MY CITY WITH DWELLINGS STORY

Reverend Paul Wollner, Augsburg Lutheran Church, shares how the work of CwD has expanded his heart for his neighbors experiencing homelessness. 

John Cahoon, Artist and CwD Volunteer, shares how the work of CwD has created a special community for his own life and has encouraged him to share his gifts with his neighbors.

John Cahoon, Artist and CwD Volunteer, shares how the work of CwD has created a special community for his own life and has encouraged him to share his gifts with his neighbors.

John Cahoon, Artist and CwD Volunteer, shares how the work of CwD has created a special community for his own life and has encouraged him to share his gifts with his neighbors.

MY CITY WITH DWELLINGS STORY

John Cahoon, Artist and CwD Volunteer, shares how the work of CwD has created a special community for his own life and has encouraged him to share his gifts with his neighbors.

My mother worked, essentially, as a social worker throughout my childhood and into adulthood. Her volunteerism instilled in me an understanding that living for oneself isn’t enough. She told me stories all my life about helping those experiencing homelessness and children whose parents were in rough situations. It was her example, coupled with my own drive, that inspired me to find a place to make a difference. Yet I struggled to find a good place to help in a consistent way for years.

 

After the 2016 election, I felt disheartened by the ugliness I saw rising to the surface in society. The only thing I could do was to reach out and help someone, if only in some small way. If nothing else, I could try to show light and kindness to those who needed it.

My sister Lea Thullbery had been volunteering in shelters for years. She first told me about CwD as a day center with a mission to walk with our neighbors that needed help, assist those that needed housing, and offer a safe place where they could find community. Coffee, a friendly person to talk to, gardening, and maybe some art or other activity as an incentive helped the staff at CwD find out what could be done to house those individuals who were homeless and give community to those who need it. 

 

When visiting CwD, I found both an outlet for my ADD personality and a place where my heart could grow while doing what I could for those folks who were struggling. There was no spiritual litmus test, no disqualifying attendance barriers and a welcoming atmosphere that insisted no matter how little I thought I had helped, that help was valued and appreciated. 

 

I was hooked and my role evolved. I was welcomed by the artists who had come to CwD demonstrating their skills to both our guests experiencing homelessness and those who had been housed but needed continued community in an effort to brace their successes. I have built ongoing relationships with our guests, whether they are still struggling with homelessness or they have a roof over their head - now I'm part of their connection to our larger community.

 

I am a problem procrastinator but I’ve learned how to solve problems on the spot for others. I regularly take people to sign up for benefits like food stamps, medications, food pantries, and clothes. I call their case workers, shelters, governmental organizations, and family members all in an effort to overcome barriers for CwD guests better than I do for myself. For one or two days a week, I’m a problem solver for others. 

 

Most days I volunteer I feel like I haven’t accomplished or helped much at all - but the board, staff, and other volunteers at City with Dwellings are always grateful. Just talking to a person in crisis, showing someone needing that they are included in the community, advising a guest on how to get an ID, or driving a van full of folks to a food pantry are all parts of what’s needed to change a life for the better. 

 

I’ve learned so much in the almost three years I’ve volunteered at CwD. Like most volunteers, I feel I’ve gotten more out of it than the people I want to help, but we all need something. I don’t need help getting a roof over my head or a meal today but I do need to feel like I’m being a help to the less fortunate and at least trying to make our community better. City with Dwellings helps me feel that, in every way.

CITY WITH DWELLINGS

PHYSICAL ADDRESS

520 N. Spring Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

MAILING ADDRESS

PO BOX 20061 

Winston-Salem, NC 27120

336.790.9766

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