me the most. I learn so much every single day I’m in the CEF Office, and I am incredibly grateful for the advocates I’ve met, the members I’ve worked with, and other community individuals I’ve had the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with.

Share a story about a meaningful moment that you attribute to your experience with CEF.

One of the first meetings I ever had as a full advocate, I was asked to help a member write a paper for a class that was due at noon. It was 11 and we only had an hour, but together we cranked it out — MLA format and all! She was so appreciative and gave me the biggest hug. That was a fantastic way to begin my experience with CEF!

What brings you joy?

People and the little things around me bring me joy! I love seeing how people interact with each other and the world around them – I get joy from my everyday interactions with people, whether it’s talking with an old friend or sharing a moment with a stranger.

What about CEF excites you the most?

Everything! I love the philosophy at the heart of CEF – it’s so genuine and inclusive. I really love getting to know more people from the community. CEF is so exciting because I get to build relationships with really great people while also engaging with issues of injustice in a meaningful way.

Share a story about a meaningful moment that you attribute to your experience with CEF.

I ran into a member I had been working with every week a few semesters ago on the bus the other day! She had gotten a job that she’d been wanting for a long time! It made me so happy to catch up with her.

Meet Sophia.

Sophia Janken

Meet Joy.

Joy Stouffer

What brings you joy?

Running, cooking, reading books (especially realistic or historical fiction). Sitting on my porch drinking coffee.

What about CEF excites you the most?

I love that I can collaborate with a wide variety of people, from members to staff to other advocates, in order to convey that each and every one of us is important and should be heard.

Share a story about a meaningful moment that you attribute to your experience with CEF.

My freshman year I worked with a member who needed immediate housing. We had to call several shelters in the area and finally secured him one at a spot in Durham. This experience was meaningful to me because I realized that housing is definitely not a guarantee–each night in your own home is a gift.

What brings you joy?

Conversations that lead to meaningful connections bring me the most joy. There is so much to learn from the people around us and I could sit and listen to stories of lived experiences all day. It makes me happy when someone can trust me and I can trust them – creating a bond.

What about CEF excites you the most?

The members excite me the most because they come in with hope for a better quality of life and it’s exciting to be on the passenger seat helping them while they drive and take control of their life.

Share a story about a meaningful moment that you attribute to your experience with CEF.

I was working with a member from Russia for about 2 hours and we ended up talking more about his time there and lessons he’s learned.

Meet Inaara.

Inaara Mohammed
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Financial Independence Day 2019

2019 CEF FID Square Graphic

Celebrate Community and Financial Independence with CEF!

You are invited to CEF’s annual Financial Independence Day, Saturday, June 29th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm at the Hargraves Community Center (216 N. Roberson Street in Chapel Hill)! Join us for 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, including hot-dogs, veggie dogs, coleslaw, chili, watermelon, and delicious desserts! 
  • Raffle with Prizes 
  • Kid-friendly crafts, corn hole, frisbee, and other games
  • A showcase of talent! Poetry, singing, dancing, and anything else
  • Expressing what financial independence means to you!

Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/ij2qvaL8AG8SUmXK8 

P.S. Do you need a ride to the celebration? We got you! Let us know on the RSVP form.

Photographs from Last Year’s Party!

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CEF Staff Profile: Maggie Mraz

Maggie joined us last May on staff after working as an Advocate for years! She has a heart of gold and a gift for making people feel wholly heard and cared for! Maggie has been an incredible support to our Chapel Hill community, working one-on-one with Members and as an in-office support for Advocates and Members during our regular office hours.

In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at the CEF?

The work I do with CEF centers in encouraging and supporting CEF members to become all they would like to be. I have the opportunity each day to offer positive, practical help in the hope of assisting people to reach their goals in life.

What strengths, skills, and experience do you bring to this work at CEF?

I sincerely love people,  I am a mom, and I believe I can influence changing the world. These three powerful realities impact how I approach each day. I hope to be intentionally present and attentive to people and their current life situations.

What led you to work with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

I began serving as an Advocate several years ago after meeting CEF people through the Durham office. I was looking for a place to practically help people struggling with life circumstances impacted by poverty. When I met CEF I said to myself, “I want to be like THEM!”

Where do you find energy and renewal?

I regularly enjoy taking naps and I am inclined to pray often. These two practices consistently renew me for the work I do. I also have a beautiful family. They bring me a lot of joy. The perspective I have for the work I do is shaped largely by a rhythm of rest, spiritual practices and quality time with my family.

What challenges you, and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

The most challenging thing for me about the work of CEF is the constant potential for being overwhelmed by the immediate needs of people. There is no magic wand to wave to make life struggles transform in an instant. I find being present to people and offering my best self in the immediate moment makes all the difference. Ms. Yvette’s desk has a tiny rock painted with the words, “Keep Showing Up”. I expect being consistently mindful of wisdom like this will influence my work of caring for people through CEF now and in the future.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I am extremely grateful to be part of this beautiful community of people. To me it just feels “right” to be part of all that happens in this place. With CEF, is where I want to be.

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A Farewell to CEF Durham Advocates!

