Many nonprofits come and go, but for more than 20 years, CAARE is still caring for the Durham community.
Their sign, bright red, in the middle of Broadway Street in Durham, invites people in. Upon entering they will find someone with a big grin and friendly voice to greet them. The painted walls, along with the smile and greeting, brighten the whole place.
Since 1995, Healing with CAARE has been working tirelessly to educate and help the community whether through their HIV education sessions and testing or through their many other programs that have developed over the years.
Their journey began as an idea thought up by three sisters, the late Patricia Riley-Amaechi and Sharon Elliott-Bynum, and their older sister Carolyn Hinton. They saw a need for helping and making sure those that are uninsured, under insured, or live in low income neighborhoods got the proper care and medical assistance that they need.
“At one point Durham had a population of over 2200 HIV positive living in just the Durham community,” said Carolyn Hinton. As the years progressed, they added on more layers of services like case management and substance abuse.
“Not only are people living with HIV, but they are dealing with other barriers for healthful living,” Hinton said.
With a lack of free clinics and a high demand for dental care, co-founder Sharon Elliott-Bynum with the help of her two sisters made a strategic plan to create a free clinic and thus the Jeanne Lucas free clinic was born.
The mission was to help combat chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and HIV. Volunteer doctors come out to see patients for physical examinations and assessments.
The dental clinic is partnered with UNC Dental School. Dental students and professors perform screenings, dental cleanings, and diagnoses of several dental problems.
And the active participation of Durham residents shows that CAARE outreach has truly reached the community.
Bessie Arnold, a supporter and participant in the CAARE program believes that it has changed her for the better. “I’m working on five years clean and it truly saved my life,” she said. “There were awesome teachers and it even touched my mother to the point where she participates in their senior citizen’s exercise class. If it wasn’t for CAARE I don’t know where I would be. I thank God for them.”
As the years have progressed, CAARE has developed more opportunities to connect with the community. They offer examination tutoring for the GED, an aquaponics & culinary School, an accessible food pantry, free physical fitness classes, support groups, as well as veteran services.
CAARE’s main goal is to not only be a prevention-based program but to also build relationships and connections with people in the community.
“When people walk through the door, we don’t know what they need, need it be food, be it senior socialization, be it people trying to manage diabetes, or people trying to figure out alternative ways to do stress or other management,” said Hinton. “We try to provide that oasis of care, in other words, one stop shop!”
The impact of CAARE on Durham’s community is seen through their workers and participants, but the sky is not their limit. “My dream is to take this model to the east and west of North Carolina, to D.C.; Louisiana; Savannah, Georgia, and also I want to go to Liberia” says Hinton.
Healing with CAARE is located at 214 Broadway St. in Durham.
Hinton as well as the staff of CAARE would love for people to check out the organization and take part in the wonderful things that they are doing.
In the words of Hinton, “God has really blessed us to help those that are in need, we don’t take that for granted. Because of that blessing we want to be a blessing to others and so we invite others who see what we are doing and want to be a part of that to join us.”
Web links: http://www.caareinc.org/about