Reading Aloud to Middle School Students

Hearing books read aloud benefits older students, enhancing language arts instruction and building a community of readers. Learn more here

The Powerful Effects of Drawing on Learning

The science is clear: Drawing beats out reading and writing to help students remember concepts. It’s long been known that drawing something helps a person remember it. A new study shows that drawing is superior to activities such as reading or writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways: visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. Across a series of experiments, researchers found drawing information to be a powerful way to boost memory, increasing recall by nearly double. Read more here.

Progress to Zero Update

It is the beginning of May.  As of today we still have 13 folks on our By-name list and 17 on the not By Name list.  This number hasn’t changed much over the last 5 months.  Of the 13 people on the BNL,  9 of them are in a supportive housing program.  These nine folks have been matched to a PSH program for an average of 114 days and not housed.  The longest folks have been matched to PSH is for 114 days.  The shortest match is 35 days.

This week we have also been confronted with a woman, who is both chronically homeless and pregnant who has been rejected for service by every PSH program and no realistic plan has been developed for her.

If we are going to end chronic homelessness, we have to do better by these folks.  What changes are necessary in order to speed up the time it takes for people matched in PSH to get housed?  What changes do we need to make to ensure that no one who is matched to PSH is rejected by every provider without a realistic housing solution?

These are questions we all must help find the answers or rather then making progress towards ending chronic homelessness, we will again see these numbers rise.

Andrea S. Kurtz

Progress to Zero Update

From: Andrea Kurtz , Senior Director, Housing Strategies, United Way of Forsyth County
In my call with our BFZ coach this week, Eddie asked me, what would help create the sense of urgency in our CoC that would propel us to meet our goal of ending Chronic Homelessness. So this week, I’m inviting the team to email me what they think will help create the urgency we need as a CoC to improve our system of care to help the 13 folks on our By Name List (BNL) and 17 folks on our not by-name list (nBNL) get housed (Note: the BNL are people who have consented to some service that connects them to our CoC, the nBNL are folks who outreach services have identified as homeless but have not consented to services connected to the CoC)and what changes do we need to make to ensure that people who are not chronically homeless don’t age into chronic status.
As we reflect on my question this week, think how far we have come. And we have come very far. In 2005, we estimated there were over 200 chronically homeless folks in our community. We were not sophisticated enough to even accurately count them all. Now, we know them all, by name. We have the tools to assess their vulnerabilities and goals. We have the systems to target supportive housing resources to the most vulnerable based on community determined priorities. We have data on programs’ success in placing people in permanent housing, on recidivism from these programs, on the flow of people in and out shelter, and many other markers of system function. You can see in our metrics that shifts have happened.
I believe we have the skills and the resources to make the final shift: from being a system that manages homeless people to being a system that helps people resolve their housing crisis; from being a system that defines people by their housing status, to being one that helps them build a better life based on their gifts, skills, and talents.
There will always be reasons that people lose their housing whether from natural disasters or accidents, fires, family break-up, sudden or chronic illness or significant life changes. I believe Winston-Salem, and specifically the staff and programs in our CoC have the talent and resources to help people manage through these crises without keeping them homeless so long that it becomes an indelible part of their identity. I also believe, we are close to the day that we are fully living into our vision of being a crisis response system, not a homeless management system.

Podcasts That Expand Teacher’s Hearts and Minds

Most educators are eager to expand our knowledge about a wide range of topics. Podcasts are a fantastic way to learn—you can listen to them while driving to work, cleaning your classroom, walking the dog, or preparing dinner.  Here is a collection of podcasts that aren’t about education but can still help teachers find new ways to think about their work. Learn more here .

Progress to Zero -Update 3

Today, April 19, 2019 marks the celebration of both the first night of Passover and Good Friday.     Not coincidentally these holidays often coincide.  Each holiday is a bittersweet reflection of deliverance from despair.  Each holiday also, an opportunity to build community, to support each other as we reflect on how we have over come adversity in our own lives.

No matter your faith tradition, the story arc from despair to joy, from enslavement to self-determination, from sinner to neighbor is a common thread.  For those of us whose careers have led us to serve the homeless, people struggling with addiction, mental illness, poverty we see the living embodiment of this struggle every day.

As we enter this weekend of reflection, I challenge you to think of the 650+ folks we have helped house this year alone.   As we continue to work towards a system where there are zero chronically homeless people this is the data we must use to rewrite the narrative that people can’t get housed.  It is not correct to say there are people who cannot be housed.   People are getting housed and being successful staying housed.  We are housing people with addiction, mental illness, zero income, with lengthy criminal histories we are even housing people who are schizophrenic or sex offenders.

This week we have 12 names on our by-name list. 17 names are on our not-by- name list.  This list was once over 200 people.

As you celebrate this weekend, or simply enjoy the company of your loved ones, take time to reflect on the power you felt in your life when someone believed in you, believed that you could overcome adversity.  Think about the power of being in community, in relationship with others.  And on Monday, let us each come to work and believe that together we are a mighty force and together we can help our last 29 chronically homeless folks find housing.

