These Three Things: A Note from the Desk of Cindy Gordineer

*originally published June 12, 2020

Dear United Way Friends,

I hope this continues to find you and yours safe and healthy.

Over the last couple of months, this “These Three Things” series has highlighted our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, I want to deviate from that conversation and instead take a moment to address just one thing – because it is that important. I’d like to talk about racial equity.

Equity is often a word thrown out in conversation, but it can be misunderstood. I think this graphic succinctly illustrates the concept of “equity”:

At United Way and through the relationships and work with our partner agencies, our goal is to include equity in all aspects of our work. Harkening back to my previous letters about COVID-19, the virus has in fact highlighted inequity in that people of color have been disproportionately affected by the virus due to disparities in economic factors, access to healthcare, type of employment and benefits (or lack thereof) offered, and other areas.

Late last week, Catrina Thompson, WSPD Chief of Police and 2020 Board Chair for United Way of Forsyth County, and I issued a joint statement in light of current events that I’d like to share with you:

The tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer is yet another reminder of the systematic inequities suffered by African Americans and evidence of the underlying inequities and racism that continue to exist in our community and our country.

It is heartbreaking and infuriating, but it’s also confirmation that continuing to make equity a focus of our work is vital to fulfilling our mission.

Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, and we mourn the murder of George Floyd alongside his family and our community. We join those who call for justice for Mr. Floyd and for reforms that will help prevent tragedies like these from happening again.

We acknowledge and condemn the unjust treatment of countless others, including those whose names we may never know. We acknowledge the ongoing incidents and trauma our black community members experience every day.

We’re proud of the way the citizens of Winston-Salem have peacefully expressed their outrage at the death of George Floyd and that members of the WSPD and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department have supported and participated in the lawful expression of frustration and anger. Change can only happen if we work together and this week has proven that Winston-Salem has the potential to be a model for transformation.

George Floyd’s death cannot be in vain. It must be used as a rallying cry for systematic change and, in our work, as an indicator that we need to prioritize a continued focus on equity in all aspects and move with more urgency.

At United Way of Forsyth County, a strong part of our core values is equity. We seek to support a community that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable. One where citizens, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability, feels valued and respected.

In addition to issuing this statement to the community, we held a virtual meeting for staff this week focused on introspection. We had a conversation about racial equity and how we will respond individually and collectively. This discussion was the first of many as we determine our next steps as an organization. One theme of this conversation was whether this point in time will be defined as a “movement” or only a “moment.” We believe that George Floyd’s murder is a call to action and that we must be part of supporting a “movement.”

It is our belief that systems, not individuals, hold people in place. These systems do exactly what they were set up to do. Going forward, we will be advocating for change at a systemic level. Racial equity sits squarely within our mission of bringing the community together to solve complex problems that no one organization can address alone.

We’ve been intentional about infusing equity into our work over the years, most specifically with our creation of the Place Matters initiative in 2014. Place Matters in a resident-led, asset-based strategy focusing on 13 neighborhoods in northeast Winston-Salem. In 2019, we invested in 20 programs focused on strengthening these neighborhoods in the areas of Housing, Education, Healthy Living, and Unemployment. Place Matters is a great start to addressing inequities in our community; however, there is so much more work to do.

Here’s a quote that I hung on the wall by my desk years ago. I read it every day as we were creating the Place Matters initiative, and I have been reflecting upon it daily the past couple of weeks as we look to our community’s future:

Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’  Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

There are no easy answers. This is difficult work. We don’t yet know how we will be part of building a more equitable community, but we do know that we will increase our advocacy to remove systematic barriers in our county, state, and country. Inaction is not an option.

Thank you for your continued support of our community – and thank you for Living United!

Sincerely yours,

Cindy Gordineer

President and CEO

United Way of Forsyth County

Press Release: Partnership for Prosperity Launches Pilot Study Circles to Engage Community Regarding Social Determinants of Health in Low-resource Communities and Impact of COVID-19.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Paula McCoy, P4P Director

336-575-6099

Winston Salem, N.C. June 10, 2020 Partnership for Prosperity Launches Pilot Study Circles to Engage Community Regarding Social Determinants of Health in Low-resource Communities and Impact of COVID-19.

A series of study circles around the ‘five social determinants of health’ (5SDoH), is being launched by P4P to engage the communities most impacted by these determinants of health in creating solutions and policy recommendations. The 5 Social determinants of health are housing, education, jobs/workforce development, health and wellness, and food insecurity. Transportation is an issue that cuts across all five social determinants. The 5 SDoH, defined as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life”, are responsible for most health inequalities.

A Study Circle is a group of 8 to 12 people who meet regularly over a period of weeks or months to address critical public issues in a democratic, collaborative way. Participants examine the issue from many points of view and identify areas of common ground. They emerge with recommendations for action that will benefit the community. Participants are compensated for their engagement in study circles.

Paula McCoy, the interim Director says “study circles are a bottoms-up approach to decision-making and problem solving where residents are the experts in matters that directly impact them”. Residents will have a voice in matters where they will discuss how the issue affects them, what others are saying about the issue to a session on action. “We hope these study circles result in a ‘collective impact’ – engagement of large numbers of grassroots and grasstop leaders – that produce a shared vision, implementable solutions and public awareness of poverty”. The first pilot study circle, McCoy says, will be on housing and is scheduled for June 18-July 16.

