Group works to fill gaps for people in need

By Todd Cohen

CARRBORO, N.C. — Roughly one in five people who live in Orange County are poor, and many people who work at service jobs in the county cannot afford to live there.

“There’s a huge disparity between haves and have-nots in Orange County, one of the most  affluent counties in the state,” says John Dorward, who just stepped down as co-director of the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service in Carrboro.

And with state and federal government cuts looming in spending to address basic human needs, he says, demand for those services will only increase.

Founded in 1963 by seven women from different churches who wanted to help close a gap they saw in services for people in need, the nonprofit today provides basic services for people living and working in Carrboro and Chapel Hill.

Those services range from emergency financial support and crisis intervention to homeless shelters and a community kitchen, food pantry, and medical and dental clinic.

The Inter-Faith Council operates with support from 50 to 60 churches, a staff of 19 full-time employees and eight working part-time, 750 volunteers, and an annual budget of $1.9 million, plus in-kind gifts worth another $2.2 million to $2.4 million.

In September 2015, after raising $5.9 million in a capital campaign, the Inter-Faith Council opened a 52-bed men’s shelter at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill, replacing a smaller shelter in the former municipal building on West Rosemary Street.

And now it is preparing for a campaign to raise $5.2 million to raze a building it owns at 110 West Main St. in Carrboro that houses its food pantry, crisis-intervention services and administrative offices, and build a new facility that will house those programs as well as its community kitchen now located in the Rosemary Street building.

The new facility, which would open near the end of 2020 and still needs approval from the town of Carrboro, would  include a larger kitchen that would allow the Inter-Faith Council to offer classes in food, nutrition and cooking, and to better recycle food in the community, says Dorward, who retired in 2015 as director after 13 years with the organization and returned as co-director last August.

Succeeding him on April 10 was Jackie Jenks, former executive director at Hospitality House in San Francisco, although he will continue to work as a volunteer on the capital campaign and development of the new facility.

Each year, the community kitchen at the Inter-Faith Council serves about 60,000 meals to people in need, while its food pantry provides about 13,000 to 14,000 bags of groceries.

Its 50-bed facility for women and children, and its facility for men, are the county’s only homeless shelters. People staying in the shelters also can get medical and dental services from the Inter-Faith Council’s clinic, which is operated by Piedmont Health Services.

The Inter-Faith Council also provides support teams of eight to 10 volunteers each that are paired with individuals — many of them preparing to leave its homeless shelters for permanent housing. The teams help them as they move to independent living.

The organization counts on contributions from individuals, congregations, foundations, businesses, government and United Way, and through special events, including RSVVP, an event each November in which 100 local restaurants contribute 10 percent of their receipts for a single day, and the Crop Hunger Walk, which was held April 23, in partnership with Church World Service.

“The safety net has got lots of holes, and we are the bottom of the safety net, and we have to turn people away,” says Dorward. “With continued support from the community, we will look to strengthen the safety net wherever possible.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.21.17

Tomorrow Fund raises another $80,000

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has agreed to give $30,000 to the final campaign of The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students in honor of Brad Wilson, the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield and a member of the Fund’s advisory board, which has pledged over $50,000 more to the campaign.

The campaign aims to raise $45,000 more by May 31 to reach its goal of $135,000.

Family Services gets $125,000

Family Service of the Piedmont in Greensboro has received an unrestricted grant of $125,000 from the Leon Levine Foundation in Charlotte. Of the total, $25,000 represents dollar-for-dollar matching funds for new, increased and lapsed donations received.

Operation North State provides $491,000 in services

Operation North State, an all-volunteer organization in Winston-Salem that provides support services for North Carolina’s deployed troops and veterans in need, delivered $491,000 in support services over the past year, operating with total administrative expenses of $2,700.

Caldwell Academy pitches in for nonprofits

Over 800 students and staff from Caldwell Academy in Greensboro participated on April 5 in Caldwell Compassion, a day of service for the entire school, from preschool through 12th grade, as well as faculty, staff and many parents.

Last year Caldwell Compassion raised $65,000 while donating over 5,000 volunteer hours, and this year aimed to raise $75,000 to help address needs at 16 nonprofits.

Young leaders volunteer at community garden

Young Leaders United, a group of leaders age 18 to 40 at United Way of Greater High Point, hosted a volunteer event on April 18 at Bountiful Harvest Community Garden to help the organization in its efforts to make the West End neighborhood food-secure.

Crisis Control Ministry teams up for food drive

Crisis Control Ministry partnered with day-care centers, preschools and elementary schools in the Forsyth County region in March to collect boxed cereal for its client food pantries in Winston-Salem and Kernersville.

The cereal drive, which included over 30 collection sites throughout the region, generated 1,934 boxes, which will provide over 35,000 bowls of cereal to local families.  First-time participant Southwest Elementary School in Clemmons collected 437 boxes of cereal.

Postal food drive set for May 13

The 25th annual drive sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers, which last year generated nearly 80,000 pounds of food in High Point, Jamestown, Thomasville and Archdale that was distributed among nearly 15 pantries, is scheduled for May 13.

People can leave food in a bag by their mail box at home or work that day — or for several days before or after that date if they are traveling — and the Post Office will pick it up and bring it back to the main Post Office, where it will be divided among participating pantries.

Service-learning camp for high school students

The Volunteer Center of Greensboro is looking for rising ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th graders to participate in its Service-Learning Leadership Camp that is designed to help local high school students to engage in service-learning projects that improve the community.

RiverRun Festival posts higher revenue, admissions

Gross box-office revenue at the 2017 RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem grew to $100,120 this year from $90,334, while admissions grew to 16,798 from 16,556.

The 19th annual event, held March 30  to April 9, 2017, included 151 films representing 49 countries.

The 20th annual RiverRun will be held April 19-29, 2018.

Applications due for Nonprofit Leadership Academy

May 15 is the deadline for North Carolina nonprofits to submit applications for the Nonprofit Leadership Academy offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. The 11-month program focuses on leadership, culture and strategy.

Thompson hosting benefit luncheon

Thompson in Charlotte will host its 15th annual “Portraits of Courage” benefit luncheon on May 2 at noon at The Westin Charlotte at 601 S. College St., an event that has raised over $8.3 million in the past 14 years.

Golf event raises $28,000

Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority at High Point University raised $28,000 for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness at its 12th Annual Crown Classic Golf Tournament.

Scholarships available for single, employed mothers

May 31 is the deadline for single, employed mothers who live or attend school in Forsyth County, and are working to complete a college degree, to submit applications for a $2,000 scholarship to Professional Women of Winston Salem.

Fundraising event for Autism Speaks

CEO Ninja Warrior, an event to raise money for Autism Speaks, will be held April 29 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at AT&T at 2749 Main St. in High Point. Co-sponsoring the event are the Better Business Bureau of Northwest North Carolina, and the AT&T Mini Business Center.

Grant boosts student entrepreneurs

Five students at High Point University will get a boost in advancing their businesses, thanks to a grant from The Pagon Family Promising Entrepreneur Fund, a gift to the school from Ohio entrepreneurs Leonard and Kata Pagon that supports students in developing business plans and launching companies.

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.14.17

Cain retiring from John Rex Endowment

Kevin Cain is retiring after 16 years as president and CEO of the John Rex Endowment in Raleigh after 16 years, effective in a few months after a successor is named.

The Endowment also has engaged the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct a community health assessment that focuses on children in Wake County.

Duke gets $1.5 million for research on congregations

Duke University is getting a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment and will use the fund to expand research on America’s religious congregations to assess how they are changing over time in areas such as the demographic makeup of local churches and  trends in congregational worship practices.

EarthShare NC hosting corporate breakfast

EarthShare NC will host its 3rd Annual Corporate Earth Day Breakfast on April 28 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Market Hall at 215 Wolfe St. in Raleigh.

Keynote speaker will be Elizabeth H. Rooks, interim CEO of Research Triangle Foundation.

The event will include a “Corporate Challenge” that will match 18 corporate teams and over 200 employees with conservation nonprofits for an afternoon of service.

Volunteer opportunities in Greensboro

The opportunity to volunteer in over 20 community projects is available the week for  April 23 to 29, thanks to a partnership of United Way of Greater Greensboro and The Volunteer Center of Greensboro.

Volunteer opportunities, which can be foundation at, range from sorting food items to be delivered to those in need to a beautification project in Barber Park and a roadside cleanup on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Groceries team with Greensboro Urban Ministry

Local grocery stores and three dozen congregations are teaming up with Greensboro

Urban Ministry for a community food drive on April 21 and 22.

On April 21 at participating Food Lion stores, and both days at participating Harris Teeter Lowes Food, Whole Foods and Walmart stores, shoppers can donate nonperishable food items to the food pantry at Greensboro Urban Ministry by dropping them off with volunteers outside the stories.

Cooking event raises $80,000 for Lucy Daniels Center

The inaugural Cooking for a Classic chef competition raised over $80,000 for the Lucy Daniels Center in Cary.

Eastern Music Festival raises $34,000

Benefactors and patrons of Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro raised over $34,000 for its Young Artists Scholarship Fund at an event April 7 at Revolution Mill.

At the event, Eastern Music Festival also honored the LeBauer Family for its support of the event since it began in 1961.

Each summer, over 220 students from throughout the world gather at Guilford College for the Festival’s five-week intensive training and performance program, and 80 percent of those students require financial assistance to attend.

During the 2016 Festival, roughly $350,000 in scholarships was awarded.

Cone Health physicians give $10,000

Physicians at Cone Health in Greensboro have given $10,000 through the Cone Health Medical Executive Committee to support Cone Health Employees in need.

The money is being used to replenish the Cone Health Caring for Each Other Fund, which is used to help employees address challenges beyond their control, such as storms, fires, accidents and illnesses.

Since it was established in 2015, the Fund has provided nearly $70,000 to over 60 people.

New scholarship at A&T

Plus-size retailer Ashley Stewart and North Carolina A&T State University are launching the Ashley Stewart Leadership Scholarship, a $10,000 scholarship that will be awarded to a female A&T student in business and economics disciplines

The recipient will be invited to New York City in September to be honored at the “Finding Ashley Stewart 2017” finale.

James Rhee, CEO of Ashley Stewart, will host a Private Equity Workshop for A&T students to learn how to manage money and invest in consumer brands.

Kids get packages from bikers

Motorcycle riders, including members of Raleigh Harley Owners Group participated in the 11th annual Ray Price “Easter Basket Ride” on April 8 to deliver care packages totaling over $3,000 in donations to youth at the The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.

Triad walks to fight ALS

The Greensboro Walk to Defeat ALS will be held May 6 at Center City Park, and the Winston-Salem Walk to Defeat ALS will be held May 13 at BB&T Field.

Funds raised at the events, both to begin at 10 a.m., will be used to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and often is referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Transitions LifeCare chief medical officer honored

Laura Patel, chief medical officer for Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh, has been named “Physician of the Year” by the Association for Home & Hospice Care of North Carolina.

Black chairs North Carolina Community Foundation board

James B. Black III, retired director of client development for wealth management at Wells Fargo, has been named chair of the board of directors of the North Carolina Community Foundation in Raleigh.

Event to benefit Note in the Pocket

The 4th annual Socks & Undie 5K Rundie to benefit Note in the Pocket will be held April 22 starting at 9 a.m.  at Dorothea Dix Park in downtown Raleigh.

Bookmarks opening new store

Bookmarks, a literary arts nonprofit, will break ground for a new bookstore and gathering space in the Breezeway at 634 West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem on April 29 at 10 a.m.

The space, to open this summer, also will include Bookmarks’ offices, and the Foothills Café.

Radio nonprofit reads to those who can’t see

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Every other Wednesday, five students from the The Governor Morehead School and one from Sanderson High School spend two hours at the studios of Triangle Radio Reading Service, a Raleigh nonprofit that uses the radio and other technologies to read aloud to an audience that is legally blind or print impaired.

The students, all considering careers in broadcasting, and all legally blind, spend the time learning how to operate a soundboard.

Their instructor, a part-time and legally blind employee at the nonprofit, has used Braille to label all the functions on the soundboard.

And graduate of the three-year old training program, also legally blind, handles the soundboard for the organization’s Wednesday morning show, which features volunteers reading The News & Observer aloud.

“For someone who is unable to read — the print-impaired and blind — we need to be there to read for them and advocate for them,” says May Tran, executive director of the nonprofit.

Formed in 1983, Triangle Radio Reading Service broadcasts live and pre-recorded programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, reaching thousands of print-impaired or blind readers, says Tran, who began volunteering for the organization in 2000 as production volunteer and studio manager and in 2012 was named executive director, succeeding long-time leader Linda Ornt.

The nonprofit is one of 60 radio reading services in the U.S., plus one each in Canada and Switzerland.

It operates with an annual budget of $205,000 and four part-time employees in addition to Tran, who works full-time, plus over 150 volunteers. All its on-air readers and hosts operate the soundboards during their broadcasts.

The Reading Service features three live broadcasts every weekday from one of its three studios —  the morning show; a show at noon with volunteers reading Triangle Business Journal, other local newspapers, and national and local magazines; and an evening show that features volunteers reading USA Today.

The morning show is rebroadcast each day at 5 p.m., and all shows are recorded for podcasts available on the Reading Service’s website.

The Reading Service also pre-records 17 programs whose focus ranges from reading aloud the Spanish-language newspaper Que Pasa to interviews with veterans, lawyers and educators.

In addition to its website and podcasts, programming from the Reading Service is available through over 300 small radio receivers it has loaned to listeners; on Community Access Channel 22 from the City of Raleigh or Community Access TV in Hillsborough; and through streaming on computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Five other reading services also carry its broadcasts.

The Reading Services gets 25 percent of its funds from a gala it hosts each October, and the rest from corporate and foundation grants and individual donations, including an annual fund drive each March that this year aimed to raise $10,000, up from $7,000 last year.

And it plans next year to launch a campaign to raise $35,000 to replace its 16-year-old studio equipment, and another $10,000 to make its studio more accessible to its technicians.

“We always are looking for volunteers and donors,” Tran says.

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.07.17

Food Bank raises $10 million

The Raleigh-based Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has raised $10 million in a capital campaign, meeting its goal, and has purchased a new distribution center to distribute over 64 million pounds of food to people in need.

The Food Bank also will continue to invest in expanded partnerships, programs and trainings designed to break the cycle of hunger in central and eastern North Carolina.

ABC of NC raises $4 million

ABC of NC, a Winston-Salem provider of autism services, has raised nearly $4 million in the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise $5 million and has kicked off the campaign’s public phase.

Donors to the campaign, which will support construction of a 25,000-square-foot clinical building, include BB&T, Cannon Foundation, Cook Medical, First Tennessee, Reynolds American Foundation, and Wake Forest Baptist Health, as well as individuals.

Sink chairs JDRF event

Dean Sink, president and CEO of Mickey Truck Bodies, has been named corporate chair for the 2017 High Point One Walk on April 29 to benefit JDRF, which already has secured corporate sponsorships of over $80,000, nearly tripling sponsorship levels from previous years.

The walk will be held at Bank of North Carolina at 801 North Elm Street in High Point, with check-in at 9 a.m. and the event beginning at 10 a.m.

