(Anthony sporting his CEF “People Helping People” hat in front of his new home!)
Anthony raised four boys as a single father – two his sons and two of his sons’ friends who he raised as his own. He was an All-American football star at Chapel Hill High and went on to coach football for 19 years. In his own upbringing and as a parent, Anthony emphasized “Hard work, showing them you can do anything, and family – I was always at their events, reading, football games, I was always there.” With all 4 of his sons now grown and successful in business and public service, you can tell when talking to Anthony that family is at the center of his life.
Anthony became homeless after a large lay-off at the assisted living facility where he was housekeeping manager. “I had an apartment, a car, and slowly I started losing those things.” After spending some time staying with family, Anthony moved into the IFC shelter.
(Anthony’s 2014 Holiday Party Graduation)
He shares, “I found out there was a lot of social help here in Chapel Hill. Of course CEF was one of the first groups that I was led to… I mean, I had become kind of down in life, things not going well for me, and thought nobody really cared about what happened to Anthony Sharp. But when I walked into CEF it just changed. The enthusiasm the college kids had, you know they’re wiling to help, and just the care that they had – that made me feel different about myself.”
Anthony began working with Karla, a CEF advocate and current senior at UNC. Karla shares, “In our first meeting, he had so many plans for himself, ranging from academics, finances, employment, business, and service. And of those things, I feel like he always emphasized the service he would perform.” Karla and Anthony built a resume, completed countless applications, and connected with legal services to address issues on Anthony’s background.
(Anthony goofing around with fellow CEF graduate Robert at the 2014 Holiday Party)
Anthony highlights that in his struggle to “defeat homelessness… you know it wasn’t just me or one group, it was the whole community that came together.” He engaged in Orange County Literacy programs, many groups that meet at the shelter, and all of CEF’s programs, including Opportunity Classes. As he accumulated certificates along the way, he began including those with all of his job applications – and it all paid off!
Anthony secured a full-time position at UNC with health insurance and retirement benefits, and quickly saved with CEF to move into an apartment of his own. But even more, “For me, I found out I was smarter than I thought I was… I found out how to live again. As a term I have heard a lot from others, I’ve turned out to be who I was really supposed to be.”
Anthony gives back way more than he received. “It has just been a great life change for me, and I want to give thanks to a lot of people, and my community most of all for showing me a different way to live. It’s just great to be able to give back to this cause in Chapel Hill of ending homelessness.”
(Anthony with State Senator Valerie Foushee at the ribbon cutting for the IFC at SECU Community House where he is a new board member — Anthony delivered remarks about his journey out of homelessness)