Category Archives: Work Stuff

How Many Kids in NC are Enrolled in SNAP? Catching Up on Lost Time; Support from ProSource Fitness

Hunger Fact of the Day:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also commonly known as food stamps, has over 663,000 kids enrolled in North Carolina. – Source, Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC

 


Today’s sponsor:

ProSource Logo

ProSource Fitness Equipment is a very strong supporter of Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (my day job), and their point person in our market, Josh Owen, is an active volunteer who recently won PTAA’s Supplier Vendor Partner of the Year Award. They’re also very involved in the community, including PTAA’s Food Drive.

ProSource is a provider of fitness equipment, both commercial and residential, and I can vouch for them personally because I’ve purchased from them for my home gym and have had nothing but a good experience with the equipment and the company.

They donated enough for a week’s worth of sponsorship and Monday/Tuesday was Day 4. Much thanks to Josh and the team at ProSource Fitness for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!


 

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Activity Days 56-57: For this walk, I once again enjoyed the company of my better 3/4, my partner in crime, Celeste Lowder. We took advantage of the coolest day we’ve had for weeks, and likely the last cool day we’ll have for at least a month, to get in some serious catch-up miles.

Miles walked/run: 10.01 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:

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Miles remaining in challenge: 63.39

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!

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What Percentage of Income is Spent on Childcare When School is Out?; Putting in Some Solid Miles; Support from Phillips Management Group

Hunger Fact of the Day: During the summer, when school is out, many families struggle to put food on the table because their childcare expenses increase significantly. According to a blog post at Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC, “American families can expect to spend 20% of their income this summer on childcare. In North Carolina, the cost of childcare is even more burdensome: here, the percent of the median summer income spent on childcare is 22%.”


Today’s sponsor:

PMG Logo

Over the last few years, Phillips Management Group has REALLY stepped up their efforts to support Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC. In fact, they have won the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association’s Owner’s Cup for raising the most food (per unit) of all the management company members of the association.

Phillips is very active in the community in many other ways, including actively supporting the work of Partners Ending Homelessness, as well as participating in innumerable community service projects in the many cities in which they have property.

They donated enough for a week’s worth of sponsorship and this weekend constituted days 1-3. They provided me with some really nice shirts for the walk, and I’m glad they’re going to let me hold onto them because, as you’ll see from the pictures, they got more than a little sweaty! Much thanks to Maria, Brandon and the entire team at Phillips for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!

 

 

Activity Day 53-55: The first day of this leg of the challenge was a Friday and I explored our office park as well as the attached facilities also owned by Highwoods (our landlord). I found some places I’d never come across before in our seven years here, including a pond I had no idea existed. This place really is pretty big so I was able to get in some good miles. Saturday was a walk around the neighborhood and a bit of a break to recover, especially given the heat. Sunday, my better 3/4 went with me to Tanglewood Park in Clemmons and I was able to get in some serious miles there (just shy of 10).

Miles walked/run: 20.10 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:

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Miles remaining in challenge: 73.4

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!

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Right Now You Can Feed Twice as Many People per Dollar; Breaking 100 on a Dark and Stormy Longest Day; Support from ProSource Fitness

Hunger Fact of the Day:

 


Today’s sponsor:

ProSource Logo

ProSource Fitness Equipment is a very strong supporter of Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (my day job), and their point person in our market, Josh Owen, is an active volunteer who recently won PTAA’s Supplier Vendor Partner of the Year Award. They’re also very involved in the community, including PTAA’s Food Drive.

ProSource is a provider of fitness equipment, both commercial and residential, and I can vouch for them personally because I’ve purchased from them for my home gym and have had nothing but a good experience with the equipment and the company.

They donated enough for a week’s worth of sponsorship and Sunday was Day 3. It’s appropriate that they are sponsoring my first walk back home since they sponsored my first day in Utah. Much thanks to Josh and the team at ProSource Fitness for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!


Activity Day 52: For this walk I enjoyed the company of my better 3/4, my partner in crime, Celeste Lowder. We took advantage of the summer solstice and milked every minute of the longest day for this walk. Our timing was impeccable because halfway through the walk some thunderstorms rolled in so we had to boogie to get the miles in before the lightning started to get too close for comfort. Gotta say it’s a lot more fun having Celeste with me on these walks and I’m hoping she’ll join me for more. And hey, if you feel like going for a walk with me just give me a shout and maybe we can make it happen. The more the merrier!

Finally, we reached another milestone: less than 100 miles left for me to make the 367 challenge goal!

Miles walked/run: 7.06 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:

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Miles remaining in challenge: 93.5

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!

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LGBT People are Disproportionately Food Insecure; Encounters with Urban Wildlife; Support from Crescent Rotary Club

Hunger Fact of the Day:

 


Sponsor for Days 49-51:

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I’m a proud member of Crescent Rotary Club in Greensboro and am most appreciative of their support for this walk (especially the support of “Mr. Rotary” Patrick Eakes. Crescent has about 80 members and those members are all extremely active in supporting the community, through volunteer hours and through financial support via the Crescent Rotary Club Foundation and the Rotary International Foundation.

I’ll highlight just two of Crescent’s many activities this year. First, the club worked with Second Harvest to support the Community Cupboard at the East Market Seventh Day Adventist Church in Greensboro. The club’s foundation donated $4,000 to help purchase new equipment and club members volunteered to help serve food to members of the community who were impacted by the tornado that hit East Greensboro in April. Crescent Rotary Club Foundation also donated $20,000 to the fund established by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to help immediately re-house those who were displaced by the tornado.

If you’re in Greensboro I highly recommend checking out Crescent – it’s a great place to find like-minded business people who are all about serving their community.


Activity Day 49-51: The walk on day 49 was a trip. First, I stepped right over a black snake that I thought was a stick until I saw it slithering away right AFTER I’d just stepped over it. Then about five minutes later and just a couple of blocks away, a very large owl flew out of a tree and directly in front of me before perching itself on the house I was walking by. The combination of those two events had my heart rate WAY more elevated than it normally would have been. Luckily days 50 and 51 had no drama because this old man can only take so much.

Miles walked/run: 15.28 miles. Here are the screenshots from my FitBit:

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Miles remaining in challenge: 100.56

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!

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15 States With Highest Rate of Food Insecurity; Walking in Winston Again; Support from ProSource Fitness

Hunger Fact of the Day:

15 States


Today’s sponsor:

ProSource Logo

ProSource Fitness Equipment is a very strong supporter of Piedmont Triad Apartment Association (my day job), and their point person in our market, Josh Owen, is an active volunteer who recently won PTAA’s Supplier Vendor Partner of the Year Award. They’re also very involved in the community, including PTAA’s Food Drive.

ProSource is a provider of fitness equipment, both commercial and residential, and I can vouch for them personally because I’ve purchased from them for my home gym and have had nothing but a good experience with the equipment and the company.

They donated enough for a week’s worth of sponsorship and Sunday was Day 3. It’s appropriate that they are sponsoring my first walk back home since they sponsored my first day in Utah. Much thanks to Josh and the team at ProSource Fitness for supporting the walk (and PTAA’s Food Drive) and for continuing to be leaders in our community!


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Activity Day 48: Sunday was the first day back in Winston-Salem after 8 days on the road in Utah and California. Was nice to walk around my normal stomping grounds although I would prefer to have San Diego’s sunny, dry and mid-70s weather. Didn’t miss the 90 degrees + 800% humidity:)

Miles walked/run: 5.06 miles. Here’s the screenshot from my FitBit:

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Miles remaining in challenge: 115.84

Want to donate to support Second Harvest? It’s easy to do right here!

DonateNowButton

Eating Someone Else’s Cooking to Improve Your Own

When you finish your work day or work week what do you do with your free time? Do you spend it doing for free something you get paid for at work? Probably not, so you might wonder why someone whose full time job is working for a nonprofit organization would spend any of his precious personal time volunteering for other nonprofits. Well, in my case there are multiple reasons, like what purpose that nonprofit serves or what constituency it is helping, but one of the more selfish reasons is that it helps me identify areas in which I can improve at the day job.

A perfect example of what I’m talking about is a role I’m filling this year for a national trade association with which my organization is affiliated. I knew going in that it would be time consuming, but now that I’m halfway through the year I can tell you that I didn’t realize the half of it. There have been far more conference calls, emails, webinars and face-to-face meetings than I dreamed were possible. There have been unanticipated issues that have required extra meetings and consultations. And, of course, there have been “people being people” issues that have required a lot of attention and more than a little finessing. In other words, your average volunteer role in a trade association.

So how is this helping with my day-job performance? It’s reminding me what our volunteer leaders go through with our organization, and it’s making apparent the things I can do to make their lives easier. Here’s just a small sample:

  1. Communicate early and often, but not too often.
  2. Remember that they have day jobs and family lives, so they may not be able to respond to requests immediately and they might not remember something they’ve committed to doing, and thus you need to remind them. That’s why the first part of point #1 is so important.
  3. Make sure you save “urgent” messages for when you really need them. If everything is urgent, then they begin to believe that nothing is really urgent OR you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why the second part of point #1 is so important.
  4. Be aware that at some point volunteers are going to feel unappreciated. Maybe not by you or your staff, but by other volunteers and the complainers in particular. The other volunteers don’t see all the time you’re putting into your role – the phone calls to discuss agenda items, the debates and decisions regarding organizational policies, the preparation for meetings, the follow up to meetings, the meetings to plan meetings, etc. After a while it grinds you down, and at some point the complaint or offhand comment from another volunteer threatens to push you over the edge. It’s amazing how a simple “thank you” or “you’re doing a great job” from someone, ANYONE, helps get you past that “f*&^ it” moment and makes all the work seem justified. It might be a good idea to have someone make that call to your leaders (of course you can do it yourself, but it’s better coming from a peer).

Much like a chef benefits from sampling other chefs’ cooking, those of us who work for volunteer led organizations can learn a lot by volunteering for other organizations. I’ve truly benefited from being the volunteer who works with staff and observing how they do things, taking notes on things they do that I don’t – and should – and noting things I wish they would do, or not do.

