WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Across the next several months, homeless shelters will be in high demand, but one group believes solving the homeless crisis is about more than shelter – it’s also about connection.
People who are experiencing diverse types of homelessness can find a sense of community at the Community First Center on West Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem.
The center is operated by City With Dwellings – a cooperative organization.
“We seek to end homelessness by building community. We have found that housing is not the answer to ending homelessness,” Katie Bryant, founding board member and shelter director of the women’s overflow shelter, said.
Although City With Dwellings has provided overflow shelter support for several years, the Community First Center has been open for only about a year and a half.
“We realized there was so much more we could do with our guests if we could be together during the day,” Bryant said.
Funding from the Winston-Salem Foundation helped develop the programs provided in the Community First Center.
“Small grassroot entities just need a chance, they just need a little support and the support that we were given by the Winston-Salem Foundation was just that initial good kick,” case coordinator and founding board member Lea Thullbery said.
Grant money from the Winston-Salem Foundation helped fund anger management classes, a horticulture therapy program, a place for guests to receive mail and coffee, a space to meet with a case coordinator for help with daily needs, and an area dedicated to art activities.
“Doing something like this in the morning, it sort of helps my day out. It does. It's peaceful, it's calming, and you forget about your problems at least for the time being,” guest Chris Messick said.
“They don't have to open up these doors and have to come out their way and do sculptures with us, but they choose to and that means a lot,” guest Jason Morris said.
The center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
City With Dwellings received a $25,000 grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation.