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.

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: John Whitaker Honored with Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — April 5, 2019 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: John Whitaker, was bestowed with United Way of Forsyth County’s (UWFC) Tocqueville Society’s Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award, The Tocqueville Leadership Society’s highest honor, at a special recognition event April 4, 2019.

The Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society is presented annually to an outstanding Forsyth County volunteer who has demonstrated untiring commitment, visionary leadership, resourcefulness and creativity in meeting the needs of the community.

John Whitaker is a highly experienced entrepreneur from Winston-Salem, NC and holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina as well as his MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He served three years in the United States Navy as an officer in the Supply Corps. John’s career has involved start-up and development of new companies, primarily in service-related businesses. He was the founder of Inmar Enterprises, Inc., a company with over 4,000 employees which provides promotional management and return goods processing to over 1,000 customers which was later sold to a private equity group in 2007. John’s rich business background also includes real estate development and construction.

He is actively involved in several civic and business activities within the local community including Chief Executive Officer of INV located in Winton-Salem, NC. INV provides venture capital and management expertise to start-ups and early stage operations. John currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Winston-Salem Alliance – a strategic planning organization for Winston-Salem as well as the Board of Visitors, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Previous outside activities have also included serving on the Board of Directors of Wachovia Corporation; Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University; Board of Directors of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center; Board of Visitors of Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University; and Board of Directors of Amos Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital (past president).

In addition to his support of the United Way of Forsyth County, John has donated time and energy to fund raising for various other organizations: Chairman of the $200 Million capital campaign for the Medical Center; the National Development Council, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the UNC Alumni Association; the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce; Division Chairman for the Heritage and Promise Campaign of Wake Forest University; Campaign Steering Committee of The Children’s Center for the Physically Handicapped.

Local Benefactor Paul Fulton was instrumental in establishing the UWFC’s Tocqueville Leadership Society in 1987.  The award was renamed in 1997 to recognize his extraordinary volunteerism.  Fulton is a former chief executive of Sara Lee and Bassett Furniture Industries Inc. and former Dean at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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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.

 

Surviving Cancer and Life’s Challenges- Betty’s Story

As a widow and living alone, Betty didn’t have any support in place when she was diagnosed with Stage II cancer in August of 2017 at the age of 60.
She underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, because of her diagnosis she had to stop work as a custodial worker and she was without income during her treatment , as well as becoming uninsured. Family support was very limited. Our United Way funded partner Cancer Services, Inc. was been able to assist her with the cost of her medications, nutrition, purchasing medical supplies and providing transportation to her treatments.
Due to her having no income, the United Way of Forsyth County was able to assist her in finding outside resources to help her with rent and utilities while she was applying for Social Security benefits, which meant she was able to remain in her home.
This transitional support allowed Betty to focus on her treatment and create a more manageable life while being out of work and not worrying about bankruptcy and greater debt.
For cancer patients, psychological stress adds to the burden imposed by the disease and the sometimes difficult aspects of treatment; United Way was able, with your support, to remove those barriers so Betty could focus on bating her cancer.

