Sep 19 2012
By Bart Trotman
About a year ago, I started to hear whispers around town about a small revolution. Not an uprising or a coup, but something radical nonetheless.
When it comes to homelessness and poverty, there are no easy solutions. But these issues aren’t going away. Ignoring the problems and the people affected hurts society as a whole. So, we should be thankful for people like Liz Seymour, who took it upon herself to address these issues locally.
For 12 years Liz worked behind the scenes to improve the lives of Greensboro’s impoverished residents. And what does she have to show for it? Greensboro’s Interactive Resource Center (IRC), a community center that takes a logistical holistic approach to solving problems associated with homelessness.
The IRC has done an amazing job of asking a simple question: What stops someone struggling with homelessness from changing his or her situation? From a logistical standpoint, something like having a place to receive mail or phone calls is a no-brainer. How can you get a job if you can’t get a phone call?
The IRC is not a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. There are no beds. Instead, there is a computer lab with workshops to help people create resumes, find jobs and apply for them. There is also a wardrobe of professional attire that clients can borrow for job interviews. There is a barbershop, an art room and, most importantly, case workers.
To raise awareness about the organization’s work, Liz approached me and Blake Faucette, of All Aces Media, to produce a collection of short videos highlighting some of the IRC’s success stories. As a pro-bono project, we sat down separately with five individuals and asked each what specific resources at the IRC had made the biggest difference in their lives.
The most impressive story we heard was Sam’s (above). With help from the IRC, the formerly homeless man started a landscaping business and a program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
As someone who has never faced homelessness, this was an eye opening experience for me. It is easy for those of us who aren’t struggling to forget how great a resource our community can be.
To hear more first-hand accounts of how the IRC has make a difference in the lives of local Greensboro residents, check out the rest of the videos: