Names of The Place of Forsyth’s clients have been changed to protect their privacy.
Lisa Lopez remembers feeling nervous when she first started working full-time at The Place of Forsyth as part of its workforce and education development program.
Although she was prepared to go into the workforce as a college graduate and certified medical assistant, she said her experience with having a son at the age of 16 and facing emotional abuse from his father left her feeling helpless, and her confidence plummeted.
“I fell into a depression after being separated from my son’s father …. He thought I wasn’t doing enough,” Lopez said. “That I was not enough.”
She lacked confidence and self-esteem, and she was unsure of her future. But she pushed through the program, working at The Place while learning from the staff.
Now, she works fulltime at a clinic for kids with autism, earning more than she ever has before.
President and CEO Joni Smith said this success is what she and her team always hope to give others through The Place’s programs and services, which lend a helping hand to community members.
Her team, however, can’t provide these services alone. The Place relies on help and donations from the community to make an impact on those in need. That is why the nonprofit is beginning a year-end giving campaign to help raise money for services and programs going into 2022.
“It’s for her tomorrow,” Smith said. “Their tomorrow.”
The Place of Forsyth’s fundraising goal this year is $400,000, all of which will go directly toward the nonprofit’s services and programs.
Overall, sales from the nonprofit’s thrift store cover 100% of the management and fundraising expenses, which allows for funds given by donors and community members to go directly to the food pantry and services that aim to help others.
“Which is a big deal,” Smith said. “Not many nonprofits can say that. We’re really, really excited and proud of that.”
Going into a new year, Smith said donations are crucial to making sure they can continue helping others through services such as the workforce training program, which she believes helps residents not only find work and plan for their futures, but also build confidence and community.
The Place of Forsyth has offered the workforce training program to residents for more than five years, helping more than 400 clients to secure employment. In addition to resume writing, job search assistance and interview practice and attire, The Place added another layer to the program this past year.
“We know that most people want to do more, succeed and move forward. For many, however, it is a very overwhelming task,” Smith said. “We’re here to help people remove those barriers and face their fears.”
Lopez said she loved learning through the program, but more than anything, she loved how working at The Place made her feel. In her six months there, she found the confidence she has been lacking for a long time.
“I feel like Superwoman,” she said. “I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
She remembers walking into her interview for her current job, nervous and stuttering. But then, she simply thought of The Place.
“I’m like OK, I’ve got my support,” Lopez said. “I felt [the volunteers] behind me. In my mind. That grounded me. I calmed down and was able to finish the interview.”
Aside from the workforce training program, The Place offers a line of other services and programs that aim to help residents in need.
One client who has been visiting the nonprofit’s food pantry regularly for the past year said she would have no idea what to do without The Place.
“I’m on Social Security. I live alone. I’m 60 years old,” she said. “[If The Place weren’t here], that would mean a lot of struggling for me.”
Another woman said she appreciates all the volunteers at The Place and how much attention they give to those looking for help. Before she started coming to the pantry, she said she would have to wait for much-needed food or supplies.
“It’s about the only place that really helps,” she said.
The theme of this year’s year-end giving campaign is “Together. Now. For tomorrow.”
With community members coming together to donate and show support, the nonprofit can continue to invest in people’s futures and safety.
For those interested in donating to the year-end giving campaign, The Place of Forsyth will accept cash and checks as well as donations from investment accounts. Others can also donate online through its website, www.theplaceofforsyth.org.
The Place of Forsyth — where every Person, Dollar and Hour has a PURPOSE — has been serving the Forsyth County community for more than 45 years.