Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Announces Day of Action June 21, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —United Way of Forsyth County Invites the Community to Join in the Day of Action June 21, 2019.

On and around June 21 each year, tens of thousands of people across the globe volunteer to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way’s Day of Action provides opportunities for volunteers, donors and advocates to be part of solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives.

On Friday June 21, from 9am- 3pm, United Way of Forsyth County will work to assist seniors in the Place Matters Neighborhoods with home repairs and landscaping.

Community Engagement Manager Tahja Gaymon notes, “United Way of Forsyth County recognizes there are seniors in our community who do not have the financial means to make the necessary repairs or upkeep for their homes. For this reason, we are organizing volunteers throughout the community who will come together to do home repairs, painting and landscaping for seniors in our Place Matters community. “

Please contact Tahja Gaymon at Tahja.gaymon@uwforsyth.org for more information. To volunteer : https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0a45a8a72fa6ff2-united

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

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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.

Progress to Zero Update

Last week was the State Homeless Conference in Raleigh.  Forsyth County had a strong showing of advocates at the conference, who have all returned refreshed and energized with new ideas and focus.  One strain of conversation that I have heard much about is on Housing Focused Shelter.  
The distillation of the concept is that from the first contact with folks entering the shelter the conversation, the focus should be on connecting to housing, there is a lot to unpack from these sessions which we will be doing as a CoC over the next several months.  What resonated for me in hearing folks talk about the housing focused shelter is that for most of the folks who touch homeless services, shelter is the only or the primary service they access.  If we want to end homelessness, then we must look at how our shelters policies and practices impact the flow of folks in and out of the homeless system.
We now have 19 folks on us by-name list.  The new folks to the list are folks who have either aged into chronicity because they have been waiting so long for a supportive housing placement, or were folks known to us returning from places such as hospitalizations or incarcerations.   This growth in our list is coming not from new people coming to our community, but rather folks we as a system have been interacting with for many months, and in some cases years.  
We have been focused for a long time on the handful of supportive housing resources, both permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.   We are working with case managers from all of these programs on finding new housing opportunities, on reducing the length of time from program entry to housing move-in and reducing length of stay in programs.  These case managers are working hard at housing folks and at continuous improvement. Their hard work has made good progress not just for their clients, but for our homeless services system.  
But to end chronic homelessness we have to not just keep working on improving our supportive housing muscles, but we also need to look at the front end of our system including both shelter and street outreach.   We need to develop, as a CoC, the muscles to help people develop and strengthen their connections to their natural support networks, mainstream resources (meaning anything not specifically for homeless people) and self-sufficiency skills  so that there are other doors out of homelessness then the few supportive housing slots available.
Homeless service providers are not in this work alone, and while we are the drivers of the work to end chronic homelessness, we are not the only organizations responsible for improving health, housing and wellness outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.  As I mentioned above, significant connections exist between homelessness, incarceration, hospitalizations, and mental health & substance abuse treatment services.     In connecting with some of these systems we have made great progress over the last 10 years, but if the in-flow to our chronically homeless by name list is any indication, we still have a long way to go to make sure that we are creating the systems and relationships across our county that support our goal of ending chronic homelessness.
Peace!
Andrea
Andrea S. Kurtz

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has named its Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year.

MAY 24, 2019 – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has named its Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year, Classified Employee of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year. The winners were announced at a banquet May 23.

Called the “Core Awards”, the annual event highlights and celebrates employees that are exceptional educators and live the district’s Core Values.  The Core Values include equity, student-centered, accountability, integrity, high expectations, and collaboration. There were more than 150 nominees in all. Twelve finalists, 3 in each category, were showcased at the banquet.

Teacher of the Year:  Abi Woodson, 4th Grade Teacher at Speas Elementary is the new Teacher of the Year. Abi has been teaching for 15 years and has been at Speas since 2012. Carrie French of Moore Elementary and Nicole Wooten of Caleb’s Creek Elementary were also finalists.

Classified Employee of the Year:  Sandra Shropshire, Financial/Lead Secretary at East Forsyth High School was awarded Classified Employee of the Year.  Sandra has been at East Forsyth for 15 years. The other finalists were Margo Cochran of Northwest Middle and Angie Grace of Jefferson Elementary.

Assistant Principal of the Year:  Samantha Fitzgerald of Lewisville Elementary is the new Assistant Principal of the Year.  Samantha has been at Lewisville since 2016. She joined Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in 2013 as a teacher. Tamatha Fullerwinder of Moore Elementary and Kendra Scott of Ashley Academy were also finalists.

Principal of the Year:  Debra Gladstone was named Principal of the Year.  Debra is Principal at Mineral Springs Elementary and Middle Schools.  She has been with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools since 2000. Angie Choplin of Lewisville Elementary and Donald Wyatt of Sedge Garden Elementary were the other two finalists.

 

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