SUCCESS STORY: GOODWILL – THE PROSPERITY CENTER

In 2005, Jose lived in the Raleigh Durham area where he worked at two different malls, had a condominium, a truck and was able to support his family. By 2008, the economy shifted and he lost both jobs. He could no longer afford his truck payments or his apartment rent and lost both. He moved to a smaller place and searched for permanent employment but met significant barriers at each turn and landed in Winston-Salem at a local homeless shelter.

Shelter staff referred Jose to the Prosperity Center in January of 2014. Jose attended four financial education workshops on debt reduction/asset building, budgeting, and the wise use of credit and met with the Center’s financial counselor on two separate occasions to work on past debt and tax lien issues.

Although he was working a part-time job, one of Jose’s barriers was his lack of personal transportation. He was utilizing public transportation, which limited his availability to work. But Jose was determined. In the first two months, using the knowledge and skills he learned at the Center, he purchased a scooter so he could work when he was needed, whether bus service was available or not. This allowed him to increase his hours and earn more money. Jose continued to work with Prosperity Center staff and found a second job at a factory in shipping/receiving. This income boost along with assistance from the housing program helped Jose to obtain housing in a small apartment and move out of the shelter.

Jose experienced a short stint where he was under-employed; however, because he had learned the importance of savings and had saved money while he was working steadily, he was able to maintain. Jose is back to full-time work now, working in maintenance at McDonalds and Zaxby’s and continues to come to the Prosperity Center to work with staff on advancing- he is working on his degree in Network Security at ITT Technical Institute.

Jose was ready to embrace what the Center had to offer and, in under a year, because of his willingness to learn, his dedication and his attitude, Jose has started on his path to a financially stable future.

SUCCESS STORY: SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK – TRIAD COMMUNITY KITCHEN

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Charles met and fell in love with Sandra in Hendersonville, North Carolina. They married, made their home in Hendersonville and had a son. When their child was five, the marriage ended. For Charles, it marked the start of a descent into self-destruction and a long journey back to love and self-respect.

Charles went back to Florida where his life “spun out of control”, landing him at a hard stop inside the walls of prison. On the other side, clean and sober, Charles reconnected with his wife and married once again. Charles recalls the start of their reunion as a “bumpy ride” – literally. “I spent weeks and weeks riding the bus all over Winston- Salem, trying to learn my way around and find a job.” It was on one of those bus rides that Charles spotted a brochure describing Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen (TCK) Culinary Training Program. For the first time in a long time, Charles was excited. “I remember walking into the Triad Community Kitchen classroom and feeling a sense of peace; a sense of belonging and real excitement about learning,” he said.

Charles recalls the curriculum was challenging and focused on learning new skills the “right way, by the book.” He remembers his graduation day as “a proud moment,” and Executive Chef Jeff Bacon’s reminder to “always do more than what is expected.”

Since graduating from TCK in 2011, Charles has lived by that advice and it has been noticed. His commitment to lead by example recently paid off when Claire Calvin, owner of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina, made Charles the AM Manager of the restaurant and gave him a key.

Today, Charles counts TCK staff, and all those who continue to place their trust and confidence in him and the TCK program, as friends and guides on his journey back to peace of mind. His star continues to soar.

SUCCESS STORY: FAMILY SERVICES – WAYS TO WORK

At 26, Keira became a single mother to two daughters, ages 6 and 3. She had to file for bankruptcy because she was not working and could not continue her financial obligations for all of her bills. She eventually found a job and struggled to get a handle on her debt.

After her husband left, Keira needed a car not only to work, but to get her children to school, childcare and medical appointments or to get groceries for the week. The bus stop was two blocks from her house and difficult to manage with two young children. A co-worker told Keira about the Ways to Work Program and she applied. The Loan Committee considered all the circumstances of her life and believed that she was a good candidate for a loan.

For Keira, having a dependable car has meant getting to work on time and even led to her promotion to administrative assistant. The loan has given her the opportunity to begin re-establishing credit, which will open up even more new opportunities. For Keira, having a job and her own car has helped her be an example to her children that with hard work, anything is possible. She says, “I just want to be the best mother I can to my children, give them all I can, take them as many places as I can, and show them by example what it means to be a responsible adult and a loving parent.”

SUCCESS STORY: LEGAL AID

Jason, a teenager, came to Legal Aid requesting assistance in obtaining a protective order against his father. Both Jason and his mom had experienced abuse at the hands of his dad in the past, but the incident that caused him to leave was the worst ever.

His father attacked Jason, brutally beating him with a broomstick and then strangling him. His mom and younger brother witnessed everything. Jason escaped the terror by climbing through his bedroom window, jumping on his bike, frantically calling 911 and fleeing barefoot in the dark.

Studies have shown that the provision of Legal Services, “significantly reduces theincidence of domestic violence[1]2.” Jason’s case was no different. At the first hearing, Legal Aid Attorney Alex Harris argued that the Children’s Law Center should be appointed in order to help assist the judge in determining the best interests of the child. His father’s attorney argued that CLC was not needed.He also argued that Jason’s father had a constitutional right to have access to his child and asked that he be able to call Jason and meet with him in a public setting until the next court date. Ms. Harris successfully argued against such contact and a court order was entered preventing visitation with Jason and appointing CLC staff attorney Paige Gilliard.

The years of abuse had made Jason shy and withdrawn at school. He often skipped school due to the stress and anxiety that he experienced prior to that court date. Ms. Harris kept in constant contact with Ms. Gilliard, his therapist, and the DSS caseworker involved in his case, and negotiated an arrangement where his father enrolled in the Family Services Strong Fathers class, a “group for men who want to improve how they raise their children.”

Before the final hearing, Jason decided to move to West Virginia to live with his maternal aunt. Although his case was ultimately dismissed as a result of his move, the interagency collaboration involved in Jason’s case was tremendously vital to preparing his case for trial and likely convinced the Judge that his father should not have contact with Jason pending a full hearing in his case. Follow-up through the Stepping Forward specialist could have allowed Jason to safely stay in Forsyth County by identifying and addressing his barriers to remaining here, so he and his family could continue to thrive at the conclusion of the case.

Note: Because of the sensitive nature of our clients’ concerns, it is the longstanding practice of both LANC and CLC to change the names of clients and their relations when sharing their stories to preserve their privacy.

Jennifer S. Rosenburg and Denise S. Grab, Supporting Survivors; The Economic Benefits of Providing Civil Legal Assistance to Survivors of Domestic Violence, Institute for Public Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law (2015); Amy Farmer and Jill Tiefenthaler, An Economic Analysis of Domestic Violence, 55 REV. OF SOC. ECON. 337 (1997)

SUCCESS STORY: AMOS COTTAGE

Raeann came to the Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program after 2 years of her parents, daycare staff, and physician working closely together to try to help her with her frequent, highly disruptive, aggressive, and destructive meltdowns. To make it worse, Raeann’s body was sensitive to things other kids could easily tolerate – noise, the texture of her food, and even the feel of her clothes. Raeann’s parents were frustrated. Her dad was ignoring the problem and her mother was losing control of her own emotions while trying to deal with Raeann’s.

Over the course of her treatment with Ms. Debbie at Amos Cottage Therapeutic Day Program, Raeann’s mother learned to think more rationally during Raeann’s emotional and behavioral outbursts. Through implementation of a consistent behavioral approach across settings, Raeann learned that she got better results from others when she used her words rather her body, and she learned that she could work with others to solve problems. Her behavior improved, and she was soon discharged to daycare and outpatient therapy. She did very well for the rest of the school year.

But with summer’s less structured days, Raeann’s old behavioral patterns re-emerged. Ms. Debbie once again stepped in to analyze the patterns in the detailed notes and encouraged the parents to “take the pressure off” – when Raeann’s behavior gets dramatic, calmly say “It looks like you’re having a pretty big feeling right now”, then offer to help when she’s ready. To the parents’ surprise, Raeann’s behavior often stopped in its tracks, and Raeann began to communicate what she was feeling.

Today, Raeann’s behavioral crisis has passed. She is participating well in outpatient therapy, and is feeling more at ease talking about how she’s feeling. Her parents are participating too. They’re learning about anxiety and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and working with Ms. Debbie to learn their role as coach – helping Raeann through her anxiety rather than reacting to her behaviors.

SUCCESS STORY: THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Ms. Dreher, a grandmother suffering from several debilitating medical disorders, moved to Winston-Salem in June of last year to better care for her 7 grandchildren whose parents were neither financially, nor according to CPS, in other ways fit to raise them.

On December 9th, Ms. Dreher’s lights switched off. Upon turning on the breaker, an electrical fire started in the walls. Awakening to the smell of smoke, Ms Dreher got the family out of the house and called 911. Having no established roots in Winston-Salem, no friends or other family close by and a rental home burned to the ground, they had no idea what to do next. The Forsyth Red Cross Disaster Action Team pulled up and began to comfort and assist them.

Red Cross provided 2 hotel rooms for a couple nights, assistance for clothing, shoes, food and jackets, and comfort kits full of hygiene items. Not only did the family know someone out there cared, a Disaster Health Services nurse assisted Ms. Dreher with medicines and medical equipment lost.

Follow up assistance provided a Disaster Mental Health counselor and helped her establish a new residence. Three Red Cross volunteers even visited the family at their hotel on Christmas Eve, bringing them a small Christmas tree the family said meant so much to them and had everyone in tears.

Today, Ms. Dreher is in much better health. Her oldest granddaughter graduated from Salem College and is going for her Masters in psychology in Chicago. The other children have settled into school and ended the last school year with all “A”s and only 1 “B” between the 4 of them in the WSFCS system. According to Ms. Dreher, the Red Cross was “so helpful and went above and beyond her expectations.”

Image via Pixaby: CC BY-SA

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

CC, a 15 year Army veteran, fell on hard times and into homelessness. For 12 years, he and his young son bounced from couch to couch, without the security and stability of their own home.

Forsyth County is one of the communities participating in our Zero: 2016 effort and with the help of Samaritan Ministries of Forsyth County, CC was connected with housing through the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. He and his son now have a place they can call their own.

Now employed as a Private Duty CAN, CC is also enrolled in school to fulfill his lifelong passion for cooking by pursuing a degree in the culinary arts.  Thankful for a second chance, CC said this of the dedicated local team that helped him find housing:  “I’m grateful to all involved. It has allowed me to have my own place to call home, a stable residence, which in turn allows me to further my education and employment goals. Most importantly, it allows my son and me to be together under our own roof.” Congratulations Forsyth County and welcome home, CC!

WE’RE GETTING TO THE POINT

Launched in January 2015, The Point is a mobile financial prosperity unit that delivers mainstream financial services, credit counseling, tax assistance and more to areas of our community where these tools are needed most and where transportation is often a barrier to seeking help.

The Point was created by United Way of Forsyth County, together with Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, Experiment in Self-Reliance (ESR), Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina and funded through a grant by Wells Fargo.