ESR was chartered in 1964 and has served the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County community for more than 50 years, working to eliminate poverty and homelessness, and help people help themselves. Like its sister Community Action Agencies (CAA’s) across the nation, ESR was born out of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and the Equal Opportunity Act of 1964, the economic twin to the Civil Rights Act. In North Carolina, ESR was one of the original 11 CAA’s supported by Governor Terry Sanford’s North Carolina Fund.
ESR’s growth during the 1970s and early ‘80s was assured under the leadership of the legendary community servant Louise Wilson. Its mission was preserved and fostered through the 1980s and ‘90s by Bob Law. And its change to a self-sufficiency agency addressing the new challenges posed by the welfare reform movement has been ensured under the 21st century leadership of current Executive Director Twana W. Roebuck.
ESR played a pivotal role in launching such integral local organizations as Head Start, Crisis Control, TransAid, Legal Aide in its early years before transitioning to the Senior, Youth and Emergency Assistance Services of the middle years. Its current efforts aim to the gaps in welfare-to-work, including promoting long-term self-sufficiency for the working poor, housing for working and chronically homeless, first-time homeownership, tax services, vocational and college education, and Hispanic/Latino services; ESR has been here for the community and its families.
Today, our menu of proven cutting-edge programs, our extensive community collaboration, our expertise in critical areas such as family financial stability and housing, and our longevity in the community, combine to form our strategic framework of cost-effective empowerment. We serve hundreds of families in a variety of situations that many of us could conceivably find ourselves in—victims of house fires and domestic violence, those who have encountered a major financial setback due to health care costs, those who have experienced a change in life circumstances such as divorce or death of a family member, and people who are caught up in the endless cycles of generational poverty and chronic homelessness. And we do all this using our methodology of intensive case management that ensures effective outcomes while using our funding dollars most efficiently.
As ESR passes its 50th anniversary and looks forward into the next half century, the expectation is that it will continue to lead in community action in Forsyth County, and continue to provide a safety net and a hand up to those in need.