Graduating Senior Advocates Gianna, Hayes, and Grace

With the return of warm air and long evenings, we at CEF Durham are forced to say goodbye to our Senior Advocates as they graduate from Duke and head out into the world. These Advocates have contributed hundreds of hours, given an immeasurable quantity of energy, and formed CEF in more ways than we can put into words. As they left CEF, a few Senior Advocates offered up some parting words to share with the CEF community.

Grace Mok joined CEF as a summer intern through Duke Engage. Years later, Grace has completed over 120 CEF Member meetings, shaped Advocate training curriculum, and served as Special Projects Coordinator. Grace shared, “CEF has given me a different vision of how organizations can run and change for the better. Shared leadership and whole personhood are not ideas that all organizations strive for. I hope I can work for an organization as passionate and caring as CEF has been.” Further, Grace explained the ways in which CEF will stay with her as she moves away from Duke and Durham. “Some of the gifts are very concrete — a mug that a Member made himself that I put my silverware in now in my room. Some of the gifts are ephemeral — stories, advice, smiles. I am thinking about “coaching” as a lifestyle tool and I am thinking about community. I am so glad I have been able to build as many relationships as I have and had the opportunity to touch as many lives as I have, to learn with and from folks about so much.”

Gianna Giordano joined CEF during her first semester at Duke, and has since completed over 90 CEF Member meetings and served as Employment Services Coordinator on the student leadership team. Throughout her career at Duke and as an Advocate at CEF, Gianna applied what she was learning in the classroom to her work at CEF, and vice versa! “I have a huge appreciation for the way CEF recognizes that it is traumatic to constantly have to interact with a system that was designed to ensure that you lose. At Duke, I’ve spent a lot of time studying the child welfare system and other social policy issues, and I have observed that this trauma-informed mindset is missing from many discussions about human service delivery systems. When dealing with complex problems involving societal structures, many people look right past this. They see unfair policies and widespread injustice, but they do not recognize that the affected populations experience cumulative trauma that permeates every aspect of their daily lives. From my experiences at CEF, I’ve learned that there is not only a need for structural change but to be with people, support them, and help them recover,” Gianna explained. In her personal life, Gianna shared that, “CEF has encouraged me to value genuine friendships and relationship-driven service work, but it has also taught me to pay close attention to power structures that perpetuate injustice and push against them in creative ways. CEF Members have inspired me by their resilience, tenacity, and selflessness, and CEF staff and advocates have inspired me by their hard work, passion, and constant willingness to learn. The bonds and friendships I have formed with Members and other Advocates these past four years will motivate me to challenge structural injustices for the rest of my life.”

“CEF has been the longest-standing commitment I have had at Duke. I will never forget the Activities Fair on the East Campus Quad, where I saw Liz at a club booth and went to chat with her. I signed up for CEF that day and enrolled in the House Course for the fall semester of my freshman year,” shared graduating senior Hayes McManemin. Since then, Hayes has completed over 65 meetings with CEF Members, worked at CEF’s on-site office hours at the Families Moving Forward shelter, and served as Communications Coordinator on the student leadership team. Hayes shared, “In my opinion, CEF played an integral role in helping me decide what career trajectory I wanted to pursue. Now, I am sure I want to work in a non-profit setting where I can interact with those for whom I am advocating, and have a chance to build meaningful relationships with those same people. I have learned so, SO much about empathy and have gained so much perspective about the ridiculously privileged position I am in. This organization provided me a different way to engage with the Durham community and learn about this city outside of the Duke bubble. I love CEF very much and am going to be very sad at my last office hours!”

We are going to miss our seniors so much, and wish them all the best in taking what they have learned at CEF out into their new careers, cities, and communities. Wherever they go, we know they will make a positive impact in the lives of those around them, always remembering that all people are creative, resourceful, and whole.

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Meet Regina

Regina and her four kids’ lives changed rapidly with the onset of company layoffs, a serious illness, divorce, and loss of their home. Previously, she had built a stable career in military and corporate life. “Don’t ever think that you can’t ever be sitting in the bottom,” she shares.

Regina first met JV, her CEF Advocate, while she was saying at Families Moving Forward, an emergency shelter for families in Durham. Each meeting, she worked on new goals, from building savings and credit to pursuing housing stability and professional growth. “While I connected with CEF, I was also able to take time not only letting my body heal, but letting my family heal. And through that, I gained a career that I love to death — or love to life!”

Now, 1.5 years after joining CEF, Regina has rebuilt a professional life that is driven by passion. After earning certifications in wellness and recovery, she is now an independent recovery coach. She regularly connects her clients with CEF. I’m a huge advocate! It’s like family … [And] a good connection for whatever you want to grow and be in life.”

Having found stability, Regina is finding ways to weave her success with that of her community’s, by creating job opportunities and leading community change. She founded a successful cleaning business that is dedicated to hiring single parents and people with conviction histories and substance abuse histories. “We’re fighting the same fight,” she shares of the company’s 4 employees.

She also serves on the Board of Recovery Communities of Durham, volunteers as a youth mentor, and advocates for mental health policy and equitable wages. It’s good to be a part of that change.”

This story about Regina was featured in CEF’s 2017 Annual Report!

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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

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