This letter was written to CEF by Malcolm, one of the wonderful members of our Durham program. Malcolm is truly an inspiration to all of us and has an incredible story to share — one that beautifully demonstrates the value of both advocate relationships and community partnerships in CEF’s work. Thank you, Malcolm, for your leadership.
On the 14th of October 2012, I arrived at Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD). I was homeless, penniless, jobless, completely computer illiterate, troubled, angry, and battling a life of substance abuse.
I joined the Hope Recovery-Journey Outreach program at UMD in order to battle the substance abuse because I needed help to conquer the addiction to drugs and alcohol, for, at this point, my life was totally unmanageable and I knew that I was powerless over the drugs and alcohol.
While I was in the Hope Recovery Program at UMD, they introduced me to a few other programs, which have helped me tremendously along the way. One of those programs was the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF).
I first met with Janet, Chad and Alice [CEF student volunteers from Duke University], who introduced me to the laptop computer for the first time in my life. They told me to attend six classes and I could actually buy a computer for $130.00. So I started going to the classes every Saturday in the UMD cafeteria. The CEF staff were excellent teachers. They taught myself and the rest of the people in the class something new every week. At the end of the six weeks, I knew how to type, space, punctuate etc. By the time I was presented with my computer, I had learned enough to go to Durham Economic Resource Center (DERC) and enroll in college at Durham Technical College, where I took some advanced courses in computers. With the use of my new computer from CEF I was also able to sit with the CEF group on Saturdays and fill out applications online, surf the web, Google, text, email and things of that nature.
The honest truth is, because of CEF, today I am working at MERCK as Production Management Assistant/Logistics in Kanban. This deals mostly with computers. Sort of like a miracle, you know?
I still meet with CEF on Saturdays–not as often as I should, but I will improve on that. When we meet we work on things like employment income, barriers to income, finances, and health. For instance, they help me to find the proper health care provider and things of that nature.
Thank you CEF. You are truly a Community Empowerment. You have certainly Empowered my mind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and because you have put something positive on my mind, I have one year and two months of uninterrupted SOBRIETY.
Thank You All at CEF. So many of you have given of your time and effort to help me, so many friends, too numerous to mention, your vibration is Positive. Thanks again.