Category Archives: North Carolina

Guilford County NC hit hard by Hurricane tropical storm Michael, Surprised by flooding and numbers of large trees falling

Guilford County NC hit hard by Hurricane tropical storm Michael, Surprised by flooding and numbers of large trees falling

“You don’t miss your water until your well runs dry.”…William Bell


It is difficult to complain about the impact of Hurricane and then tropical storm Michael on Guilford County NC with the devastation of south Florida.

However, Guilford County sustained a surprising amount of impact. Especially in power outages.

From the Greensboro News Record Saturday, October 13, 2018.

“Duke Energy says customers can go to their website to get updates on power outages. For most Triad counties, there is no estimated time for when power could be restored”

“Here’s what the Duke Energy outage map is reporting as of Saturday at 9:30 a.m:

Statewide: 283,704

Guilford: 71,175

Rockingham: 19,993

Forsyth: 13,947

Alamance: 15,975

Randolph: 13,412

Davidson: 5,613

Caswell: 6,733

Stokes: 2,093

Montgomery: 1.080

Davie: 973″

Read more:

In my drive through a very small section of Greensboro, I was astounded at the number of large trees that had toppled.

From the Greensboro News Record October 12, 2018.

“Jennifer Hedrick’s story was years in the making.

Hedrick was in bed Thursday afternoon when she heard a tree fall. From the noise she thought it fell into a neighbor’s house. But then her 10-year-old son began to cry.

“He was looking out the window and said, ‘A tree fell on your car,’” she said.

20181013g_nws_tropical storm michael_follow (copy)

Neighbor Cleiff Liendo records damage to a Jeep on David Caldwell Drive after Tropical Storm Michael left a trail of damage in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 12, 2018.

At that moment she didn’t know about the widespread devastation in her neighborhood and across the Triad. She just knew that a tree had fallen on the Jeep she started leasing three months ago.

Hedrick and her husband, Joshua, said all the people in their neighborhood along David Caldwell Drive pray that trees around their houses will not be the next to snap.”

“Before the family left town they, like many others in Greensboro, went on a search for food and coffee.

Lines backed up at restaurants and convenience stores that were open.

Darkened traffic lights greeted drivers on major roads like Bryan Boulevard, Battleground Avenue, Elm and West Market streets.

Downed trees littered the front of Peace United Church of Christ on West Market Street. Up the road, another tree leaned against the Greensboro College Reynolds Family Student Life Center.”

Read more:

Duke Energy outage status:


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NC insurance issues, Hurricane Florence ramifications, Mandatory arbitration impact, Most have no flood insurance, My disability claims impact

NC insurance issues, Hurricane Florence ramifications, Mandatory arbitration impact, Most have no flood insurance, My disability claims impact

“pre-dispute mandatory arbitration provisions are inappropriate in insurance policies and incompatible with the legal duties insurers owe policyholders when handling their claims.”…NAIC, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, August 15, 2016

“Companies don’t want to go to court because it puts them on a level playing field. Courts are ruled by law, legal precedent, and legal discovery, which allows litigants to obtain information and evidence from their opponents or from third parties. Discovery is a privilege in arbitration, but not a right. Arbitrators can’t enforce subpoenas, meaning you have to file a lawsuit just to get a third party or a piece of information into the hearing. In open court, you don’t have to jump through nearly as many hoops. Further, judgments in court are often more favorable to the consumer, both in the rate of success and the dollar amount of judgments.”…North Carolina Consumers Council

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”…Matthew 7:15


Hurricane Florence and its subsequent short term and long term flooding impact has been dominating much of the news in NC.

The impact is much worse than most people realize due to the extensive flooding and the fact that most people affected by the flooding do not have flood insurance.

Those who do have insurance coverage may be in for another shock.

The mandatory arbitration clause that may be in their insurance contract and permitted in NC. If they do not get what they consider a fair settlement, they may not be able to litigate, to have an attorney protect their interest in a court of law.

From the North Carolina Consumers Council.

“Mandatory Arbitration Clauses Are Everywhere But Aren’t Good For The Consumer


“Arbitration can be voluntary or mandatory. Voluntary arbitration is preferred as it preserves your legal rights. Mandatory arbitration, on the other hand, compels you to first submit to the arbitration process as a condition of buying or using a product or service before you take your case to court. In many situations, however, accepting a mandatory arbitration clause means you surrender your rights to further court action at any time in the future for anything.”

“Arbitration providers market entirely to businesses and their arbitrators often consist primarily of corporate executives and their lawyers. So, arbitration is tilted heavily in the favor of the company because the arbitrator is chosen by and paid for by the company. That arbitrator has a financial incentive to rule in the favor of the company in order to be chosen in the future by the company for other arbitration cases. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the arbitration will not find for the consumer. But arbitrators aren’t required to take law and legal precedent into account when making decisions like in legal proceedings. And since arbitration is private, everything that happens behind those closed doors is supposed to remain secret, meaning there is no public review of the process and no appeal in the case of binding arbitration.”

Read more:

I recently received a gift, a blessing, from the NC Insurance Commission regarding my disability claim with Thrivent.

I am not at liberty to release the information at this time.

However, the impact this has had on me is significant.

It is my story and the story of thousands, if not millions of others.

From the NAIC, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, August 15, 2016.

“Peter Kochenburger and Brendan Bridgeland, NAIC Consumer Representatives 
Section One: Why arbitration clauses should be banned”

“Insurers that would insist on mandatory arbitration of policyholder disputes have selected the forum that they believe will be more favorable to them than to their policyholders, if not on each individual claim then in the aggregate. However, manipulating the dispute resolution process in this manner conflicts with the duties insurers owe their policyholders and is not holding their policyholders’ interests “at least equal to their own.”

“If arbitration was truly a neutral forum rather than one favoring insurers, then there would be no need for an insurer to insist on its use before a dispute has even arisen. Insurers should utilize arbitration only when the policyholder has consented to do so after an actual dispute occurs (which is what the suggested amendment to the Model Unfair Trade Practices Act should accomplish), rather than requiring it in boilerplate language that the policyholder is very unlikely to read, could not bargain over the provision even if she did, and could not make an
informed decision at the point of sale on the merits. True freedom of contract, combined with the fundamental right to a trial, requires a knowing relinquishment of that right, which can only occur voluntarily once a specific dispute has materialized.”

Read more:

Aside from continuing my disability claim struggle, I hope to play a part in removing mandatory arbitration clauses in insurance policies.


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NC and beyond impact from Hurricane Florence, Rivers still cresting, Much impact to homes without flood insurance, Huge economic impact, Crops livestock and jobs impacted

NC and beyond impact from Hurricane Florence, Rivers still cresting, Much impact to homes without flood insurance, Huge economic impact, Crops livestock and jobs impacted

“Already, the emergency and recovery response is staggering in its scope, with more than 6,000 National Guard soldiers and thousands more federal disaster-response workers spread across the region. They have six million emergency meals to hand out, four million liters of water, 700,000 blankets and 6,000 cots. Along with state and local governments, federal officials will also have to manage a daunting bureaucratic challenge as they attempt to rebuild and revive a vast area that covers hard-hit mega-farms, tourist zones and pockets of deep rural poverty.”…NY Times


The people of eastern NC, SC and even some of VA need our prayers and support.

The impact from Hurricane Florence which was mostly rain and flooding was and is huge.

Several of the rivers, including the Cape Fear are just now cresting or about to which means more flooding and damage and perhaps more road closures.

Even if your home was not damaged, many people have been out of work, could be delayed in returning or in some cases, may not have a job to return to.

The farmers have been extremely hard hit.

NC is the number one sweet potato producer in the US and number 2 in hogs.

This impacts the farmers, their workers, truckers and all of the people connected to them and will impact food prices elsewhere.

From US News at 4:30 PM.

“Travel Still Dangerous in Flooded Areas of North Carolina”

“Gov. Roy Cooper said nine of the state’s river gauges are at major flood stage and four others are at moderate stage, while parts of Interstates 95 and 40 will remain underwater for another week or more. Emergency management officials said residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed will begin moving into hotel rooms next week.”

“The small farming community of Nichols, South Carolina, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the coast, was completely inundated by water, Mayor Lawson Batter said Saturday. He called the situation “worse than Matthew,” the 2016 hurricane that destroyed almost 90 percent of the town’s 261 homes. Battle said flooding from Florence has wiped out the 150 or so homes rebuilt afterward.”

Read more:

From the Charlotte Observer.

“North Carolina is the largest sweet potato producer in the country, accounting for well over half of the national harvest. Last year, the 90,000 acres of sweet potatoes grown here were worth $346.5 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trailing only tobacco, soybeans and corn. Most of the crop is concentrated in five counties just east of the Triangle: Johnston, Nash, Sampson, Edgecombe and Wilson.

State officials say it’s too soon to estimate the losses farmers have suffered as a result of Florence, though state Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler has said it will be measured in the billions of dollars. So far, growers have reported losing 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and about 5,500 hogs, with an acknowledgment that the tally will rise. But farmers and extension agents are still trying to determine the damage done to crops such as tobacco, corn, soybeans and cotton.”

Read more:

People have been asking me for a recommendation of where to donate money.

I have always had a good impression of the Salvation Army. I just spoke to a friend who works with them. He will be traveling to affected areas soon. He showed me a report that revealed a great many meals and other supplies had already been provided. They were on the scene before the hurricane struck.

The NC Baptist Men’s group always does a good job.

Samaritan’s Purse is also involved.

The state of NC has a contact link:

There is also the Red Cross and others.

TV stations across the state have also been holding fundraisers.

Thanks to all across the country for your concern and support.


More here:


NC Florence impact, Rain and flooding, Greensboro report, UNCG vs Guilford County school closings, Buffalo Creek real news

NC Florence impact, Rain and flooding, Greensboro report, UNCG vs Guilford County school closings, Buffalo Creek real news

” “Four-Letter Words, the Keys to Success: Home Work, Hard Work, Team Work, Good Luck, Good Lord, and a Good Idea.” Out of money in 1939, he dropped out of college and returned home to work in his brother Glenn’s store in Kannapolis, and later worked for Cannon Mills as an auditor. He volunteered for the army after the attack on Pearl Harbor, serving in North Africa and Italy from 1942 to 1945. Upon his return from the war, Mr. Ketner did everything possible to stay out of the grocery business, working nine jobs he didn’t like before ultimately returning to work for Glenn. When Glenn sold his chain of 25 stores to Winn-Dixie in 1956, Ralph and brother Brown worked briefly for that chain before starting Food Town with former co-worker, Wilson Smith, in 1957.”…Ralph Ketner, founder of Food Lion obituary

“What message are we sending to our young people when we treat them like snowflakes?”…Citizen Wells


First of all, the reports you are getting from eastern North and South Carolina, especially SE NC are real and it is bad with the flooding likely to get worse before better. The reason for that is the subsequent rain west that will increase the flow of water going east.

They need our prayers and support.

A friend of mine owns property on Oak Island and he does not know when he will be able to drive there due to the flooding and road closures.

In case you are wondering about the impact on areas west like Greensboro. I can answer that.

Perhaps you have heard about UNCG calling off classes beginning Wednesday at noon through today. That must have raised questions in your mind.

The Guilford County School System made a wise decision and let classes out at 2:00 PM on Thursday and delayed opening this morning for 2 hours.

I know Greensboro well.

It has no rivers, just the usual creeks.

Buffalo Creek, is the most famous and notorious for overflowing during heavy spring and summer showers.

But it impacts very few people.

Last week when UNCG called off classes prematurely, many of us were puzzled.

It appeared then as now to be a irresponsible decision.

UNCG is on high ground with a large support staff within and surrounding the school.

Here are some photos from late this morning.

The first a tributary or upstream portion of Buffalo Creek flooded sometime between 4:00 PM Saturday and this morning. It flooded much worse last year from a typical spring summer downpour.

This photo is Buffalo Creek at Elm Street. It is high but not overflowing as in the past.

Speaking of Buffalo Creek and fake news.

I grew up within walking distance of Buffalo Presbyterian Church, named for the creek which was named for the buffalo that roamed the area hundreds of years ago.

By “chance” I ran across the following article this morning.

