Our “why” — it’s the driving force that makes us show up every day. It’s what keeps us going despite the barriers, obstacles, and unexpected turns that can sometimes feel overwhelming, and especially when working for change at a systemic level.
To reconnect with the “why,” we asked Trust staff and grantees to reflect on what inspires their work and visions for community success. Read their stories to learn about the experiences and lessons that have shaped their commitment to creating a more equitable future for all North Carolinians.
This second installment — a passion for changing the system — is one of many story collections we plan to share with you in the months ahead.
“I believe every child should have a support system that provides them with opportunities to flourish. Our collective community goal should be to ensure that each person has what they need to pursue a quality life.”
“In my Master of Public Health program, I was enlightened that the U.S. health care system truly did not improve the health of populations—especially underrepresented populations—while spending exorbitantly more than any other developed nation, and still with poorer health outcomes. I realized I would need to be part of systems change to improve health and uplift underrepresented voices and communities.
Many of the systems holding down low-income and subsequently Black, Brown, Latinx and other underrepresented communities have been historically racist through their policies and systems. If we are successful at the Trust, we will give power to the voices that have been left out from traditional discourse, while also centering and shifting power to communities to hold systems accountable and drive their own health improvement.”
Debra Hall, Grants Manager
“I work at the Trust because I am passionate about helping other people. Being raised by an ill mother has led me to have empathy for others and feel emotional when others are hurting or sick. As a child, I remember the struggles we faced not having transportation or living on a bus route. I knew then there had to be a better way, because people that need services should not have to worry about how to get to five different offices in the same week to fill out the same paperwork.
When we are successful, we will capture what our community needs and build on that. Then we need to get our policymakers and leaders together to figure out how we can solve the issues that have arisen in our community.”
Susie Gordon, Administrative Assistant
“I strive to aid, lend a hand, or render assistance to the staff with speed, compassion, and grace. I love my job because everyone shares the same vision. I love the people I work with—they’re my family. My work is valued here, and I am appreciated.
The Trust team is dedicated to making North Carolina a better place to live, and I enjoy supporting our staff as we work to help residents thrive.”
“I have a spirit for wanting to right whatever I see that’s wrong. We know the playing field isn’t level, and no one should be held back from achieving their goals and displaying their full talents because of socio-economic or other barriers.”
Dr. Kristen Naney, Director of Learning and Impact
“I work at the Trust because I believe in our mission to improve health and quality of life for Forsyth County residents and across North Carolina. The success of our mission is dependent upon us helping the most vulnerable communities, which too often are populations of color and economically disadvantaged groups. I am deeply committed to seeing our communities thrive and become more resilient by addressing the systems that continue to perpetuate health inequities.”
Do you have a story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it. Reach out to our Communications Director, Nora Ferrell, at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your “why.”
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