A Weekend Conference at NC State

Recently I went to NC State University for a conference called Ignited by Truth. I hadn’t been to their campus since I toured it when I was in high school, and thought that some of its buildings that had been built recently were very cool. I was told that the newest building was the Talley Student Union, pictured below.

After the conference there was a concert. The room was poorly lit so I wasn’t able to get any good images, but when I exited the building I looked up and took my camera back out.

I shouldn’t go without a photo of the conference. On stage here is Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn.

An Evening Downtown

I went downtown in Winston-Salem on a Friday night to take photos. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but I was really pleased with my results. I hope the photos below take you back to the 1920s.

I saw this cool mural. I didn’t know what it was until I googled it later. The mural depicts a history of the Black press in America, with abolitionist Frederick Douglass as the central figure. The artist is Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet and the key quote says “Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentation.”

I was close to being done, walking back to the car when I saw these shining golden windows a couple blocks away. I knew I had to get closer. I had seen this building many times before but never at this time of day.

Last but not least is a photo of ARTivity on the Green, a park on Liberty Street. They have really interesting architectural features. Since line was the prevalent factor in this image, I decided to make it black and white.

Tuesdays at The Shalom Project

Founded in 2008, The Shalom Project is a nonprofit that works to help people in Winston-Salem, NC overcome poverty. Their key programs are a food pantry, clothing closet, dinners, and a free medical clinic. They are a nonprofit based out of Green Street United Methodist Church in the West Salem neighborhood. Thomas Cannady, one of their key volunteers, spoke to me about the organization. All quotes are his words.

Thomas Cannady.

On Tuesday mornings the church opens at 9 a.m. and people start flowing in for the food pantry and clothing closet. There are normally about 70 clients, but some weeks that number reaches 90. Visitors can come every thirty days to the food pantry; all they need is a form of identification (government IDs are not necessary). 

The Shalom Project purchases food for the pantry and also receives food from private donations and from the government TFAP program, which people must qualify for. They not only give canned foods to their clients but also provide fresh foods and meat. 

“I’m very pleased that we do give meat to the people on Tuesdays because meat is so expensive. We try to give them meat for at least two meals.”

The food that a person receives is enough for several days, so for those in need of more, “we also give out information about other food banks.”

“Food is free for whoever needs it. If they can come and sit down and wait in line an hour to get the food, we’ll get them food and we’ll try to give them referrals to other food banks [so] they can get food from them and not run out in a couple days.”

Another initiative The Shalom Project has to fight hunger in Winston-Salem is their Wednesday dinners. “We tell them, if they come on Tuesdays, come down Wednesday night and eat with us. That’s one meal longer you’ll have food on your table.”

Called The Welcome Table, a meal is cooked for anyone who wants to come from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday. Volunteers from Green Street United Methodist Church and other churches prepare and serve the meals to the hungry, which usually number between fifty and seventy.

The Shalom Project not only serves people from Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. They also support people who come from neighboring Davie, Surry, and Davidson counties. 

Their clothing closet is also open Tuesday mornings. When a person enters the church, they are in a waiting room as they are being processed, first-come, first-serve. After they check in with a volunteer, they go downstairs to the basement which houses the clothing closet.

The items in the clothing closet are organized by gender and age. Visitors can receive ten pieces of clothing including shoes, coats, ties, and undergarments, as well as shirts and pants. They can also pick out household and kitchen items and toys for the kids. “A lot of people really do come for the clothes. They come for the clothes but don’t always get what they want, but what we try to do is give them something.” 

All of the clothing distributed comes from private donations. 

“People will drive up and drop three large garbage bags full of clothes for us. I cleaned out my closet… I had stuff I hadn’t worn in five years, so I gave it to The Shalom Project.” 

Through observing the needs of the community, what Cannady would like to see most to improve lives in Winston-Salem is for churches to come together to address homelessness in the city. He sees a great need for transitional housing to help homeless people have a secure place to live so they can try to get a job. 

Last month he went out around the city with Samaritan’s Ministries between 11 a.m. and 4 a.m, to count homeless people in order to estimate their population. From what he saw that night he believes there are over 500 homeless people in Winston-Salem. 

“I wish every church around Winston, we’d all gather
together and say, ‘There’s this many homeless people. Let’s set up a plan to help them.’” 

You can learn more about The Shalom Project and find out how to contact them on their website.

Diedre’s Story of Becoming Self-Reliant

Photos and story by Fouad Abou-Rizk. All quotes by Dierdre.

Dierdre has lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the majority of her life. She has two sons, aged 19 and 24.

Over 15 years ago, one of Dierdre’s co-workers went through the IDA (Individual Development Account) program at Experiment in Self Reliance, an organization which up to that point she had heard of but was not familiar with. “She knew that I was wanting to have a home someday and told me about the program that ESR had and I immediately made a phone call to find out what I needed to do to get involved.”

ESR taught Dierdre how to improve her credit score by paying off small debts. “They helped me to get on a budget plan. They set you up with a budget book and help you to learn to budget your money, [to] see where your money is going, what’s needed, what’s not needed.”

“I always thought I couldn’t save, but it showed you that you could save.”

One of the things she learned is the value of cooking her own meals rather than going out to eat.

With Experiment in Self Reliance’s guidance, Dierdre opened up a savings account. The funds she contributed to save for her future home were matched by ESR. “At the end of my twelve months, I had enough money to go towards inspections, down payment…”

Before she moved into her home, IDA partners taught her how to maintain the house so she would not have to pay a plumber or electrician to come fix a problem.

What Dierdre has learned about budgeting and saving money, she has shared with her sons. “Now that they are young adults, that is something that is ingrained in them.” She is proud to say that her oldest son has never called her asking for money.

“He is self-sufficient, and glory be to God! I am happy about that.”

In the past, Dierdre said she has gotten off track with budgeting, but, “the first thing I did was call the manager of the IDA program at the time and ask for a new budget book.”

One of ESR’s key programs reaching over 4000 people every spring is the Forsyth Free Tax program. Knowledgeable volunteers work with clients in various locations throughout Forsyth County to assist people in filing their taxes, free of charge.

“There is nothing better than saving that money in free taxes.”

What Dierdre values most about being educated by Experiment in Self Reliance is “not having to go to other people because I’ve learned to manage money as it should be.”

Now Dierdre is an advocate for ESR and seeks to use her knowledge to educate others. “If you can pay rent for seven hundred dollars a month, you can own your own home.” She said that when people participate in the IDA program, ESR works with them to make sure that they are financially secure that once they purchase a home, they will not lose it.

“You’re learning how to manage and become self-reliant, period.”

For over three years, Dierdre has been a member of ESR’s development committee and has been speaking at fundraising events in the community on their behalf. “I’m happy to be a voice for them and be a hand in any way that I can.”

“They do so much for the community. They have such great assistance for the low-to-moderate income people. It’s hard to get help from different agencies sometimes but I know for a fact that at ESR, this is what they’re doing.”

You can learn more about Experiment in Self Reliance on their websiteFacebook, or Twitter.

Copyright © Fouad Abou-Rizk 2019. All Rights Reserved.
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