Rapid Rehousing pilot program offers homeless family life-changing opportunity

For five years Mike and Karen lived in the woods beside the Siler City Walmart. They searched through dumpsters for food and clothing. Swallowing their pride, they panhandled, asking for money for food, or gas canisters to light the camping stove that kept them warm at night. In the summers they fought off copperheads and coyotes, and during the winter they fought off the cold, watching icicles form above them on the roof of their tent. They never envisioned a life like this.

Years prior they had a place in Pleasant Garden. And they had a car. Karen worked as a waitress, and Mike did odd jobs. But a criminal charge when he was 17, along with untreated schizophrenia, kept Mike from being able to find and keep a good job. When their car broke down and they were unable to pay both their rent and car repairs, Karen lost her job, and one month later they were evicted from their home. They found themselves moving around a bit trying to find their space in the homeless community, eventually making their way to Siler City.

“There was nothing else on my mind but survival,” Mike said.

Donna Smith, Service Center Director for the Salvation Army of Chatham County, met Mike and Karen by chance in the Walmart parking lot. Over the years she got to know them, and would check on them during the cold months to make sure they had gas to keep them warm.

“They were one of the first families that I met, and they were the most chronic,” she said.

In March of 2020 Smith approached Mike and Karen with the opportunity of a lifetime. The Salvation Army had just received funding for one family to enter the Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program – a multi-agency collaboration managed by Salvation Army – to house a homeless family for one year and connect them with every resource needed to end the cycle of poverty and pave the road to self-sufficiency.

“I was in disbelief,” Mike said.

Within days Mike and Karen were resting their heads in a fully furnished apartment, and taking hot showers – something they hadn’t experienced in years.

“The most amazing thing was being able to turn that stove on and get instant heat and cook something to eat,” Mike said. “Not first having to stand and ask people for money, get food, then hope I have enough gas to cook the food. Just being able to prepare a meal with ease was such enjoyment.”

Although cooking brings him the most joy, Mike says nothing compares to the feeling of security he now has by being able to lock his door.

“The security of being able to shut my door and feel safe, and not worry about people coming up and assaulting you, or raiding your camp and getting gear stolen, that’s wonderful,” he said.

The Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program is funded by Salvation Army, United Way of Chatham County and Chatham County Government. In 2020, United Way of Chatham County directed $53,000 of its COVID-19 Relief Fund to the Salvation Army of Chatham County to assist with homelessness caused by COVID-19, with a portion going toward rent expenses for the Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program.

This first year Smith and others have figured out the gaps, worked through significant challenges, and discovered additional community resources to help determine the feasibility and proper execution of a full-time Rapid Rehousing Program in Chatham County. More than 15 community and government organizations and businesses have played a role in the Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program.

“It’s been a huge community event,” Smith said.


Mike lived most of his life as an undiagnosed schizophrenic, and then most of his homeless life without medication after losing Medicare.

“I remember walking barefoot in the woods and I couldn’t figure out why I was doing it, and where I was,” Mike said. “I was skirting the edge of society for so long because of my disability. I didn’t cry out for the help I needed.”

Mike was eager to gain control of his mental health. However, due to delays created by the pandemic, his Medicaid approval took five months. Once approved, he and Karen were referred to the ACT Team with UNC’s Department of Psychiatry, and they currently work with more than 15 different people within the team. The ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) Team provides support for individuals with severe mental illness as they move from being homeless or living in a facility to living on their own. The team includes a team leader, mental health professionals, nursing staff, psychiatrist, housing specialist, vocational specialist, and a peer support specialist.

Mike now receives his medications in easy-to-manage daily dosage packets, he received an iPhone from the team to help with communication, and they even give him a ride to appointments if needed.

“They are a wonderful organization,” Mike said. “They help me with anything.”

They are also currently working with Mike and Karen on curbing their hoarding habits – one of their greatest challenges at the moment.

“When you lose everything, and when you come by something, you want to keep it because it’s good,” Mike said. “But I’ve been working with doctors, and Donna’s been helping, too.”

Another thing fueling Mike’s collection of goods is his passion for reconstructing and fixing things.

“He is an engineer,” Smith said, and she hopes he can eventually earn an income with his engineering brain. Mike built the bicycle he rides 20+ miles each day, putting parts together to form a reliable ride of his own.

Mike and Karen are both individually working with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), exploring career paths that can lead them to become self-sufficient.

Nikia Jeffries, Education Navigator at CCCC, works with the Chatham County Employment and Training Program, and knew Mike and Karen while they were homeless. She is now working on a plan with them focusing on the small business and culinary programs.

“The first time I met Mike and Karen they were eager to make a change,” Jeffries said. “Each time Donna and I speak with Mike we can see his growth and willingness to continue to move forward to achieve his visions and dreams of having the security and peace that he deserves.”


Smith said Mike is struggling to find a sense of purpose. She hopes the ACT Team and Central Carolina Community College will help with that.

“He’s not living in crisis now, so he doesn’t know what to do with his time,” she said. “And with COVID, everything is shut down.”

The ACT Team is also working to get Mike disability benefits, but it’s a long process, Smith said.

Despite the current challenges, and fear of the unknown, Mike and Karen remain optimistic and committed to their goal of becoming self-sustainable.

“I want to hopefully get some sort of business going for myself and my wife, if she wants,” Mike says. “I’d like to be able to generate the funds that I need to keep this life. Five years is a long time camping,  and it seems like it was forever.”

Mike says he also wants to help others who are in similar situations he was in. And his main goal, he says, is to just feel human again. “I just want to be accepted in society like everybody else,” he said.

Jeffries believes Mike and Karen’s spirit and desire to help others will help drive them to achieve their goals.

“Mike and Karen have a testimony to share,” Jeffries said. “They can attest that it is not easy to overcome life’s challenges, but when someone is dedicated and willing to accept guidance, they can and will make a difference in their lives. Mike and Karen have made an impact on my life and we will continue to support them as they work towards their goals.”

Smith calls herself lucky to be part of their transformation.

“It’s very humbling to see how far they’ve come, and to see Mike evolve and get excited and thinking of things other than day to day crisis,” Smith said. “This program helps allow them to dream and look at something other than ‘how am I going to get through today.’”

The Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program typically lasts one year, but due to delays and unexpected challenges surrounding the pandemic, Smith has requested additional funding from Salvation Army to allow for a 6- to 12-month extension of services for Mike and Karen. She is unsure if the extension will be granted due to a shortfall in donations in the current budget year.

Mike hopes he can continue to share his story and inspire people to be kind to those in need, and to give what they can. He also worries the homeless population will continue to grow because of the pandemic.

“The people with the hearts that give, please don’t stop giving,” he said. “Look into your heart and if you feel like giving to someone or an organization, just give. It really is a good feeling.”

Mike and Karen prepare for a video with Salvation Army

Mike and Karen received a drive-through housewarming party. Pictured is Salvation Army volunteer, Eric Davis, and CCCC’s Nikia Jeffries.

Mike and Karen’s dog, “B,” helped them get through the hard days


The United Way of Chatham County funds 22 programs managed by its 15 nonprofit agencies that specialize in the education, financial stability, and health of Chatham County residents. In 2020 the United Way provided an additional $100,000 to agencies with urgent COVID-19 related needs. For more information on the agencies and programs funded by United Way, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, visit www.unitedwayofchathamcounty.org.

Harris Teeter Round Up Campaign Benefits United Way and Salvation Army

From October through mid November, 2020, the Chatham Downs Harris Teeter held its Round Up Campaign, benefitting United Way and Salvation Army. Shoppers were invited to round up their transaction to the nearest whole dollar at checkout, and 100 percent of funds raised were distributed evenly among the United Way of Chatham County and Salvation Army of Chatham County. United Way received $4,516, which was more than anticipated.

Because the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program was impacted at the Chatham Downs Harris Teeter in 2020, Harris Teeter decided to split the Round Up donations between United Way and Salvation Army.

Focusing on education, health, financial stability and basic needs, United Way works to create an environment of opportunity where thousands of families in our communities can have a chance for a better life.

“We are very thankful for the support that United Way receives from Harris Teeter. With every dollar raised, they are engaging employees and customers in our important work to make sure the people who need help the most receive it during this unprecedented time,” said Katie Childs, Executive Director for the United Way of Chatham County.

The Salvation Army assists individuals and families-in-need by providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation services and clothing and shelter for those facing homelessness.

211 Day

From Hello to Help, NC 211 is Here

Cary, North Carolina. In a crisis, in a disaster, in a pandemic, NC 211 is here to help North Carolinians get connected to food, housing assistance, healthcare resources and much more. On February 11th, NC 211 will join United Way organizations and 211 call centers across the country to celebrate 211 Day and highlight this critical service.

In the last year, many North Carolinians who may have never had to reach out for assistance before found themselves dialing 2-1-1. Jessica (a single mom of two) called 2-1-1 when she tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to work for at least two weeks. The NC 211 Call Specialist provided a referral to the county COVID helpline and information on two local programs that may be able to help Jessica with her bills.

“There are many North Carolinians in situations they never would have expected” says Heather Black, NC 211 State Director. “Anyone can need help from time to time, and it’s ok to reach out for support.”

On March 18th, when NC 211 was activated by Governor Cooper as part of the State’s emergency response, call volume skyrocketed. NC 211 answered more than 206,000 calls in 2020 and the team of call specialists doubled to keep up with the demand. Despite these challenges, NC 211 remains strong in their mission to provide personal connection to resources. That means from the first hello, someone calling 2-1-1 is reaching a real person who can talk through their specific situation.

“North Carolinians contact us for a variety of reasons, from how do I file for unemployment? To where can I find food to put on the table? And how do I pay my rent now that my income is gone?” says Black, “211 truly is for everyone. Whether you’re in a crisis or just need a little more information about state guidelines, we’re here to talk you through your concerns.”

During COVID-19, NC 211 has adapted to the fluctuating environment. The resource team has kept track of how community services adjusted in response to the pandemic and the entire NC 211 staff shifted to working 100% remotely.

“I am so proud of the team at NC 211 and our ability to adjust and respond to meet the ever-changing needs of our fellow North Carolinians.” states Black.

In addition to finding information over the phone, North Carolinians can also search NC 211’s database of resources by visiting nc211.org and entering their need and location. This updated search tool makes it easier for residents to find services quickly if they don’t have time to make a phone call.

You can join the 211 Day celebration and learn more about NC 211 by following their 211 Day social media campaign in the month of February on Facebook (@nc211) and Twitter (@nc_211).


NC 211 is an information and referral service provided by United Way of North Carolina. Accessible via an easy-to-remember, three-digit number, families and individuals can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services within their community.

Chatham Marketplace Round Up Campaign a Huge Success


In December of 2020 United Way was the beneficiary of Chatham Marketplace’s Round Up campaign. Patrons had the choice to round up their total to the nearest dollar, or more, with all round up dollars going to United Way. The campaign was promoted around the store and on the screens at the register.

Many thanks to Chatham Marketplace, its employees and its patrons for raising $1,332.27 for United Way of Chatham County! United Way received one of the highest Round Up amounts of the year!

Chatham Marketplace is located at 480 Hillsboro St, Pittsboro, NC 27312, just north of downtown Pittsboro in Chatham Mill. For more information on Chatham Marketplace, or to shop online, visit https://chathammarketplace.coop/.



Chatham Marketplace Selects United Way as December Round Up Campaign Beneficiary

Chatham Marketplace Selects United Way as December Round Up Campaign Beneficiary

Chatham Marketplace has selected the United Way of Chatham County as its December beneficiary of its monthly Round Up campaign. Chatham Marketplace clients will be given the option to round up their total to the next dollar, or, to round up even more in any amount they wish. One hundred percent of all Round Up funds will be distributed to United Way’s agencies and will stay in Chatham County.

Evan Diamond, Chatham Marketplace General Manager, said Chatham Marketplace is committed to advancing the well-being of each community member and serving as a community hub, and their Round Up campaign is an easy and effective way to serve and keep the community strong.

“United Way lifts our community up out of poverty and that certainly improves the well-being of those impacted,” he said of United Way of Chatham County.

Focusing on education, health, financial stability and basic needs, United Way works to create an environment of opportunity where thousands of families in our communities can have a chance for a better life.

“We are very thankful for the support that United Way receives from Chatham Marketplace,” said Katie Childs, Interim Executive Director for the United Way of Chatham County.  “With every dollar raised, they are engaging employees and customers in our important work to make sure the people who need help the most receive it during this unprecedented time.”

Chatham Marketplace is a co-operative business owned entirely by members of the community. In 2020 Chatham Marketplace has raised around $10,000 for area nonprofits. Chatham Marketplace is located in Chatham Mills, 480 Hillsboro St, Pittsboro, NC 27312. For more information about Chatham Marketplace, visit https://www.chathammarketplace.coop/.

Fore more information on the United Way of Chatham County and the agencies it serves, visit https://www.unitedwayofchathamcounty.org.

Now Hiring Outreach Coordinator

United Way of Chatham County
PO Box 1066
Pittsboro, NC   27312

Position:         Outreach Coordinator
Hours:            40 Hours Per Week, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Salary:            Salary $31,000-$35,000 with Competitive Benefits Package

Send resume and letter of interest to United Way of Chatham County, PO Box 1066, Pittsboro, NC, 27312 or Katie@UnitedWayofChathamCounty.org. Open until filled.

General Job Description:  This position reports to the Executive Director and will oversee the implementation of outreach strategies. The Outreach Coordinator is primarily responsible for the fundraising, donor relations, and communication for the organization; and is charged with implementing strategies for continued growth and sustainability.  The Outreach Coordinator is responsible for fostering and maintaining positive relations with United Way current and future development stakeholders. Excellent customer service and organizational skills should be complemented by an outgoing, upbeat style and an interest in working in the nonprofit field.

Required Skills:

  • Experience working in a professional office.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and especially Excel.
  • Knowledge of WordPress and Canva preferred, but not required.
  • Strong knowledge of social media and other basic marketing platforms.
  • Preferred experience of 2-4 years within non-profit development or outreach activities.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Must be detail oriented and have strong interpersonal skills to work with diverse groups of people.
  • Must possess strong organizational skills and the ability to handle multiple tasks and prioritize.
  • Must be transparent, ethical and possess high integrity leadership skills.
  • Must be a self-starter and be able to work independently in a fast-paced environment.
  • Must be able to occasionally lift 15-20 pounds up and down stairs.
  • Must have own transportation and valid driver’s license. Some business travel within Chatham County is required.
  • Public speaking skills and experience required.

Specific Duties:  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:


  • Developing and overseeing annual communication plan and fundraising plan to meet organizational priorities.
  • Actively managing portfolio of donors and prospects.


  • Assisting with fundraising activities including special events (Campaign Kick-Off and Back to School Supply Drive), presentations, direct mail solicitations and business/corporate partnerships. Duties includes research, prospecting, pursuing multiple donor sources and reporting.
  • Cultivating relationships with current and prospective funders and supporters, especially individual donors.
  • Maintaining a calendar of outreach activities; including community events, workshops, appearances and other communication opportunities.


  • Overseeing the maintenance and expansion of the organization’s communication database of supporters. Use donor information to analyze trends and develop strategies to meet organizational goals.
  • Special event and meeting preparations including correspondence, materials and venue arrangements.
  • Assisting with all aspects of the nonprofit allocation process for the 2021/2022 funding year.  This includes providing application assistance to agency representatives, assisting volunteers with the review process, and reviewing agency reports.
  • Nurturing new and old relationships with collaborative partners.

Board and Volunteer Engagement:

  • Supervising and facilitating Board and volunteers in fundraising activities.
  • Leading volunteer recognition efforts and events.

Equal Employment Opportunity

United Way of Chatham County is an equal opportunity employer and applicants are considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital or veteran status, disability, or other legally protected status.

Harris Teeter launches campaign to support United Way and The Salvation Army

Shoppers invited to round up transaction to nearest whole dollar

Harris Teeter announced yesterday the launch of its United Way and Salvation Army Round Up Campaign. Now through November 17, Harris Teeter shoppers are invited to round up their transaction to the nearest whole dollar at checkout; 100 percent of funds raised at the Chatham County Harris Teeter will be distributed evenly among the United Way of Chatham County and Salvation Army Chatham County Service Unit.

“Harris Teeter hosts its United Way Round Up campaign annually, and this year, we are proud to provide shoppers the opportunity to also support The Salvation Army,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “Due COVID-19, many programs which fund critical programs for nonprofits – like Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program – have been impacted resulting in a significant decrease in funds. With the generous donations from our valued associates and loyal shoppers, we can ensure these organizations are able to continue providing essential resources and programs to our communities in need.”

Focusing on education, health, financial stability and basic needs, United Way works to create an environment of opportunity where thousands of families in our communities can have a chance for a better life.

“We are very thankful for the support that United Way receives from Harris Teeter. With every dollar raised, they are engaging employees and customers in our important work to make sure the people who need help the most receive it during this unprecedented time,” said Katie Childs, Interim Executive Director for the United Way of Chatham County.

The Salvation Army assists individuals and families-in-need by providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation services and clothing and shelter for those facing homelessness.

All funds collected through this campaign at the Chatham Downs Harris Teeter will remain local, benefitting the United Way of Chatham County and Salvation Army Chatham County Service Unit.

United Way Day of Service a Win for the Community

The United Way of Chatham County hosted the first ever Day of Service last Thursday, September 3. The event officially kicked off the annual fall fundraising season and connected more than 100 volunteers to opportunities to serve in Chatham County.

The day played host to nine in-person volunteer opportunities, three donation drop off sites and two virtual service opportunities that could be submitted on the United Way website. “Offering community service projects that covered a range of risk- from in person to completely virtual- gave residents the opportunity to participate in the way they felt most comfortable in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said United Way Interim Executive Director Katie Childs.

Community service projects for the day included: a donation drive for comfort items to be used by seniors at the Chatham Council on Aging; outdoor landscaping and improvement projects benefiting the Council on Aging, at both the Eastern and Western Senior Centers; a sidewalk improvement project at CORA Food Pantry; a school supply donation site at Chatham Trades, benefiting clients at Communities In Schools, Salvation Army and the Chatham Education Foundation; a housing construction project hosted by Chatham Habitat for Humanity; outdoor improvement projects at the Boys and Girls Club Wren Family Center; a photography project hosted by United Way; and a food drive hosted by Pugh Funeral Home and Chatham CARES Pharmacy, benefiting the West Chatham Food Pantry.

The Day of Service was sponsored by Carolina Civilworks, the Chatham News + Record, Realty World Carolina Properties and Triangle Community Foundation. Matt Green, Manager at Carolina Civilworks, said, “Community involvement is important to us because many of our workers live in Chatham County. We live here, work here and trying to give back to the community is just an important aspect of who we are at Carolina Civilworks.” This was evident in the fact that employees of Carolina Civilworks fully staffed the sidewalk rebuild project at CORA Food Pantry, providing a new, safe sidewalk to access the pantry from the parking lot.

“I want to give a special thank you to everyone who made this day a success. Thank you to the partners who hosted projects. Thank you to the volunteer teams from the community, Duke Energy, Carolina Civilworks, Chatham Hospital, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and Chatham County Government who did backbreaking work in the Carolina dog days of summer. Thank you to the event sponsors that helped publicize the event and fund projects and supplies necessary for the day. Thank you to everyone involved. Chatham County is a special place to live and work because of all of you,” said Childs. “We are excited that is wonderful event marks the beginning of our Fall fundraising campaign. I am hopeful it is an omen of all the good that is to come for Chatham County and its residents.”

United Way Seeking Volunteers for September 3 Day of Service

Volunteers with signs spelling out Live United.
United Way of Chatham County announced the first United Way Day of Service that will take place on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The Day of Service is a free community service event that pairs volunteers with projects for local non-profits to make an impact where it’s needed most in Chatham County. There are multiple volunteer project sites around the county, and even remote and contactless donation drives for everyone to get involved.

The United Way Day of Service will allow community members to make a tangible impact in Chatham County by sharing their time, talent and resources. There are several diverse volunteer opportunities including: event photography, indoor and outdoor revitalization projects at non-profit agencies, assembly of athletic equipment for children, home construction, a food drive, a school supply drive, and a drive for comfort items to benefit Chatham County’s home-bound seniors. You can even submit cards of appreciation to Chatham County School Teachers and Chatham’s Healthcare workers without leaving your home.

Due to COVID-19, United Way has reimagined the annual kick-off event to their fall fundraising campaign. “The Coronavirus has affected Chatham County in many ways. Knowing there are so many opportunities to make a direct impact on those who have been most affected by this virus was the reason we shifted the focus of our annual campaign kick-off event,” said United Way Interim Executive Director Katie Childs. “Connecting United Way supporters with hands on volunteer projects and supply drives to support people all over our community is our way of showing that social distance does not equal social disengagement,” Childs said.

To view a list of community service projects and donation drives, please visit WWW.UnitedWayofChathamCounty.org/Day-of-Service and sign up before Tuesday, September 1. This event is generously sponsored by Realty World Carolina Properties and The Chatham News + Record.

Call for Phase 37 Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and 2020 CARES Act Applications

Click Here to Download the Application

The Salvation Army Chatham County Service Unit is pleased to accept applications for Emergency Food and Shelter Program Phase 37 and the CARES grant funds. Applications are due via email or postal mail by
5:00 PM on Thursday, June 18, 2020. Applications received after the due date/time will not be considered.

Brief History:
The Emergency Food and Shelter Program was established on March 24, 1983, with the signing of the “Jobs Stimulus Bill,” Public Law 98-8. That legislation created a National Board, chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that consisted of representatives of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide.

The EFSP was authorized under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (P.L. 100-77 signed into law on July 24, 1987, since renamed the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and subsequently reauthorized under P.L. 100-628, signed into law on November 7, 1988). Since 1983, in its 29-year history, the EFSP will have distributed $3.8 billion to over 14,000 human service agencies in more than 2,500 communities across the country through this collaborative effort between the private and public sectors.

Under the guidance of the National Board and direct supervision of the Local Board, The Salvation Army serves as administrator for our jurisdiction. These funds are awarded only in Chatham County.

Grant Eligibility and Restrictions:
Local agencies chosen to receive funds must be able to adhere to the following:
1) Be private voluntary non-profits or units of government
2) Not be barred or suspended from receiving Federal funding
3) Have a checking account (cash payments are not allowed)
4) Have an accounting system or fiscal agent approved by local board
5) *Have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
6) *Have a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number
7) Conduct and provide a copy of an independent annual review if receiving $50,000 -$99,000 /or an independent annual audit if receiving $100,000 or more in EFSP funds, and follows OMB’s Uniformed Guidance if receiving $750,000 or more in Federal funding.
8) Be providing services and resources in Chatham County in which they are seeking funds
9) Practice non-discrimination
10) Have a voluntary board if private, not-for-profit
11) To the extent practicable, involve homeless individuals and families
12) Have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs
13) Have ability to fulfill all reporting requirements as requested

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