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

 

All the people of Winston-Salem deserve council members who live in their neighborhoods, understand their concerns and feel the same effects of city zoning and spending choices. Only district elections ensure the people are represented by individuals from their own communities. As the United Way of Forsyth County has long affirmed: place matters.

Sen. Paul Lowe weighs in on House Bill 519.

 

https://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/n-c-sen-paul-lowe-house-bill-is-not-the/article_1f6e1a75-811d-5e3d-95e5-2b9a8db67026.html

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.

Are Purpose and Community Having a Moment? By BRIAN GALLAGHER, MARCH 20 2019

Are we realizing that people need more than money to be happy?

Across society, we are witnessing a redefinition of individual success in a more holistic way. I see it firsthand in my travels and experience it in my conversations. This new definition includes financial security, but also personal safety, a sense of purpose and a connection to community.

Let me explain. We know personal safety is crucial to a sense of well-being. Feeling secure in your home and community is something we should never take for granted. But what about a sense of purpose and connection to community?

In recent times, people overlooked these themes. Many believed (and still do) that money predominantly drove happiness – and while financial success is important, it’s far from everything.

People need more. They need to know that their lives have meaning—that when they get up in the morning, the result at the end of the day will be a better self, a better family or a better community. The opportunity to advance and make progress brings satisfaction. Purpose is a current buzzword in business circles, and leaders are realizing that consumers favor companies that are responsible, caring and give back.

A shared sense of community goes hand-in-hand with creating purpose, and it has fallen by the wayside in recent decades. I’m not the first to point it out. Notable figures such as Robert Putnam and David Brooks have led the way with their work, such as describing the decline in membership in community organizations. For example, in a recent article Brooks highlighted how important libraries are to building social connections: “It could be that the neighborhood, not the individual, is the essential unit of social change.”

As a lifelong community advocate, I know they are on to something.

Each of us is only as healthy as the communities in which we live and work. We can have millions in the bank, but be individually and communally poor. People who take part in strengthening their communities are often happier. They feel that they are part of something larger, and that by putting something in, they are getting something greater in return.

One of those people is Don Trevarthen from Minnesota. Don worked for more than 25 years as a lawyer for Toro and is a long-time supporter of Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW). He led Toro’s United Way Leadership Giving Campaign for four years, and pledges grew each year. Upon retirement, Don continued his community work by mentoring up-and-coming community leaders, teaching part-time at the University of Minnesota law school, and supporting various GTCUW projects.

“I believe that every member of our community deserves to live a good life and have the same opportunity to succeed,” said Don, a big advocate for people’s talent, intelligence and potential. “I am thankful for the good fortune in my career and in my life, and I want to help others have those same opportunities. As long as I’m able to do so, I will continue supporting organizations that help all people thrive.”

Don, who GTCUW said “has changed our Twin Cities community for the better,“ believes in the power of purpose and community to change lives. It’s also clear that he feels a sense of achievement from supporting his community. During my career, I’ve met an untold number of people like Don who have made amazing individual contributions to their communities’ socioeconomic health.

By redefining success to include personal safety, financial security, sense of purpose and community connections, as well as by embracing the power of digital technology, I believe our communities will be ripe for the kind of social progress fought for by Don and so many others.

Press Release: Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem

 

Office of the Mayor

March 15, 2019

Contact: Evan Raleigh, 336-397-7701; evanr@cityofws.org

Partnership for Prosperity to Tackle Poverty in Winston-Salem

         Mayor Allen Joines and N.C. Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery today announced formation of The Partnership for Prosperity, a new non-profit initiative that will work to implement the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force.

        The partnership will work to create and implement an action plan for reducing the number of city residents affected by poverty. It will be guided by the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, formed by Joines and Montgomery in 2015 and tasked with finding local solutions that would be both impactful and feasible for reducing poverty. After studying the issue for 15 months, the thought force members came up with 56 recommendations and suggested that the community designate a person to work on this effort full-time.

        Accordingly, The Partnership for Prosperity will have an executive director and a community engagement associate, both of whom will work full-time, Joines said.

        “The issues that underlie the enduring persistence of poverty are complex and require a concerted effort to address,” Joines said. “By designating full-time staff, we hope to provide the comprehensive approach that will help us reduce poverty in our community.”

        Montgomery noted that in addition to implementing the recommendations of the Poverty Thought Force, the partnership will collaborate with the existing framework of agencies and programs that are working to reduce poverty. “There are numerous programs already working on this issue,” Montgomery said. “What the partnership can do is help us integrate these efforts so that they can have the maximum impact.” Montgomery said he is excited at the work the partnership will accomplish. “This is just the beginning.”

