Commissioner Marty Cooke reads the official proclamation at the 8/20/2018 Brunswick County Board of Commissioners meeting as Joe Staton and Barbara Serafin of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition attend.

At their August 20, 2018 meeting, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners voted to officially proclaim the week of November 10th – 18th, 2018 as “National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.” Commissioner Marty Cooke read the official proclamation, then presented it to Barbara Serafin, representing the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

Commissioner Marty Cooke presents the official proclamation to Barbara Serafin of Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

Also in observance of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Commissioner Mike Forte is scheduled to speak at the BCHC’s Seventh Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon at the Brunswick Center in Shallotte on Nov 10, 2017. Commissioners Frank Williams, Marty Cooke, and Pat Sykes, and County Manager Ann Hardy have also worked to make previous Hunger and Homeless Banquet events a success. BCHC appreciates the tremendous support that the Board of Commissioners has consistently shown.

CBS News reports earlier this summer (2018) that a job paying minimum wage doesn’t pay enough for rent anywhere in the U.S., based on a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Excerpts below:

A minimum-wage worker would have to put in lots of overtime to be able to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country. And downsizing to a [one bedroom apartment] barely helps.

Even with some states hiking pay for those earning the least, there is still nowhere in the country where a person working a full-time minimum wage job can afford to rent a decent two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

[Even a $15 an hour minimum wage wouldn’t help in the] overwhelming majority of states, the coalition found. Nationally, someone would need to make $17.90 an hour to rent a modest one-bedroom or $22.10 an hour to cover a two-bedroom place.

Renters across the country earn an average hourly rate of $16.88, the report estimated, a finding that illustrates how even folks earning more than the minimum wage scramble to pay for housing.

The findings are based on the standard budgeting concept of not spending more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing… The study bases its definition of “modest” rental housing on a weighted average of fair market rent estimates developed annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to calculate the agency’s housing assistance to poor people around the country.

“While the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income families,” [says] the report’s preface. “In America today, nearly 11 million families pay more than half of their limited incomes toward rent and utilities. That leaves precious little for other essentials.”

In just 22 counties–parts of AZ, CA, CO, OR, and WA–a one-bedroom apartment is affordable to a minimum wage worker, in part because each of those counties has a higher minimum wage than the federal standard of $7.25 per hour.

You can read the complete article on the CBS News website. The linked article is copyright (c) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

BCHC is truly blessed to have ORCA (Ocean Ridge Charities Association) as one of our top donors. With their support, we are able to achieve our goals of helping those in need in Brunswick County. Every year, ORCA chooses a cause that they want to support and raise funds and/or goods needed. This year, they have chosen the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged children in our area. October 27, 2018 will be Ocean Ridge’s Make a Difference Day (M.A.D.D.) event and they will be collecting and sorting goods and gift cards for the homeless and distributing items and BCHC has been chosen as one of the charities that will benefit from this event.

Thank you ORCA and good luck in your upcoming event!

Annual Conference

Bringing It Home Conference 2018. Photo: BCHC
L-R Joe Staton, Barbara Serafin, and Paul Witmer of BCHC

On April 30th and May 1st, 2018, members from the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (BCHC) attended the second annual “Bringing it Home: Ending Homelessness in NC” conference at NC State University’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

The conference is sponsored by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the North Carolina Housing Coalition, and the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, to “[bring] together state and national leaders to share best practices, discover successful strategies, build relationships through networking, and celebrate the positive impact we are making on ending homelessness in our state.”1

This was BCHC’s second year attending the conference. Representing BCHC in Raleigh were Barbara Serafin, BCHC co-president; Joe Staton, BCHC publicity committee leader; and Paul Witmer, BCHC veterans committee leader.

Joe Staton, who often works with data on the publicity committee, attended classes that focused on collecting and sharing data and making reports and decisions based on that data. “Probably the most important thing I learned is the federal and state standards for data quality in our record keeping,” Staton said. “Data has to be accurate, timely, consistent, and uniform. If you don’t have good data quality, that means you aren’t making good decisions based on data: You’re guessing based on assumptions. This is knowledge that we can really put to work to make better decisions and have a greater impact.”

Paul Witmer, who works directly with veterans who are sometimes in very difficult situations, attended training in working with landlords to foster the availability of affordable housing, and in getting specific help to clients, like Rapid Rehousing, foreclosure prevention, SOAR, and other programs. “The most important things that I learned really were who to contact; the points of contact for getting help for the people who need it,” said Witmer. “Going forward, our three most important areas are organizational assignments, commitment, and outreach.”

Terry Allebaugh of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness and Barbara Serafin of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition at the 2018 Bringing It Home conference. Photo: BCHC

Barbara Serafin, who heads the 1-888 calls committee in addition to her duties as co-president of the organization, was trained in crisis response and trauma sensitivity. “When someone asks for help, they’ve already been traumatized. We need to be sensitive to their trauma, not make things more difficult for them,” said Serafin. “When we take a phone call, we shouldn’t just do an intake to give money or other help–we should investigate what they can do to reduce their risk, to make sure that they have a specific plan in place to avoid entering or returning to homelessness.”


Training Sessions Benefiting BCHC

BCHC Attendees
Training Session Information2
Welcome and Opening Program

  • Satana Deberry, Executive Director, North Carolina Housing Coalition
  • Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jessica Holmes, Chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners
  • Denise Neunaber, Executive Director, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness


Reducing Barriers and Creating Housing-Focused Shelters
Kay Moshier McDivitt, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Washington, DC
Emergency shelters play a key role in housing crisis response systems. This intensive training will provide an overview of the key elements shelters need to make the shift to low-barrier, housing-focused programs as they look to serve more households and reduce unsheltered homelessness in their communities.
Developing and Strengthening Rapid Rehousing Programs
Ben Cattell Noll, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Washington, DC
Rapid rehousing is a vital component in any housing crisis response system. With rapid rehousing programs, communities help to make homelessness brief by quickly connecting individuals and families to financial assistance and services to stabilize in housing. This intensive training will review the core components of effective rapid rehousing programs and discuss how to address common challenges in implementation.
Putting the Pieces Together: Housing Crisis Response Systems

  • Emily Carmody, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness
  • Denise Neunaber, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Housing crisis response systems underwent many changes over the past several years. From coordinated entry to system performance measures, communities are moving towards operating as a system to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time only for the people they serve. This intensive training will provide an overview of why the system is changing and what to expect on the horizon for your community.

State and Federal Leadership Listening Session
Please join the NCCEH Board and membership as they host speed discussions with North Carolina leadership. Participants will share reflections on their community’s efforts in ending homelessness and what is needed in our state to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time only. Event tables will be hosted by leadership from State and Federal agencies and advocacy organizations.
Landlord Development: Outreach Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Landlords

  • Jef Rawlings, Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action Agency
  • Jenny Moffatt, Homeward Bound

Homeless service systems depend on strong partnerships with landlords. This session will explore how to engage and recruit local landlords to support efforts to end homelessness. Topics include risk mitigation funds, landlord events, and landlord retention.

Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Environment

  • Deena Fulton, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Jennifer Tisdale, The Salvation Army of Wake County

Many individuals and families who access shelter have experienced traumatic life events before entering programs. This session will review key strategies for shelters and housing programs to use to ensure they are providing trauma-informed services.

The Foundations: Ensuring Quality Data

  • Cecelia Peers, Cape Fear Council of Governments
  • Nicole Purdy, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness
  • Andrea Carey, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

The first step in being able to use data as an agency and community is to ensure data entry is accurate. This session will review best practices for data entry and common mistakes that have a big impact.

Champions for Change Panel

  • Eric Edwards, Lisa Brand, and Ruebe Holmes, Champions for Change
  • Terry Allebaugh, North Carolina Caolition to End Homelessness, moderator

Formerly homeless panelists will share their stories of homelessness, how their lives were impacted, and how they are now involved as advocates in public dialogue and activities around homeless policy and practice.

Data and Real World Impact
Tia Sanders-Rice, Jasmin Volkel, Denise Neunaber, and Ben Bradley, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness
This session will explore how programs can use their data and reports to better understand program performance and evaluate their impact on homelessness.
Having an Impact: Housing and Homelessness Policymaking

  • Samuel Gunter, North Carolina Housing Coalition
  • Ehren Dohler, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

What’s on the horizon for federal and state policy? How do we make our voices heard in the process? This session will help participants understand the current policy landscape around housing and homelessness and how they can advocate to end homelessness.

Accessing Resources Beyond HUD

  • Emily Carmody, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness
  • Brooks Ann McKinney, Mission Health System
  • Jessa Johnson, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

There are many resources available to help people experiencing homelessness besides HUD programs. This session will explore how communities can access social security benefits through SOAR and housing and services through the Transitions to Community Living Initiative and other healthcare partnerships.

Beyond Reporting: Translating Your Community’s System Performance Measures

  • Denise Neunaber, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness
  • Courtney Morton, Mecklenburg County

System Performance Measures allow communities to view their progress towards ending homelessness from a wider system level. Learn the basics of these measures, what they mean for funding, and how they can be used to drive program and system decisions.

Feeling the Crunch: The Affordable Housing Crisis
and its Impact on Homeless and Housing Services

  • Samuel Gunter, North Carolina Housing Coalition
  • Terry Allebaugh, North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Housing affordability is a growing challenge for communities across the state and country. This session will focus on mapping the affordable housing crisis, its causes, and how responses impact the work of homeless service providers.

Presenter biographies and slides for most sessions above are published on the NCCEH website.

Closing message from the conference organizers: “On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the Division of Aging and Adult Services, the HUD Emergency Solutions Grant Program, the North Carolina Housing Coalition, the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, and everyone who contributed…thank you for attending this year’s state conference on homelessness. State staff and agency partners worked to get as much information about promising practices to you as possible in hopes that you return to your programs with valuable information to serve those experiencing homelessness. The goal of ending homelessness in our state is truly a group effort, and we look forward to our continued collaboration as we work to make homelessness rare, brief, and one-time only in North Carolina. We hope to see you again next year!”3


1 Official conference program, page 1., accessed May 1st, 2018.

2 Ibid, pages 1-4.

3 Ibid, page 5.

BCHC Participates in UNCW Grant Writing Class for Nonprofit Organizations

Barbara Serafin, left, with Joe Staton and Betsy Duarte at the March 2018 UNCW Grants for Nonprofits class. Photo: Justin Pope

Three members of BCHC, Betsy Duarte, Barbara Serafin, and Joe Staton, attended a class especially for nonprofit organizations on the topics of identifying grant opportunities and writing grants. The class was presented in a single session on March 15, 2018 by UNC Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and QENO (Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations), and led by Grants Specialist Althea Lewis and Nonprofit Advisor and Grant Consultant David F. Morrison.

The UNC Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Photo: BCHC

Class materials included introductory information about grants, sources for grants, and specific tips for preparing grants that are accepted.

Introducing Grants
Grants were introduced simply as proposals (“Grant Proposal”) submitted in response to RFP or RFA opportunities (“Request for Proposal” or “Request for Applications”) that are requests to obtain funding in a form that does not have to be paid back. The RFP/RFA specifies the approximate amount of funding available, the deadline(s) for applying for the funding, who offers the funding, and who may qualify to receive it.

Applicants are expected to read completely and understand any RFP/RFA, and comply completely with their requirements in order to avoid needless disqualification of the application.

Getting down to the details of what grants represent: An organization offering funds has one specific purpose that they want to fulfill, and an organization applying for funds has its own, possibly different, purpose. Aligning these two in “the matching game” is an important part of the process. The applying organization must describe the specific part of their purpose that overlaps with the purpose of the grant, and not simply request money for their own aims (no matter how brilliant or how needed they may seem), either in a LOI (“Letter or Intent” / “Letter of Inquiry”) or in the application itself.

The Matching Game. Image: UNCW/QENO.

Funding Sources
Within the class, we focused on locating funding sources likely to be of benefit to the target audience (Eastern North Carolina Nonprofits). We talked about both potential sources and “sources for sources”.

Sources for Sources included: (The U.S. Federal Government grants website, with search feature) (A nationwide searchable listing of grants offered) (The Rural Health Information Hub)

Resources. Image: UNCW/QENO.

Specific potential sources that we identified: (The Kate B. Reynolds Trust). With grants available only to nonprofits and government agencies, and only within North Carolina. Funding for things like capacity building, direct services, program planning has a grant maximum of about $50,000. Their deadlines work on a rotating basis each August and February. (The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation). With grants available to North Carolina nonprofits, government agencies, schools, and churches. Funding areas have included things like community economic development and social justice programs. Deadlines and details are currently not posted at this writing. (Cape Fear Memorial Foundation). With grants available to nonprofits only in Duplin, Columbus, Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties of NC. Their funding focus is on health education and improvement. Grants up to $200,000 have been awarded in the past. Their LOI deadlines are June and December, and their Application deadlines are July and January. (The Landfall Foundation). With grants available to nonprofits only in Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties of NC. Their funding areas for up to about $7500 are arts, education, and health & welfare. Their LOI deadlines are June and December, and their Application deadlines are July and January.

Grant preparation tips
Some highlights on the tips on grant preparation:

  • Use your “Need Statement” or “Problem Statement” to make a compelling case that your specific project is needed and important.
  • Make sure that your goals are specific and measurable, with specifically described benefits.
  • The Budget and its justification can be the hardest items in an application, making them good candidates to do first.
  • Make certain that all instructions are followed.

The BCHC members who attended the class have contact information for experts who have expressed a willingness to help look over grant applications before submission to help them achieve success. The class has been helpful already in the information that it provided, and hopefully it will be helpful in the future to help BCHC secure needed funding for operations and special programs.

Leland gathering raises awareness and funds to fight homelessness, hunger

Saturday, November 18th 2017, 8:41 pm EST

By: Ben Smart, Reporter, WECT

Roy Tucker, Coalition to Reduce Poverty in Brunswick County, addresses 2017’s 6th Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon (SOURCE: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – About a hundred people gathered at the Brunswick Center in Leland for the Sixth Annual Hunger & Homeless Banquet Saturday.

Community leaders, experts, formerly homeless people, and concerned citizens were among the attendees.

The purpose of the event was to educate the community about homelessness, but also to raise funds for the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, which put on the event.

According to data provided at the event, there were 322 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in Brunswick County in a count January 2017.

The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition assists about 300 people struggling with homelessness every year, according to the Co-President of the coalition.

Volunteer Joe Staton faced homelessness four years ago, but eventually got back onto his feet. Now, Staton volunteers with the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

“When I moved to Brunswick County I was homeless. And through a process of getting help… I was able to get an apartment, somewhere to live,” said Staton. “So now I volunteer to try to give back something and help the ones who still need it.”

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

Organization raises awareness for the homeless

Saturday, November 18th 2017, 1:10 pm EST

By: Jenna Kurzyna, WWAY

Brunswick County Homeless Coalition’s annual banquet (Photo: Jenna Kurzyna/WWAY)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Ending homelessness and hunger in one county is the mission for the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition.

This weekend the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition held their 6th Annual Hunger and Homeless Banquet and Soup Luncheon.

This event was to educate and raise awareness about poverty-related problems.

The event was free and hosted at the Brunswick Center at Leland.

The banquet and soup luncheon invited formerly homeless individuals to talk about their past struggles and learn about solutions.

Joe Staton who now volunteers with the coalition used to be homeless and said the help he received from them was life changing.

“A lot of people don’t know that Brunswick County has a homeless population at all, but they do and we work directly with them. When I came to Brunswick County I was homeless, and I received the help and I know there’s a lot of people out there needing it,” Staton said.

The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition is made up of volunteers and wants to continue to educate the community about the hunger and homeless problems in the area.

WWAY TV, LLC. © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

L-R Jim MacCallum, Paul Witmer, and Joe Staton. Click or tap to play video on Youtube. (PHOTO: ATMC TV)

ATMC TV’s November 2017 “Our Hometown” show features, during its latter segment, an interview with Paul Witmer and Joe Staton of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition. The subject matter covers the definition of homelessness, aspects of our homelessness problem with respect to Veterans and others, and the Coalition’s annual event on November 18th, 2017, spotlighting awareness of and solutions to poverty- and homelessness-related problems here in Brunswick County.

Our Hometown, hosted by Jim MacCallum, features in-depth stories about local people, places and events in Brunswick and Columbus Counties. Our Hometown airs every day at 8:30am and 7:00pm on ATMC TV.

The Homeless Coalition appreciates very much this opportunity to raise awareness, and we give a heartfelt thanks to Jim and to ATMC TV.

Your turn: National Hunger & Homeless Awareness week
Thursday, November 9th 2017, 1:18 pm EST (Source: WECT). Copyright 2017 Raycom Media. All Rights Reserved.
By: Joe Staton, Brunswick County Homeless Coalition

Click or tap to watch the video. (Photo source: WECT)


How many persons are homeless in Brunswick County?

How do you define homelessness?

How can we help homeless veterans find housing?

Is there a single path to end homelessness?

What is rapid rehousing and how does it work?

Are there really more than 400 homeless students in the Brunswick County School system?

Does Brunswick County need a homeless shelter?

(Photo Source: WECT)

The answers to some of these questions may alarm you. National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week is held each year during the week prior to Thanksgiving.

The Brunswick County Homeless Coalition takes this opportunity to enhance our efforts to raise awareness about the issue and what is being done locally to work toward meeting the needs, advocating for and working toward ending homelessness.

The best thing we can do is get more people involved.

Please go to the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition website at to learn how you can get involved. While you are visiting our site, please consider registering for our annual event on Saturday, November 18.

As we move toward the Thanksgiving season, and start to count our own blessings, please consider sharing some of that compassion with our neighbors who aren’t as fortunate as us. Together, we can make a difference.