Durham heals with CAARE

By Brittney Jenkins
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

If people sometimes think no one cares, they need to know that they do care at Healing with CAARE Inc, a non-profit organization that offers free services to residents of Durham in their location at 214 Broadway Street.

Seniors warm up before their aerobic workout which is held every Wednesday at 11 a.m. ( (Staff photos by Brittney Jenkins)

The Executive Director and Co-Founder of CAARE-Inc, Dr. Sharon-Elliot-Bynum, founded the company in 1995 with her sister, the late Pat Riley-Ameachi.

Bynum describes the process of starting the business as two women with $100 apiece who were moved by the various issues arising in Durham and made a plan.

“It started off as two people sitting at the kitchen table,” said Bynum. “We both were disturbed by the different disparities we were seeing in the community and how people were treated in the community whether they had money or not.”

With their respective backgrounds, Bynum is a nurse and Ameachi was a business major, they planned and launched CAARE, Inc.

“We both had jobs that helped people but they were working for someone else who wasn’t really doing and meeting all the needs we thought the people needed,” Bynum said. “We decided we can do this and that’s how we started CAARE.”

CAARE, Inc. stands out from other organizations because of their close knit relationships with the people in the community and their dedication to serving those who don’t have the resources they need.

“There was no mystical, no magical, no millionaire coming through the air,” said Bynum. “What you will find with other entities is that they have millions of dollars put into the program, but they don’t know how to do the program.”

They started off with a basic concept: a food bank. This allowed Bynum and her staff to go out in the community in their t-shirts and jeans and talk to the people of Durham about what they knew were health issues and other issues in the community.

Bynum describes the growth of CAARE as if it were a tree. Each program branched off into a new or improved program in favor of the community.

The next issue they tackled was HIV by having education discussions and sessions which eventually launched the HIV testing they do.

Another example of their growth is the free health clinic that opened at CAARE in 2007 along with the free dental clinic that followed.

Bynum was on a summit that was a planning committee for Durham and they realized that Durham didn’t have a free health clinic.

“Being a Durhamite, a nurse and someone who had some connections, I called and googled Association of Free Clinics and got information to start the clinic.”

“Every piece of this has been from listening to the community, bringing the information back and figuring out how to address it,” Bynum said.

Seniors work out during their aerobic session. (Staff photos by Brittney Jenkins)

Bynum, her staff and the volunteers of CAARE, Inc. smile and greet the people that come in and out of the CAARE facility. To them it’s a service not just a job.

“It’s not like work,” Bynum said. “It’s what we do.”’

Some of the staff have multiple jobs and responsibilities at CAARE.

Donald Riley, who has been an employee with CAARE for 5 years, said that he does a little bit of everything there and enjoys everything about his jobs.

“I am a peer support specialist – slash – drug tester – slash – HIV tester.”

Another employee who is a substance abuse counselor, Wayne Daye, does his part by showing people the effect that addiction has on them and their family.

“My thing is letting people know that addiction is a choice,” Daye said. “Recovery is a life change, if you want to stop, you will stop and it is a process.”

The staff works hard to make CAARE as comfortable as possible for the people they serve. As Bynum said, she wants people to feel like they are getting a “hand up instead of a hand out.”

From the outside looking in, one wouldn’t think the walls of CAARE went so deep. The CAARE building, formerly a warehouse that made door frames, was just a vision of what developed over the years and

Bynum said it had to be God’s vision.

The facility includes a kitchen where they cook and serve people in the community, a fitness center, a multi-purpose room, a chapel, a health and dental clinic, acupuncture and massage rooms that offer alternative methods of healing.

The Comfort Zone which is an area used for open mic night and reading. There is also a storage room for the food they get for the food bank.

Volunteers include psychologists, an acupuncturist, doctors, dentists, and other people from the community.

Wednesday is senior day, and a 70-year-old aerobics instructor comes in to lead a workout with seniors.

CAARE is always thinking ahead and thinking of new ways to accommodate the citizens of Durham. Currently they are building a 15-bedroom dormitory for veterans and much more.

“If I could tell you anything… to summarize, I am just surrounded by angels,” Bynum said. “And angels come in the form of people on earth who do good things.”


Tags: CAARE Inc, Sharon Elliot-Bynum, Food Bank, HIV, Substance Abuse, Senior Day, Aerobics, Free Health Clinic, Free Dental Clinic, Durham NC

Web links: http://www.caareinc.org

One thought on “Durham heals with CAARE

  1. Regards for all your efforts that you have put in this.(and follow-up) Very interesting info . “The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” by James Bryce.

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