Florida Residents Foster a Sustainable Community
Sometimes, the most important thing one can do is to give back to the community. Eartha Webster and Cathy Spencer, both residents at CHP’s Sunrise Place Apartments in Tallahassee, Florida, are living examples of what it means to give back.
Cathy Spencer has been a resident at Sunrise for over 16 years. During that time, she often finds herself at the community center. Recently, she’s begun volunteering several hours each day in the space that has become so familiar to her. “I’m in the center every day, usually at a computer, so I might as well volunteer! I’m not really computer savvy… but I can help some people sometimes.” She often lends a hand to others trying to access the internet or perform basic tasks on the computer. Because Spencer has become a regular in the center, other Sunrise residents have come to count on her smiling face and helpful attitude as they send emails, craft resumes, or even apply for jobs. Spencer even used some of her computer time to research online course offerings for herself.
Earth Webster became a resident at Sunrise five years ago. A very spiritual and giving person, she quickly realized that she belonged in the community center acting as a mentor to children in the afterschool program. Every day, she helps children with their homework and reading. Webster explains the importance of the community center, stating that it gives the children in the community a place to go after school, but it also gives the children a space that is uniquely theirs. She also asserts that having an afterschool program gives children structure outside of the classroom, “which is important, considering that many children might not get that at home.” On mentoring, she says it is a noble endeavor. “This is our future, and our children definitely need the right [principles instilled] so they can see the direction in which they need to go.”
Webster has also made several life changes at Sunrise. She currently takes classes on the computer, and plans to get a degree in counseling for alcohol and drug abuse sometime within the next year, setting an example for the rest of the community. “Going to school is worthwhile… a few of my older peers have now [started] classes. That was a hope for me. Maybe if I could do something for myself, and continue to do it, then they could follow suit. I said to myself, ‘When I receive my degree, I’m going to leave it here in the center because it might inspire someone else to [get one too].’”
Jessica Overstreet, CHP’s Florida regional resident services coordinator, commented on the time and experience shared by Spencer and Webster. “We are so fortunate to have such dedicated resident volunteers at Sunrise. By giving back to their community, these women are not only helping our community grow stronger, but they have also helped themselves become stronger in the process.”