Sheryl Andrews could have moved to the big city or the suburbs long ago, but she has happily spent the past three decades serving her rural Siler City, North Carolina, neighbors as an administrator for an anti-poverty nonprofit called Central Piedmont Community Action.

It’s practically the only home — and the only job — she’s known or wanted to know. “I have always been a helper,” she says. “I guess I get it from my parents and grandparents. We’ve always reached out to help people in need. It’s in my DNA.”

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During the pandemic, the agency hired six additional staff to meet soaring demand for help with utilities, rent and mortgage assistance, among other needs. The agency received some support through federal relief funds, but also a $977,500 grant from the Endowment to Central Piedmont’s parent organization, the North Carolina Community Action Association. Clients received the help they needed.

It was a rewarding experience, Andrews says, but also a sobering one.

“I’ve always been grateful for the blessings in my life, but the pandemic really caused me to appreciate how things can change so suddenly.”

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Photo Credit: Aura Marzouk

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