Take a moment to talk to people and learn their stories. Listen to what has gone on in their lives, but don’t necessarily try to have a solution.
When Ebony’s family moved to Winston-Salem, she and her siblings were raised by a single mother who utilized resources from various local agencies to help her family. Ebony participated in activities sponsored by the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club. As a young adult, Ebony continued to live in Winston-Salem and most recently worked at a nonprofit health clinic. About the time her job ended, she spotted a flyer in the community on the “Getting Ahead” program sponsored by The Partnership for Prosperity, operating under the Mayor’s Poverty Thought Force. The 16-week curriculum, based on Phil DeVol’s book, Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, explores factors that impact poverty, such as employment, housing and transportation
Ebony decided that participating in “Getting Ahead” would be a good option for her. She had also just enrolled in the Master of Public Affairs program at UNCG and no longer had the cushion of income from her job. Ebony, the youngest member in her “Getting Ahead” group, brought a unique perspective to the discussions. She could look at issues from both the recipient’s side and the provider’s side. Ebony learned about connecting to resources, building networks, and preparing for career opportunities. Ebony said that “Getting Ahead” taught her to take a moment and talk to people about their stories. She strongly believes that you shouldn’t necessarily try to find a solution to someone’s problems but just listen and strive to understand their point of view. Ebony learned a great deal about poverty and the mindset of poverty. She gained insight into why some people in poverty may not find a way out of their situation.
When Ebony and her classmates graduated from “Getting Ahead” they were recognized as “poverty investigators” and encouraged to embark upon a mission of identifying and reducing the incidence of poverty in Forsyth County. “Getting Ahead” helped Ebony solidify her core values of helping people with homelessness, food insecurity, and elementary education. Ebony’s goal is to work in a nonprofit that encompasses her values and serves low-income or underserved communities. She is committed to helping people get ahead, not just get by.
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