Providence Day School targets young professionals

Providence Day School in Charlotte, with the help of a $50,000 matching grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation in Brooklyn, N.Y., has launched a three-year pilot program designed to attract, develop, and retain young faculty of color.

The school also has launched a program to introduce recent college graduates to a career in education in the areas of philanthropy, development, annual giving, marketing and communications, and advancement services.

Convention and Visitors Bureau forms foundation

High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau has established a nonprofit foundation to form partnerships, seek funding and operate to improve education, artistic, scientific and historical activities related to local tourism.

Winston-Salem Foundation gives $515,000

The Winston-Salem Foundation awarded 19 grants totaling $515,350 to organizations serving people living in Forsyth County through programs in the areas of arts and culture; community and economic development; education; health; human services; public interest; and recreation.

North Carolina MG Walk to be held tomorrow

The North Carolina MG Walk will be held April 8 at Barber Park in Greensboro, with proceeds benefiting the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America.

Physician-author to speak at United Way event

Physician and author Sampson Davis will be the keynote speaker for the 2017 Community Speakers Series hosted by African American Leadership of United Way of Greater Greensboro at the Grandover Resort and Conference Center on May 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Davis is co-founder of The Three Doctors Foundation, which offers free programs focused on health, education, leadership and mentoring, and an emergency medicine physician at St. Michaels Medical Center in Newark, N.J.

Presenting sponsor for the event is VF Corporation.

Groups recognized for reading programs

Read Charlotte and WAKE Up and Read! in Cary have been recognized as national “Pacesetters” by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for their work to ensure more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

Three nonprofits get capacity-building grants

The John Rex Endowment in Raleigh awarded a grant of $40,221 to Families Together and grants of $40,250 each to Lucy Daniels Center and SAFEchild to build their organizational capacity, focusing on needs such as strategic planning, process improvements, development and evaluation.

Junior Achievement raises funds

Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina raised $85,000 at its 11th Annual Valentines Vegas Gala in February at Prestonwood County Club in Cary, with Delta Air Lines and Verizon serving as presenting sponsors.

Junior Achievement also earned 4 Star status from Junior Achievement USA for meeting four of five metrics — operational standards for compliance, student impact, operational efficiency, and financial stability and sustainability.

Junior Achievement also received $25,000 from Wells Fargo, $20,000 from John Deere, and $10,000 each from SunTrust Bank and the John William Pope Foundation.

Guilford health department gets $4,000

The Guilford County Department of Public Health was awarded a $4,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation to support a program for treatment of children identified through their in-school dental screenings as having urgent dental-care needs and an inability to pay for dental care.

Triad ALS walks scheduled

The Greensboro Walk to Defeat ALS will be held May 6 in Center City Park, and the Winston-Salem Walk to Defeat ALS will be held May 13 at BB&T Field, both starting at 10 a.m.

Benefiting the North Carolina chapter of the ALS Association, the two events are among six throughout the state that last year raised a total of $1.2 million.

The chapter serves nearly 800 people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” and supports all of the state’s multidisciplinary ALS clinics, providing financial assistance to people living with ALS and operating support groups and a medical equipment loan program.

ZZZ Bears recognized by SCORE

ZZZ Bears in Winston-Salem has been named a winner of The 2017 American Small Business Championship hosted by SCORE, a national network of volunteer business mentors, and will receive a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring, and publicity throughout the year.

Nonprofit news roundup, 03.31.17

Per-student spending gap grows in state

The gap in funding for public schools between the most affluent and poorest counties in North Carolina is “stark and growing,” a new study says.

The 10 counties spending the most spent $3,026 on average per student, compared to $710 spent by the 10 counties that spent the least, says the 2017 Local School Finance Study from the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

Orange County, which spends the most, spent 12 times more per student than Swain County, which spends the least, the study says.

In 2014-15, it says, the 10 counties that spend the most spent 4.26 times more per child than the 10 counties that spend the least.

That same year, the study says, the 10 poorest counties taxed themselves at nearly double the rate of the 10 wealthiest counties, yet because of he disparity in real-estate wealth capacity, the revenue the poorest counties could generate at higher tax rates was substantially lower than what the wealthiest counties could generate at lower rates.

“The poorest counties continue to raise their tax rates, while the wealthiest counties lower theirs, and yet the substantial revenue disparity persists,” the Public School Forum says.

On average, it says, the counties that spend the most increased their spending by 3.8 percent more per child this year than last year, or $110 more per student, while the counties that spend the least increased their average spending per student by 0.8 percent, or $5 per student.

North Carolina law gives the state the responsibility to pay for instructional expenses, including personnel, while county governments pay for capital expenses, including building and grounds, except for statewide bond referenda or other state spending.

Yet the state now pays two percent of capital expenses, with local spending accounting for 98 percent, the Public School Forum says,  while counties now are funding 18.8 percent of positions for principals and assistant principals; 6.5 percent of teachers; 11.8 percent of teacher assistants; and 20.9 percent of professional instructional support personnel.

High Point University getting $5 million

The School of Education at High Point University is getting $5 million from Robert “Bob” Stout, retired president of Steel Bar Corp. in Greensboro, and his wife Maggie Stout.

To be renamed for the donors, the Stout School of Education offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in elementary, middle-grades, secondary education, special, and science, technology, engineering and math education, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

John Rex Endowment gives $1.1 million

John Rex Endowment in Raleigh awarded grants totaling $764,418 Wake County Public School System and $270,792 to Youth Thrive to support positive mental health in Wake County, and $70,000 to the Department of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to put into effect a safe-environments program in six pediatric clinics in Wake County.

Heart Math Tutoring awarded $350,000

Heart Math Tutoring in Charlotte received a $350,000 multi-year grant from The Leon Levine Foundation that will fund a new full-time position dedicated to recruiting and supporting volunteers.

Read and Feed receives $50,000

Read and Feed in Cary received $50,000 from the Carolina Hurricanes’ Kids ‘N Community Foundation.

Wake Salvation Army opens second Family Store

The Salvation Army is opening its a Family Store at 4025 Wake Forest Rd. in Raleigh.

Proceeds from sales and donations at the store, its second in Wake County, ­­directly support The Salvation Army’s food pantry, family shelter, community center, and outreach programs for survivors of human trafficking and children experiencing homelessness.

Interior work completed on ArtsGreensboro facility

ArtsGreensboro has completed work on the interior of the new Van Dyke Performance Space, including installation of new permanent and flexible seating.

The new facility for performing arts, events and entertainment facility, with a seating capacity of 250 to 400 or more under different configurations, was developed through a collaborative partnership between the City of Greensboro and ArtsGreensboro, and a $1 million gift from Jan Van Dyke, artistic director of Dance Project.

Center for Volunteer Caregiving to host event

The Center for Volunteer Caregiving in Cary will host its 2017 Red Carpet Rendezvous, celebrating celebrating 25 years of service to the community, on April 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the N.C. State University Club in Raleigh.

Dog event to benefit Sergei Foundation

The Sergei Foundation will host the Fourth Annual Triad Dog Games on May 20 and 21 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds.

Funds raised at the event will support the Foundation’s mission to save companion pets’ lives by providing veterinary financial assistance to families unable to afford emergency, life-saving care.

Heart Association creates board

The American Heart Association has named its first Triad board of directors.

Board president is Allison Brashear, chair of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, while Thomas Boothby, Triad market managing partner for Dixon Hughes Goodman, is board chairman, and David H. Wagner, director of the Student Health Center at N.C. A&T State University, is president-elect.

5K events to benefit local nonprofits

Twin City Track Club, Brenner Families in Training, and Girls on the Run Triad will receive proceeds from  Beat the Heat 5K, an event the Track Club will host July 22 starting at 6:30 p.m., with Cook Medical as presenting sponsor.

