#GTHDE

(from left to right) Nikhil Umesh, Alex Biggers, and Omar Kashef attend Moral Monday regularly

(from left to right) Nikhil Umesh, Alex Biggers, and Omar Kashef pose with handmade signs at Moral Monday

Written by: Omar Kashef, Housing Specialist Intern with CEF-Chapel Hill

On June 2, 2014 CEF Advocates showed up in full force at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh for Moral Monday focused on Environmental and Health Justice. Moral Monday, organized by the NC NAACP, is a large coalition movement of organizations, nonprofits, and North Carolinians that are discontent with the repressive policies enacted by NC’s largely conservative General Assembly. NC’s Governor Pat McCrory, his administration, and much of the General Assembly have worked tirelessly to silence Moral Monday protesters by recently enacting various laws with vague definitions of “imminent disturbance.” This gag order allows police to arrest those singing or chanting that would interfere with “normal conversation levels” in the legislative building[1]. However, these laws have not perturbed many CEF Advocates from attending the Moral Monday protests through a shortened legislative session.

One running hashtag that popped up amongst many of our signs is #GTHDE, or Go To Hell Duke Energy. Governor McCrory worked for Duke Energy for over 25 years and has been under scrutiny regarding his lenient attitude towards a coal ash spill from a Duke Energy plant. Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal and is often dumped into specific sites. There are over 30 of these sites in NC. The Duke Energy pipe running underneath the Dan River ruptured on February 2nd, leading to the third largest coal ash spill in U.S. history.[2] However, a recent bill that is being pushed through by the NC Senate would require Duke Energy to remove all of their coal ash dumping sites by 2029. The costs associated with removing the coal ash ponds cannot be transferred to consumers via increased rates. Duke Energy is allowed to petition for rate increases if deemed necessary after a moratorium on rate increases is ceased in 2015.[3] Considering that households making less than $50,000 spend 21 percent of their income on energy bills as opposed to households making more than $50,000 spending only 9 percent of households, rate increases disproportionally affect lower income communities.[4] The bill running through the NC Senate will hopefully ensure that costs related to removing coal ash dumps are not passed on to Duke Energy’s customers!

Perfectly stated by D.J. Gerken, lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, “Duke [Energy] has profited from doing the cheapest thing for decades, and it’s now time for them to pay the bill.”[5] Until these spills, Duke Energy would have continued to pollute NC neighborhoods via potential groundwater contamination from these coal ash dump sites. Moreover, these dump sites tend to be located near low income neighborhoods with many being neighborhoods with predominantly Black and other minority members.[6] While the NC Senate is headed in the right direction, Duke Energy may continue to try and wiggle their way out of these demands. So for the meantime…#GTHDE!

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[1] Hall, Mike. Hey, North Carolina, Our Freedoms Were Built Through ‘Imminent Disturbance’ (2014)

[2] WUNC. The Latest News on The Coal Ash Spill in Eden, NC (2013)

[3] WUNC. State Senate Files Coal Ash Regulation Bill (2014)

[4] Southern Studies. Institute Index: A call for racial justice in energy policy (2013)

[5] Murawski, John. Duke Energy’s $1 billion cleanup: Who would pay?

[6] Wireback, Taft. Coal ash could leak from landfills, environmentalists warn (2014)

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From Koozies to Cars

Dawn celebrates her new car!

Dawn celebrates her new car!

By: Jill McMahon, CEF Advocate and Finance Specialist Intern

It was an exciting Monday morning at CEF when we found out that one of our members Dawn was going to get a car! Thanks to the man behind the sign (Jim Kitchen) Dawn received a Chevy Malibu to call her own. Dawn is the second recipient of a campaign led by Prof. Jim Kitchen’s class at the UNC Business School. In May, Prof. Kitchen’s class presented a car to our member Loretha, who needed reliable transportation for her job as a CNA. Through Kitchen’s Trade-for-Help program, she was able to receive a Lincoln Town Car.

As we rolled up to Carol Woods where Dawn worked and anxiously waited to surprise her, Mr. Kitchen explained how he was able to get the cars for CEF members. In addition to being an entrepreneur and an active community member, Jim is also a professor in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. His class partook in their own Trade-Up Project, an idea based around bartering objects for other objects of increasingly greater value. Each student began with a koozie, with a mission to keep trading “up” to gain something more substantial. Eventually (and unbelievably), 76 koozies turned into 2 cars.

This will have a huge impact on Dawn’s daily life, as she will now be able to consistently get to work on time and to her medical appointments. As a new advocate to CEF, seeing Dawn receive this car was something really special. As we all gathered to share that moment with Dawn, I realized how important community relationships are and how these different relationships and resources can combine into something powerful. Huge thanks to Jim Kitchen and his students for making that moment possible!

 

If you’d like to read more about Dawn, Loretha, and Jim’s stories, see the following links:

http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/from-76-koozies-to-two-cars-would-you-like-to-trade/

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/loretha-car/

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/second-woman-wins-car-courtesy-ch-community/

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Meet the Staff: Durham Edition

Some of our interns at a staff meeting

Some of our interns at a staff meeting

If you’ve been up to CEF recently, you may have noticed several new regulars in the office. In late May, the Community Empowerment Fund of both Chapel Hill and Durham gained several eager and well-qualified summer interns!

What do these interns do you may ask? By day (aka office hours), we work as Advocates: meeting with members, confirming appointments, and doing whatever the lovely admin staff needs doing around the office. We also have been bestowed with special administrative powers on Salesforce.

After our office hours, the transformation occurs. We change into our nylon super suits, and tap into our stores of reserve energy, unique powers and specialties. We tackle projects and special tasks in various areas of CEF in order to improve our operations and services to the people of Chapel Hill and Durham.

I tracked these interns down and managed to get a quick word with each about what they are doing here this summer. So without further ado, I present…

The 2014 Summer Interns of the Community Empowerment Fund in Durham

Stephanie Colorado, Marketing and Communications Intern:

Stephanie finds herself smack dab in the middle of her college career as a rising junior at Duke, working towards majors in both Public Policy and Psychology.

What brought you to CEF?

I started working with CEF September of last year. I was attracted by the opportunity to work one-on-one with community members (unlike my previous volunteering experiences that were more impersonal), and the CEF advocates seemed like awesome people to be around with!

What is your Special Mission this summer?

I am focusing on making CEF flyers that make it easier to explain CEF to members and advocates, and a member folder. I am also updating the Food folder in the advocate book to bring it up to date and see food pantry and hot meals that are available for free in the Durham community.

Liaowang “Zoey” Zou, Development Intern:

Zoey will be a sophomore at Duke, pursuing degrees in Public Policy and Mathematics.

How did you become involved with CEF?

I am involved with Duke Engage this summer. During the site selection process, I came across CEF and I found this organization fascinating. Moreover, I have heard about CEF while I am at Duke and I always wanted to get involved. Hence, this summer is a great start for me to be introduced to CEF.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

I will join the other interns to Urban Ministries and Beyu Caffe for financial office hour. I am also doing some resource development, and summer projects including ethnography this summer. I hope I can have a basic understanding of how CEF function and establish a deeper relationship with members. Hopefully, I will continue working with CEF after school starts.

Shannon Elliott, Mental Health Intern and Team Leader:

Shannon chooses not to partake in our university rivalry, and comes to us all the way from Davidson College, where she will be a junior majoring in Psychology.

How did you hear about CEF?

I heard about the awesome work CEF was doing in Chapel Hill and Durham through a family friend and wanted to help make a difference in my home community.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

As a Durham Intern, I serve as Team Leader for Beyu Cafe Open Office Hours. I am planning on focusing my work this summer on furthering our knowledge of mental illnesses and our connections in Durham to mental health resources.

Jennifer Sunmonu, Finance and Savings and Development Intern:

Jennifer is a member of Duke University’s class of 2015, making her a rising senior.

What brought you to CEF?

Duke Engage brought me to CEF.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

This summer I am working on resource development, particularly on developing CEF’s resources for Finance and Savings. I am also helping out the other interns at both sites on the Housing Task Force.

Rhondu Smithwick, Development Intern, Laptop Class Leader, and Team Member at Urban Ministries and Alliance Architecture:

Rhondu is a rising junior at Duke University, majoring in Statistical Science.

How did you hear about CEF?

Quinn Holmquist was always talking about [CEF].

What is your Special Mission this summer?

Consolidating information, creating a comprehensive curriculum for laptop use, and building a connection with the staff at our partner sites.

Karen Li, Advocate and Genesis Home Team Leader:

Karen is a rising sophomore at Duke University.

How did you become involved with CEF?

I heard about CEF during the school year and thought it would be cool to get involved!

What is your Special Mission this summer?

This summer I have been working on various projects involving Genesis Home office hours, creating member folders with Stephanie, and updating resources in the Durham Advocate Book.

Juliana Posen, Healthcare Resource Coordinator and Advocate:

Juliana will be a sophomore at Duke University, and is majoring in Statistics.

How did you hear about CEF?

I was drawn to CEF because of all of the advocates’ passion for helping the Durham community. It really shines through in everything they do.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

My projects for the summer with CEF include compiling resources in Durham for substance abuse, primary care options, and specialized healthcare resources for low-income families. I have also been working on a project to bring free bus passes to members of the Durham CEF division.

 

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Meet the Staff: Chapel Hill Edition

Some of our interns at a staff meeting

Some of our interns at a staff meeting

If you’ve been up to CEF recently, you may have noticed several new regulars in the office. In late May, the Community Empowerment Fund of both Chapel Hill and Durham gained several eager and well-qualified summer interns!

What do these interns do you may ask? By day (aka office hours), we work as Advocates: meeting with members, confirming appointments, and doing whatever the lovely admin staff needs doing around the office. We also have been bestowed with special administrative powers on Salesforce.

After our office hours, the transformation occurs. We change into our nylon super suits, and tap into our stores of reserve energy, unique powers and specialties. We tackle projects and special tasks in various areas of CEF in order to improve our operations and services to the people of Chapel Hill and Durham.

I tracked these interns down and managed to get a quick word with each about what they are doing here this summer. So without further ado, I present…

The 2014 Summer Interns of the Community Empowerment Fund in Chapel Hill

Priya Sreenivasan, Employment Specialist Intern:

A big, bad senior at UNC, Priya is majoring in Psychology and minoring in SEJ. (For those of us who don’t know the lingo, SEJ is short for Social and Economic Justice)

What brought you up the stairs of Mount 133 ½ Franklin to CEF?

I always felt a disconnect between going to UNC and not knowing anything about Chapel Hill- a community which I was supposed to be a part of. I was tired of walking past people on Franklin Street acting like I didn’t see them asking for money- I wanted to engage with people outside of the UNC bubble- the people who really make up Chapel Hill!

What is your Special Mission this summer?

I will be working on a guide for advocates on how to best look for jobs, and also will be working with the Job Partners program to find new employees and recruit more qualified members. I want to create easy-to-use guides about finding employment, and help expand the Job Partners program!

Jillian McMahon, Finance Specialist Intern:

Jill co-reigns with Priya as a UNC senior. She is majoring in Public Policy.

How did you find CEF and become involved?

My friend Emerson Rhudy has been involved with CEF for a while, she always spoke highly of the people/work so I thought I’d give it a try!

What is your Special Mission this summer?

I am an intern through the UNC APPLES program. I’m working on the savings aspect of CEF, this includes (but not limited to) connecting members to more savings resources, adapting the curriculums for opportunity classes, and editing savings training materials for new advocates!

Omar Kashef, Housing Specialist Intern:

Omar is the eldest intern, freshly graduated from UNC, he will begin his pursuit of a Masters of Public Administration come August.

What brought you to CEF?

When I first heard about CEF I quickly became intrigued at the prospect of an organization operating under the notion of a human right to finance. I became an Advocate in January and have loved coming into CEF since.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

In addition to staffing office hours with many of the appointments related to housing, I will be collaborating with a great group of people with the Housing Task Force to create a navigable guide to housing resources for Advocates and Members. This will include creating a continually updated database regarding available housing in the area and keeping tabs on recently housed members. Moreover, I am looking to help create and facilitate trainings on Housing and Institutional Oppression for Advocates.

Lucy Manning, Development and Communications Intern:

Lucy will be a sophomore at UNC, and is majoring in Journalism with a concentration in editing and graphic design.

How did you hear about CEF?

I heard about CEF this past year from a few different friends that all spoke very highly of it, and decided to check it out. I was really drawn to the uniqueness of CEF’s programs and the volunteer roles they provided for students. I also really appreciated the office and work environment: there is so much going on at all times, but it is also very laid-back and there is definitely room for fun and laughter.

What is your Special Mission this summer?

On the Development side, I get to assist Maggie in writing grant proposals for organization funds. On the Communications side, I manage the newsletter and blog posts for the CEF website.

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Financial Independence Day: Right Around the Corner!

cef FI day

By: Madeline Ives, Advocate at CEF Chapel Hill

Join us this Saturday, June 28th at 3:30 at Hope Gardens (2200 Homestead) for CEF’s annual Financial Independence Day cookout!

As we near Fourth of July, we are forced to remember that while we all have our freedom, we are not necessarily free from all burdens that may hold us back. Poor personal finances is one of these burdens that many people in our community face, and one that we at CEF work to free our members from. The ultimate goal of being financially independent and fully self-reliant is one that can be hard to reach, but possible with dedication and the right team behind you.

This Saturday, we will be celebrating the progress our members have made toward personal financial stability at our annual Financial Independence Day cookout! This is a chance for us as a community to release our burdens and celebrate the relationships we have made and the steps we have taken to make a promising future for ourselves. We will have hotdogs and sides, games for all ages, a raffle, and more! Everyone is invited, so bring friends and family, and get ready to enjoy an afternoon in the sun surrounded by good people and good fun!

 

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CEF Launches New Member Orientations

The short but meaningful quote, “CEF is for doers,” graces the top of the information sheet handed out at CEF’s New Member Orientations. Led by CEF alumni Dorothy and Tony, this hour-long session is exactly what it sounds like: a place for new members to become familiar with the resources offered by CEF. And by simply attending this meeting, they are already taking their first steps as doers.

Sarah Cohn has been instrumental in helping create and jumpstart this new program. She says that it came about because many people were coming into the office having been introduced to CEF in many different ways. Because of this, Sarah said, “people had varying understandings of what CEF membership looked like.” If you’ve ever seen CEF on a busy day, you will understand how a proper introduction to who we are and what we offer can easily slip through the cracks.

New Member Orientation is a work-in-progress, with kinks being worked out as the program continues. For now, the basic structure of the session consists of two parts: an introduction to the idea of member-advocate relationships, and an explanation of programs and services available to members. As Sarah said, “we’re more than open to suggestions!” However, after attending the orientation myself, it seems to be going off without a hitch. Introductions at commencement allow each person to be heard and recognized, and after the program explanations by Dorothy and Tony, there is plenty of time for questions from new members about specifics. When asked about the benefits of this program, Dorothy said that new members “get to ask more questions that they might not get to ask with their advocate.” She explained that there might be some intimidation in meeting someone new, and New Member Orientation allows the opportunity for an informal and holistic introduction to the services provided by CEF. There is even the chance to schedule one’s first appointment right after orientation! Talk about getting off on the right foot.

Current members in attendance heralded CEF for its ability to hold you accountable, provide a place to be heard, and, of utmost importance, give you somebody to walk with in the journey to reach your goals. Sarah reflected on what her hopes are for this program: “With the new orientation serving as a universal introduction point, we hope that everyone will get the most they can out of CEF by knowing in full detail what’s available to them – especially the relationship base of what we do.”

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“Planning for Program Effectiveness”

By: Eric Breit and Anna Farrar, UNC Masters in City and Regional Planning

The goal of this report is to help CEF better understand how to maximize its limited resources for greatest effectiveness. Specifically, through a statistical-based evaluation of its programs, this study addresses the question: does length of membership in CEF and graduation from its self-empowerment curriculum improve individuals’ outcomes? The hypothesis is, if a member has maintained a relationship with CEF for longer periods of time and has graduated from its programs, then their self-identified goals will be more likely be attained than those who have shorter memberships.  View Here

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Annual Report 2013

< Download Here>

We remain humbled to be able to share our lives with all of the CEF family— members, advocates, partners, mentors, supporters, friends, and you!  The stories, successes, results, and amazing transformations shared throughout this report were made possible in 2013 because of our collective belief in people and their potential. Thank you!

 

 

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< Download Here>

 


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Penny for Housing

Penny for Housing : It’s the least we can do from F8 Visuals on Vimeo.

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“We all share the same space: Overcoming the stigma of homelessness in NC by building trust between members of the homeless population and college students”

By: Leona Amosah, UNC Class of 2016, Ethnographic Research Report for UNC Anthropology 093. View Here

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