Durham Coho volunteers

We all knew that members of the Durham Coho are a talented and generous bunch, but did you know that we have a stealth English ivy remover among us, and a maker of custom boxes for the Duke Library Conservation Lab? Neither did I. Read on for intriguing ways that DCPCC members contribute to society.

Dave Austin: • For the past 10 years Dave has led a task force at his church, ERUUF, in advocating for the organizing efforts of migrant farmworkers in NC to combat low pay and miserable living and working conditions. ERUUF hosts sporadic worker Sunday meetings. Volunteer drivers pick up farmworkers at their labor camps to provide transportation to the meetings. They also leafleted at grocery stores during the Mt. Olive pickle boycott -- and are getting ready to do so again in the farmworkers' effort to pressure RJ Reynolds to talk with farmworker leaders about how RJR could improve farmworkers' lives.

• For 30 years Dave has been a member and volunteer for the Durham People's Alliance, participating in PA-PAC's interviewing of local and state-level political candidates, helping to coordinate the PA-PAC membership meeting where endorsement decisions are made—the most engaging political event he attends in Durham.

Peter Filene: He volunteers with Orange County Artists Guild (on the board), FRANK Gallery, and Meals on Wheels.

Pam George: Pam [http://www.pamelageorge.com] curates the Eno River Gallery at ERUUF and cochairs its Art Galleries Committee. Additionally, she co-curates UpsART Gallery with Durham artist Jim Lee. UpsART Gallery represents underappreciated artists in underutilized downtown spaces.

Tish Hoover: Helping adults learn to read makes a tremendous difference in their lives. The Literary Council provides tutor training and matches tutors up with students. Tish finds it interesting, satisfying, and an extremely worthwhile endeavor.

Carolyn Kroll: Seniors Staying Put is an all-volunteer, neighborhood-based initiative that links neighbors of all ages to their senior neighbors who can use a little help to "stay put". SSP always needs volunteers that share its concern to preserve the age-diversity of our neighborhoods and to help older neighbors continue to live in their homes if they want and are able to do so. Started in 2007 by Carolyn and several Trinity Park neighbors, SSP now serves 8 other neighborhoods near the downtown Durham area and matches volunteer support team members to seniors who want help with transportation, companionship, minimal house and yard-keeping tasks, etc. Go to the SSP webpage to learn more: http://www.seniors-staying-put.com.

Kendy Madden: Kendy is the spearhead for the Duke Chapel Needlepoint Project. She is also underground English ivy remover and free babysitter for her granddaughter.

Carl Rose: Carl has entered all of the Joy Charter School library books on his home computer and generated cross-referenced lists of the books and spine and pocket labels. For about eight years, Carl has served on the Institutional Review Board for non-medical experiments at Duke.

Lu Rose: Since moving back to Durham, Lu has volunteered with three organizations: 1) In the shop and on the Board of Habitat Hand Me Ups store, the precursor to the present Habitat ReStore. 2) On the strategic planning committee for Duke Gardens. 3) For the last five plus years she has organized and shelved over 7000 books for the Joy Charter School library. There is no paid librarian so she and another volunteer have taken a disaster and created a fairly well functioning library for a school that serves mainly inner-city children.

Erica Rothman: Erica was 15 when she started volunteering, at a day care center in the Baden Street Settlement House, in Rochester, NY. She’s been volunteering pretty much ever since. In 2009, after serving six years on the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission (where she started the Community Art Project, one of her most gratifying experiences), she had a moment of thinking that perhaps she could take a break from volunteering. But a few months later she was asked to join the Duke Hospital Patient Advocacy Council. Two years later she am thrilled to be a member of that group, having learned a tremendous amount about how large teaching hospitals work, and how incredibly important the "voice of the patient" is to making change inside the institution.

Martha Scotford: • Volunteer and apprentice, Conservation Lab, Perkins Library, Duke University one afternoon a week when she learns various methods to conserve and preserve the books and materials of the library for continued use. While the five trained conservators work on the rare books and complex projects, Martha does simple binding repairs, makes custom boxes for fragile items, makes pockets to hold CDs, maps, extra materials in the back of the books, sew sheet music into binders (so far). Her not-so-secret plan is to work for them part-time in the future (for pay).

• Art Cart volunteer, Eye Center, Duke Medical Center One morning a week she offers art materials and activities (drawing, coloring, collage, beads, origami, clay) to the children in the waiting room of the Eye clinic. Kids range from 1.5-12 years. Activities and conversation with children and parents help with long waits and patient anxieties. Also the volunteers (usually Duke pre-med students) provide observations of families for hospital social workers.

• Board member, Friends of the Durham Library meets one evening/month. Primary activities are organizing and providing volunteers for twice yearly used book sales at the main library and at all regional library branches, from which the Friends earn about $ 75 K / year. The money supports various special programs proposed by library staff for different user groups and supports requests for equipment and technological startups not possible through the public budget. Martha is involved on an Ad Hoc basis with art acquisition policies and naming opportunities for county institutions.

Len Stanley: Len volunteers at the Eno Festival, at one of the booths or as stage MC, at the American Dance Festival, usually ushering, at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, usually ushering and taking tickets.

We tour the Hudson

The Hudson is an urban condo in downtown Raleigh. We took a tour last Sunday to see how big the units were. Here we are on their 2nd floor patio getting a lecture from one of our architects.


Notice of intent to develop

Another big milestone! We’ll be purchasing our Hunt Street lot in early December. This is our official notice of intent to develop a brownfields property.


Why Durham feels like home

When we moved to Durham in 1974, Durham immediately felt like home. Having just left New York City, I liked Durham's manageable size, the ability to drive from one side of the city to another in fifteen minutes. Before NYC we had lived in a rural Minnesota town of 3500, where Doug taught high school social studies. It was too small and offered no challenging employment opportunities for me. Having sampled the very small and the very large, Durham felt just right. I liked the mix of students, tobacco and textile workers, stately houses and little mill houses. I liked that in each neighborhood we lived, we rubbed elbows with most levels of society. I liked being able to find a good job.

Years later, as I began writing, it dawned on me that my instant feeling of ease in Durham was connected with my childhood in Africa. The large numbers of African Americans here remind me everyday of Angola, where I lived until I was 16. With an historically black university (NCCU) and the largest black owned insurance company in the US (NC Mutual), Durham has always been home to a vibrant black middle class. But it was probably James, the yardman, who most resonated with my African history. Like the Angolans I know, he takes what little life has dealt him and makes the best of it.

-- Nancy Henderson-James