      John Railey, the former editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem Journal, will serve as the partnership’s executive director. Chanel Nestor, an adjunct lecturer of Rural Sociology and Sociology at N.C. A&T State University and a Winston-Salem native who grew up in the Happy Hill neighborhood, will serve as the community engagement associate.

        Railey said, “Chanel and I are thankful that the mayor and the Poverty Thought Force had the vision for this crucial initiative. We’re excited about starting it from the ground up: by listening to those living in poverty and aligning with them in the fight.”

        Support for the partnership is being provided by the city, BB&T, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the United Way of Forsyth County and Wake Forest University.

        As an initial step, the partnership will hold a series of “listening sessions” with those who are living in poverty. The meetings are open to the public and will solicit input on the Poverty Thought Force recommendations and which of them the partnership should focus on implementing.

        Listening sessions will be held:

·         Monday, April 1, 1 p.m., Financial Pathways of the Piedmont, 7820 North Point Blvd., Suite 100.

·         Thursday, April 4, 1 p.m., Cleveland Homes Community Center, 1135 E. 15th St.

·         Thursday, April 4, 6 p.m., Skyline Village, 1528 Bruce St.

·         Friday, April 5, 2:30 p.m., The Community Mosque of Winston-Salem, 1419 Waughtown St.

·         Monday, April 8, 2 p.m., (Meeting of The Homeless Caucus) Central Library auditorium, 660 W. Fifth St.

·         Wednesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m., Crisis Control Ministry, 200 10th St. E.

·         Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., Emmanuel Baptist Church, 1075 Shalimar Drive.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 1:30 p.m., Lloyd Presbyterian Church, 748 N. Chestnut St.

·         Wednesday, April 24, 8 p.m., Open Arms Community of the United Methodist Church, 437 E. Sprague St.

·         Thursday, April 25, 2 p.m., Experiment in Self-Reliance, 3480 Dominion St. NE.

        Railey can be reached at John.railey@uwforsyth.org. Nestor can be reached atChanel.nestor@uwforsyth.org

Media Advisory- Poverty Thought Force

MEDIA ADVISORY
 
Mayor Allen Joines will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Friday, March 15, to announce the formation of a follow-up organization that will carry on the work of the Poverty Thought Force, and introduce its leaders. Speakers will include Joines, N.C. Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery and representatives from sponsoring organizations. The news conference will be held in the City Hall Council Chamber, 101 N. Main St., Winston-Salem.
 
Joines, along with Montgomery and Rogan Kersh, the provost of Wake Forest University, announced the formation of the Poverty Thought Force in October 2015 and asked its 22 members to find local solutions for reducing poverty that would be both impactful and feasible. The thought force members delivered their final report in February 2017, which included 56 recommendations. The final report is posted at PovertyThoughtForce.com.

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.

 

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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The Key to Making Any Volunteer Experience Worthwhile- Aaron Gibson

Equity is the lens through which we get the clearest picture of how to combat injustice. This requires empathizing with those experiencing an injustice, setting aside our own thoughts on the matter and living with their perspective. My volunteer experience with A Wider Circle on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018 was a great reminder of this process.

I was assigned to measure and sort business suits that had been donated to the Bethesda-based charity’s workforce development program. To my surprise, two hours into my group’s four-hour shift, we hadn’t done a single thing. As it turns out, this was intentional.

Instead of getting right to work, a volunteer coordinator spent the first half of our shift getting to know my group and teaching us about the organization. A Wider Circle uses a holistic approach to ending poverty. Its CEO, Mark Bergel, sleeps on the floor or a couch every night to try to understand one of the greatest needs of his clients: a lack of mattresses. We toured the donation processing facility, where only high-quality furniture is accepted. At A Wider Circle, if they wouldn’t gift a donation to a family member, they won’t give it to their clients. We also learned that each person looking for a job gets five business suits free of charge because no one should have to wear the same work clothes twice in one week.

You may think a two-hour orientation was a waste of time. After all, we were there to serve—not be served. However, it created the space for us to try to have a deeper understanding and compassion for the organization’s clients. While sorting and measuring each business suit, I imagined the person receiving it, and whether or not the quality was something I would be proud to wear.

Equity is impossible to accomplish without empathy. In 1994, congress established MLK Day as a national day of service to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for eradicating racist policies that plagued people of color in the United States. MLK was a champion of equity, and a master at empathizing with others to understand and vocalize their needs.

Try this the next time you volunteer 
There’s a simple exercise in empathy you can do with others or by yourself. Imagine that a volunteer is coming into your home to cook you a meal. What would be going through your head. Would you be nervous? How would you like the volunteer to treat you? How would they know what kind of food you like to eat?