Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County’s Housing Matters Team Held a Housing Connections Day on Thursday July 11, 2019 at the Forsyth County Public Library

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —For immediate Release- July 16, 2019 –  United Way of Forsyth County’s Housing Matters team held a Housing Connections Day on Thursday July 11, 2019 at the Forsyth County Public Library. As a part of United Way’s Housing Matters initiative, this event was created to connect clients who are enrolled in housing programs with affordable housing units available in the community.

Almost 80 people participated in the event; over 50 people took tours of available properties and over 25 applications for units were received. Some of the units were pre-inspected and all were with properties that were willing to accept rapid re-housing and/or Permanent Supportive Housing tenants.

Andrea Kurtz noted, “We were very excited to speed up the process of getting the applications completed, and do real time check requests for the application fees and be able to hand deliver the checks to the property managers all within the same day.  We wouldn’t have been able to complete this major undertaking without the support of all of the homeless service providers within the Winston Salem Continuum of Care “.

Food and beverages were provided by Krispy Kreme, Intown Donutz , Starbuck and Providence Kitchen.

Lou Baldwin of Baldwin Properties spoke about what makes a great landlord / tenant relationship. Kurtz said, “Lou Baldwin and Baldwin Properties have been one of our most loyal supporters and we can’t thank them enough for their participation in this event and their support of the HEARRT project.”

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO Cindy Gordineer notes, “This was a truly exciting and pivotal event for our community and for those individuals seeking housing. The collaboration built on the strength of each of our partners and local businesses to work together for the common good of Forsyth County and its residents.”

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

    

l-r Attendees at event, Andrea Kurtz speaks to the crowd, Lou Baldwin of Baldwin Properties

Press Release: Giving USA 2019 Report Released; Americans Gave $427.71 Billion to Charity in 2018 Amid Complex Year for Charitable Giving

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —Giving USA 2019 Report Shows Americans gave $427.71 billion to Charity in 2018 Amid Complex Year for Charitable Giving

The Giving USA report, released Tuesday, said individual giving fell by 1.1%, from $295 billion in 2017 to $292 billion last year. It ended a four-year streak of increases, and was the largest decline since a 6.1% drop in 2009.

Total charitable giving rose 0.7% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $424.74 billion contributed in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, total giving declined 1.7%…”

From the report:  “…A number of competing factors in the economic and public policy environments may have affected donors’ decisions in 2018, shifting some previous giving patterns. Many economic variables that shape giving, such as personal income, had relatively strong growth, while the stock market decline in late 2018 may have had a dampening effect. The policy environment also likely influenced some donors’ behavior. One important shift in the 2018 giving landscape is the drop in the number of individuals and households who itemize various types of deductions on their tax returns.

This shift came in response to the federal tax policy change that doubled the standard deduction. More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016. Numerous studies suggest that number may have dropped to approximately 16 to 20 million households in 2018, reducing an incentive for charitable giving…”

United Way Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “ The 2019 Giving USA report supports trends that many in philanthropy are seeing.  Charitable giving is changing, becoming more complex and each dollar is more difficult to raise.  Donors are more discerning than ever about seeking results in the non-profit sector and their giving is following positive outcomes.  This philanthropic environment requires non-profits, including United Way of Forsyth County, to evaluate every dollar for both effectiveness and efficiency to deliver maximum value.  Donors deserve nothing less.”

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.

 

 

 

Read the full report here

Press Release: $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries

For Immediate Release- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries
On June 5, 2019 at the Weston Award Banquet, Samaritan Ministries was honored for their leadership and excellence in non profit management and awarded $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.
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. 

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. 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. 

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer, notes, ” We were very fortunate to have Joel serve as our Board Chair and we are honored to be a part of the Weston Award as it supports his and Claudette’s vision and drive for excellence. “

 “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 on the Weston Award: Claudette Weston, cweston@westoninc.com

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

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Press Release:  United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize

For Immediate Release: Winston Salem, NC – June 6 2019 – United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize, an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. FamilyWize delivers significant savings on prescription medications through its free, easy to use prescription discount card

Through this partnership, the United Way has helped promote the free, easy to use FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, which has helped more than 13 million Americans save more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions.

“People should never have to choose between putting food on the table or taking their prescription medication,” Cindy Gordineer, United Way of Forsyth county President and CEO. “That’s why we formed a partnership with FamilyWize. Their free prescription discount card can reduce the costs of prescriptions for anyone who uses it. It’s an extremely valuable resource that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, should use.”

The FamilyWize card immediately lowers the cost of prescription medications by an average of 45% percent for people with and without insurance. Just by presenting the FamilyWize card or mobile app at their local pharmacy, people can save on the cost of their medicine, with no strings attached.

“We’re excited to see the people of Winston Salem/Forsyth County realize the benefits of our prescription discount card,” said Vickie Nisbet, Director of Community Relations at FamilyWize. “We hope that they continue to use the card and share it with others, as it can provide a significant savings.”

The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card can be used by anyone: uninsured, insured, and even people with Medicaid or Medicare. The use of the card is unlimited, does not require any personal information from the user and has no eligibility criteria.

To take advantage of the savings that FamilyWize offers, consumers can print a card from FamilyWize.org, can call 1-866-810-3784 and request a card be mailed to them, or download the free FamilyWize app.

About FamilyWize

Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 13 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1.5 billion on prescription medications. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription medications which it then passes on in full to patients. FamilyWize partners with some of the most respected community groups and health care providers in the country, including United Way Worldwide, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, and American Heart Association, among thousands of other community organizations. To use FamilyWize, download our card or mobile app at https://familywize.org/free-prescription-discount-card.

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

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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

Press Release: Reynolds American (RAI) Awards United Way of Forsyth County with $20,000 to Support Career Opportunities and Job Training

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — May 22, 2019 Reynolds American (RAI) Awards United Way of Forsyth County with $20,000 to Support Career Opportunities and Job Training

Today, RAI presented United Way of Forsyth County with $20,000 to support a new initiative that will connect existing job seekers with short term training in high demand, higher paying careers.

 “We’ve worked alongside the United Way of Forsyth County for years to improve the Winston-Salem area, because we believe in their mission of transformation through building strong communities in which our employees live and work,” noted President and CEO of Reynolds American Inc. (“RAI”) Ricardo Oberlander. “RAI has long taken a leadership role in transforming tobacco, and I’m proud to announce this important new partnership today as we work to help transform our community, as well.”

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer, notes, “ We are very grateful to Reynolds American, who have built a long tradition of supporting our community. This pilot and partnership helps our work to ensure that the residents of Forsyth County attain financial stability. We are excited to work with RAI and see what outcomes surface in the pilot phase as we develop future plans”.

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.

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 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.

 

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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 – 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.