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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — When a fire broke out at Weaver Fertilizer plant in late January, hundreds of people evacuated.

They are still working to recover nearly two months later.

Sherry Leach-Speas returned to find physical damage to her home. “I was away from home but came back and found my house had been vandalized,” Leach-Speas said.

Experiment in Self-Reliance is helping neighbors like Leach-Speas get back on their feet. The organization has been serving people in Winston-Salem since 1964.

That history, along with experience helping people in stressful situations, is why city leaders chose the nonprofit to lead fire reimbursement efforts.

The agency usually helps people get jobs, find housing, file taxes and become homeowners.

Twana Roebuck has worked with people to build their future for nearly 25 years. As the organization’s Executive Director, she wants people to know there is help finding a way forward.

“We all have a journey. We all have a past. We all have concerns in our lives. So, our role is to work with individuals to see possibilities,” Roebuck said.

Many of ESR’s current clients are between 26 and 30 years old.

Support from the Winston-Salem Foundation allowed the nonprofit to hire a marketing specialist who finds new ways to spread the word about its programs.

“When people know, they can do better. That’s why we’re here,” Roebuck said.

If you want to take advantage of ESR’s free tax preparation program, you’re encouraged to call (336) 722-9400 to see if you qualify. You can find details about other programs at