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

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.

 

# # #

 

 

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

Progress to Zero – Continuum of Care Update – by Andrea Kurtz, JD Senior Director, Housing Strategies

At the root of all the work we do across the CoC is the goal of helping people who are homeless find a place to call home: one individual, one family at a time. As we have worked to align our programs and services across the CoC to this singular goal of housing the homeless we have gathered ample data and success stories demonstrating, that with the right supports anyone can be successful in permanent housing. This simple truth, that having a home, a place to set roots, to be who you is powerful. But as we inch closer to our goal of ending chronic homelessness, the refrain we hear most often is, there is not enough housing. The pressures on our rental housing market are so great, that some landlords are asking tenants to have 4x the monthly rent in income before they will consider renting to them; even if they come with a housing voucher covering the cost of rent.
Housing that is affordable, that meets fair market rent (FMR), is increasingly further out from the center of our community, compounding already challenging transportation issues. How are we to end chronic homelessness in this type of a housing market? The answer will be as it has always been, one individual, one family at a time.
One strategy for improving housing placement rates that has been discussed off and on in our community is shared housing. As with all strategies, there are pros and cons, and while it may not work for some, it may work for others. As no-one in our system has previously used this strategy regularly we are devoting part of the upcoming Action Camp on April 11th to exploring “Shared Housing.”
Our landlord engagement team is excited to welcome Karen Britton, our new Landlord Engagement Specialist with the Forsyth Rapid Re-Housing Collaborative. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience as a real estate professional and a deep passion for helping people find housing. She and Kristle will continue to build relationships with landlords and property managers across Forsyth County and to identify vacant units. They will be working very intensely over the next few months with the support of our coach from Built for Zero to try new strategies to encourage landlords to make units available to people transitioning out of homelessness.
Status update on the progress to Zero:
  • There are 13 chronically homeless folks on the By-name List.
  • 2 Chronically Homeless folks were housed this week! WOOHOO!
  • 10 folks from the BNL were matched to a supportive housing program.
Another key event this week, is the closing of the winter overflow shelters. 287 people were provided shelter this winter by City with Dwellings. Of those folks, 48 are now known to be permanently housed! They were housing using a combination of diversion, self-resolution, and a few were in supportive housing programs. 12 folks were diverted at the shelter door back to friends/family and 37 folks came to the shelter, didn’t stay at overflow, and never showed up in any other shelter this winter.

Companies Give Employees a Bigger Say in Corporate Philanthropy

Should employers give their employees a bigger say in the company’s charitable giving?

Many philanthropy experts say they should and corporations are taking heed, shifting more of their philanthropic dollars to matching-gift and paid-volunteer programs, and encouraging employees to sit on grant-making committees and vote on specific initiatives.

The move reflects a change in thinking about corporate philanthropy, which increasingly is being seen as a way to recruit and retain employees. Amid the shift, nonprofit organizations such as United Way Worldwide are changing how they work with companies, so that employees have a bigger role in corporate-giving campaigns. Read more here.

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Employee Selected for Worldwide Leadership Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kim Thore
Chief Marketing Officer
United Way of Forsyth County
301 N. Main Street Ste 1700
Winston Salem, NC 27101

United Way of Forsyth County Employee Selected for Worldwide Leadership Program

Winston Salem, NC,  Mark Uren, VP, Resource Development, United Way of Forsyth County, has been selected to participate in United Way Worldwide’s Advanced Leadership Program. The Advanced Leadership program is an accelerated year-long leadership development experience designed for senior level professionals (c-suite and vice presidents) that have demonstrated results and capacity to lead United Way.

“United Way of Forsyth County is proud that Mark was chosen to be a member of the next class of the Advanced Leadership Program,” Cindy Gordineer, CEO and President, United Way of Forsyth County .
“We are pleased that Mark is among the best and brightest of United Way. It is leaders like Mark that will engage with the next generation of donors and carry our mission into the 21st century.”
Selection for the Advanced Leadership Program is based on performance, potential and core competencies. Applications for the program come from the worldwide network of 12,850 people and are open to those working across all departments and groups. This program is available to eighteen applicants each year.

“Leadership development is critical for building the pipeline of future leaders for the global United Way network,” said Amy Dinofrio, Vice-President of Human Resources, Talent and Board Development at United Way Worldwide. “Identifying high-performing and high-potential employees enables us to build a culture of top performing talent and ensures we will continue to effectively serve the unmet needs of every person in every community.”

The 2019 Advanced Leadership Program runs from January 2019 – October 2019 and requires participants to take part in a series in-depth learning events. For more information please visit: https://www.unitedway.org/careers/working-at-united-way

###

About United Way of Forsyth County: United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone . For more information about United Way of Forsyth County, please visit forsythunitedway.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UWForsyth and Facebook: @uwforsyth .

About United Way
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay