Staff Feature: Alex

We got a chance to hear from Alex Biggers, our AmeriCorps VISTA (along with Sarah), to discuss her start with CEF and where she is now. We can’t express how lucky we are to have her!

alex

 

How did you get involved with CEF, how did it all begin?

I originally got involved with HOPE first my sophomore year, through Talking Sidewalks at Homestart Women and Children’s shelter. That really shaped my involvement in CEF, I think, because I got to know the women staying there at the time and other students working with CEF who later helped me process and understand my experiences in CEF. Also, it was probably one of the most fun, fulfilling experiences I’ve had.

How would you describe your time with CEF while still an undergrad? How did your involvement develop?

When I joined, we were just meeting out of the back of the RBC Bank office (now PNC) and had a lot fewer members and advocates (in fact, we were all Borrowers, Savers, Savings Officers, and Loan Officers!).

I joined the Outreach committee pretty soon after and also began coming to Opportunity Classes (then Savings Circles–so many name changes!). In that way, my involvement was always pretty tied to getting to know new people –something I was really uncomfortable doing before CEF. But now most people know I love bugging people all day long.

I really loved Opportunity Class because I really enjoy learning and discussion (well, okay, I love talking…) and got to hang out for two hours a week with people who I really looked up to and we were willing to both share with and listen to me. I would have never taken a leadership role, though, if it hadn’t been for Maggie and others poking me to get more involved and spending countless hours sitting with me and slowly working through things.

After that initial year, I worked for CEF two summers and mostly worked with the Savings committee in an admin role during the year. Through that role, I learned a lot more about asset-building and became really interested in the broader picture of asset-building and housing policy in the United States…and a lot less interested in my actual schoolwork. But, thankfully, there were some interesting classes where I got a chance to study things that applied to my experiences with CEF.

What motivated you to work for CEF full time?

People keep asking me this, and I really don’t have much of a satisfactory answer because, to me, once I knew that it was a possibility, it was a no-brainer. A lot of friends wanted to get away after graduating in May, and I definitely understand that, but for me, if…

1. I have such a wonderful, supportive community here

2.  I have a job that pays me to spend time with people I love and challenges me every day

3. I get to learn and read about things I’m interested in

4. I can hopefully use my experiences with CEF to help it improve

…why would I go anywhere else? I really feel (and am) incredibly lucky to be able to work here!

What is your position within CEF?

I’m the Savings Program Coordinator, which basically means I work on anything related to CEF’s financial services, financial coaching, and financial education.

What does that mean?

I work with the Savings Services team in Chapel Hill who work to improve our systems for savings, savings trainings for advocates, and creating fun ways to celebrate and encourage saving.

I work with the Financial Education teams in Chapel Hill and Durham to troubleshoot and collaborate on Opportunity Class (and I still get to go to class on Sundays!).

I go to finance office hours at Urban Ministries in Durham every week and am learning a lot about ways to improve the ways we partner with other organizations and the way we do financial coaching (also getting to meet so many new members and advocates in Durham!).

I have the great chance to work with Mark Smith this semester, who is interning with CEF through the School of Social Work. Mark has helped kickstart a long-time-coming effort to improve the way advocates and members prepare for, look for, and sustain permanent housing.

Do you have a favorite CEF moment(s)?

I have far, far too many but a few are: going to Sam’s car blessing, when Sam, Equashia, and Amanda came to my graduation party, making empanadas with Garrett, playing survival at Opportunity Class last Sunday (Beyonce was voted off the boat, sorry Paris!), singing all of our favorite Juan Luis Guerra songs with Arnaldo, hearing Amanda speak at her church, Loretha’s speech about CEF last year, Dorothy’s housewarming party, going to Jordan Lake with the Mumeens, and so many more!

 

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Advocate Spotlight: Nura Smadi

Nura Photo CEF 2

When did you get involved? How did you get involved? 

Although I heard about CEF at the beginning of my journey at Duke, only last semester I finally got a chance to delve into the CEF world and not only learn about the wonderful work that the organization does in Durham, but actually work directly with the members of the Durham community. One of my best friends at Duke, Shafiq, got involved with CEF last year and through him, I noticed the extent of the impact that he was having on the Members that he was working with, and also the impact of the Members on him. Each Wednesday of last semester he would return from his Office Hours at the Dove House in Durham with a smile on his face. Throughout the semester his excitement only increased as his relationships with the Dove House members strengthened and as he got more involved in the critical backstage work that ensures the smooth operations of the organization. That, along with a persistent stream of weekly e-mail reminders from Quinn, really inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and venture into Durham with CEF.

What about CEF interested you in the first place? 

I have been involved with multiple service organizations in varying capacities since high school, but none have had the personal relationship-based approach that CEF is built upon. In the past, most of my service work has been rather impersonal; holding fundraisers, food-drives, or advocating for a particular cause. CEF has earned a very special part in my life because it provides me with the opportunity to actually connect with the Durham community members that it serves; in fact, I currently feel more in touch and more connected with the city itself due to my involvement.  What I love most is the fact that through the establishment of a collaborative relationship between members and advocates, this really cool and dynamic energy emerges that pushes both parties to set and achieve important financial goals.

What’s the most important lesson you think you’ve learned through working with CEF?

I think the most important lesson would have to be that relationships matter, and they matter a lot. Some may disagree, but I really believe that strong and powerful relationships can and do act as a catalyst for change, especially the type of change that CEF strives to accomplish. I have not been working with CEF for a very long time, but my experience so far has undoubtedly been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience at Duke. This would certainly have to be because of the relationships that I feel are actively forming with the members that I am interacting with.

Favorite Memory in CEF – Working with Ms. Habibah

Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting and working with such a fantastic member in Durham, Ms. Habibah. Every week I look forward to going to the Saturday Durham CEF Open Office Hours because I know I would see her again. Although I just met Ms. Habibah only a few weeks ago, she was so quick to let me into her life. She has so effortlessly welcomed me as her partner in this process of transition and financial goal setting. She is very inspiring actually; she has set very clear financial targets for herself from the start and since then she has not diverted her focus from reaching these goals. It is a wonderful feeling to know that my contributions and support as an advocate, although small in the grand scheme of things, can amount to something so important and meaningful for members like Ms. Habibah. I am so excited to continue strengthening our relationship and to be there with her as she reaches even more personal financial goals.

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Learning Cluster: Partnership with UMD and CFED

Janet Xiao, Alice Ni, Dennis Xu, and Keyona Cooper at UMD’s bi-weekly finance office hours (Keyona made that cool hat she is wearing!)

Janet Xiao, Alice Ni, Dennis Xu, and Keyona Cooper at UMD’s bi-weekly finance office hours (Keyona made that cool hat she is wearing!)

CEF is pleased to announce our participation with Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) in the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s (CFED) Intensive Learning Cluster on Integrating Financial Capability into Social Service Delivery Programs. CEF and UMD were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants nationally to participate as part of this collaborative effort alongside 10 other organizations doing similar work to CEF.

Relationship-based financial services are CEF’s bread-and-butter, and this partnership with UMD is a unique opportunity to take a step back and look at how we can more intentionally and collaboratively build financial capability in to homeless services.

CEF is now holding office hours at Urban Ministries two nights every week and specifically working with UMD’s Journey Program, which provides case management support and shelter for 90 days or longer. Our previous on-site office hours acted as a launch point for this partnership. Because of the footwork of our past committed UMD members and the amazing team of Duke advocates, we are now able to jump-start an expanded partnership at UMD, one with much more support and structure. With the collaboration of the great case managers at UMD, CEF advocates can focus primarily on our strengths: relationships and financial services. We set up affordable credit union accounts with Self-Help Credit Union, make action plans for building credit, budget, save towards goals in Safe Savings Accounts, file taxes for free with the Benefit Bank, and more.

Through the learning cluster, CEF and UMD’s program will benefit from technical assistance through CFED, a national leader in asset-building, and we will have the opportunity to learn from our fellow learning cluster members – agencies providing emergency services, workforce development, and housing.  In January, we were given the incredible opportunity to go to CFED’s office in DC for a nationwide kick-off meeting where we were given incredibly helpful tools, advice, and connections that will continue to help guide our work at UMD.

Read more about the learning cluster on CFED’s blog and stay tuned for more results and lessons learned!

 

 

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Member Feature: Johnney Enemmoh / Iyke Chukwu

Johnney.jpeg

From Nigeria to Little Rock to Franklin Street, Johnney Enemmoh has been on an amazing journey through his life. Johnney walked through CEF’s doors for the first time on May 24, 2012. Known to family and friends back home by his Nigerian name Iyke Chukwu, Johnney came to the US in 1982 to attend college in Arkansas (where a notable Arkansas native, President Bill Clinton, served as his attorney). Continuing his passion for education, he moved to North Carolina in 1986 to pursue a Master’s degree.

In 1996 Johnney returned to Nigeria to care for his elderly parents. He remained there for over a decade to take over his father’s business. In the Spring of 2012, Johnney finally made his way back to the US. He always wanted to come back to North Carolina – he says it felt like home.

Johnney planned to find a job in Chapel Hill upon his return. However, his employment search took longer than expected, and he soon found himself staying at the IFC men’s shelter.

Still on the search for a job, Johnney was referred to CEF for employment services by two Advocates that he met on Franklin Street. He started working with those Advocates in the CEF office in May of 2012.

By August of that year, less than three months after his introduction to CEF, Johnney had secured a full-time job at UNC Hospitals. He moved into a downtown apartment in February 2013. After working just eight months in his new job, however, Johnney was caught in a round of summer-season layoffs. As was the case for many other UNC Hospital workers, the layoff came just before Johnney would have acquired health insurance.

But Johnney didn’t stay unemployed for long. He came straight to the CEF office after the news of the layoff and began searching for a new job. His always-positive attitude and drive to work hard landed him a spot on the customer relations team of the Franklin Hotel – a job that he likes even more than working at the hospital.

Now, Johnney enjoys sharing his joyful spirit by welcoming customers to the Franklin Hotel, where he works as a bellman. He greets hotel guests by checking then into their room and showing them around the hotel. Being a historian, Johnney likes to point out the pictures on the wall and explain the history of the hotel. He says of his job, “it is interesting because you share ideas with people, meet people, and become friends with them – because you never know where you can meet them again.”

Johnney is one of CEF’s most successful savers, having successfully reached an incredibly lofty savings goal. He saves for a “rainy day,” the way he says he was taught. Aside from working at the hotel and avidly saving money, Johnney spends his time writing. He is currently crafting a letter to his village in Nigeria which documents his ancestors’ history.

Johnney’s next steps? Saving to bring his six children to the US for college. With his contagious positivity and drive for hard work, that shouldn’t take long.

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Holiday Party 2013

Thanks so much for sharing your time, your lives, your stories and food with us at our Holiday Party this year. We’re so humbled and enriched by what you all bring to this community! Thanks to Chapel of the Cross for hosting us this year, and to Mellow Mushroom, Pita Pit, Mcalister’s Deli, Chapel Hill Sportswear, Johnny T-shirt and Foster’s Market, for all the food and raffle prize donations you made to help make this such a special occasion!

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CEF Leader Mike Wood Receives Chamber Award!

 

volunteeroftheyear-8

 

Great news! CEF’s very own Michael Wood is being honored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce during their 2013 Salute to Community Heroes!

Mike received the award for Volunteer of the Year from the Chamber. We are so proud and deeply thankful for Mike’s leadership within CEF and our community. He is such a gift and has had an amazing impact on many CEF members.

Join us at the celebration Thursday, December 12th from 6pm-8pm at the University Mall main stage.

More information here.

 

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Beloved’s Lamplighter Award Nomination for CEF


CEF recently received one of the highest honors any organization could possibly aspire to achieve
— one of the members of CEF’s program nominated us for an award! We were truly humbled by her nomination — first, that she thought highly enough of her personal experience with CEF to nominate us, and secondly, because the essay she submitted with her nomination is truly beautiful.

Beloved, a really and truly lovely member of the CEF community, wrote a nomination for the Lamplighter Award, a humanitarian award given annually by 103.9 FM “The Light,” a local gospel radio station. And still even more amazing, CEF was selected as a finalist for the award! Beloved represented CEF at the black-tie event on Saturday! We are truly and deeply honored by Beloved’s nomination and the opportunity to be considered for the award. The Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association won the final award for their great work for racial and environmental justice in Orange County. We are delighted to have been included in such great company!

Beloved’s beautiful essay is included in its complete form here. Thank you, Beloved, for your leadership, care and commitment!

The Light 103.9 FM

“Community Empowerment Fund is a non-profit organization serving the people of Orange and Durham Counties. Co-founded by Jon Young and Maggie West, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduates, CEF’s foundation principle is preserving human and civil rights in the community. CEF connects current UNC and Duke Students who choose to volunteer their time in the organization, with individual members in the community who are seeking aid in any manner. CEF trains its advocates and volunteers, preparing them to serve people with the same dedication and principles it possessed at the opening of Community Empowerment Fund in 2009. Today, CEF is a thriving place, aiding folks of all ages and races, celebrating one another’s differences and empowering them to live above their circumstances.

“CEF is proud of people. People of all walks of life are welcomed. This organization offers a multitude of community resources to help and assist people in their time of need, whatever and however one may need. CEF is a place where individuals come to receive free services such as job seeking assistance, resume building, computer skills classes, cooking classes, sponsored plots in a local garden, along with the seeds and the necessary education needed in order to plant and harvest. CEF has weekly Opportunity Classes where several topics are out in the open, discussed across a meeting table, where coffee and pastries are served along with the uplifting, soul searching conversation. All input is welcome and received; it is a place to speak your mind and listen, a place to sit and build structure into one’s life. Papers are handed out on issues such as conflict at work, budgeting, among many other pertinent, life skill subjects, much needed in our society at hand. Once a member has completed the 8 sessions and reached their savings goal, they are eligible to receive a savings match in their CEF account of 10%. Community Empowerment Fund is built on providing people with the tools they need to be financially independent.

“The most powerful component of CEF is their belief that relationship is the starting point. Advocates are thoughtfully paired with individuals seeking membership and those relationships are brought together in concise ways, acting as friendships over a long period of time; multiple years. The relationships that are provided and strengthened offer peace and trust, where people have lacked it. Accountability is brought to the surface in a pleasant and mature process of ups and downs, and the acceptance therein. Support is offered, cell phone numbers are openly and easily exchanged. One wonders why they ever sought therapy and paid out of pocket for it, when human affairs are exchanged and treated so civilly. Likewise, attention is given foremost to the person who walks in, whether they are homeless, in a shelter, or in stable housing. Fare is given for those in need of public transportation to get to where they are going. Questions are not asked. Phone lines and internet lines are open and awaiting individuals who walk in who need them. Anything that would benefit a member is sought and found by their advocate or the founders.

“‘A tool shop for humanity,’ one could call it. An aversion from the norm. “True southern hospitality”, is perhaps what Community Empowerment Fund embodies. Biblical truth is what is represented and acted out. Works, works, and more works, all outlined in faith, though they are not a faith-based organization. Certainly, they attract many believers and probably turn more people into one than some churches. For one long time member whose iron count went low, a weekly box showed up at her doorstep, abounding with fresh produce from a local farm. Who made this happen? Her advocate and CEF’s co-founder, with their connection to a farmer food share. Another member with a medical issue and no transportation was supported to own her own car with CEF’s partnership with a local car donation organization and through building her CEF Safe Savings Account.

“All around, CEF enables empowerment among the peoples, and is always seeking out more ways to applaud their members who they so diligently support. Eradicating homelessness is their anthem, providing aid to live one’s life to its fullest is their mission.”

 

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Thank you note from CEF Member

Malcolm pictured above after successfully saving to purchase a vehicle through Wheels4Hope!

Malcolm pictured above after successfully saving to purchase a vehicle through Wheels4Hope!

This letter was written to CEF by Malcolm, one of the wonderful members of our Durham program. Malcolm is truly an inspiration to all of us and has an incredible story to share — one that beautifully demonstrates the value of both advocate relationships and community partnerships in CEF’s work. Thank you, Malcolm, for your leadership. 

Dear CEF,

On the 14th of October 2012, I arrived at Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD). I was homeless, penniless, jobless, completely computer illiterate, troubled, angry, and battling a life of substance abuse.

I joined the Hope Recovery-Journey Outreach program at UMD in order to battle the substance abuse because I needed help to conquer the addiction to drugs and alcohol, for, at this point, my life was totally unmanageable and I knew that I was powerless over the drugs and alcohol.

While I was in the Hope Recovery Program at UMD, they introduced me to a few other programs, which have helped me tremendously along the way. One of those programs was the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF).

I first met with Janet, Chad and Alice [CEF student volunteers from Duke University], who introduced me to the laptop computer for the first time in my life. They told me to attend six classes and I could actually buy a computer for $130.00. So I started going to the classes every Saturday in the UMD cafeteria. The CEF staff were excellent teachers. They taught myself and the rest of the people in the class something new every week. At the end of the six weeks, I knew how to type, space, punctuate etc. By the time I was presented with my computer, I had learned enough to go to Durham Economic Resource Center (DERC) and enroll in college at Durham Technical College, where I took some advanced courses in computers. With the use of my new computer from CEF I was also able to sit with the CEF group on Saturdays and fill out applications online, surf the web, Google, text, email and things of that nature.

The honest truth is, because of CEF, today I am working at MERCK as Production Management Assistant/Logistics in Kanban. This deals mostly with computers. Sort of like a miracle, you know?

I still meet with CEF on Saturdays–not as often as I should, but I will improve on that. When we meet we work on things like employment income, barriers to income, finances, and health. For instance, they help me to find the proper health care provider and things of that nature.

Thank you CEF. You are truly a Community Empowerment. You have certainly Empowered my mind. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and because you have put something positive on my mind, I have one year and two months of uninterrupted SOBRIETY.

Thank You All at CEF. So many of you have given of your time and effort to help me, so many friends, too numerous to mention, your vibration is Positive. Thanks again.

Truly Yours,

Malcolm Clemens
CEF Member

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Member-Advocate Feature: Kevin & Erin

All of us have been hearing about the cookie cakes that Erin and Kevin have been crafting up in the CEF office, so we decided to meet up with them and talk about their experience with CEF thus far and growth of their relationship since being paired.

ErinKevinHow did you find out about CEF?

Kevin: I’m in a Freedom House and one of the things we have to go through is an orientation, and they tell you about the organizations that will help us, and CEF is one of them.

Erin: Somewhere along the line signed up for the listserv and was getting emails the whole semester while I was abroad, actually, and I was like “This sounds really awesome!” It’s the one [listserv] that I didn’t unsubscribe from, so I decided I’d check it out whenever I got back to Chapel Hill, which was last semester and I’ve been involved ever since.

What were your first impressions of CEF?

Kevin: I think it was a good impression because they helped me with my resume right off the top, and they were always willing to go above and beyond to help. Whatever I needed done, they helped me with it was.

Erin: It was awesome, with everything that’s happening here… a little overwhelming my first time in the office, just like all the things CEF does, which is what makes it so awesome, but at the same time it’s like, “Wow, we can help people get cell phones, transportation, housing, and all these things. How is it possible to do all this? I know nothing.” But then you learn it’s all a learning process and everyone is kind of in it together.

What kind of relationships have you built within CEF?

Kevin: That’s a good question that I can answer off the top. It’s like having a family, where you really cherish someone. I cherish the fact that I can come here and look forward to seeing Erin; she helps me out tremendously. As well as Jon, Sarah, Daniella, and everyone here is really helpful, and I look forward to coming here.

Erin: The same goes for me, both in the relationships that I have with other Advocates and Members as well. They’re so strong because they’re based on such deep compassion for issues… like helping people, and working through very real life problems, and the nature of those relationships is what makes them so strong and unique. Specifically, in working with Kevin, the things that we’ve been working through and talking about, I learn just as much from him as he does from me, so it’s mutually beneficial for sure.

Do you have any advice for Advocates and Members who come to CEF?

Kevin: My advice to anyone coming here would be to just lay down all your cards on the table, let them know what you want, what you’re looking for, what your goals are, and try to build a relationship from there. Do the footwork and everything else will fall into place.

Erin: I think Kevin said it perfectly, it’s all about the relationships really, and you kind of have to let your guard down sometimes and put it all out on the table. It’s all about getting to know the other person that you’re working with and seeing how you can help each other.

Do you have a favorite CEF moment(s)?

Kevin: Yes, I do. I think it was last week that I asked Erin to come to one of my meetings, as I’m in a recovery program. She told me she that would come and she shocked me and came up with another CEF participant… that overwhelmed me and I was filled with joy, almost having tears in my eyes. That was my favorite one by far.

Erin: Honestly, I think that’s been my favorite too. That was a really awesome experience to take things outside of the office and be present in a different space and witness other people that are experiencing different kinds of problems and it’s a whole different kind of support group. Like CEF is a support group, and it’s such an awesome thing to see the way that people are people are able to work together and help each other through their problems. There was a guy in the meeting that was clearly struggling a lot, and someone else in the meeting was like “Come talk to me after this, I want to help you, we can work through this, we’re here for you,” and that’s really what it’s all about.

Do you have any goals as you continue working with CEF?

Kevin: I’m open to new suggestions every day, and like I tell Erin all the time, I’m new here in Chapel Hill and any time I’m around people and they’re trying to help, I’m trying to better myself everyday. Only thing I can do is take good advice and I’m sure I’m in the right place with Erin. Erin has been my #1 supporter and my #1 friend, and she helps me line up jobs and applications because I’m clueless on the computer. My goal is to fix what’s broken in my life.

Erin: My personal goals are your personal goals and whatever you want to accomplish, I want to accomplish.

 

Kevin with his masterfully crafted cookie cake

Kevin with his masterfully crafted cookie cake.

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Advocate Spotlight: Sean

We recently spoke with Sean McClung, a newly trained Advocate, on his time and experience with CEF thus far! Sean first got introduced to CEF via his Service & Leadership LLC and we’re very excited to have him working with us.

When did you get involved?  How did you get involved?

That’s kind of a difficult question. I officially became an advocate this semester but I worked with CEF before, because last year I was a member of the Service and Leadership Living Learning Community- and this year I’m the leader of that community. So, Dr. Charles Price does a class for just us called Action Research and we did a project for that class last semester when I was just a member of S & L. It was called HOPE for a Home and if you talk to Jon or Maggie they’ll know what you’re talking about. We split our class into groups and each dealt with different things like long-term support for grads, like alumni council meetings; going around Franklin and Triangle Transit asking getting lifetime discounts for graduates; and planning the actual event. We had the event and we just had a raffle going and announced the discounts—it was a recognition/ mini-fundraiser night.

So that worked out really well and it was really cool because we got to help CEF. So that’s where I started getting involved and while that was happening, I was like “Yeah I’m going to be an advocate!” but I just didn’t have time for it at that point, so I came in this year knowing this was something I wanted to do.

What about CEF interested you?

Long story short– It makes a positive impact on people’s lives and it’s very different from other organizations because it makes that impact in a personal way. Usually it’s very bureaucratic, but CEF’s emphasis on personal relationship and the fact that we do so much interested me. There’s no reason I wouldn’t want to do it, really. I want to make a positive impact on people and the world and this is a fantastic way to help those people who can’t get themselves where they want to be or just need an extra push to get there. There are just so many good reasons to be in CEF because it’s just incredible.

What is/are the most important thing(s) you’ve learned by working with Members at CEF?

You definitely learn about primarily the things you’re doing, first and foremost… but that’s just like physical life things- like how to apply for this or apply for that, which is great, since they’re good life skills for you to have.

I wouldn’t say that just CEF taught me this but CEF really helps you realize that connotations that come with the kinds of people we help are almost always completely unfounded. These are real people who have just found themselves in really unlucky situations and far too many people don’t realize that it could literally be them tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with these people and sometimes they deal with circumstances outside of their control and some of them may have gotten themselves into situations by their own fault, but the fact that they’re here shows that they’re growing and learning. We’re all just people. I’ve learned over time from CEF and other places that no single person ever deserves judgment. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody deserves love. There’s no reason to not give that to somebody. They don’t deserve your judgment even if you could because absolutely nobody wants to be in the situation where you have to ask for help and the members we work with have, which shows something. And if more people realized that, I feel like most of the problems in the world would disappear.

What skills do you think you’ve developed through working with CEF?

I’ve become better at navigating these strangely arcane, bureaucratic things. I can’t say I’m good at it because I don’t think anyone can be good that them, but I’ve definitely learned to throw myself around in all of these systems and try to get things out of them as opposed to getting lost in cyberspace. I’ve learned how to apply for jobs and stuff—and I helped someone open a checking account, which is something I didn’t know how to do three weeks ago. It’s definitely a work in progress- you learn as you go.

Is there a skill or knowledge of a concept that you want to develop through CEF that you haven’t already?

I can’t really think of anything specific. It’ll come when I need it, that’s how CEF rolls.

Are there any future aspirations that CEF helps you achieve?

After graduation I plan on going into the Peace Corps and I’m considering doing business development as a career. Although CEF isn’t directly applicable to that, it’s very similar. Essentially you’re helping people restructure their lives and get them to where they’re supposed to be. We also learn about job markets and financial things, which are important skills to know and have. It’s nice to know how systems work even if you don’t directly work with them. But it’s also to know the types of people that you’ll be working with when you actually get into those types of careers. Experience trumps the classroom.

If you ran CEF and could change one thing, what would it be?

I would change that stupid printer on the other side of the room that always prints off wingdings… it’s really annoying. Like I just want something to print and all of a sudden there are symbols and wingdings on the paper. I just don’t understand.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in the office?

So Ian Gallager and I had to move this copy machine where the savings center is now, and we were actually moving it to make room for the saving center. And we wanted to see if it worked, so we turned it on and it worked. It was really cool. Oh, but I bet if I had eaten Caleb’s kimchi that would be the craziest thing to ever happen to me… it wasn’t real kimchi, it was his take on kimchi.

What’s your favorite memory made in CEF?

That’s hard, but the first moment that popped into my head was this time I spent two hours working with a guy in one sitting; his name was Daniel. We started applying for a job, wrote a cover letter and resume. We finished the cover letter and this sounds really cliché but he got really happy and thanked me for being so efficient. And I wasn’t being really great or anything, he was just so happy that we were able to do that. It just made me feel so good because it sort of just validates why we work there.

What’s your least favorite moment from working at CEF?

I hated calling the Wake Tech financial aid office… I got put on hold for seven minutes

I hung up on them after seven and a half minutes and decided that an email would be a better usage of our time. It still took them a week to get back, but at least I didn’t have to stay on the phone for that long.

 

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