Here’s an interesting learning point: I’m hesitant to share with them the things I wish they would do, or not do, because I don’t want to seem like I’m telling them how to do their jobs. Yet, I’d very much appreciate my own volunteers giving me that same feedback and now I worry that they won’t/don’t for the very same reason. Thus, probably my biggest takeaway is that I need to actively solicit their feedback.

As for my fellow volunteers/members I can say without hesitation what my most significant takeaway is: no matter what I do, or how I do it, someone is going to disagree with me or dislike what I’m doing. That feedback loop is a constant and it can wear you out, so it behooves me to remember that my volunteer leaders are experiencing the exact same thing.

Note to self: increase my budget for “counseling” sessions at local watering holes.

Addressing Homelessness

At the day job I work for a trade association that represents the apartment industry, thus the companies I work with are on the front lines of our nation’s housing situation. You may not be aware of it, but we do indeed have a housing situation that can be best summed up as this: we have too many people who don’t make enough money to pay for the housing that’s available, and/or we don’t have enough housing units that are affordable for people at the bottom of the income scale. Even worse, we have a LOT of people who, thanks to any number of life events, lose their housing and thus end up living in flop houses, cars, tents or under a bridge.

Because apartment owners and managers provide over a third of the housing in the U.S, and a majority of the rental housing, they are often looked to for a solution to the problem of affordability and homelessness. It would be great if they could snap their fingers and solve the problem, but due to the complexity of the issue (static income, increases in the costs of everything from health care to food, lack of housing inventory in general, etc.) this is not something housing providers can solve on their own. That’s not to say that people in the industry aren’t trying, and a perfect example is a woman named Lori Trainer who has been working for years down in Florida to address homelessness in her community. (Here’s a link to a video about some of her work, and I’ll embed it below as well). She just wrote an article for Multifamily Insiders titled The Story Behind the Sign that helps put homelessness in perspective. Here’s an excerpt:

We’ve all seen the homeless person with the sign on the side of the road and when we do, many people think these thoughts.    What the people offering these judgments don’t realize is that the overwhelming majority of people don’t “choose” to be homeless.  In fact, nearly 50% of the homeless in America are working.  Why are they homeless then?  Well, that is the “564,788 person question” (the number of homeless on the street each night according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness).

The causes of homelessness range from sad to tragic.  Job loss, foreclosures, divorce and natural disasters such as the tragedies we are seeing in the Midwest and in Canada are a few examples.  These storm victims certainly didn’t choose to be homeless or do anything wrong but they are indeed homeless now.  If their insurance isn’t perfect, takes a year to work out the details or worse yet, doesn’t pay, what do those families do?  They have lost everything; their homes, belongings and jobs.  They are now homeless…

Another very prevalent and sad demographic in the homeless arena are families.  Approximately 206,268 were identified in the last count. Divorce, domestic violence, death, single parents and low wage workers are all in this category.  Children are resilient but often suffer irreparable damage when forced to live in vehicles, shelters or motels for weeks or months on end.  60 Minutes did a great job highlighting this epidemic:https://youtu.be/L2hzRPLVSm4   (Be sure to have tissues handy!)

Then Lori goes on to point out that there are many, many more people who are just a misstep away from becoming homeless themselves.

Many people think it could never happen to them.  But the truth is that one out of three people are two paychecks away from being homeless.  There are 12 million renters pay more than 50% of their annual income for housing and 37 million people living in poverty in America.  Simple fact, a minimum wage worker cannot support a household and pay rent.  There is a critical shortage of affordable housing in the US and, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition; approximately 200,000 units are destroyed annually.  That combined with the “aging out” tax credit population and the mile long waiting lists for section 8 vouchers, we have the perfect storm.

One of the initiatives we are working on at the national level in the industry is to identify the programs that industry groups are participating in at the local level around the country. For instance, my employer is working with Partners Ending Homelessness to help match their clients with available apartment units in Guilford County. What we’ve found is that like many things in life, the concept is simple but the implementation is complex. Still, we’ve seen progress and we will continue working because this is an issue that will be with us for the foreseeable future.

That’s just one initiative in one community, but that’s the kind of effort we’re going to need in every community around the country to address homelessness, because quite frankly this is not an issue that can be solved from Washington. What our national leadership CAN do is address the big picture issues that underlie homelessness, including:

  • An economy that is not providing adequate income for average workers
  • A health care “system” that bankrupts some, and financially cripples many
  • A crumbling infrastructure that threatens all of us
  • A byzantine regulatory structure (think HUD & EPA) that makes affordable housing development a challenge

Another chief culprit is an under-performing, and some would say under-valued, education system, but that’s not just a Washington issue so let’s not throw it entirely on them. The point is that homelessness is the most severe symptom of an ailing nation. If we are truly measured by how we treat the least of us, then as a nation and a community we have a lot we need to do to heal ourselves.

Here’s the video about the effort in Florida that Lori’s been a big part of: