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EMPOWERMENT MAGAZINE

table of contents SPRING 2014 EMPOWERMENT MAGAZINE

Promoting Financial, Community & Self Awareness

Contributors: Antionette Kerr Executive Director, Lexington Housing CDC

Kassaundra S. Lockhart Independent PR/Marketing Consultant

Ken Lack Fair Housing Advocate

Jonathan Bush City Planner, City of Lexington

Cynthia Pecina-Perez Volunteer for LHCDC

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Community Champion Harvey Dick

Phyllis Oliver LHCDC Thomasville

Welcome

Josey Parker Student Body President-Lexington High

Emily Kepley Moss Designer, Smoky Mountain Living Magazine

A Community of Opportunity

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Siezing the American Dream

& Smoky Mountain News emilykepleymoss@gmail.com

LHCDC Staff Antionette Kerr, Executive Director

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Family Services Circle Initiative

Margaret Strickland, Bookkeeper

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Hiding Housing Discrimination

Keith McCurdy, Director of Construction & Repair

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Olivia Gaddy Fisher, Housing Program Coordinator

Phyllis Oliver, Housing Program Coordinator-Thomasville

Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation

Financial Fitness

lexingtoncdc.com (336) 236-1675 p •

11 Around Town

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Cover Photo by Matti House

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Spotlight on the Future

(336) 236-9408 fax

The Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation’s Empowerment Magazine serves as a resource of knowledge, information and empowerment for Davidson County. The magazine features articles and briefs such as but not limited to housing, financial literacy, community development, revitalization, foreclosure, education, self improvement, community champions and upcoming events. We seek to always provide the citizens of Davidson County with the most current and accurate information that is available.


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Spring has arrived, and it’s nature’s way of saying, “Let’s celebrate!” Antionette Kerr, Executive Director, Lexington Housing CDC

Dear Friends: Winter is officially over and spring has arrived along with the third issue of Empowerment Magazine. April marks the celebration of Fair Housing & Financial Literacy Month. We have many reasons to celebrate and many of those will be reflected in this issue, including the tenth anniversary of the Harvey Dick Tees for Keys Golf Tournament. Harvey was selected as our April Community Champion. He began serving with the agency through a citizen advisory committee appointed by the City of Lexington in 1995 which led to him becoming one of the founding board members of LHCDC. We are thankful Harvey has remained an active advocate for the agency (see his feature story on page 4) and even at age 89 Harvey will always be the proverbial spring chicken to us here at LHCDC. His work, along with entities such as NewBridge Bank (formerly LSB), brought about the construction and revitalization of over twenty homes in the Lexington area. As we honor Harvey, we also recognize those who have committed to improving housing throughout the years, exemplifing the type of teamwork it takes to accomplish community-wide goals. As spring often reminds us of youth and revival, we are eager to share some behind the scenes history of community revitalization. We invite you to join us in celebrating the past and welcoming the future! With Anticipation,

Antionette Kerr Executive Director Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation

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Visionary Entrepreneur Community Advocate

At 89 years young, most of us can comprehend life slowing down. Harvey Dick, who has lived in Lexington for more than half his life, now moves through life at a slower pace, but he has definitely not stopped living. Every day, you can find him out and about, driving himself wherever he needs to go, including to his office on West 5th Avenue. “I come to the office every day, if I’m in town,” Dick states with pride. Dick, a native of Greensboro, NC, moved to Lexington in 1947 after he returned from serving his country in World War II. At the time, Dick, a Marine, had no idea that what he witnessed one day would become one of the most iconic images in our nation's history. “I served at Iwo Jima,” Dick recalls. “I was there when we captured it. I saw the flag.” It is a moment that prompts a sense of pride that he was a part of such a priceless moment in our past. As he began his transition from war hero to civilian life, Dick began to carve out a business niche for himself working with Bill Turlington in his accounting firm. Not only would he cultivate that business niche, but he would discover a new life for himself when he met and married his late wife, Pearl Hege Dick. The couple wed in September 1949. Their union would produce two daughters, Deborah and Catherine, the latter who passed in 2007. Upon returning to Lexington, after a brief stint in Oxford, NC, in the early 1950s, Dick partnered with his mentor, Woodrow McKay, to begin working in what would be his ultimate career: real estate. McKay handled the real estate transactions while Dick got his start developing insurance policies for their clients. When McKay decided to retire, he sold his business to Dick. What was once McKay Realty would thereafter be known as Best Realty because “B is at the beginning of the alphabet so Best would come up first in the phone book,” Dick says with a wise smile. In 2012, after 50 years of showing and selling houses and properties, Dick decided to retire. With a real es-

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tate license that now reads inactive, Dick casually jokes that when asked if he enjoys being inactive, he replies, “I don’t miss it.” Despite the demands of the real estate industry, Dick has never shied away from giving back to his community. As a founding member of the Lexington Jaycees, a branch of a worldwide organization that seeks to provide development opportunities that empower young people to create positive change, Dick has always had a desire to help others succeed. This desire led him to serving on the planning committee that would identify the city’s need for what is now known as Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation (LHCDC). While still a member of the LHCDC board in 2004, the members decided to hold the first Tees for Keys Golf Tournament that would raise funds for LHCDC. Dick, an avid golfer who has played on courses in England, Canada, Spain, and Belgium as a member of the American British Canadian Dutch Golf Tourney, was asked to serve as chair for the tournament. As you can imagine, chairing a committee to organize a fundraiser is a challenge. Despite this, Dick always managed to stay focused on his end goal, which was to “always make it better than the year before.” Approaching its ten year anniversary, what was once a small tournament is now LHCDC’s biggest public fundraiser, thanks to Dick. In honor of his tireless commitment and dedication to LHCDC, the tournament was renamed in his honor in 2009. Of course, this came as a shock to Dick. “I didn’t know they were going to name it after me. It’s quite an honor,” Dick says humbly. On April 17, when the drivers meet the grass, Mr. Harvey Dick will be in attendance as a spectator as he is once again recognized for his work. While he will not be participating in the tournament this year, he looks forward to getting back out on the green soon after a health issue sidelined him in 2013. That issue may have slowed him down but he definitely has not stopped. For that, Dick is grateful.


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10th Anniversary Harvey H. Dick Tees for Keys Charity Golf Tournament: Thank you to our sponsors: Corporate Sponsors: City of Lexington – Utilities Parrott Insurance & Benefits Michael Swann Law Office

Silver Sponsors: Carolina Drawers, Inc. Carolina Investment Properties Lexington Civitan Club G. W. Smith Lumber Masterwrap, Inc.

Bronze Sponsors: Robert Curlee Sandy & Terry Reynolds Christa & Harry Grier Woodforest Bank

Hole Sponsors: Burr Sullivan Habitat for Humanity of Lexington Sylvia & John Walser Ken Auman, DDS PPG Industries Lexington Housing Authority Jo Peoples Kelly Office Solutions Orrell’s Food Service Lanier’s Melinda & Guy Smith Leonard Craver Realty Your Pharmacy Teen & Tim Timberlake The Write Folks Sandy Walker & Jeff Moorefield Arlene Pinnix-Morrow Grace Church Cindy & Harold McNeill Peggy Hinkle Kivi & Edgar Miller Reynolds Properties National Wholesale Dan Moore Lumber Co. Davidson Funeral Home Edward Jones – Varner, Jackson, Parsons, Dasch & Schoomaker Byerly Shoaf & Company Davidson Speed Printing Eddie Carrick, CPA Lexington/Davidson County Assoc. of Realtors Tastings Standell Properties Stewart Physical Therapy Nancy & Gordon Wright Marie & Sim Siceloff Johnson Electric Evans Properties Miles Cleckley Bank of North Carolina Marc Lamoureaux Construction The Glass Shop Wright & Son Roofing Classic Metal Simrel Plumbing J-S Construction The Candy Factory SII Dry Kilns Charles Harp II PC Smith Millwork, Inc. Moco Men Lexington Chiropractic & Wellness

Supporters of LHCDC: Wayne Alley Sue & Hugo Hodgin Antionette Kerr R H Barringer & Company Ed Wilkerson

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A Community of Opportunity:

Cy

A Recipe to Thriving City Neighborhoods

David

Lexington is a city of neighborhoods that are as different as the day is long. Each has a personality that makes it one of the gems on that bracelet we call “The Barbecue Capital.” The City of Lexington, elected officials and other constituents like Habitat for Humanity are seeking to reinvigorate the economic viability of the city. There have been significant strides including: the purchase of the former Lexington Furniture Industries site, adjacent to uptown, now known as the Depot District, the Mural Art Project at the Depot, Erlanger Mills Village, and new housing developments including Jackson Square and Forest Park. According to the US Census Bureau, Lexington’s 2012 population was 18,936 and is exBy Jonathan Bush pected to climb due to our geographic location and proximity to major cities like Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point and Charlotte. This concentrated growth can be an enormous benJonathan Bush is a Lexington, efit to our local economy positioning ourselves to become a major player. However, this can NC City Planner. only become a reality if we invest, appropriately, in new infrastructure and allow ourselves to be guided by policies that support vibrant, diverse communities. This is the time to have vital, thoughtful conversations about what makes a successful community of opportunity.

Ever dreamed of owning your own home?

Building Houses, Building Hope! Habitat Re-Store 4 East Third Avenue

(336)249-4307 lexhabitatnc@gmail.com HabitatofLexingtonNC.com

Too often, low income communities grapple with failing schools, inadequate access to health care, a lack of fresh healthy food, and limited housing and transportation options – which are all fundamental ingredients for neighborhoods that spur mobility and long term success. According to Policy Link, a national research and action institute, communities of opportunity are defined as “places with quality schools, access to good jobs with livable wages, quality housing choices, public transportation, safe and walkable streets, services, parks, access to healthy food and strong social networks.” We must continue to develop a clear vision of the facilities and services needed to create a ‘community of opportunity,’ taking into account cultural values that underpin and distinguish all successful communities. One key goal of neighborhood planning is working with partners to build or preserve affordable housing that allows communities to evolve, become healthier, and minimize environmental impact, without sacrificing the needs of local citizens who have spent years shaping and cultivating their neighborhoods. Citizens should have a significant role in its decision making system and in creating long range vision and plan for their community. If everyone works together then we can all ensure that Lexington continues to identify itself as a ‘community of opportunity.’


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Cynthia Pecina-Perez

Seizing the American Dream

Cynthia is a volunteer for LHCDC and a Spanish Tutor for Davidson County Community College

How many times have we heard the phrase “Everything happens for a reason”? Many times! If I were to go back to 1995, when I was only eight years old and someone was to tell me I would end up living in the United States, learn the English language, go to school, graduate high school, go to college, and eventually become an American citizen, I probably would have said something like “never in a million years.” However, as you may have already assumed, it happened. I am one of many immigrants who was brought here by my parents to have a chance at a better education, a better future, and to ultimately live what we know as the “American Dream.” I was only nine years old when I arrived in North Carolina. Of course, learning English was a struggle but within a year I could speak it, not fluently, but I could understand it and even read it. I became the translator of my house. I learned to appreciate my ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher, Mrs. Burroughs, and my other teachers at Oak Hill Elementary. Throughout my school years I always knew I wanted to succeed, not only in school, but in life as a whole. I wanted to be able to demonstrate to my parents that all of their sacrifices were not in vain; I wanted to make them proud. Although, things don’t always turn out the way we want them to, especially when you’re the oldest of five kids. After high school, I immediately went into the workforce and put aside my plans for college. It wasn’t until November of 2012 that the Almighty thought I had helped my family the most that I could, and it was time to once again focus on myself. Some things never come with a warning, and as a result, my purse was stolen. My most important documents were in that wallet: my permanent resident and social security cards, driver’s license, credit cards, cash, basically my entire identity. At the time, I was seeking employment, so you can just imagine all the frustration I endured because, of course, no one will hire you unless they have proper documentation of identification and legal status. Nevertheless, this event in its own peculiar way, forced me to do what had been on my agenda for many years: to go to college but most importantly to become a United States citizen. Thankfully, I was

able to get a duplicate of my driver’s license and tracked down a copy of my social security card and permanent resident card. I enrolled to start school at Davidson County Community College(DCCC) in the fall of 2013. In September of that same year, I gathered all my information to apply for citizenship. I am thankful to the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, which helped me to fill out my application and made sure I had all the necessary documents to send my application off to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Within a few months I received my appointment letter for my interview. It was something that I had to study very hard for but thankfully I passed with flying colors. My ceremony for naturalization happened on January 9, 2014. This event will forever be embedded in my memory. This will hopefully open many doors that I may not have been able to reach without being a citizen. I am now completing my second semester at DCCC. I am planning to obtain my associate’s degree in arts then transfer to a university where I can major in either Public Administration or Criminal Justice. I hope to one day give back to this country as much as it has given to me.

Laurie Ridenhour, AE 101 W. Center St. Ext., Lexington NC 27295

(336) 249-1742

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Family Services Circles Initiative: Addressing Poverty and Building Community “Mentoring families is such a powerful and tangible way to leave an impact on the community.”

Kassaundra S. Lockhart

Karen Burns, Program Coordinator for Circles

Every Tuesday at 5:30pm, the fellowship hall of First Kassaundra S. Lockhart United Methodist Church beis an Independent gins to bustle with activity. The PR/Marketing Consultant. room is filled with giggles from children, conversations between parents and directions from those charged with ensuring everything operates smoothly. This is not your “typical” gathering. Some of the parents in attendance have worked all day; others have spent the day at home with their children. Some have been in class pursuing their education; others have been pursuing means to an end. Some have had days filled with joy; others have had days filled with sorrow. Despite the differences in their days, all of them are gathered in this fellowship hall because they have the same goal in common: growth, in a plethora of areas in their lives. These parents are part of Circles for Davidson, an initiative of Family Services of Davidson County that is committed to eradicating poverty one family at a time. The program works with parents or expectant parents between the ages of 16-24. Those who are enrolled in the program are referred to as Circle Leaders as they are taught that “they can take a leadership role in their own lives, in their own social circles, and in the community,” says Burns. “We call them leaders so they can think of themselves as capable of change.” In an effort to eliminate obstacles that could hinder Circle Leaders from attending meetings weekly, Family Services arranges transportation and recruits volunteers to provide meals and childcare services for leaders and their families. “We want them to be able to eat a meal while decompressing for forty-five minutes to an hour then have one and a half to two hours to work on themselves,” Burns explains. The initial focus of the program was centered on workforce development. As the program progressed, Circles staff realized that each Circle Leader needed to be met where he or she was upon entering the program. While workforce development continues to be a major component of the program, Circles is working on “creating

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a balance, a safe place for young families-where they can build communities and friendships,” notes Burns. The focus on community and friendships is exactly what keeps Ashley G., a 24-year-old mother of two and her boyfriend, Jonathan C., motivated to attend the weekly gathering. “It is nice to have someone you can relate to. Circles gives you value, purpose, motivates you,” Ashley says with a twinkle in her eye. Ashley’s friend, Kayla L., a 19-year-old mother of three who attends with her boyfriend, Oscar G., echoes her sentiments. “Circles is a place where you come and hear about others’ situations, meet new people, learn how to deal and cope with feelings and stress. The program has changed my whole perspective.” Changing perspectives is one of the program’s main goals: to help Circle Leaders tap into their potential. This is addressed through activities such as New and Goods, which takes place before the group goes to their respective sessions. To participate, one must state his/her name and then share something new and good that has happened to him/her in the past week or will happen to him/her in the coming week. It is a chance for participants to “brag” about themselves as they focus on the good things that are happening despite a seemingly chaotic life. Each Circle Leader who enrolls in the program is required to complete a twelve-week course that focuses on topics such as goal setting, budgeting, support systems, etc. The course culminates with a graduation where Circle Leaders are highlighted as they share their talents as well as their plans for their futures. Upon completion, they are matched with an Ally (mentor) who will assist them in their efforts to achieve economic and emotional stability. Even after graduation, as Circle Leaders continue to learn to navigate the ups and downs of life, Circles continues to serve as a safe haven. “I like the routine (of Circles). You know what to expect and what is expected of you,” Ashley says proudly. “The consistency of the program makes it feel like home for a lot of Circle Leaders.” Kayla adds, “Circles is a place of support. Everyone guides us. The guidance makes me feel like I am going the right way.” Ultimately, that is what the program is all about: guiding Circle Leaders to establish themselves as leaders in their lives and in the community.

If you are interested in volunteering with Circles of Davidson by providing a meal for the Circle Leaders and their families or by becoming an Ally, please contact Karen Burns at (336)249-0237


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Hiding Housing DISCRIMINATION Ken Lack is a fair housing advocate, and trainer

The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 to protect people from discrimination when obtaining housing. In decades past, certain housing providers wore their prejudice with pride. Without hesitation, they would deny housing or real estate to persons who did not fit a certain profile. Today, illegal housing discrimination still occurs throughout our country through a strategic and systematic methodology that allows people to project their prejudice onto others. Advertising is a powerful tool used to perpetrate prejudice in housing. Just as a hamburger chain increases sales with a good marketing campaign, housing providers invoke inferiority campaigns against protected classes of society. Although it is illegal to publish housing ads that demonstrate exclusion, we still find violations in publications throughout our country. Courts have ruled that phrases such as, “suitable for one,” “perfect for mature couple,” and “ideal for a professional person,” can easily translate into “I don't want kids living in my apartments.” The courts have also ruled that picture ads for housing communities that display only ablebodied, white models can send a message that translates as, “if you don't look like this, I don't want you living here.” Cases are continually being filed against these types of discriminatory tactics but the problem continues to persevere. The dictionary defines redlining as “a discriminatory practice by which banks, insurance companies, etc., refuse or limit loans, mortgages, insurance, etc., within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods.” This practice began when insurance companies used red markers to draw lines on maps around communities that were predominantly occupied by minorities. Insurers utilized census data to find the areas where they would either deny coverage or charge higher rates. This continues to occur today among mortgage lenders and insurance companies. Now, modern technology eliminates the need to physically draw on paper maps. Speedy online searches allows for plenty of data regarding race and ethnicity. Recently, another type of discrimination has joined the spotlight. Investigations are uncovering scenarios where banks which repossessed houses by foreclosure are more inclined to lawfully maintain homes located in predominately Caucasian neighborhoods as opposed to those located in minority neighborhoods. Through this form of discrimination, litter strewn on the property, broken windows or doors, and unmaintained landscaping are conditions that lead communities into blight and results in lower property values. This is ironic as a number of foreclosures in recent history are a result of mortgage lenders targeting minorities. They knowingly put victims into loan products they wouldn't be able to handle. Investigations

Ken Lack have shown cases where someone who is white had better odds of getting lower mortgage rates and more favorable conditions than minorities who had better income and credit history. The most direct and personal discrimination occurs when someone is seeking to rent or buy a home. Perpetrated by landlords, owners, management companies, and real estate professionals, investigations continually reveal unequal treatment of clients based on whether they are in a protected class. The individual may find it hard to detect the offense as they are usually treated under an illusion of courtesy and respect. It typically takes professional investigations to uncover scenarios in which potential renters or buyers are not shown a property because they do not meet certain criteria set forth by the owner. An example of despicable bigotry is demonstrated when a landlord explains to someone who is Latino, in a polite and sympathetic way, that the apartment is not available as someone just put down a deposit while nothing is further from the truth. There are other situations where an African American homebuyer may only be shown homes based on their skin color rather than their income. An apartment unit may be shown to a person of the Muslim faith, but the rent is unknowingly $200 more per month than what was quoted to someone who is of a non-Muslim faith. Unfortunately, there are countless ways that housing providers may engage in discrimination. There are agencies that will investigate allegations of fair housing violations but one has to suspect it's occurring in order to report it. The Fair Housing Act protects your rights in obtaining housing. If you have the slightest suspicion that you are denied housing based on your race, religion, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability, contact a fair housing organization for assistance. If you have questions regarding fair housing, please visit the National Fair Housing Alliance website at www.nationalfairhousing.org, call the Fair Housing of NC office at (919)807-4420 or contact me at KenLack@mail.com

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“FINANCIAL FITNESS” Lexington Housing CDC introduces its newly expanded Financial Literacy Curriculum After an online survey revealed a high percentage of citizens are unaware of credit issues and are uncertain of how to regain financial staPhyllis Oliver bility, LHCDC is opening its Financial Literacy Program to Phyllis Oliver is Housing Program the general public of DavidCoordinator with the LHCDC son County. Since 2001, Thomasville Housing Assistance Program. LHCDC has held economic literacy programs twice a month. LHCDC has provided education for over 680 individuals ranging from pre-homeownership, money management, budgeting, and home maintenance at Davidson County Community College. As a result of the increased economic down turn, unemployment rates, and foreclosures it is easy to get discouraged about your own financial situation, therefore it is imperative that you become educated on financial literacy. LHCDC is seeking to expand the Individual Development Accounts Matching Savings Program to include Financial Fitness participants in the future. “Whether the goal is to obtain a home, car, further education, begin a business or just improve your credit rating, Financial Fitness can put you on the right path to good financial health,” The “Financial Fitness” curriculum features a series of Financial Literacy courses. Just like physical fitness, keeping yourself financially fit takes time, effort, patience, discipline, and determination.“We need to consistently “work out” financially – put some effort into it, be patient waiting on the results, and maintain a high level of discipline and determination to see the results.” Courses Offered:

Best Tips – A basic introduction to personal money management. It includes understanding the basics of banking: how to write checks, balance a checkbook ledger, the difference between the difference between credit, debit and prepaid cards, the difference between a secured and unsecured credit card and much more. Budgeting Workshop – A hands-on approach to learning how to create a livable household budget. It includes: What is a budget; Why do I want a budget; How do I start a budget; The importance of Saving; How to make best use of your budget and Recapping and Re-evaluating your budget.

Psychology of Money – An interactive workshop that takes a look at how you view money, its purpose and use. It is designed to help you to understand what your “Money Personality” is and how to make your unique personality work best for you. This workshop 10

will offer you suggestions, information and tools to help you understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors about money.

Understanding Your Credit Score – A course that helps you to understand the purpose of the credit score, how to read and understand your credit report, ways to improve your credit score, how to dispute errors on credit report and how to obtain a free credit report.

Wise Use of Credit – An overview of how to make smart use of consumer credit. Classes include: What is the difference between installment accounts and revolving accounts; How your credit score impacts your credit limits, interest rates and terms; How to comparison shop for the best interest rate on consumer accounts; When is it a good idea to pay accounts off early; Are there penalties for paying off accounts early; Should I close my account or keep it open Classes are now being offered three times a month: Saturday, April 12th Briggs Tech Building Room 222

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Monday, April 14th

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Public Safety Building Room 101 Wednesday, May 7th

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Love Building Room 108 Saturday, May 10th

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Briggs Tech Building Room 222 Monday, May 12th

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Public Safety Building Room 101 Wednesday, June 4th

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Love Building Room 108 Saturday, June 7th

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Briggs Tech Building Room 222 Monday, June 9th

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Public Safety Building Room 101

This program is free and open to the public. Call the LHCDC office at (336)236-1675 for additional information.


Around Town

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Friday, August 15th

Women’s Golf Invitational &Pampering Event Benefiting The Lexington Housing Community Development Corporation Participants can register online at lhcdc.eventbrite.com or by calling

336.236.1675

Around Town at Communities in Schools "Snowball" Fundraiser and with students from Shepherd University in West Virginia as their spent their Spring Break serving our community.


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SPOTLIGHT ON THE

FUTURE By Josey Parker Josey Parker is a senior at LSHS, where she is serving as Student Body President, and plans to attend a four year university to major in International Business.

Unleashing the Superpower of the Heart

The look on the faces of local students in my community upon entering the stadium to participate in the 2013 Special Olympics held at Lexington Senior High School stirred one of the most genuine emotions I had ever felt. To be a part of, and an organizer for, such a production was a huge undertaking. When asked to join the committee, I had no idea what a personal and professional impact this extracurricular activity would have on me. Early in the process, I quickly realized the responsibilities I had accepted were more than I could have ever imagined. Discovering I had volunteered for a two year cycle of planning our county’s Special Olympics, became overwhelming. Over the course of eight months, I, along with three other students, embarked on a journey to create a memorable day where hundreds of local Davison County students could “Embrace their Inner Superhero.” In order to reach our goal, teamwork was essential. The board was comprised of a heterogeneous group of volunteers: administrators, new teachers, the Davidson County Special Olympics coordinator, and my cohort, four very inexperienced students. One of the crucial components in planning the event was the establishment of an Olympic Village. Similar to the Olympic Village seen in the 2012 summer Olympics in London, the Village was to house booths with activities and games the athletes could visit upon completing their events. Clubs, teams, and even classes were given the opportunity to host a booth. Recruiting participants, the task that once seemed easy, suddenly became one of the most demanding jobs I had ever undertaken. Attending numerous club meetings to explain the idea of the Olympic Village wasn’t the hardest part; the challenge was in allowing the clubs to find the perfect balance between structure and creativity. Each activity had to be handicap accessible, couldn’t include food or water, had to appeal to both youth and adults, all while peaking the interest of young athletes As I systematically approached the National Honor Society, the Key Club, and the Art Club to solicit their participation, it became evident that finding the optimal balance between structure and creativity would be easier said than done. After many proposed ideas from the Olympic Village participants, it seemed that the Village was going to be a success, and a definite highlight of the games. It was in this undertaking that I was able to enhance the skills that have proven essential to my success. Skills of communication, teamwork,

and patience have served me well recently, during interviews for college scholarships and everyday tasks. Along with the professional skills I acquired, I learned even more from the athletes that were participating. Their enthusiasm was unparalleled and served as a constant reminder to simply enjoy the little things life has to offer, live in the moment, and to never give up. After many hours of hard work, my fellow student members and I were rewarded with the look of pure joy on the athlete’s faces, the smiles displayed by our fellow students as they accompanied their “buddy” to the next event, and the tears rolling down the parent’s faces. While the process of planning the 2012-2013 Davidson County Special Olympics was an exhausting one, I benefited greatly from my involvement. My skills of effectively communicating, solving problems and working with others grew immensely. Along with strengthening my leadership skills, my empathy for others, and my appreciation for life’s true superheroes were positively affected by my involvement. Now, serving on our community’s 2013-2014 Special Olympics committee, I can purposefully implement the skills I learned last year, and work diligently to provide our athletes with a day they will never forget. The 2014 Davidson County Special Olympics will be held on April 11 at Lexington Senior High School where students will be able to “Unleash the Superpower of the Heart”. I encourage you to get involved or simply learn more about the organization as I promise it will be truly life changing and bring out your inner superhero.

Empowerment spring pdf full document  

LHCDC's 3rd Installment of our Financial Literacy & Community Awareness Magazine. "A Community Blooming With Opportunity."

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