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Champions of Greensboro Homelessness Welcome Olympian

Oct 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: Feature
Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek speaking to students at Pacific Lutheran University about making a difference in the world.

One of Greensboro’s non-profits, an open door to the homeless of our city, is opening its door to Olympic champion and hometown hero Joey Cheek. The Interactive Resource Center helps an estimated 200 new clients experiencing homelessness every month and tirelessly strives to provide more options for the impoverished and economically disadvantaged in our community. Lamar Gibson of the IRC let me ask him a few questions about the exciting First Friday event happening at the IRC and the work they do year-round.

It’s very exciting that the Interactive Resource Center to be hosting Joey Cheek on Oct. 4 & 5th, including a First Friday networking event. What is it that the “Interactive Resource Center” does, exactly?

The Interactive Resource Center is a day center for individuals who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. We offer showers, laundry, job skills training, housing search assistance, and internet/phone access. People can also see nurses for mental health or substance abuse issues as well as general health concerns. We are a one-stop-shop for our neighbors in need. We are able to provide so many services in a comprehensive way because of our partnerships with other organizations in the community.

Joey Cheek is more than a random famous dude to bring in a crowd – he’s a humanitarian that has worked with the IRC before. Can you tell us a little bit about his connection to the IRC as well as his work with Operation Greensboro Cares?

Joey Cheek returned home during the economic crisis of 2008 to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist the organizations that were being hit hardest by the impact of sudden joblessness, homelessness, etc. $30,000 went to fund the start-up of the IRC.

The IRC also received the Do Something Seed Grant from DoSomething.org to start the IRC-Transition Greensboro Garden. What is the significance of the garden to the IRC and to the homeless you serve?

Taken from our website: “Through collaboration between the Interactive Resource Center and Transition Greensboro, the garden is a place to build community, exchange knowledge, and grow food year-round.” Anya, our AmeriCorps volunteer who coordinates the garden began the project with the idea of using our land and human resources to provide food to those who most needed it in the city.

The economy, unemployment rate, and mass foreclosures of recent history have displaced a lot of Greensboro residents. How many people are currently homeless or facing homelessness here?

Depends on who you ask. The most recent Point-in-Time Count says about 1,000 people, many of them high school-aged youth are sleeping in shelters and on the streets at night. We think that the numbers are higher.

What does the IRC hope to be able to do in the future, whether ideally or in the realistic near future?

We would like to continue providing the most basic services for people in need but as we grow, we would like to see smaller versions of the IRC in communities around the city. We would also like to be a place where honest and open discussions on homelessness and poverty can occur.

First Friday with Joey Cheek should be an excellent awareness event for the IRC. Does the IRC host similar events often, and anything in the future?

We have hosted First Friday events in the past that emphasized the artwork of the guest here and hope to continue doing so in the future. Lots of local artists invest time here at the Interactive Resource Center in helping others get a new start on life and we will be showcasing the results of these collaborations for a while to come.

For those who won’t be able to come out to the events coming up, how else can people plug into the Interactive Resource Center to help, donate, or volunteer?

Visit our website at www.gsodaycenter.org. Follow us on twitter @gsodaycenter. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/gsodaycenter

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