Author: Martin Acevedo

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October is Emotional Wellness Month

WOW – What a year!  Our minds, bodies, souls, spirits, will, drive, and, in some cases, our optimism and hope have all been tested like never before.  We endured a stress-filled election, a subsequent insurrection, pandemic-driven quarantines, division amongst our citizenry, continued remote learning for our children, lack of contact with family and friends, racial injustices played out live on television, lost jobs, failed and/or struggling businesses, and on, and on, and on.  We’ve learned new terms like “cancel-culture”, vaxers and anti-vaxers, sleep anxiety, and food insecurities.  It seems like so much negativity was mounted around and/or against us that it was too much to overcome.  But we fought to work through it all and return to some realm of normalcy, and just when it seemed things might take a turn for the better with the advent and distribution of various Covid vaccines, giving us a collective sigh of relief, we were once again emotionally pummeled with the discovery of the Delta Variant of Covid-19.  It left many of us feeling like… What’s next?

Well, as a parent of three kids, who spent the better part of 2020 and 2021 learning remotely, I have had major concerns about their emotional well-being, and how they would adjust having to contend with so much over the past two years, especially the alienation from family and friends. I have witnessed their stress, increased anxieties, and even depression, while trying to closely monitor their moods and emotional well-being, but who is monitoring me?

As adults, many times our focus is on caring so much for everyone in our lives that we neglect to properly monitor our own well-being or take the steps to care for ourselves.  One of the key things that I have found helps me is slowing my life down with intentionality, moving at a much slower pace with those things that have no deadline or real urgency.  Another well-being check is allowing myself some “grace”.  As I have aged, I’ve come to realize that what I don’t get done today, will be there tomorrow, and I am glad to have found a “self-effacing” spirit that allows me to find humor in my errors or mistakes that once were followed by feelings of guilt or self-condemnation. Enjoy your successes, including the small ones, and give yourself time to live in the moment and take it all in, before you are off to conquer your next task or endeavor.

October is Emotional Wellness Month, a celebration in which individuals are encouraged to take stock of one’s stress levels, set a plan to get healthier both emotionally and physically, and to make the necessary changes in our lives to be our best selves.  Below are some tips for monitoring and developing good emotional wellness.

  • Reduce stress: Set goals and a plan to reduce stress in our lives.  Do some self-reflection and determine what your stress triggers are (finances, work, family, health, etc.) and put into play a plan to target those triggers and determine how to keep them maintained.
  • Calculate your screen time: It’s a fact that social media and time spent online can absolutely impact one’s emotional health.  It is simply too easy to constantly tap into millions of media impressions from the palm of your hand, and unfortunately, they are not all positive.  Set limits on when and how long you engage in that online realm.  Replace screentime with activities like exercise, reading, yoga, meditation, prayer, or doing some other activity that brings you joy.
  • Access resources available to you for help: Many employers now offer access to professional counselors and/or therapists, through company insurance and benefits. Sometimes improving one’s emotional health requires delving deeper to get to the root of one’s emotional state.  This can sometimes be achieved by talking through issues, especially when talking with a trained professional skilled at helping you make sense of things.
  • Remember what’s really important: It is critical to look at our lives and determine what aspects of our lives add value, bring us joy, and are truly things that matter.  We’ve all heard the cliché, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”. Well, age has shown me that so much of what I considered critical in my younger life was really a lot of small stuff and what a blessing it is for those who gain that self-awareness sooner.  Most of us must work, but it is critical to maintain a good work-life balance, or you need to find the career or job that allows you to do so.
  • Helping others: There are so many people in the world who are in need in one way or another.  It is a fact that we feel a sense of belonging, caring, of goodness when we are helping others.  Take the time to get involved in your community and volunteer goods, services, and/or time and talents to enrich the lives of others.  It is truly an emotional boost.

As we celebrate Emotional Wellness Month, we all need to remember to:  forgive yourself, practice gratitude, spend more time with your family and friends, explore your beliefs about the purpose and meaning of our lives, rest regularly and develop good sleep habits, exercise regularly, build a strong support network, set goals, set schedules, and seek help before it’s needed.  At our core is humanity and love, and we all need to rediscover those and share them with the world.

Smile at someone today and see how joyful and contagious a simple smile can be, and revel in the moment knowing that your shared smile might be the only one that person receives that day!

Michael A. Humphrey, Sr., Vice President, Operations and Equity

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Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

As the country is observing National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, I pause to give thanks for these vibrant cultures and the organizations serving them.  They are core components of our diverse community.

Started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, the observance was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.  It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

This month I am honored to conclude my terms of service on the Board of Directors for Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) – a transnational organization on a mission to strengthen Latinx leadership, influence, and equity by leveraging philanthropic resources.

I first got involved with HIP when I worked with the Council on Foundations based in Washington, DC and had the joy of working with HIP members on various conferences.  From the very beginning, I was welcomed with the informal greeting that “you don’t have to be Hispanic to be “HIP”!

Fast forward 30 years, I look back with gratitude on decades of learning and partnership opportunities for myself and for CFGG.

When CFGG had the chance to help build the North Carolina site in HIP’s Funders Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, it was an honor to be at the table as a founding member for over fifteen years.  Through this model, HIP partnered with over 150 local and national funders to raise and regrant over $40 million dollars to build the capacity of Latino nonprofits nationwide working to strengthen their local communities.  When the national Collaborative came to a close, NC funders wanted to continue our work in a new way, and now CFGG serves as the fiscal agent for the NC Collaborative for Strong Latinx Communities. This grantmaking endeavor includes participatory grantmaking featuring local Latinx leaders from across the state collectively allocating funds for Latinx-led programs.

I served on the HIP Board for two six-year stretches for a total of twelve years.  When I received my first Board Meeting docket, I reviewed a chart of Board Member demographics noting, amongst other attributes, the various Hispanic cultural heritage affiliations . . . Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, Argentinian, etc.  HIP has always strived to maintain a very diverse Board and noting demographics can be a tool for assessing and monitoring that diversity.  When I scrolled down to the entry about me, I noticed that I was listed as “Other”.  It’s a useful growth experience for a “white” person to be noted as an “other” and to serve in a minority capacity.  I have learned so much and garnered infinite respect for my Latinx colleagues.  It has helped me to be a better ally and a better funder of community opportunities.

HIP has an unwavering focus on social justice and shared prosperity across the Americas.  As the leader of a network of foundations, donors, and nonprofits, it stands for making impactful investments in the Latinx community and developing leaders to effectively address the most pressing issues impacting communities in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. Latinx equity, participation, and inclusion are essential for widely shared democracy and prosperity in the U.S. and the Americas. HIP is a forum for all funders to learn, support, and advocate for Latinx communities.  Programs include HIPGive, PowerUp Fund, Leadership Conferences, Lideres Program, human rights initiatives, and international site visits.  Triad-based Latinx leader Irving Zavaleta was selected for a fellowship in the Lideres Program, and many local nonprofits in Guilford Country received funding through the Collaboratives.  I am sure that these programs and HIP’s role as advocate caught the eye of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott who recently awarded HIP a grant of $15 Million.

CFGG and I salute Hispanic Heritage Month and we are proud to be a member of HIP, to be a partner in the NC Collaborative, to be the home for two Latinx-led giving Circles (The Immigrant Fund and LEAF: Latino Education Advancement Fund), and to support our local nonprofit grantees that celebrate Latinx cultures and support Latinx communities.  Please join me in giving thanks.

Tara McKenzie Sandercock

 

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Back to School for Adult Learners

Take a second to consider what “back to school” means to you.  I am transported back to my childhood. I remember my mother dragging me to the mall for new clothes, the excitement of choosing school supplies and the anticipation of seeing friends on the first day. It may take you to your college years or the responsibilities you feel as a parent to ensure your child has all the tools needed for success. As we prepare for a new school year, I ask you to consider a population that may not normally come to mind – adult learners.

This is one of the target demographics for the Community Foundation’s newest county-wide initiative. Guilford Jobs 2030 (GJ30) has one overriding goal: Increase the percentage of the population with post-secondary credentials from its current rate of 46 percent to 60 percent by the year 2030. While this includes any education above high school, much of our focus will be on certifications and Associate degree-level achievement.

While success will add $1 Billion to the local economy annually, along with a total of 14,000 jobs, our ambitious goal means it’s more than a workforce and economic development initiative. Reaching 60 percent amounts to helping 30,000 additional people earn credentials, meaning we must make education available and accessible to all our neighbors. This includes overcoming disparities in Guilford County’s educational attainment between white and minority populations. African American, Latino and refugee populations are currently more than 50 percent less likely to earn post-secondary credentials.  GJ30’s goal is to have all demographics at 60 percent by 2030. Finally, while achieving this goal will include working with school age children, it also requires we focus on adults aged 25-44.

Outcomes and goals matter. They influence the planning phase of an initiative, who sits at the table, populations most effected and, maybe most importantly, the services required to achieve success. We chose an educational achievement goal that reaches the entire community and requires an all-hands-on deck response.  So as the school year approaches, consider what it would take to change the direction of your children’s lives as a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet.  How would you prepare to further your education? What kind of assistance would you need to make that happen? How would that change what “back to school” means to you?

System implementation will begin in Greensboro and High Point next year. We look forward to demonstrating what “back to school” means to the 40 organizations that have been at the table developing GJ30.

David Bolton – Director, Workforce Initiatives

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August is Black Philanthropy Month

August is Black Philanthropy Month (BPM), a global celebration and concerted campaign to elevate African descent giving. Created in 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet), BPM is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2021 where the theme is “TENacity: Making Equity Real.” We encourage you to visit their site at www.blackphilanthropymonth.com to learn more about this effort to elevate Black Philanthropy.

Fittingly, “Celebrate and Elevate” is the theme for CFGG’s unique and distinctive addition to the rich Black philanthropic narrative. This August, in fact, the Black Investments in Greensboro (BIG) Equity Fund celebrates its one-year anniversary.  Thanks to a committed leadership committee and support from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro’s staff, the BIG Equity Fund has inspired commitments from over 120 donors approaching a total of $1.5 million towards a $3 million dollar goal. This is quite an accomplishment given that this has taken place during an ongoing global pandemic. These visionary community leaders have demonstrated courage and optimism in establishing a permanently endowed fund knowing that we would have limited opportunities to engage with audiences in person or at live events about the BIG Equity Fund’s vision.

As we celebrate the contributions of these BIG Equity Fund donors, we also want to elevate what BIG Equity Fund represents beyond the fundraising goal. BIG Equity represents so much more. BIG Equity Fund exemplifies the extensive history of Black communities not sitting idly by and waiting for help. Black-initiated and Black-led, the Fund is timely, relevant, and needed.

It inspires those outside of the Black community to leverage their investment of time, talent, and treasure toward community building, making Greensboro a good place for people of diverse races and ethnicities to work together on raising up all people.

BIG Equity Fund represents a new direction of exposing, educating, and engaging Black donors in the tools of the Community Foundation by inspiring a change in mindset for giving that moves beyond charity. It also provides new points of entry to use philanthropy strategically to invest back into Black communities.

Ultimately BIG represents LOVE – for humankind (philanthropy), for Greensboro (place), and for future generations of Black Greensboro, knowing that our collective philanthropy will generate an inheritance that leads to lasting and beneficial change (legacy)!

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LGBTQ Pride Month

June is LGBTQ Pride Month. The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro celebrates the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history – locally, nationally, and internationally. And we honor those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or illness.

One of our staff members, Julie Ann Cooper, wrote a column that appeared in the Greensboro News and Record on February 28, 2021, honoring her child who is non-binary. We wanted to share this powerful message with all of you.

Congress and other N.C. cities should follow in Greensboro’s footsteps on LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections

This year I have been prouder than ever to be a North Carolinian as I’ve watched local leaders across the state taking action to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. A few weeks ago, the Greensboro City Council passed an inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, days after five other municipalities took similar steps.

It has been inspiring to see elected officials prioritize these measures. Even so, just about 7% of the state population live in a jurisdiction covered by such an ordinance. It’s time for other N.C. communities to follow suit — and ultimately, we need Congress to enact comprehensive federal protections ensuring no American is left vulnerable to discrimination because of who they are.

This issue is so important to me because I am the mother of an LGBTQ person who has faced discrimination and harassment in North Carolina.

When my youngest child was in high school, I worried almost every time I kissed them goodnight that they might take their own life. I saw that they were in pain, but I had no idea how to fix it. When they graduated, I breathed a sigh of relief that they made it that far — but something was still off; a mother often has a sense about these things. In late 2016, it finally clicked for me when I attended a presentation about gender identity, and when my child came home from college for Thanksgiving, I asked, “What pronouns do you use?”

My child explained that they use they/them pronouns, and they came out to me as non-binary or gender expansive. While most people are limited to understanding only male or female, some people, including my child, don’t neatly fit into those categories and use a term like “non-binary” to describe their gender identity. Just as sexual orientation is on a spectrum, gender identity is on a spectrum, too; there are infinite possibilities.

A whole new world opened for me when I learned about their identity. I felt newly personal stakes in the conversation that had been raging across North Carolina for the previous year: the fight around HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that singled out transgender people, targeting them for discrimination and blocking local communities from passing LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances. Now, I saw, these legislators were working to harm my child, vilify them and other trans people as criminals instead of whole people who deserve every bit of dignity as anyone else.

The state-sponsored mistreatment caused by HB 2 isn’t the only time my family has been harmed by anti-LGBTQ bias. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, my child faced housing discrimination and was forced to move. Their landlord never accepted their gender identity, constantly misgendered them and discussed my child’s gender and body frequently with other tenants behind their back.

When it was time to renew their lease, the landlord kept putting them off and then, several months after the lease expired, refused to allow my child to stay. This exposed my child to unsafe conditions and harmed them financially, which was especially difficult because their place of employment was closed for six months. The lack of nondiscrimination protections in our state left them vulnerable. It was just horrific that my law-abiding child was treated as a second-class citizen solely based on their gender identity.

I’ve learned a lot about the LGBTQ community over the past few years, but I’d be lying if I said it has been an easy path for our family to walk. It has taken me time to fully understand my child’s identity, and I’ve admittedly stumbled overusing their correct name and pronouns.

But rejecting my child was never a thought; when I held them for the first time, I would not have loved them any less if the doctor had said, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” — so of course, once they told me they identify as neither a boy nor a girl, I did not love them any less. Frankly, my child’s identity isn’t the most important part of who they are; their gender should be as inconsequential as anyone else’s. They are still the same smart, talented, hard-working and compassionate person they have always been.

Meeting LGBTQ people with love and fiercely advocating for their ability to thrive can save lives. That’s what local communities across North Carolina are doing this year.

I’m grateful for the lawmakers who have so far unanimously passed nondiscrimination protections. I hope their resolve to be on the right side of history inspires other legislators — including our U.S. representatives and Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, who have the power to protect all Americans from discrimination by passing federal legislation — follow in their footsteps.

Julie Ann Cooper

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Ignite the Comfortable

We originally posted this one year ago, just after the death of George Floyd. It was written by our President, Walker Sanders. We received many positive comments at that time and thought it would be timely to share it again.

Ignite the Comfortable

I have really struggled to put into writing the emotions I have felt over the last three months.  From the anticipation of opening a new performing arts center to helping address locally how we responded to a world-wide pandemic, to, now, another act of racism.

When the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro was founded 37 years ago, the founders’ vision was to create an organization for the community to rely on in times of need. An organization for individuals to be able to give back to their community, and an organization for leaders to be collaborative around critical community issues.  Never has that vision been more relevant than in today’s times.

I have learned in my 26 years of working professionally in philanthropy, that the hardest thing to do in a community is to “ignite the comfortable.”  Let me explain.

In 2001, after 9/11, everyone said we are living in “unprecedented times.”  We had just been attacked by terrorists, and it made us all uncomfortable.  It was easy to ignite a response because it was about someone else.  It was not about “us”, and we were going to go after “them” to hold “them” accountable for their actions.  Now, almost 20 years later, we are once again saying, we are living in “unprecedented times”. But this time it is not about “them”. Sadly, it is about “us”.

Never has it been more important for “us” to work together, to combine our resources for others, establish partnerships to effectively help our neighbors, and leverage those connections such that we can navigate this storm in our own personal and unique ways.  And communities across the country and in Greensboro have been doing this.  Locally, we have raised millions of dollars for nonprofits providing direct services to those in need. Companies have shifted their manufacturing capabilities to provide critically needed PPE, and countless small business owners have found assistance with loans and grants.

It is quite inspiring.

Personally, I have been optimistic and hopeful that this new sense of togetherness, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit would help forge a new path for us as individuals and as a community.  It would ignite a path to re-design outdated systems and old institutions in a way that was inclusive and equitable.  These 20th century systems and institutions suddenly had the opportunity to adapt, evolve, and transform into new digital systems and modern institutions for a 21st century world. And, along with it, new attitudes and perspectives on each other and our world.

Then, a black man – yes, another black man, George Floyd – is senselessly murdered by a police officer, and we are thrust back into, once again, conversations about the huge injustices present in our outdated systems and old institutions. Many of us (mostly white people) have the privilege of not having to live with these injustices every day.  As upset as we are about this incident, and as unfair and wrong as we know it is, many of us will have the privilege of going back to our comfortable and safe lives after all the noise quiets down.

Philanthropy has been at the heart of major advancements in society for generations and will continue to play an important role long into the future, but only if we can ignite the comfortable to use the power, privilege and resources we are afforded to create meaningful, deep and transformative change that combats racism as its own deadly disease.

Sometimes a system must come to a breaking point to be ready for change. In that moment, something tips. There is a broader understanding that the pain of maintaining the status quo exceeds the pain of change. I am hopeful that moment is now.

What can your Community Foundation do?  We will continue to use a racial equity lens in all our work.  We will continue to expand our Expanding Community Giving Initiative.  We will continue our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work with an even greater commitment.  We know the issues, but we have not solved them.  We do not know the answers, but, with humility, courage, and commitment, we can cultivate and grow the relationships that will.  Join with us in this work so the conversation doesn’t simply quiet down. We know it is not going away.

Walker Sanders

President, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro

June 2, 2020

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National Small Business Week – May 2-8, 2021

The National Small Business Week is hosted each year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. There is no question about it: small businesses are the leading drivers of the U.S. economy.

As of 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported that small businesses make up 99.6% of North Carolina businesses and 45.3% of North Carolina’s workforce. Additionally, 85 percent of employer businesses have fewer than 19 employees and comprise over 25 percent of private sector jobs, with estimates showing there are over 500,000 jobs and almost $17 billion of payroll at stake.

Small businesses provide significant economic benefits to local communities. One benefit is the creation of jobs. In 2020, small businesses in North Carolina created over 60,000 jobs. Another benefit of small businesses is that they bring innovation to industry fields. Small businesses have the advantage of working more directly with customers and the public. This interaction allows for small business owners to be aware of the needs and wants of those they serve. Small businesses also help to keep money local. As small businesses collaborate and support each other, it helps to grow the local economy. As a result, we are able to see an improvement in matters such as schools, housing, transportation, and other local services.

Lastly, small businesses are more adaptable to economic changes within the community. Due to being local, small business owners are more flexible and responsive to the needs of the public. During the pandemic, we were able to see the adaptability of small businesses as many nonprofits and small businesses had to quickly shift to respond to the new needs of the public.

Want to help celebrate local small businesses? Here’s how!

  • Visit sba.gov to nominate your favorite small business and to learn more about National Small Business Week.
  • Use the hashtag #SmallBusinessWeek to give a shoutout to small businesses in your community.
  • Spread the word! If you operate a small business, share with others the inspiration behind your business. If you are a customer, share why you love the small businesses in your community.

To learn more about National Small Business Week and small business resources, please visit https://www.sba.gov.

Arjanai Miller, Marketing and Communications Officer

 

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May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month. In the early days of the pandemic, we saw an increase in hateful words and actions against the Asian community across this country. We saw it happen again in March this year after the hate killings of Asians in Atlanta. And it continues today.

Two members of the CFGG Board, Tiffany Lam-Balfour and Uma Avva, are of Asian descent, and they wrote an op-ed, along with Athan Lindsay, which appeared in the Greensboro News and Record on May 10, 2020. In honor of this month, we thought it was important to reprise that article for you all to read again.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro was founded in 1983 with inclusiveness as one of our core values. Looking forward, we believe it is important to be intentional on our journey to be the champion of all people in our community and to “walk the walk” – both internally and externally.

R. Ross Harris – VP, Marketing and Communications

 

“Greensboro hasn’t been immune from harassment of Asian Americans”

Greensboro News and Record, May 10, 2020

Since the arrival of the coronavirus in the U.S., there have been widespread reports of increasing verbal and physical acts of violence aimed at Asian Americans across the country. References to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” have also played a role in making Chinese Americans and others within the ethnically diverse Pan-Asian community targets for scapegoating and blame.

The Center for Public Integrity’s recent survey found that more than 30% of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, an effort tracking these cases nationally, reported about 1,500 instances of harassment against Asian Americans in a one-month period since mid-March. Sadly, this report includes serious incidents of violence, such as:

  • An Asian American family, including two children, being stabbed at a Sam’s Club in Texas in March.
  • An Asian woman suffering severe burns after being attacked with acid in New York City.
  • A 16-year-old boy in California being physically attacked by bullies who accused him of having the virus.

And it’s happening here in Greensboro — yes, right here in Greensboro.

Whether it’s receiving side-eye when seen wearing a mask or glares when a tickle in your throat causes an inadvertent cough; being sprayed at with Lysol when returning to work after caring for a sick child; being spat and coughed upon in a deliberate and theatrical manner; or being refused entry to a business because of “concern for health reasons,” these and other acts of intolerance are confronting our Asian American community every day.

Korean actor John Cho writes, “The pandemic is reminding us that our belonging is conditional. One moment we are Americans, the next we are all foreigners who ‘brought’ the virus here.” Cho also explains that since some stereotypes of Asians are complimentary (being the model minority known to be hardworking and good at math) it “makes people think that anti-Asian sentiment is somehow less serious, that it’s racism lite. That allows us to dismiss the current wave of Asian hate crimes as trivial, isolated and unimportant.”

We are all experiencing significant stress from the effects of this virus on our daily lives. Imagine the added stress of having your ethnicity linked to the cause of the crisis and being afraid of being verbally or physically attacked whenever you go outside.

Unfortunately, this is the reality that some of our most caring, civic-minded and philanthropic community members are experiencing.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro stands with the members of the Triad Pan Asian American Network, or TPAAN, Giving Circle to denounce all forms of viral racism and bigotry toward our Asian American community related to COVID-19 and beyond.

TPAAN is part of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro’s Expanding Community Giving initiative, which focuses on engaging more donors and increasing fundholders among racially and ethnically diverse residents. Not only does increasing the diversity of our donors yield a more authentic reflection of Greensboro, it also expands our conversations on racial inequities, bigotry and social isolation beyond the conventional framework of “black and white.”

The generosity of donors such as TPAAN allows your Community Foundation to respond to the many needs created as a result of this virus. TPAAN contributed $2,500 to the campaign to purchase laptops for Guilford County students. South Sea Outdoor Living, an Asian-owned furniture manufacturing business in Greensboro, changed its production to help provide face masks wherever they are needed (hospitals, medical facilities, frontline workers, service personnel, individuals). These are just two examples of the many ways Asian Americans throughout Greensboro and the Triad region are stepping up to support our community now, just as they have done prior to this crisis.

The racism and bigotry that TPAAN members have experienced and may continue to encounter during this pandemic must not be accepted. TPAAN has reminded us that as we continue to respond to COVID-19, we must also confront the resulting bigotry and racial biases as part of our response to this crisis.

We have witnessed incredible unity in our community, as people work together to safeguard our collective health and well-being to slow the spread of this global pandemic.

We have also seen fear, paranoia and blame disproportionately directed toward Asians and Asian Americans. Pointing fingers has never helped produce progress or create solutions.

We are facing more than a humanitarian crisis — we are facing a crisis of racism.

And unlike the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus, we know the antidote to racism.

It starts with naming it and standing in solidarity with the Asian American members of our community who are wrongly targeted for their ethnicity.

The Triad Pan Asian American Network Giving Circle and the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro welcome you to stand with us.

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Remote Work: Dream or Nightmare

I began my career with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro on February 1, 2021 and was plunged into the world of philanthropy and foundations.  As if it were not enough ‘onboarding’ with a new company, within a new industry, in the non-profit sector, I added the monumental task of starting my new career remotely!  I met my new boss and all of my co-workers through Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and of course Zoom, and though it was not ideal, it was the standard means of communications for an entire workforce impacted by and working through the Covid19 pandemic.

I surely was not alone in making the adjustments to working remotely as we were all facing some of the same challenges, although some people handled these new work arrangements better than some others.  For anyone who has ever had to endure an arduous work commute, the mere thought of working from home can sound like a dream, but it can surely take some getting use to.  To go from a traffic-laden commute of 30, 45 to 60 minutes to simply rolling out of bed and walking a few steps to a home office is pretty easy to get use to, but still requires some organization, dedication, and focus.

Coming off of a 7-year entrepreneurial venture of my own, I was glad that I had some experience at working remotely and overcoming some of the fallacy that can accompany working from home.  I must admit, what I initially thought was going to be great, was actually not so great at all, having worked in very structured corporate settings for the majority of my career.  The worst obstacles to overcome were the constant barrage of distractions that are ever-present in one’s own home.  I mean with three kids, all of whom are in distant learning programs with their schools, a whole other level of distraction, chaos, and complexity can be added to one’s remote work equation without some self-imposed rules, regulations, guidelines, and restrictions.

Here are 5 personal suggestions for making your remote work experience a good one.

  1. Establish a designated workspace in your home, as separate from the daily activities of your home as possible. If you have a separate home office, that is great, but if not, find a location where you can work uninterrupted and without distraction.
  2. Make sure that you have the necessary equipment needed to carry out your work functions from home, including a computer with access to your company network, printer, scanner, work phone, additional lighting for virtual meetings, etc.
  3. Set your remote work hours to align with your company’s normal hours of operation. By eliminating your work commute, you may find yourself starting work early in the morning, and sometimes working later into the evening, again, because there is no longer a commute. Working later into the evening was an early result of my remote work inexperience.  This can really wreak havoc on one’s ‘live-work’ balance, and that is essential for us all.
  4. Along with setting work hours aligned with your business’ operating hours, make sure to set some time aside for lunch and breaks. I found that in working remotely, I could easily get lost in my work and not take a lunch break until 3 to 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  Keep your schedule as aligned as possible with your company’s normal work schedule, including breaks.  Handle personal task outside of established work hours.  It was extremely important for me to ‘only’ do work-related work during normal business hours.  Everything else has to just wait, as if I were physically in my workplace.
  5. Make sure that anyone else in the home during your work hours understands that you are on the clock, and really should not be disrupted during those specified times.

Without a doubt, each person has to make their remote work experience their own, also following any specific guidelines outlined and set by one’s company.  Many companies (tech sector) are making the stance to keep much of their workforce remote post-pandemic, but many other businesses in other industries either have and/or are returning to their offices as we speak.  I share the sentiments of many who miss the personal connection to one’s co-workers, and those impromptu exchanges that occur by just being in someone’s presence. I for one am a bit anxious and very excited to meet and bond with my co-workers somewhere other than ZOOM!

Michael A. Humphrey

 

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Embrace, Educate and Empower Yourself During National Credit Education Month

Credit plays a critical role in your financial health and will impact just about every aspect of your life!  Did you know that using 50% of your available credit limit may impact your credit score and that single act could play a significant role in the interest rate on your mortgage and/or auto loan?  Did you know that a single late payment could show up for seven years on your credit report?  Seven is often referred to as a lucky number, but not in this case.  Understanding credit and your credit score will empower you to make sound financial decisions.

There are several credit scoring models used to calculate your score.  It isn’t guaranteed that all of your accounts will appear on every credit report. Therefore, you should pull your credit reports using the three major credit reporting bureaus at least annually:  Equifax, Transunion and Experian.

According to the Fair Isaac Corporation, 90% of top lenders use FICO scores.  Your score represents your level of credit risk. Generally, the higher the score, the lower the credit risk. Some benefits of a high credit score include, but is not limited to quicker loan approvals, higher credit limits, lower interest rates, and flexible lending options.

As we observe National Credit Education Month, here a few ways to maximize your score to help reduce the cost of credit.

  • Pay your accounts on time – avoid late payments
  • Keep your overall credit utilization at 30% or less
  • Research lending products before applying
  • Eliminate your debt by paying it off
  • Avoid excessive inquires (max 2 is ideal)
  • Strategically open and close accounts
  • Protect personal identifiable information (PII)
  • Check your credit report quarterly and report inaccuracies immediately

Embrace these tips and you can have a healthy credit score.

LaToya D. Cheek

Senior Accountant