From O’Henry Magazine September 2017.

“It might make a good argument to claim the mighty Buffalo was named for a shaggy creature who might have denuded those banks in a quest for a grazing paradise. Nice try, county historian James G. W. MacLamroc informed Greensborians in a ’72 News & Record Hot Line response asking about the creek’s namesake. His research indicated that Buffalo were rare around these parts when early settlers moved here in the mid-1700s, so it’s unlikely the beasts donated their name to the stream. More likely, whoever laid the name on the waterway just chose it because the mighty bison projects a strong American image for a creek, a robe or a nickel.”

Quoting a News Record source can be problematic.

From the “History of Guilford County.”

“Greensboro, Queen of Piedmont Carolina. Surrounded by beautiful, undulating fields covered with soft Japanese clover, buffalo grass and abundant wild flowers, she is called the “City of Flowers.” Once this section was prairie”

From “History of Buffalo Presbyterian church and her people, Greensboro, N. C”.

“The church was named from the creek near by, and was at
first called “North Buffaloe Creek Presbyterian Church.” The
creek was named Buffaloe because of the large herds of wild
buffaloes that formerly ranged along its borders. We do not
know when the name was first given to the creek. It is thus
called in the earliest deeds. It must have been called Buffalo
by the Indians before the white man came.”

From the Smoky Mountain News.

“John Henry Preston in Western North Carolina: A History (Asheville: Daughters of the American Revolution, 1914) notes that some of Hernando de Soto’s men exploring this area in 1540 were presented with a dressed buffalo skin by the Cherokees. This, Arthur speculates, was perhaps the first such skin “ever obtained by white men.” The Spaniards described it as “an ox hide as thin as a calf’s skin, and the hair like a soft wool between the coarse and fine wool of sheep.””

“While helping to run the dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia in 1729, Col. William Byrd of Virginia recorded several buffalo sightings in the Piedmont sections of those states. According to Hornaday, Byrd noted that a bull “was found all alone, tho Buffaloes Seldom are,” and “the meat is spoken of as ‘a Rarity.’””

Buffalo Creek was named for the Buffalo that roamed the area and people have lived near it for thousands of years.

So, there you have it, real news.

Which leaves the question, why did UNCG cancel classes when kindergartners were attending school in the same city?

A snowflake protocol?

The very mention of a hurricane causing a panic and flight to a safe space?

“Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be snowflakes.”


More here:


Patriot Mark Robinson sets Greensboro City Council straight on gun rights, Youtube video, When are you going to stand up for the majority?, I’m the majority, Gun show controversy

Patriot Mark Robinson sets Greensboro City Council straight on gun rights, Youtube video, When are you going to stand up for the majority?, I’m the majority, Gun show controversy

“Weaker people, whether at school, at home or elsewhere are best protected from stronger people, with ill intent, by guns and proper security measures.”…Citizen Wells

“Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA – ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.”…Heinrich Himmler

“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”…George Washington


Mark Robinson, a lifelong citizen of Greensboro, NC, gives an unscripted, from the heart speech about his gun rights and the ultimate safety of his family before the Greensboro City Council.


From the News & Observer.

“‘Come hell or high water,’ citizens will keep gun rights, NC man vows in viral video”

“A North Carolina man’s 4-minute take on gun laws echoed well beyond the city council chambers where he shared it Tuesday afternoon.

Greensboro resident Mark Robinson’s speech went viral after U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina shared it on Facebook on Wednesday morning. By Friday, the clip had been viewed more than 3.2 million times.

Robinson spoke during a public comment period in which several people shared thoughts on a gun and knife show slated for late summer at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan previously proposed canceling the show in response to the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that killed 17 people in February.”

“Robinson asked city leaders “when are you all going to start standing up for the majority?” – a group he said includes himself, as “a law-abiding citizen who’s never shot anybody, never committed a serious crime, never committed a felony.”

“I’ve never done anything like that, but it seems like every time we have one of these shootings, nobody wants to put the blame where it goes, which is at the shooter’s feet,” Robinson said at the meeting. “You want to put it at my feet.”

Robinson, who is black, is among the minority of male gun owners. Only 24 percent of non-white males said they owned a gun, while 48 percent of white men said they own a gun in 2017, making them the most likely demographic to own a gun, according to the Pew Research Center.

Robinson said he would turn in his guns if a new law required it, but said the law wouldn’t deter criminals from keeping their weapons.

“And guess who’s gonna to be the one that suffers? It’s gonna be me,” he said. “ … Our rights are the ones that are being taken away – that’s the reason why I came down here today. Gun show or no gun show, NRA or no NRA, I’m here to stand up for the law abiding citizens of this community.””

Read more:

God bless Mr. Robinson.

I hope to meet him.



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School security lessons from history, Guns protect weaker forces from attack, American Revolution then Second Amendment, General Greene and my Quaker ancestors fought invaders with guns

School security lessons from history, Guns protect weaker forces from attack, American Revolution then Second Amendment, General Greene and my Quaker ancestors fought invaders with guns

“Weaker people, whether at school, at home or elsewhere are best protected from stronger people, with ill intent, by guns and proper security measures.”…Citizen Wells

“Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA – ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.”…Heinrich Himmler

“The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good”…George Washington


I recently discovered that my Wells ancestors were Quakers and that another one of them fought the British during the American Revolution. This pleases me greatly.

Yesterday, the Battle of Guilford Courthouse was reenacted in Greensboro, NC. The patriots were led by one of George Washington’s most trusted generals, Nathanael Greene, a Quaker. You know, pacifists.

“The Battle of Guilford Courthouse Begins

Lt. Col. Henry Lee opened the battle with an advance guard action against the British near the Quaker settlement of New Garden, 3 miles west of the American position. This skirmish resulted in no advantage to either side. The Americans retired, and the British continued to advance along the New Garden Road toward the courthouse.”

This is a very interesting battle with Lord Cornwallis being the technical victor but being so damaged that it soon led to his surrender at Yorktown.

General Nathanael Greene biography.

“One of the most trusted generals of the Revolutionary army was Nathanael Greene, Washington’s friend and comrade-in-arms. The Greene family was among the earliest settlers in Rhode Island and helped establish the colony. John Greene was the founder of the family in the new colony. Nathanael Greene was born July 27, 1742 (old style, which is August 7, 1742 new style). His education was limited but he received a thorough training in the books which were available at his time, especially the Bible, upon which were built his habits of living, moral ideals and purposes.

In due course Greene used every possible moment to read books and saved his money to buy books so that eventually he acquired a large library. Greene had also been taught blacksmithing and the milling work. His father purchased a mill in Coventry which was assigned to Nathanael to manage. He took an active part in community affairs. He knew the value of education and helped establish the first public school in Coventry. He also added books on military science to his library which he studied diligently.

When the pacifist Quaker authorities discovered his interest in military affairs, he was called before the main committee for examination. Greene stated firmly that though he was a Quaker, he would not be turned from studies which interested him and the case was dropped.”

My ancestor, John Wells, my 5th great grandfather, signed the Tryon Resolves  in August 14, 1775 and fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain.

I recently learned that he was raised a Quaker.

I also recently learned that his father, Joseph Wells Sr. and his brother Joseph Wells Jr. and their family settled in the Snow Camp, Cane Creek area of Alamance County NC near Greensboro. They were founding members of the Cane Creek Friends Meeting, Quakers.

John Wells, son of Joseph Wells Jr., fought in the battle of Lindley’s Mill aka Battle of Cane Creek, September 13, 1781.

“On the morning of September 13, as the unsuspecting vanguard of struggling Loyalists crossed the branch, a volley tore into their ranks, instantly killing McNeil and pinning down Capt. Archibald McKay’s company of Highlanders. After securing the prisoners in the rear at Spring Friends Meetinghouse, Fanning rode forward to organize a flanking attack on the Whig position. Under assault from both front and rear, the Whigs stubbornly held their ground for several hours but were finally driven from the field. When he was seriously wounded in the arm late in the battle, Fanning gave the command to McDugald, who safely reached Wilmington with the prisoners. The killed and wounded, more than 250 on both sides, were buried and cared for by Quakers in the surrounding community. The hard-fought battle was the bloodiest of the war in North Carolina, with more casualties for the numbers engaged than the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.”

This John Wells was kicked out of his Quaker meeting house for fighting and marrying a non Quaker.

So, Quakers, considered to be pacifists, took up guns and defended their families and friends during the American revolution.

It’s no wonder we have a Second Amendment.

The Quakers and other who fled Europe due to religious persecution knew tyranny. They knew what would happen if they did not defend themselves.

This is ancestry and history.

And once again history teaches us that guns protect weaker forces from stronger forces.

It can be a situation as simple as a woman protecting herself from a man with a knife, a superior force.

This lesson applies to securing our schools and children.

More guns, not less are the solution. In the right hands of course.



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We were unseen poverty report from News Record, Living among Greensboro’s unseen, Frank McCain and Michael Cottingham, 41 million Americans living in poverty

We were unseen poverty report from News Record, Living among Greensboro’s unseen, Frank McCain and Michael Cottingham, 41 million Americans living in poverty

“And although the slights they felt that day during instances of people who knew them basically looking right past or through them might have momentarily hurt their feelings, they said they felt worse knowing that homeless and needy people are “looked past” every day.

“People don’t admit it, but most people in our community are two to three checks from being in that same position,””…Frank McCain, News Record expose

“Feeding the homeless sounds like you are not the same, that we are not the same community, but if I invite you over and serve you dinner it’s because you are my friend, we are in the same community, we are the same.”…Greensboro’s Amy “The Chicken Lady” Murphy

“He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise.”…Luke 3:11


This morning Zero Hedge reported.

41 Million Americans Are Living In Poverty This Christmas

It is being reported that 41 million people are living in poverty at this moment, and 9 million of them do not receive a single penny of income from anyone.  Once you have been unemployed for long enough, you don’t qualify for unemployment payments any longer, and once you are on the street there is nowhere for other governments programs to send a check to.  I have previously discussed the rising epidemic of homelessness in our nation, but most people don’t want to think about that sort of a thing these days.  Even though New York City has the most homeless since the Great Depression, and even though homelessness in Los Angeles is at an all-time record high, most people want to pretend that everything is just fine.

Read more.
The Greensboro News Record reported Christmas Eve.
“We were unseen”
“Poverty is not unique to the state or to this,

North Carolina’s third-largest city.

It is fueled by the addition of families who have fallen out of the middle class because of layoffs or companies closing or underemployment; of working-class people grappling with loss of benefits or reduced hours or rising prices that have given them less to live on; and of those who can’t find work or have given up on looking for it.

Many of those people and families have ended up in a state of homelessness or near homelessness — either sleeping on the streets, in vehicles or couch-surfing among friends and family. Or struggling to stave off an eviction.

Those who work with the local homeless and needy population say it is difficult for others to fathom the depths of the problem — or even see the people behind the statistics.

Such as the family who found a place at the YWCA’s family shelter after neighbors in an out-of-the-way cul-de-sac noticed a car idling there for hours. When the car’s dome light flipped on, children could be seen moving around inside. The residents called police, who called the shelter.

Also at that shelter was the single dad who had been sleeping on a park bench in a quiet park with his 4-year-old daughter because an old eviction kept him from being able to rent again.

That’s one of the reasons McCain, the vice president of community impact and investment at the United Way of Greater Greensboro, and Cottingham, the vice president of marketing and communications, came up with “GSO Unseen.”

In recent winters the extent of the need for shelter has been so intense that the Interactive Resource Center, a day center for the homeless, has been forced to double as a warming station during brutally cold nights because even those people who try to brave the outdoors in the city’s numerous “tent cities” needed a place to go. The YWCA does the same.

At the same time, the United Way decided to focus more of its resources on a long-term approach to fighting poverty.

McCain was telling a good friend about the work, as a way of moving the whole community forward.

“He said, ‘Well, Franklin, what do you really know about poverty?’ He said you don’t know poverty. I do.”

McCain admits he initially was offended. He had upper-middle-class roots, but growing up he had friends whose families struggled. That was also true in college and in his life as an adult.

“Unless you are blind, you see things,” McCain said. “I went to school with people who had less than they needed — but had I truly experienced it? I said maybe he’s right.”

He said he thought about a story on the nightly news about a woman in Phoenix who had left her young children in the car during a job interview. The woman later was arrested.

“Who could think that’s right?” he said he thought at the time.

But as McCain delved more deeply into the root causes of poverty, it became clearer how she came to that bad decision: The woman didn’t have child care. She took a chance, and it was the wrong one. But the story also shed light for him on the kinds of support low-income people need that other people would assume they had.

“I thought, maybe for me to be more effective in the work that we are doing, maybe I needed to get a better understanding, and he was right,” McCain said.

He looked first at the homeless population.

“I saw them as being those who had the least of all,” McCain said.

He shared his thoughts with Cottingham, who had also grown up in a family that didn’t have any needs there weren’t met. Cottingham, who had worked with needs for Medicaid recipients and people with mental-health issues, substance abuse and developmental disabilities, said he knew McCain was onto something.

“It’s easy to think you understand populations you are serving,” Cottingham said.

But had he ever had to choose between food and heat? No.

The idea was to step into the shoes of someone homeless or nearly homeless.

Cottingham, who grew up in Kernersville and graduated from Mars Hills College, has two children younger than 6. McCain, who grew up in Charlotte and graduated from N.C. A&T, has two children, the youngest of which is in college.

On a Monday morning in November 2016, McCain, dressed in a hoodie and slightly stained pants he wore around the house to do odd jobs, and Cottingham, in a flannel shirt and blue jeans, parked their cars near downtown and mentally closed the doors on their middle class lives.

Stepping into their “characters” would be, invariably, easier than they thought.

Traveling with luggage in the middle of downtown during the day gave them an instant invisibility of sorts.

“We were unseen …,” Cottingham said.

“… Even by people who knew us,” McCain added.

As they navigated downtown, two people — a past and a current board member — walked out of a building on Elm Street and directly in front of them.

“People who know us, work with us …,” McCain said.

“… We had to move out of the way,” Cottingham added.

These people who knew them on a first-name basis quickly moved past without even a glance in their direction.

“I almost said, ‘Hello,’ because it was natural to say,” McCain said.

Instead, McCain and Cottingham just looked at each other and kept walking.

The two found the building on the edge of downtown, on a path familiar to those needing help.

“We knew it was important to start the day off at the IRC,” Cottingham said of the day center for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The IRC provides showers, a laundry, an address for mail that could come from a potential employer or family states away and access to services, such as mental-health management.

McCain said he had known very little about the IRC up to that point.

Developing similar cover stories — each said he was unmarried with a child and girlfriend who would be coming in the near future — they separately walked into the lobby and signed up for an appointment with a case manager. Each took a seat among tables full of people already there.

Nothing seemed unusual to those around them.

When McCain spotted Michelle Kennedy, the IRC’s executive director, walk through the open area, he pulled a newspaper up to his face, fearing she might recognize him.

People in the nonprofit world tend to know him because he is among the people who they talk to about needs.

He wasn’t worried about anyone else.

“I think that people made the assumption that if you are here with us, it’s because you have to be here,” Cottingham said.

Many of the chairs were filled with regulars, but McCain and Cottingham were not the only ones there for the first time. Some others had suitcases or carried bags of clothes and seemingly, the last of their belongings.

“I was sad because there were just so many people,” McCain said. “Women, children and families. Young and old. People with disabilities.”

McCain and Cottingham took in the faces and conversations going on around them, from sports to the challenges of fighting for custody of children.

“Some of the most basic things that they offer there help make the people who use those services feel like they are human,” McCain said of seeing people stop by the IRC to take showers and change clothes.

Among those who rested or waited for appointments, they found people in khakis and button-down shirts, dressed for the lives they hoped for, and others waiting for the shower, to get out of clothes they had slept in.

“There were some people who seemed really into making positive steps, and there were some people who seemed checked out, who seemed tired, worn out,” Cottingham said.

They asked those around the different tables where they could find food and a place to sleep, even a job.

Someone mentioned a temporary agency that had luck with helping the homeless find work, including on a construction project going on downtown.”

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