Study circles on Education have been scheduled for June 23-July 21. Food Insecurity and Jobs and Workforce Development will also begin in late June. Registration information can be found on the P4P website: https://partnershipforprosperityws.org/studycircles

“The success of ‘study circles’”, states McCoy, “depend not only on the full engagement of residents most impacted by the social determinants of health, but is also dependent on the cooperation and collaboration of community -based organization, associations and agencies.

Some P4P community partners include:

East/Northeast Winston Neighborhood Association Coalition

Guiding Institute for Developmental Education (GIDE)

Hoops4Lyfe

North Winston Neighborhood Association

Crosby Scholars

Forsyth Promise

Place Matters

Love Out Loud

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods

The Twenty

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About Partnership for Prosperity:

Partnership for Prosperity is an initiative that grew out of The Mayor’s Poverty Thought Force and is governed by a Board of Directors. The United Way of Forsyth serves as the backbone or quarterback for the organization. There are two staff, the Director and a Community Engagement Associate. An Advisory Board is comprised of community leaders and graduates of ‘Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’ by World’ workshops and is where P4P seeks solutions from their expertise and lived experiences.

The vision of P4P is “a community where childhood poverty ceases to exist”. Our mission is to “align resources, eliminate silos and engage the community in advocating for policies that advance racial and other forms of equity and help our most vulnerable residents thrive”.

Press Release: NC 211 Handles 50,000 Calls During COVID-19 Response

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 9, 2020

Kim Thore, Chief Marketing Officer

United Way of Forsyth County

Kim.Thore@uwforsyth.org

 

NC 211 Handles 50,000 Calls During COVID-19 Response

 

Winston-Salem, North Carolina – United Way’s 211 has been responding to callers from all corners of the State since Governor Cooper activated NC 211 as part of the State’s response to COVID-19 on March 18th. At 12:34AM on Wednesday May 27th, a 211 Call Specialist handled call number 50,000. From western North Carolina, the caller was seeking help finding a COVID testing site and did not know where to turn. The NC 211 call specialist was able to provide the caller with information on where they could find testing site information and the number for a local health care provider to contact the next morning.

211 Call Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week –and not just during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the support from local United Way organizations across North Carolina, NC 211 is here 365 days a year to help North Carolinians facing individual and family crises. NC 211 offers information and connects to local resources, such as, help paying a utility bill, finding food to make it through the month, or where to turn for support in caring for an aging parent. For 16 years, NC 211 has helped connect North Carolinians to health and human service resources that meet their needs.

“United Way of Forsyth County is proud to support NC 211 and their team of dedicated call specialists, who are working around the clock to offer relevant information to callers during COVID-19” states Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County. “This pandemic has impacted community members all across the state and we are grateful to provide this resource during such a difficult time.”

For information about United Way of Forsyth County please contact Kim Thore, Chief Marketing Officer, United Way of Forsyth County.

For more information about the statewide NC 211 system, please contact Heather Black, NC 211 State Director at hblack@unitedwaync.org.

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United Way of North Carolina is a statewide organization, supporting 51 local United Way organizations and administering the 211 system. For more information about NC 211 visit nc211.org or visit nc.211counts.org for a dashboard of caller needs by county or zip code.

United in Grief – United Way of Forsyth County’s Message to the Community

The tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer is yet another reminder of the systematic inequities suffered by African Americans and evidence of the underlying inequities and racism that continue to exist in our community and our country.

It is heartbreaking and infuriating, but it’s also confirmation that continuing to make equity a focus of our work is vital to fulfilling our mission.

Racism and discrimination have no place in our society, and we mourn the murder of George Floyd alongside his family and our community. We join those who call for justice for Mr. Floyd and for reforms that will help prevent tragedies like these from happening again.

We acknowledge and condemn the unjust treatment of countless others, including those whose names we may never know. We acknowledge the ongoing incidents and trauma our black community members experience every day.

We’re proud of the way the citizens of Winston-Salem have peacefully expressed their outrage at the death of George Floyd and that members of the WSPD and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department have supported and participated in the lawful expression of frustration and anger. Change can only happen if we work together and this week has proven that Winston-Salem has the potential to be a model for transformation.

George Floyd’s death cannot be in vain. It must be used as a rallying cry for systematic change and, in our work, as an indicator that we need to prioritize a continued focus on equity in all aspects and move with more urgency.
At United Way of Forsyth County, a strong part of our core values is equity. We seek to support a community that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable. One where citizens, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability, feels valued and respected.

Catrina Thompson, Chief of Police – United Way of Forsyth County Board Chair
Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO, United Way of Forsyth County

Press Release: United Way Worldwide Statement on Access to Equity and Justice

United Way believes that every person is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect – this includes equal treatment and access to justice. Recent events involving violence and threats against African Americans expose our society’s underlying racism, prejudice and privilege that prevent too many people from being treated with the humanity and respect they deserve. These incidents are abhorrent and run counter to everything that United Way, its volunteers and professionals value, live and fight for every day.

All people of all backgrounds and identities must call out discrimination and demand its removal from our society; otherwise, we are endorsing the status quo and are complicit in the abuses that follow.

We must all do our part, working United, to make our communities the places that we need them to be – equitable, respectful and opportunity-filled. We, as a society, can and must do better to guarantee that the basic human rights and freedoms of every person in every community are protected.

MEDIA CONTACT

PR@unitedway.org