 

  • Andrea Kurtz

Progress to Zero – Update 1

As many of you know, in 2005 our community committed to ending chronic homelessness.  This milestone is only a part of the larger vision our Continuum of Care (COC) has for homeless services to become a housing crisis response system that helps people facing a housing crisis stabilize their housing.   The proof point of ending chronic homelessness is only a stepping stone on this path.  One step we are imminently close to taking! When we made the commitment as a community to end chronic homelessness, there were over 200 folks in our community who were chronically homeless.    Today we have only 12!

 

We have come a long way as a community of practice serving people experiencing homelessness.  The changes we have made over the last 14 years to our system have been monumental…including the development of rapid re-housing, coordinated assessment, governance re-design,  improved partnerships with HAWS, the VA, DSS, WFUBMC, better data collection and improved use of data in decision making.  We have also strengthened our culture of partnership and collaboration including shelter/medical care partnerships at both Bethesda Center and Samaritan Ministries, the HAWS collaborative between Bethesda Center and HAWS, the sophisticated partnership between Cities with Dwellings and local faith communities to manage our winter over-flow and to support the development of supportive community as people transition into permanent housing.

 

This week, 8 of us attended the Built for Zero convening in Atlanta where we received training, guidance and support for innovative ways to better support you as we continue our progress towards Zero.  As we have over the past several years since joining BFZ, we will continue to share this knowledge through Action Camps, the operating cabinet, and other work groups and partnerships across our CoC.  A key concept of this work is continuous improvement.  A key concept of continuous improvement is to “test” or try something on a small scale before bringing a change to full scale, as a way to learn what works or doesn’t work to improve our ability to end homelessness. Through the methodology of Continuous Quality Improvement we have made changes to how we support people getting their disability verification, documenting their length of time homelessness, orientations, improved housing search and placement and many other areas of our system.

 

In January at our CoC retreat, we committed to ending chronic homelessness by June 30! When we hit this milestone, it will be because of  hard work,  dedication, and  compassion for serving our homeless neighbors.

I am committing in these last three months to this goal to sending out a weekly update celebrating the work we are doing as a CoC to end homelessness— all homelessness.

 

 

Andrea S. Kurtz

 

Press Release: 2019 Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Award Recipients Named

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The 2019 Annual Forsyth Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards Breakfast was held April 17, 2019 where local volunteers were recognized for their commitment and service to the Winston Salem – Forsyth County community.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards recognizes and honors volunteers who have made significant contributions to Forsyth County through volunteer service.  Created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 as a way to honor the true spirit of volunteerism, the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are held annually in each of the State’s 100 counties.   Any person, group, or business from the public, non-profit or private sector serving Forsyth County may be nominated for the award.

This year’s recipients and their categories are:

Elite Canine’s Comfort Dogs- Animals

HanesBrands, Inc.- Corporate Business

Deanna Perez- Cultural

Robin Pardella- Director of Volunteers

Maya Agger- Disaster

Liz Price- Environment

Darlene Talbot- Faith-Based

The Shepherd’s Center Singers- Group/Team

Charles Poteat- Health and Human Services

Myrtie Davis- Lifetime Achievement

Moriah Gendy- National Service

The Legendary Labelers- Perseverance in Volunteerism

Joseph Turner- Senior

Dr. Richard Gray- Serving Youth

Camilla Washington- Veterans/Military Families

 

The People’s Choice Award, which is voted upon by members of the public through the Winston Salem Journal website, was awarded to Myrtie Davis.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored locally by HandsOn NWNC, United Way of Forsyth County, Salem College, and the Winston-Salem Journal on behalf of the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Office of Governor.

 

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Happy National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, which is a good time to dispel some common misconceptions about volunteering. Here are a few:

It is tough to find time to volunteer. If you have a lunch hour, you have time to volunteer. Head to a nearby school to read with children, or tutor a struggling student in math. If that’s too time-consuming, just walk down the hall at work. Your local United Way can organize on-site volunteering to build kits – such as school supply backpacks, and hygiene or literacy kits – to distribute to elementary schools, shelters and families who may not have many books at home.

Volunteering will add stress to my life. Actually, working with or for others, staying active and expanding your worldview adds up to a healthier lifestyle. There is a significant correlation between volunteering and good health.

Volunteering is dirty work that no one else will do. Sure, sometimes people paint school walls and plant gardens, but they also help make critical decisions as board members or grant reviewers. Professionals, like engineers and scientists, can put their skills to use through programs like STEM in the Schoolyard, a fun and rewarding way to help close the STEM gap for students.

You have to be present to make a difference. Virtual volunteering – like online tutoring programs – connects people to organizations and their beneficiaries. Using our own online platform, United Way Worldwide has helped companies give their employees the ability to write a note of encouragement to students, veterans or other groups who need support.

Volunteering takes time away from family. When you bring the kids along to volunteer, you strengthen family bonds, instill empathy and create wonderful memories. This past fall at United Way of Buffalo & Erie County families came together to pack 40,000 nonperishable meals for people in need.

Problems are so big; I can’t make much of a difference. This week, United Way of Miami-Dade is offering a range of activities in which volunteers will see the differences they’ve made. Volunteers will create a lending library at an early childhood development center, engage adults with dementia in socialization and music activities, and build a sensory garden for people with disabilities.

Volunteering is thankless work. National Volunteer Week is our time to thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, brains and brawn to causes they care about in their community and around the world. THANK YOU for stepping up – in person, online, with coworkers and your family. Thank you for showing what it means to LIVE UNITED.