Rescue Ranch building playground for kids of all abilities

Rescue Ranch, an animal-welfare nonprofit founded by Krissie Newman and her husband, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, has broken ground on a 10,000-square-foot playground in Statesville that will be fully inclusive for children with all abilities and the first of its kind in Iredell County.

Event to benefit firefighters group

Little City Brewing and Provisions Company and Heat fitness studios — both located near the fire on March 16 that destroyed an apartment building under construction — will host a fundraiser workout on April 2 benefitting the Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association.

Salvation Army works to fill gaps for homeless kids

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Twenty-nine homeless children in Wake County who otherwise might not get critical health and social services they need will now be connected to them, thanks to $2,900 raised by a fourth-grade class at Grace Christian School in Raleigh.

The students raised the money as a class project after hearing a presentation from Project CATCH, a program of the Salvation Army of Wake County that coordinates collaborative services and serves as an advocate for homeless children.

The presentation was part of a new effort by Project CATCH to raise awareness about Wake County’s 5,000 homeless children, including 2,900 who are school-age and over 1,250 who need mental-health care.

Every night, nearly 300 children in Wake sleep in shelters. Thousands more are forced to double up in the homes of family or friends, or live in cars or hotels, or sleep on the streets.

Children who are homeless typically have experienced or been exposed to violence in their neighborhood or family, says Jennifer Tisdale, coordinator of Project CATCH.

Yet those children often can seem invisible, with their needs not understood or addressed, she says.

Homeless children face health problems and lack access to health care, she says. They experience high rates of problems with mental health, learning, cognition, language development, and academic achievement.

Yet shelters typically focus mainly on addressing the immediate needs of homeless children and families for jobs and housing because those needs are critical and the shelters’ resources and staff are limited, Tisdale says.

And most shelters have limited protocols for screening and assessing children, as well as procedures for referring children with needs to appropriate mental-health providers, she says.

Shelters also typically lack sufficient resources to keep track of children over time to ensure they get effective services, she says.

Project CATCH — Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless — works to fill those gaps.

Formed in 2011 in collaboration with the Young Child Mental Health Collaborative and initially funded by Wake County SmartStart and John Rex Endowment, the program partners with 11 shelter programs, including the one at the Salvation Army, and with 18 community programs, to offer physical, emotional and education services.

Operating with an annual budget of $141,000, two full-time staff members and four interns from N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it receives child referrals from the shelters and the Wake County Public School System and has served 1,500 children.

It also provides a child-abuse-prevention program in three shelters for parents experiencing stress from homelessness. And it serves as lead agency in a collaborative effort to address the needs of families living in hotels.

“We are aligning and providing children with services they otherwise would not have,” Tisdale says.

Project CATCH refers every child it serves to five or six agencies, on average. It provides food and clothing for 80 percent of the children it serves. In partnership with The Diaper Train, it provides diapers to homeless families.

It also provides families with food through the Salvation Army or gives them food vouchers from Catholic Charities or Wake Relief.  And it connects homeless children with after-school camps and extracurricular activities.

Child and Family Well-Being and Homelessness, a new book, includes a chapter on Project CATCH by Mary Haskett, a psychology professor at N.C. State, and co-authored by Tisdale and Amy Leonard Clay, a doctoral candidate at N.C. State.

Haskett suggests in the chapter that Project CATCH could serve as a national model to increase access to mental health services for homeless children.

First, however, the program aims to raise awareness and funding to sustain itself and add at least one more case manager, Tisdale says.

Project CATCH is partnering, for example, with the Contemporary Art Museum, which has visited the Salvation Army shelter to work on art projects with homeless children and is considering a display and exhibit of their work.

Project CATCH also is developing plans with the North Carolina Museum of Art for an art show featuring work by local artists the program has worked with to raise awareness about homeless children.

“When nobody know about you, it’s really hard to raise funds, and if we don’t, our doors will close by the end of the year,” Tisdale says. “Our goal is to create more awareness about the problem and issue so more people will become engaged.”