EDCI seeking summer volunteers


East Durham Children’s Initiative, or EDCI, is looking for community volunteers to help with the upcoming Summer Feeding Program.

The program is beginning on Jun. 8 and ending Aug. 25. It will take place every Monday through Friday at 107 North Driver St.

Pre-packaged breakfasts and a hot lunch will be served every day. Children and families living in the east Durham community may attend the event.

However, volunteers are also needed.

EDCI team members include, left to right, Mary Mathew, program director; Cate Elander, outreach xoordinator; Denice Johnson, parent advocate; and Rachel Rosin, parent advocate (Staff photo by Marcus Christon)

EDCI team members include, left to right, Mary Mathew, program director; Cate Elander, outreach xoordinator; Denice Johnson, parent advocate; and Rachel Rosin, parent advocate
(Staff photo by Marcus Christon)

Cate Elander is EDCI’s community outreach coordinator. She and her Community Ambassadors are always on the hunt for people looking to improve life in East Durham. The community ambassadors consist of DeDreana Freeman, Clifton Daye, and Avilamar Bastidas Castillo. Each serves as advocates for uplifting the local community and spreading the word about EDCI.

“We’re always canvassing the local business community,” said Elander. “We’re knocking on doors and planning community-based programming to get the word out and build the community.”

EDCI has hosted several events with large community turnouts like its Valentine’s Day gathering and potluck dinners.

Building the community also includes efforts like its Summer Feeding Program.

“We are looking for donations of picnic tables or for groups interested in building picnic tables,” said Elander. “We also need volunteers to help us serve a hot lunch Monday-Friday this summer.”

In Durham, EDCI is an organization that caters to the well-being of local youth.

According to research by Duke University’s Children Environmental Health Initiative, East Durham is one of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods.

EDCI’s mission is committed to changing outcomes and expectations for children, families, and residents living in the 120-block area that consists of East Durham.

The EDCI staff works to produce effective services and programs for community youth. They hope to change the outlook for children in underserved communities by developing them into young adults who are prepared for college or a career.

Along with devoted Community Ambassadors that help the cause, Elander is responsible for raising awareness about EDCI, including finding volunteers.

Elander also serves as an advocate for EDCI’s Community Advisor Board.

“This is a committee of local parents and community members who advise EDCI about community needs and helps them develop methods of recruitment and various ways to raise awareness about the organization,” said Elander.

In 2009, EDCI was launched through a combination of a trip to the Harlem Children’s Zone, planning activities, seed grants and a visit to Durham by Paul Tough, a journalist and author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

Community forums were also conducted to get feedback from East Durham residents and leaders. The concerns, hopes and possible solutions presented at this and other meetings formed the basis for EDCI’s initial programming.

EDCI is also continuously working with Healthy Families Durham and the Durham County Library to provide families with monthly story hours. These story hours are an opportunity for families to read together with their kids and receive free books for home.

“EDCI is always accepting donations of board books in English and Spanish, and of popular chapter books for elementary students,” said Elander.

Any community member who is interested in playing an active role on the Community Advisor Board or if you are interested in volunteering for a regular or one-time shift in the Summer Feeding Program, please email or call Cate Elander at cate.elander@edci.org or 919-699-6873.

Marcus is a NCCU Staff Writer for the Durham VOICE.


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