Petree, Old Town join Compassion Corner

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite…” – Nelson Mandela



If we look for it, compassion is everywhere, but no more readily seen than in the lives of our children. We don’t come into this world void of compassion – we have to lose it along the way. This past Friday, Petree Elementary School in Winston-Salem, NC took a big step toward ensuring that the students there would remember compassion as a valuable and needed expression between students and staff by dedicating and installing a Compassion Corner Bench.

The Compassion Corner, as the L-shaped wooden bench is called, is a place where a student can sit when he or she is feeling low. When other students spot someone sitting there, they see it as an invitation to go over and cheer up their fellow student. Perhaps they will invite him or her to play. Maybe they will just visit for a minute or two.

Principal Dr. Essie McKoy, along with Curriculum Coordinator Shayne Willis, Art Teacher Ariel Barrett, Music Director Faith Hollifield and Media Coordinator Jennifer Freeland told students and guests about the purpose of the bench and six students were selected to help with the dedication on Friday. Additional programs and learning opportunities are planned to continue the lessons demonstrated by the Petree Compassion Bench. The dedicated gathering included a reading of the Charter for Compassion. School Board members Elisabeth Motsinger and Deanna Taylor were present at the dedication along with Ann Barefield, member of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  These benches were donated by Ann in honor of the Fellowship’s adoption of and commitment to Petree Elementary.

The bench at Petree is hard to miss. Placed boldly on the playground, it’s bright blue and  primary colors create a display of not only the words “any act of kindness no matter how small is never wasted,” but also reflect the painted hand prints of “students who were selected as some of those who had demonstrated compassion to other students,” says Ms. Barrett the art teacher at Petree.

Petree makes the third school to have placed a compassion bench. Other schools in the Winston-Salem area include Bolton and Moore Elementary, with Old Town Elementary having joined campaign Friday, June 12.


The Compassion Corner benches are a program that resulted from the work of Compassionate Winston-Salem, a sub-program of Interfaith Winston-Salem. The Compassion Corners are one aspect of Compassionate Winston-Salem’s efforts to nourish compassion in the community. Winston-Salem was the 18th city in the United States – and the first in North Carolina – to designate itself as a Compassionate City.

“It’s easy to put something like that on paper,” said Dean Clifford, the chair of Compassionate Winston-Salem’s education task force. “The next step was ‘How do we make this real?’” The Compassion Corner project aims to place benches on playgrounds of all local elementary schools.

Additional benches are being planned for the coming year and a number of groups are working with Compassionate Winston-Salem to fund and construct the benches.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bolton Dedicates Its Compassion Corner

Winston-Salem’s elementary schools now have their second Compassion Corner bench.

The Rev. Dr. Bob Setzer of Knollwood Baptist Church led the dedication of the Compassion Corner at Bolton Elementary School Friday, October 24 under brilliant blue skies. Knollwood, a partner with Bolton, funded placement of the bench.

Bolton joins Moore Magnet School as Winston-Salem’s two Compassion Corner schools. Moore dedicated its Compassion Corner Thursday, October 23.

The Compassion Corner is a bench where students can go when they are feeling low and could use encouraging words from other students.

“The Bolton bench dedication was wonderful – well-planned and organized,” said Dean Clifford, coordinator of Compassionate Winston-Salem’s K-12 educational constellation. “The bench was beautifully decorated by students in the Kindness/Compassion Club; a club member made a speech; staff member Gloria Robinson sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth”; and students escorted us out to the bench for the actual dedication before we returned inside for refreshments.”

Candice Johnson is principal at Bolton.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Compassion Corner Dedicated at Moore Magnet Elementary

With their songs ringing across the campus, 100 second-graders at Moore Magnet Elementary School in Winston-Salem on October 23 dedicated a Compassion Corner bench that symbolizes their goal to abide by the Golden Rule: to treat others as they want to be treated.

The L-shaped bench is located on the school’s playground in front of the school. Children are encouraged to use it when they feel lonely, left out or sad, and their classmates know that it’s a time for showing kindness and friendship.

“This is important to our school,” said Principal Amanda Smith. “All of our community has helped to make this possible.”

“The bench has been in place since the start of the school year,” said Anne Collins, the school counselor. “It is working quite well. We have been talking about what it means to be compassionate, so the children understand.”

Art teacher Teresa Wiles worked with students in decorating the bench with words of wisdom and a bright butterfly. Volunteers Rob Castro and Jay McNulty designed and built the bench.

Approximately 50 family members and friends joined the dedication ceremony, which was led by Truman Dunn of Compassionate Winston-Salem. Highland Presbyterian Church and Temple Emanuel, who partner with Moore, paid for placement of the bench. Rev. Randy Harris and Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn made comments during the event.

Under a brilliant blue sky, the second-graders lined up on the playground grass and sang several songs, including “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and “Candle on the Water,” under the direction of music teacher Shelley Noisette.

Compassionate Winston-Salem, which sponsors the Compassionate Corner program, hopes to place the benches on each elementary school campus. A second bench, sponsored by Knollwood Baptist Church, will be dedicated Friday morning at Bolton Elementary School.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Compassion Corner and Compassion Games

Our Compassion Corner project for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County elementary schools is highlighted in an excellent article by Kim Underwood on the school system’s website. (
The article recognizes the many volunteers and supporters who have brought the project to this point and features pictures of many students who have taken the idea to heart.  Our thanks to Anne Collins, a counselor at Moore Magnet School, introduced the concept to us.  To Jay McNulty and Rob Castro, who designed, built and installed benches at Moore and Bolton.  To Temple Emanuel, Highland Presbyterian Church and Knollwood Baptist Church for underwriting cost of the two benches.  To Dean Clifford, who is coordinating our Compassionate Schools effort.  And to Drea Parker and Truman Dunn who have provided leadership from the Board of Guidance.
This comes on the heels of our participation in the world-wide Compassion Games.  Winston-Salem area volunteers registered more than 15,000 hours of compassionate service during the 11-day international Compassion Games, which ended September 21.  The Winston-Salem area recorded the third highest total of volunteer hours among 40 cities and municipalities around the world that participated.
Thirty-two area organizations participated in the Games, coordinated locally by Compassionate Winston-Salem.  The 3,122 volunteers served 8,145 people.  Amy Moyle, Margot Jerome and Drea Parker were coordinators for Winston-Salem.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Salem College Becomes First N.C. College to Affirm Charter for Compassion


(The Interfaith Committee at Salem College in Winston-Salem spearheaded the effort to have the college affirm the Charter for Compassion.)

Salem College has become the first college in North Carolina, and one of the first in the U.S., to affirm the international Charter for Compassion, which encourages a compassionate campus community in observance of the Golden Rule; to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Sara Otero, president of the Student Government Association, said that more than 10 percent of Salem’s 541 traditional students signed a resolution affirming the charter and that the school’s Legislative Board approved the decision to endorse the charter.  Salem’s Interfaith Council, headed by Otero and senior Keren Salim, played an instrumental role in its adoption by the Student Government Association earlier this month.  

The City of Winston-Salem was recognized as the 18th city in the world within the International Campaign for Compassionate Cities movement last July when Mayor Allen Joines and members of city council unanimously affirmed the charter. Approximately 30 cities now are part of the campaign. The local compassionate cities movement is coordinated by Compassionate Winston-Salem, which was organized by Interfaith Winston-Salem in 2012.  Compassionate Winston-Salem is developing programs to bring compassionate environments into elementary schools, the workplace and elsewhere, according to coordinator Drea Parker.

“We’re pleased to see students at Salem taking this positive step,” said Parker, also a graduate of Salem.  “They are setting a high standard for other colleges and universities by approving the Charter.”

Salem College is the seventh college in the United States to endorse the charter. Others are Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia; Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky; Claremont-Lincoln University in Claremont, California; University of the West in Rosemead, California; Tenzin Gyatso Institute in Berne, New York; and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut.    


The Charter for Compassion was created in 2010 under the leadership of Karen Armstrong, a leading writer on world religions; His Holiness the Dalai Lama; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  It calls for everyone to return to the principles of the Golden Rule: to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adding Quality of Life to Homeless Overflow Shelters

This information was supplied by Anthony’s Plot, which is doing stellar work in providing overnight accommodations when other shelters have no room at their inns.


Anthony’s Plot Community

11:01pm Feb 13

Greetings from inside First Baptist Church on this snowy winter night. Our city rests a little more easily on a night like tonight because those who are most vulnerable are safe and warm in three of our churches, tended to by some of our church and community members. This night may be one of clearest examples of the work we have done together: whereas Greensboro and Charlotte are scrambling to care for their homeless citizens, leaving church and community groups nervous about what this weather means for the “least of these” in their parishes, we are simply continuing our daily effort to make sure all are cared for as we would want to be. Not often you get to say that finding shelter for 95 homeless people on a snowy and dangerous night is “just another day.” We are thankful.

As I hope you have heard by now, we are making some very exciting changes to the way we have been serving our homeless guests at the overflow shelters. We are sending these emails out to explain what those changes are, and to encourage you to begin talking amongst your congregation or community group about your increasingly important role in this work.

