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Sharing news from Jon & Janet for the CEF family

CEF Co-Directors, Jon Youngpenn, Donna Carrington, and Janet Xiao

Message from Jon & Janet, CEF Co-Directors

CEF has been our heart and home for nearly a decade. After ten years of learning and growing with all of you, we are feeling called toward a new path and will be transitioning out of our roles this spring.

Each day for the past decade has been indescribably full to the brim. One of the guiding values of our community is that “we are all creative, resourceful, and whole,” and we have seen this reflected in a million ways through individual people and in our powerful collective work. This strong and vibrant community of Members, Advocates, staff, partners, and supporters is made up of people that we’re proud to call lifelong friends and teachers. What’s emerged from CEF’s momentous growth over the past decade is an organization that is impactful, innovative, trusted, and purpose-driven. We are grateful to be able to make this transition at a time when the organization is flourishing, financially healthy, and poised for its next stage of growth.

This past September, Donna Carrington, who has been a core leader on our team for the past six years, stepped in to support CEF as a Co-Director. We are inspired by the wealth of experience that Donna brings and confident that her intentional and values-driven leadership will continue carrying CEF forward with love, wisdom, and abiding dedication.

As CEF prepares for this transition, CEF’s Board of Directors, leadership, and broader staff team are engaged in an organizational discernment process to envision and build its future shape. This is a wonderfully rich and healthful moment in the life of the organization, and we are truly excited about what’s to come. We hope you’ll join us in actively continuing to support CEF, and in celebrating as this transformative organization continues to bloom!

In Love and Gratitude,
Jon and Janet

 

Message from CEF Board of Directors

Dear CEF Family,

CEF is entering another season of growth and change in the New Year. In 2019 we worked with over 1000 Members with the support of 220 Advocates, celebrated 121 Members gaining jobs and 138 Members moving out of homelessness into housing; and in exciting news, CEF Members have now saved over $1,250,000 collectively towards their personal goals. As we continue to deepen the work of CEF in our community, we are very excited to announce Donna Carrington’s promotion into directorship from her previous role in CEF’s Durham office supporting Member Services and programming. Donna, and the CEF staff and board, will be continuing to deepen our commitment to sustainability and equity in our organization, our work, and our community. Together will be undertaking a lot of intentional work to support the development of the new leadership structures CEF needs in order to grow and flourish at this point in our organizational life. 

Jon and Janet have played an incredible role in the transformation we’ve all experienced since CEF started as an organization in 2009. They have brought immense dedication, vision, soul, and roll-up-your-sleeves dedication to their work. Thank you, Jon and Janet! While we can’t help but feel sadness about this change, we are also excited to take this next step with the organization and begin a process of discernment and transition. Jon and Janet will both be sharing great wisdom with the rest of the CEF community to support a smooth and healthy leadership transition.

We know there will be a lot of questions, and we welcome the curiosity of fellow community members even while we may not have all the answers in the immediate future. We are excited about the future possibilities for us as an organization, and deeply grateful for the contributions of everyone who has participated in making CEF the incredible community it is today!  We are designing a process and an interim strategy that gives us the space and time we need to be thoughtful during the period following Jon and Janet’s departure.  You can learn more details here with the “Transition Details and FAQ.” 

Sincerely,

Eric Breit and Brian Smith

Co-Chairs, Board of Directors

We’re so grateful to the whole CEF family for being an amazingly supportive community. As we enter another big year for CEF, and as we continue to adapt and grow, we hope you’ll keep doing what you do best at CEF—whether that’s volunteeringdonatingcoming to meetingsbuilding program partnerships together or singing with the Advocacy Choir. Or, if you are looking to get more involved,we hope you’ll reach out!

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“I love it, I do”

I gave a sharp interview, I believe that’s what put me in there,” Leonard says with a smile. In April, he interviewed for one of the newly-completed PeeWee Homes, tiny homes built on the property of Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill. A couple of days later, he received a call: “‘You have one of the PeeWee Homes!’ I went and picked my key up, signed my lease, and been there ever since. This month it’ll be 8 months. I love it, I do.” 

After experiencing more than 30 years of homelessness, Leonard’s home still feels new. When Leonard isn’t out working one of his two jobs, his home provides a peaceful haven. He regularly checks on his neighbor, PeeWee (after whom PeeWee Homes is named), who loves to fish in the pond out back. On Sundays, he attends church next door at Episcopal Church of the Advocate.

Before finding his own home, Leonard stayed at the InterFaith Council (IFC) shelter for seven years. There, he heard about and connected with CEF, and began working with Advocates to achieve a comprehensive slate of goals: securing multiple jobs, navigating benefits like food stamps, budgeting, saving for a laptop, and obtaining health insurance.

Leonard’s Advocate, Keely, recalls looking through housing listings for months on end without finding any answers. “Where do we go from here?” she wondered.

One day in the CEF office, Keely heard the PeeWee Homes were becoming available and realized they were an ideal fit: they were located by a bus stop, affordable, and Leonard met the income eligibility guidelines. Several meetings, emails, phone calls, a written application, and one “sharp interview” later, Leonard showed up to his regular Wednesday meeting with good news. “What did they say?” “I got one!” Keely’s notes from their meeting that day say it all, “it was just a billion exclamation points!” 

“I was falling down until I started working with CEF. Keely, Zoe, and other Advocates… I’ve basically dealt with all the Advocates here.” Leonard continues to meet with his Advocates on Wednesday mornings, working towards even greater savings and financial goals. “I don’t bother my money in my CEF Safe Savings Account. I let it stay there.” 

Originally from Raleigh, Leonard left home when he was 19 or 20. “I’ve been pretty much homeless most of my life. It was a rough life, I didn’t ever think I was going to get back on my feet, but I did. I kept the faith and kept going at it.”

“[Now] I’m on my feet, got me two jobs working two stores. I got my own place. I can look over my shoulder. I’ve got too much to lose now and I’m trying to stay ahead, keep the faith, and keep doing what I gotta do.’” 

To help support this work, please consider making a donation during CEF’s Holiday Campaign! Thanks to a generous group of CEF donors who came together to match year-end contributions, your gift to CEF will be doubled through December 31st, up to $38,000!

Heartfelt thanks to our friends at PeeWee Homes, who built Leonard’s home! Learn more about the initiative here: https://peeweehomes.org/

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“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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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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

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