After the group left with all the food we had to serve their 30 meals, and a volunteer came to deliver the additional boxes left, I immediately started calling the grocery stores. I was looking to get donated items for Thanksgiving meals the next day. Publix was the first one, “Hi, Sir, I run a food pantry and I am looking for donated items to feed 30 more people tomorrow, and I’m wondering if you would like to be part of this miracle?” 


“Sure, let me check what we will have. I think we can get you some bakery items and if we don’t sell the three turkey meals we have left, you can have them. Please come around 9:30/9:45pm tonight.” 


I thank him profusely and hang up. Three meals is 10% of 30. I can figure the rest out. “God, please don’t let anyone buy them.” I say under my breath. Now, how will I get 27 more? 


I call the other grocery stores in the area, and nothing pans out. A short possibility comes up with The Fresh Market, but I have to call at 1 pm Thanksgiving Day, and the pantry opens at 2pm. Even though it’s a tight turnaround, I agree anyway. 


Praise music is coming from my computer, while I am stretching. It is now 7 at night, and my usual bedtime is 8 pm. I spend some time praying, singing, and stretching while I wait for 9:30.9:45 pm. Then, I get a nudge. The Holy Spirit nudged me to go sooner, so I did. I arrive an hour early, and speak with the manager. He says, “You’re early, why don’t you shop some.” 


I noticed his energy right away. I was tired and concerned about how many meals were left.
Cody, the manager, was peppy, giving out pies to customers and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving. “How are you so energetic at 10 pm at night?” I ask him. I was more stunned.  My bedtime is 8pm, so I was really exhausted. 


We started talking about volunteering, and he says that he is wanting his teams to go out into the community again. I get a bit excited, and we talk about volunteer opportunities with Hope To Thrive. It is almost time, and he tells me to head to the dock with my vehicle. 


Two other guys and Cody meet me back at the dock. “You are driving this vehicle?”


I say, “Yes.” I knew it looked small, but it could pack a lot of boxes. 


There are three guys and they look each other in the eye in disbelief. I couldn’t wait to blow their minds with how much my red Honda Fit could hold when the seats are down. 


“How are you going to carry this food?” And he points behind him. 


I looked at what he was waving at and my mouth dropped. I had seen the food, but I thought it was inventory, not what they were putting aside for me to take to give out. 


It was carts and more carts of turkeys, fresh vegetables, prepared sides, and everything fully cooked, including the turkey. 


I stumbled, “He told me some bakery items and maybe three turkey dinners….” I felt embarrassed, but again, knowing that I had to respond rapidly, I quickly added, “I can call someone with a truck.” 


“How far are you going?” He says to me, 


“Butterfield Drive. That is where the pantry is located. About 14 minutes away.” I quickly added. 


“I got a truck. I need to finish here, but I will drive the items to the site.” The manager of Publix says. 


I’m baffled. I quickly say, “Ok, let’s load up my car and then I will get ready to store all this food, because I will need to create space.” 


There were some uncooked turkeys and I went to my neighbor, who caters, and asked about him cooking turkeys for the next day. He says that I can do it, and he will turn on the grill. I told him that once the manager comes, I will let him know how many I would be cooking. 


The manager comes with even more food than I saw. It was absolutely amazing. Everything was fully cooked, already prepared, and we had more than enough to serve the 30 meals for the 9 households the next day. We also had raw turkeys, but I didn’t need them cooked by my neighbor. We had more than enough to serve our extra 30 meals I needed. 


The next day, The Fresh Market calls me and says that he had extra and would love to offer some food to our families. We went to pick up the food, and it was amazing as well. We get hams, fully cooked, and our families want that as well, we get extra gravy, and more turkeys that are fully cooked. It was awesome. 


We ended up serving 12 households, and feeding over 70 people and their families and friends. 


“God, thank you for the Thanksgiving Miracle on Butterfield Drive.” I pray. 

“God, people ask for a Christmas miracle on 34th Street. But I need a Thanksgiving miracle on Butterfield Drive.” I earnestly pray Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve, while stretching on my yoga mat, awaiting 9:45pm. 


Earlier that day, Wednesday, I had packed 12 packages of food with volunteers from The Stepping Up Program of Forsyth County. They had 32 meals and supplemental food items that they were taking to 10 households. I had 8 of the same that I was taking to 2 households. They travelled to Kernersville in three different vehicles to pick up the usual load of produce we get from Food Lion and Harris Teeter as part of the Food Rescue Program with the Food Bank. 


However, to my surprise and unbelief, the usual large food load, was only a few boxes, hardly enough to fit on one table–nothing like we prepared in my decision in sending three vehicles, nor anything compared to what we had been receiving on Wednesdays, which was usually overflowing with meat, cheeses, dairy, bread, cakes, fruit, salads, and other vegetables. I was disappointed, but mostly scared. “What was I going to do about the food we had planned to give the families?”


But I knew this was part of the game. You never know what you are going to get with donated items, so you always have to be flexible and adjust quickly. I told everyone to use what we had for those that we were serving that day. I had bought 40 prepared meals from a caterer that included a serving of turkey, green beans, and dressing with gravy, and we added, from our donated items, dessert, canned vegetables, and rice. 


“Are you sure you want us to take everything? You said that you were short 30 meals?” Tonya, one of the volunteers, says to me right before we finish up. 


“I’m sure.” I say with conviction, but wavering a bit. “I”m not going to turn anyone down who needs food. I have to have faith that the rest will work out somehow.” I responded. But I was also very unsure about how it was going to work out. 


“Was I being too naïve?” I wasn’t sure. 


I found out the day before an additional 30 meals were needed for people that were coming on Thanksgiving Day. I felt so much pressure. And was angry that instead of being something fun to do on a holiday, I now had a problem to solve. 


“How did I get this problem?” 


People could go somewhere else…but where? I knew Hope To Thrive had to be open on Thanksgiving Day because people needed somewhere to go. I needed that one year. If people are food insecure, they are food insecure all of the time, not just when a pantry is open.  But, I didn’t think that I would be going into the day with stress.


“Can we have a moment of silence before you all leave, please?” I ask. “I really want to pray, but I’m not sure…” and before I could finish my sentence, there was a resounding, 


“You can pray.” 


“Thank you for the food, the produce, and the provision. May the food be delicious and well received, and go into all the bellies that it needs to. God, you fed the five thousand, and you fed the four thousand. You can feed 30. Amen.”


By: Joy Williams, Executive Director, Hope To Thrive


Sex and sexuality

a conversation 

By: Sally Curme, APPLES Intern 


Open and honest conversations about sex and sexuality are critical to both adolescents’ mental and physical well-being. The method of comprehensive sex education covers topics such as human sexuality, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control, and sexual abstinence


 North Carolina law requires schools to teach a comprehensive health education program. Comprehensive health education programs include instruction on the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Schools must stress the importance of parental involvement and teach refusal skills and strategies to handle peer pressure. Comprehensive health education must include “reproductive health and safety education” beginning in seventh grade. 


Despite these mandates, advocates report that sex education instruction is varied and unreliable. Instruction ranges from evidence-based curriculum to abstinence-only or “sexual risk avoidance” programs, which directly violates the North Carolina statute. Furthermore, there has been a steady increase in efforts to restrict sex education curriculum across North Carolina in recent years. Our state’s lack of consistent and robust sex education programs presents unique challenges that have resulted in a glaring disparity regarding the quality of sex education that students receive across different areas of the state. Such discretion allows for implementing policies and curriculum that stigmatize marginalized youth, such as students of color and LGBTQ youth. It presents further challenges in ensuring that low-income districts have access to the resources needed to implement comprehensive sex education. 


When adolescents and young adults do not have access to consistent, comprehensive sex education programs, it can significantly affect how they perceive topics such as sex, sexual health, and sexuality. Specifically, these programs must include culturally responsive instruction geared toward the youth of color, including matters concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, and a defined comprehensive approach to teaching sex education. When school districts lack resources to provide sex education instruction, community partners need to provide their resources and expertise. Hope to Thrive is one of those organizations. The Faith, Sex, and Sexuality program are dedicated to creating spaces within communities of faith to honestly talk about narratives of sex and sexuality by encouraging open and honest conversations specifically related to faith, sex, and sexuality. By providing safe spaces and resources, Hope to Thrive facilitates personal growth opportunities and cultivates valuable community relations. 



Thanksgiving is almost here and in honor of the holiday season, we would like to offer a few tips for donating to our Holistic Produce Pantry this year. Last year, festivities may have been limited due to social distancing regulations, but with the vaccination rate higher than ever, it is time for families to gather once more over a warm, delicious meal. Hope to Thrive wants to ensure that everyone in the Winston Salem area can take part in this tradition, by offering its services to the many families affected by food insecurity.


Despite making it through the worst part of the pandemic, it is projected that 42 million people (1 in 8) may experience food insecurity in 2021. This number is a slight improvement from last year, but it doesn’t take into account the devastating effects that the pandemic has already had on the community. Food insecurity also encompasses the general lack of nutrition that is caused by reliance on foods that are cheap and affordable, but not necessarily the healthiest. Over time, this leads to obesity and other metabolic-related disorders that are difficult to treat with the lack of access to healthcare that food-insecure populations already face.


We want to encourage friends of Hope To Thrive to consider giving to those in need, by donating to the Holistic Produce Pantry. We will have our usual grocery produce pick up Thursday,  and will welcome additional donations of produce. We always welcome nonperishable items that have a high shelf life including canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, spices, and powdered milk.  If you want to be festive, we will accept seasonal items such as stuffing mix, biscuit or roll mix, potatoes (boxed or canned), canned gravy, canned cranberry sauce, and pie mixes. Options that are low in sodium are also appreciated for those affected by chronic illnesses. The Holistic Produce Pantry will be open from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on November 24, 2021, at 5056 Butterfield Drive. For more information about the food pantry, please visit

By: Cecilia Taylor, APPLES Intern 


Feeding a community

When my Mom wrote her memoir last year, I read with interest the chapter about getting ready for winter in the village. During the summer, the cannery was the family enterprise, running morning, noon, and night while produce is coming in. Well, that’s it, I thought, any fool with a spade and watering can have tomatoes, peppers, and squash coming out his ears in July and August, but who has good vitamins all year round? That’s what community gardens aren’t doing.


Well, I had a source of tomatoes and herbs from a community garden that wasn’t being taken care of. I had worked in July and August to beat weeds out of the berries and wherever they grew really, but no one was picking, so I could have what I wanted. So, Joy wants to freeze tomato sauces. Of course, get ready for winter! Have a steaming lasagna at the planning meeting! Just the cheer for a freezing night!


So, I keep bringing tomatoes and peppers and Italian seasonings like basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, that she could dry. And I don’t know what all she made with that, but she learned to make pasta, sauce, and relish all using tomatoes. Then on Labor Day the supermarkets have farm contracts on fresh corn coming in and prices drop. I’ve learned to pay attention to products and prices. So, I got a deal on a case of corn. I bought it.


So, Paris helped Joy and I shuck. I had grown up shucking. I like shucking. Paris learned to shuck that day. Then I helped Joy take it off the cob. It’s in the freezer.


The next order of business is planting the winter cover crops. The extension is recommending a mixture of rye and hairy vetch as a soil builder for the raw Piedmont dirt. It will draw pollinators in sprung and feed chickens after that. The extension gave me several bags of seeds and I was at that through October, tilling with various hand tools and sowing by hand, as the ancients did in every culture. It was a very deep feeling, to be under the surface of culture into a more common level of experience. These works bring on a feeling of peace and accomplishment.


So, we have a field of rye sprouting and onions and winter greens ready to plant, and apples to be made into sauce and butter. Joy got them from a farm. They have green peels with black spots. That’s what food is supposed to look like! They’re really good apples!


It’s a start. We’re learning what to do. We feel the need to go back to being a community that can feed itself. Then came the supply chain problems. Yes, we have to have good and varied foods, all year long. We’ve made a start.

“It’s a start. We’re learning what to do. We feel the need to go back to being a community that can feed itself.”


By: Ed Lyons, Board Member, Hope to Thrive

Thriving in our own ways 

Getting away from our home which she doesn’t remember, doesn’t know what to do there – nor how to do anything like she used to –gives her hope. Getting away with others that, although they live in a strange world from her delusional one, are enjoying an event together, is especially good for her. Not knowing what they are happy about, she still often can join in the laughter and excitement of her new family. She still knows reverence for Jesus; sees Jesus in nature quickly, fittingly; finds uplift in music–classical, 50’s hits, and old hymns, and feels love when she sees it.


She had a good day last Monday, when Joy who advocated for The Rockin’ Senior field trip to the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, NC, as part of Hope to Thrive’s July programming, invited us to come along. The Rockin’ Senior program is an outreach that Hope to Thrive does for anyone age 60 and over. Remonia, the lead organizer, also in the group, knew where we should go, and Marc, who drove us in his family van, came along. Upon arriving at the small white church on Butterfield Drive, the meeting place, Elaine enjoyed the hugs; the applause when she successfully got into the backseat of the van. She sat patiently during the hour-long video, so far from other viewers, that she thought she was alone with me.


During lunch, Elaine and I led the blessing of the food, praying our family table blessing, and everyone appreciated it too. She was relieved when she got to the bathroom in time – not appreciating that it was the men’s, with Joy guarding the door. We enjoyed the frequent laughter; and bouncing with the bumps in the road, which was felt more in the backseat. She had gone 7 hours without incontinence to my joy and relief.


By: Bill Davis, Board Member, Hope To ThriveIn addition, certain elements will be centered on mobile devices and tablets and aligned to the left or right on a desktop display. You can adjust the layout for each Block at three different device widths – desktop, tablet, and mobile.

“Getting away from our home which she doesn’t remember, doesn’t know what to do there – nor how to do anything like she used to –gives her hope.”


“As the sun set amid the haze, we called it a night. It was a good time for all of us.”

On Thursday, July 22, Hope to Thrive launched a new program for youth, led by master drummer Vernon Sharpe and master dancer Joy Williams. I participated along with three girls.

We lit the grill and put on some sweet corn to roast, and we learned something of the West African beats and dance steps, along with accompanying spiritual teaching in which we thanked, in turn, the earth and the ancestors, the people and the world around us in the present, and finally, the heavens above us. And we sang the refrain to the great spiritual Wade in the water until we fell nearly into a trance.

By then the corn was nearly ready, so we put the hot dogs on to cook and we had a nice supper together. I got to sit with Mr Sharpe and hear him tell of his work in music and his travels in Zimbabwe, Cuba, and East Germany, and his impressions of those countries. I talked of our work in starting an urban farm.

As the sun set amid the haze, we called it a night. It was a good time for all of us. Our plan is to hold this meeting again every week. I hope that more will join.

By: Ed Lyons, a writer, poet, and currently serving as the Compost Manager for Hope To Thrive. 



Hope To Thrive was featured in the Herbicide-Free Campus Newsletter this week! Hope to Thrive is constantly helping organizations across the country to improve all aspects of health through arts & culture, counseling service & feeding those who need it most.


Our students and staff are eagerly awaiting the HFC Orientation Series, which will help to make sure students across all six campuses are well versed in the intersectionality of pesticide use. Joining us to facilitate part of the series is Joy Williams —pictured— director and founder of Hope to Thrive, an organization that works to increase the daily intake of fruits and vegetables of food insecure populations in the Carver School Area Neighborhoods in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Joy will be facilitating power mapping, campaign strategy building, and narrative training with students. We are looking forward to sharing the results of this training with you.

In Solidarity,

HFC Team