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CEF Staff Highlight: Chloe Wells

Meet Chloe Wells, Advocate Program Coordinator (CH)

Chloe Wells, Advocate Program Coordinator (CH)

Your Role: In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at the CEF and why is it important?

At CEF, I hold the role of the ‘Advocate Program Coordinator’ (APC). This title generously encapsulates my responsibilities of coordinating, supervising, and providing support to our volunteer Advocates in their impactful endeavors.

Your Background: What experiences, strengths, and skills do you bring to this work at CEF?

I bring a wealth of experiences to my role, ranging from my time as a ‘front office lady’ at a high school to my roles as a Teacher’s Assistant, Peer DEI Educator, Resident Advisor, and Co-Editor in Chief of an undergraduate literary magazine. I have acquired valuable skills and strengths through these diverse experiences, shaping my unique perspective and approach.

Connecting to CEF: What led you to working with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

As a member of the undergraduate class of 2020, the Pandemic tossed aside my plans, along with those of many peers, for post-graduate-real-adult life. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I strive to embrace the notion that I am where I am meant to be at any given moment. Upon deciding to leave my previous role and relocate to the area with my partner, currently enrolled as a Graduate Student at UNC Chapel Hill, I was determined to find a path that allowed me to make a tangible impact on my community. Drawing from my academic passions as a student, I sought to apply them in a real-world setting. My aspiration was to join an organization that fostered creativity, embraced my love for learning, and promoted genuine relationship building, community engagement, and anti-racism at every level. I believe I have found the perfect fit!

Energy: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find energy and renewal?

When I reflect on my work in this role at CEF, I draw energy and renewal from our person-centered approach. Our primary focus is on the individual, regardless of who they are or what they bring to the table. This person-centered ethos resonates deeply with me, especially in my interactions with Members and Advocates. I derive immense joy from connecting with our Advocate community, where we have a supportive space to lean on, learn from, and celebrate each other’s successes. Together, we navigate challenging days, uplift each other through laughter and continuous curiosity, and collaboratively devise solutions. Being part of a community where we can openly address our needs, capacity, and well-being fills me with pride, energy, and profound gratitude.

Challenge: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find challenges and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

In all honesty, navigating anti-racist, justice-focused community work within the confines of oppressive systems like white supremacy culture presents a myriad of challenges. It’s hardly surprising, considering the extensive lists of obstacles we encounter daily within our CEF community. Thus, I find that the most daunting aspect of my role at times is simply ensuring that everyone feels empowered to engage with the supportive community that CEF has fostered. This involves ensuring that individuals feel capable of supporting others whose experiences may differ from their own, feeling supported enough to actively participate both mentally and physically, and ensuring that each Advocate feels valued and acknowledged. It’s about ensuring that they are equipped to advocate for themselves as well. To all Advocates reading this, know that you are deeply appreciated!

Etc: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Outside of my role as APC, I thoroughly enjoy spending quality time with my partner, whether it’s at home or exploring new places. I’m currently immersed in creating Spotify playlists, particularly delving into the new-wave funk and disco movements. Exploring culinary delights at new restaurants, discovering hiking trails both nearby and across the state, and preparing meals for my loved ones are some of my cherished activities. I find solace in browsing through local bookstores, especially in search of the latest horror releases and cryptic creature-features. I strongly advocate for the importance of outdoor play and seize any opportunity to indulge myself. Although I appreciate thoughtful cuisine, if I had to pick a favorite food, it would undoubtedly be french fries. Or perhaps ice cream. When I’m up for it, I love attending drag shows, hitting the dance floor with friends, and engaging in spirited competition at local trivia nights!


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

Featured OC Hub Program: Document Services

darcia Darcia is not a typical Advocate. Once a week she volunteers her time through CEF’s Orange Community Hub to help Members establish or reestablish identification and documentation. This work of obtaining photos IDs, birth certificates, and social security cards can become very complex, and requires the time of someone like Darcia who can offer her dedication and deep understanding of all different factors at play!

What is the role of documentation?

Documentation is the bedrock or the foundation of life’s needs in our society. It is fundamental to securing housing and employment. It is not a barrier to—as much as it is essential.

How has this work affected your views on poverty?

I always thought of myself as someone who thinks about others, but this work makes me feel the weight and enormity of it all, how overwhelming it must be. We as individuals often live in our own space with our own worries, and then you have people with such different—more vital concerns

What have you learned about the systems that provide and sometimes complicate the process of securing identification?

I have found that people really do want to be helpful for the most part, but there are a lot of rules. Sometimes it can be very challenging when people are not moving forward with the process or it is simply taking forever. One birth certificate was weeks overdue. I called many times and they consistently told me they were processing it, but a week later there would be no progress. The Member stopped coming as a result, so I’m not sure what happened with that case.

How did you get involved?

I was previously involved with Love Chapel Hill, an action-orientated, church-based organization whose mission is to help the homeless within our community. And then I think I met Jon or Maggie(CEF’s Co-founders) at Starbucks and they told me about CEF.

Ultimately, I saw the need. I had friends who were already coming to me asking if I could help them procure documentation for others.  I approached Maggie or Jon and said “what if I came in for a few hours a week and helped members with this sort of thing,” and that is exactly what ended up happening!

What is the hardest case you have worked on?

Often times I am asked to establish ID for individuals who need to keep their whereabouts confidential. My concern has been that an individual trying to get an ID would end up on the public record, and risk them being found. Usually, I tell the individuals that this is a risk that cannot be taken in their situation and that the best course of action is to talk to the attorney general or someone in the state department.

What has been your most inspirational case?

I once had a member that was so persistent in asking me, ‘when am I gonna get it, when am I gonna get it’  because he urgently needed it for a job application. He was so persistent that when I saw him on Columbia Street, he came up to me to tell me he still had not received his ID. At that very moment, I put my stuff down and called up vital records right then and there. He got his ID not long after.


CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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