Read more about this exciting news in Pivot’s development in our June newsletter. Click here to view. Included are:
- A message from Ardmore Baptist’s Amy Gallaher
- An Executive Director Update
- Recognition of the amazing donors whose support has brought Pivot to this point
- Ways you can get involved with Pivot to impact lives for God’s glory
Thanks to Pilot Mountain Baptist Association (PMBA) for letting us provide this link to their video recording of Carol Polk’s presentation on April 29th, 2020. Based on lessons learned through Pivot, Carol shares how we, as the body of Christ and during unprecedented unemployment, can mobilize others and minister to folks in life-changing ways.
The plan for Pivot Ministry at its inception was to become a separate nonprofit organization, and the process has begun. Even before finalizing bylaws, creating articles of incorporation, or filing with the IRS and the state of North Carolina, Pivot’s first step in the separate nonprofit process was to form an official Board of Directors to replace its Preliminary Advisory Council. June 18, 2019, marked the first meeting of the new board, which is made up of Forsyth County men and women who have a wealth of experience and a wide diversity of background and skills. Members of the inaugural board include Darryl Sawyer, Harold Holmes, Heather Witt, Holly Brower, Jill Lackey, Kenneth Pettigrew, Mike Nuckolls, Sherry Ramsey, and Tracey Martin. Click here to read more about the board.
The Winston-Salem Chronicle recently featured an article about Pivot’s first graduating class . You can view it here.
Most people do not know there are more than 20,000 working-aged women in Forsyth County living in poverty. Or, that as many as 5,000, or 25% of those women, do not have minor dependents in the home. Since census data are not specifically gathered to identify this demographic, the statistical interpretations vary from source to source. 1
Who should care and why do these statistics matter?
First, everyone should care.
Second, as compared to single women with dependents who do receive assistance, women without dependents have limited access to assistance and resources, which can make all the difference in these women’s lives, to their families, in their relationships and to the community at large.
Enter Pivot Ministry
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “pivot” as a verb means “to turn on or as if on a pivot.”
Envisioned in 2015 and initially funded by Ardmore Baptist Church, Pivot Ministry is based on the successful 20-year-old model of the Christian Women’s/Men’s Job Corps®. Pivot’s objective is to empower low-income women for better life and income-producing opportunities through classes in life and job skills, and Bible study, supported and sponsored by local community resources.
According to Carol Polk, the Executive Director and Site Coordinator of Pivot Ministry, “We found these women’s requests for assistance are often denied; therefore, we determined our initial target group would be these underserved women, whether they are married or single.”
During the semester and following graduation, each participant partners with a one-on-one Christian mentor to guide them as they complete their class work and begin their new personal journeys. To begin, a woman must be referred and screened before earning a scholarship to participate free of charge.
New Skills from Education and Support
The ministry launched its first class with seven women on March 1st, 2018. They met as a small group one day each week for classes and a shared meal for the sixteen-week semester.
Each of the sixteen program-days was broken up into 3-5 sessions that varied from week to week. Topics included Financial Management, Interviewing Skills, Behavioral and Mental Health, Change and Decision-making, Conflict Management, Women’s Health, as well as Perseverance and Succeeding in life and the workplace, among others.
Community Comes Together to Support the Program
For more than two years, Pivot worked developing collaborative relationships with local organizations to identify gaps in service to this demographic cohort and strategizing how to work together. They also developed customized content with input from the participants, which is consistent with an asset-based community development approach.
Polk assured, “Without the support of the community, our partners and sponsors, we could not deliver this high-quality instruction to our participants. The skills they learn and the relationships they forge among themselves, with their mentors, the instructors and sponsors, empowers them to approach their lives and future employment with new eyes and experiences grounded in the training we provide.”
She continued, “I watched our participants flourish! They have hope, specific goals, and a sense of achievement. We have built a strong, supportive community in this small group and hope they will continue those relationships for many years to come.”
Pivot’s community partners include Allegacy Federal Credit Union,Ardmore Baptist Church, Financial Pathways of the Piedmont(formerly Consumer Credit Counseling), Forsyth Technical Community College, Goodwill Industries of NWNC, Totally Responsible Person(TRP), various departments of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Debbie Loftis, who teaches LifeKeys: Discover Who You Are.
The first class of seven women received their achievement certificates on Saturday, June 23rd, at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Margaret Johnson, longtime news anchor for WXII News 12, was the featured speaker, and Eddie Bines, a Winston-Salem vocal artist, was the featured singer.
A new group will begin in August 2018. For more information, visit pivotnow.org.
1 Map, Forsyth County, N.C.,; Forsyth Futures; the City of Winston-Salem; The Women’s Fund; and the Department of Social Services
After years of preparation and months of planning, the first group of potential participants was introduced to Pivot Ministry with games, laughter, food, information, presents, and much enthusiasm. Eight potential participants were identified after having two interviews with Site Coordinator Carol Polk, and showing a continued interest in Pivot’s program. On February 27, 2018, each attended an orientation event at the Enterprise Center to meet potential mentors and hear from class instructors at what Polk called “Pivot First Step.”
After some mingling and small talk among the attendees, volunteer Donna Bissette led a get-to-know-you Human Bingo game compiled by Lisa Turner. All participants, mentors, and instructors excitedly asked each other questions in order to fill out their Bingo cards. Gift cards were awarded to two participants who won the Bingo game.
Upcoming Pivot classes were introduced in game-style fashion by volunteer emcee Kathy Wilson. In this Share & Shift exercise, participants rotated around the room to tables where instructors and mentors had five minutes to give an overview of some of the classes that would be offered. Thank you to Ieisha Carter, Leslie Cox, Debbie Loftis, Marie Robertson, Sheryll Strode, Lisa Terry, Beth Warfford, Lori White, Carol Wilson and Pivot’s mentors who hosted the tables.
What’s a party without food? A table covered in heavy h’ors d’oeuvres gave attendees plenty to choose from, enough for an early dinner, and leftovers for some. While they ate, participants watched a short video about the Christian Women’s Job Corps national model on which Pivot is based. The video included testimonials from other sites’ graduates. The group then heard some encouraging words from Carol Polk. Thank you to members of Ardmore Baptist’s World Hope missions group, as well as Donna Bissette, Lisa Turner, and Terri Jeffares for providing and serving all the wonderful food.
By the end of the event, all the participants were excited and ready to commit to attend the classes starting on March 1. As a parting gift, each was given a stylish tote bag filled with lots of goodies. Thank you to volunteers Patty Stockner and Sylvia Pickett for providing the gift bags and contents.
The Enterprise Center, site of “Pivot First Step” event and the weekly classes, deserves special thanks for their generosity in providing a space that is convenient to bus lines and well equipped with all the needed amenities. Also, thank you to volunteers Kathy Stewart for serving as photographer for the event; Jim Mabe for designing a presentation that highlighted Pivot’s benefits; Mary Simmons for exploring volunteer roles with Pivot; Gail McAlister, Merle and Larry Andrews for helping plan, set up, and clean up for the “Pivot First Step.”
All of the planning and effort made for a wonderful evening and, weeks later, Pivot’s participants still recalled “their party” as the first step to a new, life-changing adventure.
By Debbie Loftis
“Hi, Carol. Long time no see. How are you?”
“Well, I’m leaving my firm to start a job ministry for women.”
“I’d like to talk with you about that.”
That conversation took place more than two years ago, and this spring I had the privilege of jump-starting a journey of self-discovery for seven beautiful women, the first Pivot Ministry participants. Over a ten hour series, we became acquainted with some heady ideas and made initial tracks on new life. We examined our Life Gifts, innate skills that come to us naturally and get better with practice. We claimed our Spiritual Gifts that tell us we are doing God’s work. We unpacked our gift of Personality, inherent preferences of collecting and sorting information and interacting with the world. Next, we identified our Values, our individual convictions that govern our decision-making. We then considered our Passions, recognizing them by our dreams and motivations to make a difference. As if that weren’t enough, we traveled onward looking for the path to set our direction (our Mission) and imagined where that road could lead (our Vision).
Throughout our journey, we overlaid our discoveries with a holy perspective and, in the end, walked away with assurances.
- God made me in a wonderful way.
- God gave me gifts of skill, personality, and passion to use for good.
- God gave me a spirit of power, love, and self-control.
- God will complete good work in me.
- God can do more through me than I can ask or imagine.
With each session, I witnessed growth in first one woman then another. Fear gave way to hope. Timidity flowed toward confidence. Self-worth took root. Throughout our classes, the ladies showed interest in my reference material, so Pivot agreed to buy each participant a set of the three primary books: LifeKeys – Discover Who You Are, Do What You Are, and The Path. Two generous Handicrafters, Jo West and Linda Cline, tied each set with a colorful bow and added their signature red felt heart. On our last day of class, as I placed the books in their hands, each woman cried out, laughed, and wept simultaneously. We all hugged – and hugged some more – with palpable excitement. After a calming breath, one lady looked into my face and quietly asked, “Are these really for me?” “Yes,” I answered. “To take home?” “Yes.” She closed her eyes, hugged the package to her chest, and murmured, “I’ll put them beside my bed.”
The moment was holier than I could ask or imagine.
Debbie’s passion is helping others discover and fulfill their giftedness..