Surviving Domestic Violence with the Help of United Way Funded Partners

“Sonia” entered the Family Services Women’s Shelter with her 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter after fleeing from her husband and what she described as a verbally, emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive marriage. He had a substance abuse problem which made his mood swings and reactions unpredictable. She had been coping with a variety of controlling and threatening behaviors and was fearful that he would find her. Each of her children had witnessed domestic violence and she was concerned about their reactions to these traumas. Sonia was 44 years old, completed two years of college, however was depressed, fearful, and close to giving up on her future.
How the United Way Helped:
Sonia and her children received information on Family Services, Inc. Intimate Partner Abuse program funded by United Way. While residing at the Shelter, Sonia was actively involved in counseling and supportive services. She stayed for just over 90 days, increasing her knowledge on domestic violence and safety planning for herself and her children. She was able to identify her vocational, employment, and financial goals. Sonia was determined to provide for her children and herself. She located summer activities and involved her son in football and her daughter in cheer leading.
The impact?
Sonia also entered the Rapid Re-Housing Program and acquired a stable home environment for her family. The Rapid Re-Housing program educated Sonia on how to be a good tenant, how to maintain housing, and provided temporary financial assistance. Since her transition from the shelter, Sonia was able to receive Tenant-Based Rental Assistance through the Housing Authority of Winston Salem and accessed full time employment as a certified nursing assistant at a local assisted living facility. Sonia now embraces a look of confidence and feels she is more knowledgeable about what a healthy relationship looks like.
Our hope is that because of continued support from the community, families like Sonia’s can imagine brighter futures which can then become a reality. Through the collaboration of the United Way, Family Services and the Rapid Rehousing, Sonia’s is living a safe and healthy life.

Press Release: Reynolds American, Inc, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar Receive United Way Spirit of North Carolina Awards

Winston Salem, NC  – Reynolds American, Inc (Manufacturing 2501-5000 Employees), BB&T, (Financial/Banking Institution 2501-5000 Employees), HanesBrands (Retail 1501-2500 Employees and Inmar, Inc (Professional Services 501-1000 Employees) have each been awarded the annual Spirit of NC Award.

 

On a yearly basis, United Way of North Carolina recognizes organizations that have succeeded in raising funds to support their community and have dedicated themselves to being part of the long-term solution to build stronger communities.  Judges from across North Carolina reviewed more than 50 applications to select winners who were honored in Pinehurst at the Spirit of North Carolina Award Lunch on February 13.

 

Leading beyond the traditional fundraising campaign, these winners created opportunities to educate employees on community needs, led by those at the top of the organizational chart; motivated campaign participants to give by exposing them to real stories of need; and provided volunteer opportunities so that donors could offer their knowledge and their hands to serve their community.

 

“The Spirit of North Carolina Award recognizes the collaborative partnerships United Way of Forsyth County builds with its supporters,” said Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County.  “We are honored to have Reynolds American, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar, Inc. as  key stakeholders for a shared future where everyone in our community thrives and reaches their full potential.”

 

Winners were determined by a panel of 24 judges from United Way organizations across the state. For more information about the Spirit of North Carolina Award and a complete list of winners, visit unitedwaync.org/spirit-north-carolina-award-winners.

 

Why It Matters- Israel Suarez’s Story

Imagine being a single mother of three children, earning $13,000 a year, and learning that your oldest son has cancer. For Israel Suarez’s mother, struggling to make ends meet and trying to ensure your children have food, becomes more than second nature, it becomes a crisis and a matter of life or death. Fortunately for Israel, United Way funded programs paved the way for his family to overcome their circumstances. Learn more as Israel tells his story here

Press Release: Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

February 12, 2019- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

The Joel and Claudette Weston Award has honored and recognized leadership and excellence in nonprofit management at local organizations for more than 30 years.  Joel A. Weston, Jr. was a senior executive at the Hanes Companies and an active member of the Winston-Salem community.   He served as president of the United Way of Forsyth County Board from 1980-1982. Joel believed strongly that nonprofit organizations should be well run and efficient and he introduced many innovative programs designed to strengthen charitable organizations and the community.   He passed away unexpectedly in 1984.  The Weston Award Endowment was founded in 1985 at The Winston-Salem Foundation by family and friends of Joel A. Weston as a way to honor his vision and dedication to the community.   In 1985 the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence was established to recognize local human service agencies that are performing at peak efficiency.  Today, Joel’s widow, Claudette Weston, continues the family tradition of community involvement and philanthropy through her efforts on numerous boards and organizations and as a member of the Weston Award Committee.

 

What is The Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management?

Every other year any nonprofit agency in Forsyth County can submit an application to win the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence.  An agency that wins the award must wait five years to apply again. The application is a rigorous evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management: financial and personnel management, program development and effectiveness, long range planning, marketing, fund-raising, board development, etc.

All applications are reviewed by a 16 member Weston Award committee.  In addition, the committee hears an oral presentation by representatives of each applicant agency.  Site visits are included in the review process if necessary.   The winner is presented with the prestigious and much coveted bi-annual award, and beginning in 2019, a grant award to the organization of $50,000. 

What does the Weston Award Accomplish?

The Weston Award recognizes, affirms, encourages and financially supports the best- run charitable organization in Forsyth County as selected every other year by the Weston Award Committee.  The Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management.   In filling out the award application, nonprofit organizations can assess and receive feedback on how their agency measures up against best practices in human service agency management.  The award promotes efficiency, competence, fiscal integrity, innovation and program effectiveness.  Nonprofit management excellence in turn equates to a community that can better help its most vulnerable citizens, maximize philanthropy and enhance quality of life for all.

“Joel and I always believed in giving back to the community. The spirit of this award is to honor non-profits or social services organizations that enhance lives, but do so with the most efficiency,” said Claudette Weston.

 

“The Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management had a tremendous impact on me as a leader and on the agency that I represented.  I can’t say enough about the good that it has accomplished.” Richard Gottlieb, President emeritus, Senior Services

 

For more information: Noelle Stevenson at noelle.stevenson@uwforsyth.org

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Press Release : Forsyth County Receives $150,000 Through Grant Program by National Nonprofit StriveTogether to Improve Results at Major Milestones for Kids

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA​ — The Forsyth Promise, a collaborative, education-focused initiative working to improve systemic outcomes for all of Forsyth  County’s students, has received $150,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working  to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids.  The Forsyth Promise will use its grant award to activate the power of those with lived  experience in Forsyth County to plan and implement strategies that improve core community  education outcomes by reducing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

“The difficult challenges we face will not be quickly or easily resolved. They require our  community to build new relationships, work across sectors, coordinate, and align. New  solutions require a willingness to change the ways we think and work. The data from our 2018  report is clear: although many core community education measures are holding steady improving for aggregate students, our system is not working for all students. There are  significant disparities in outcomes across all measures for which disaggregated data is  available and these disparities fall along racial / ethnic and socio-economic lines,” said  Wendy Poteat, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise.

The grant award from StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge program will  allow The Forsyth Promise to build a network of grassroots community advocates and  leaders. These grassroots leaders will share data and lived experiences to build a common  perspective of our challenges and opportunities, collaborate on identifying the most critical  issues to prioritize, and advocate and mobilize to move the needle on these community-wide  priorities for education.

The Forsyth Promise has been awarded a grant from the ​Promising Practices Fund​, which is  intended to find local projects applying bold strategies that can be spread across StriveTogether’s national network. These projects will focus on deeper community  engagement and align education with other sectors such as health, housing and  transportation. Eleven community-based organizations were awarded grants of up to $150,000 for one year.

Through the Community Challenge, up to $7 million over the next three years will fund  projects across the country that advance equity and spread bold strategies to help students  progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a job. During this round of  grants, 10 communities also were selected for the Accelerator Fund. Communities in the  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to  settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,”  StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we  know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities. We  are proud to start this year supporting 21 cradle-to-career partnerships to get real results for  youth and families.”

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As a Collective Impact Partner of United Way of Forsyth County, the Forsyth Promise​ facilitates education-focused collaborative, community-wide planning  and action in Forsyth County, North Carolina. They provide a framework to help all community stakeholders work together toward the goal of improved educational outcomes for all  students — from cradle to career. Our core values are Educational Equity, Inclusive  Stakeholder Engagement, and Data-Driven Decision Making. For more information, visit  ForsythPromise.org.

About StriveTogether 
StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in  school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In  partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides  resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800  organizations, and has partners in 30 states and Washington D.C.