• The Vision: As we often see in our congregations, smaller groups allow for deeper relationships. We think this same approach will help us offer our best care to our shelter guests (and we have seen some evidence of this at Augsburg this winter). By getting our guest numbers lower, we can tend to each person’s needs more directly (and express our love more clearly) and not expend our energy in “crowd control.” Also, state zoning law requires us to have a 20-guest capacity at each shelter. This also will mean smaller groupings (clusters) of congregation and community groups working at a specific location, which will help us to deepen our relationships with one another (and makes us more accountable to each other).

• The Model: Starting Friday, we will have five overflow shelters open, each with less than 20 guests: New Story UMC, First Baptist, Augsburg Lutheran, First Presbyterian, and St Timothy’s Episcopal. Each shelter site has 8-12 congregation and community partners, each of whom are critical to serving their guests. You will probably think of additional congregation or community groups who you would like to involve with your cluster; just make sure they are not already assigned to another cluster. You will also have the support of trained monitors and Anthony’s Plot to help fill in monitor spots as needed. Amongst ourselves, we need to figure out how to feed and shelter these guests each night. This means that you can tell volunteers where and whom they will be serving every night. All food will be served at the shelter site now, and our food needs are down to 20meals/night – this leaves room for thinking about hot meals, if we can work that out.

• The Needs: For those who can view the volunteer calendar, you will notice that there are more calendars and less volunteers listed on each. There is a specific calendar for Location-Feb and another for Location-Mar. We need to become aware of the holes in all of these calendars and begin working to fill them with our folks. In particular, there are overnight holes in the next 2 weeks that we should try to fill if possible. There are updated congregational resources attached to this email that you can use to re-engage your people. (The volunteer brochure is meant to be printed front and back as a “manual” of sorts. It also has a link, though the pages are out of order: )

• What’s Next: There is an open meeting about the new cluster-model on Thursday, February 20th at 9am at Centenary UMC. This is a chance to discuss some nuts and bolts stuff, and to encourage clusters to plan a time when you all can meet together – be looking for that information shortly after. But don’t wait to sign people up; we need to get new people on the calendar soon!

Ok, now its up to you all to be active: let’s start talking about what each cluster needs and how we are going to fill them. Thank you for your commitment and investment in this shared work and in the lives of those we are being led to serve.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Overnight Shelter check-in

There’s something to the feeling of connecting with someone in need, offering a smile, a compassionate glance, an easy ear. A group of Compassionate Winston-Salem volunteers got together tonight and did just that. We met at 7pm at Loaves and Fishes (which is in front of the public library on 5th Street) and handed out blankets and protein bars to the people (residents) waiting in line to check in for overnight shelter arranged by Anthony’s Plot.

It took about an hour to get everyone signed in, and then our group split to go one way towards Augsburg Lutheran, the other to First Baptist to help get the residents settled in for the night.

I’m glad my band of compassionate peeps were able to witness and participate in the settling in of the overnight shelter. For that is when the shelter needs the most help. If you are missing something in your life, and feel that volunteering would fill that void, this organization has plenty of opportunities to supplicate your desire. Here’s how an evening at the overnight shelter typically goes:

7pm – 8pm – Check-in at Loaves & Fishes

7:30pm..ish – the Augsburg Lutheran group heads to their shelter

8pm – First Baptist group heads to their shelter

The next hour is spent getting the residents of the shelter checked in*, they get a pillow, mat, blanket, and any extra amenities they might need during the night (socks, wraps, etc). The residents then picked their spot out on the gymnasium floor, and went about the process of ‘setting up house’. Once everyone had been checked in, and for the most part settled, a call for prayer was announced, and over half the residents got up to join in circle to share their prayer. A lot of camaraderie was felt, conversations were had, smiles shared.

9:30pm – is time for Lights out until 5:30am the next morning.

* The shelter is monitored by two paid staff who stay awake the entire night. These two angels are then assisted by two volunteers* who will “split their shift” so that each can get some shut-eye. This is where Anthony’s Plot needs the most help: They need volunteers willing to ‘work’ a split shift from 8pm – 5:30am. If you are interested and want to help out, please email Rev. Russ May at And get ready to experience an abundance of love, compassion, and just good old fashioned hospitality.

Drea Parker
Compassionate Coordinator

Interfaith Activist:
Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Coats Are Needed, Her Higher Degree Helps

                When Cindy Jones earned a Master’s degree in Clothing and Textiles from UNC Greensboro, she never expected to be using her education quite like she’s using it today.

                “I love to shop, and I’m a good shopper,” she says.  “I know clothes.  I know good clothes.  I know brands.”

                Many of those skills can be traced back to her graduate education.

                Today, Cindy is using her education as much for the benefit of others as for herself.   For the last two years or more she has been using her degree and those talents to buy quality coats for homeless people and for others in need.  She doesn’t know exactly how many coats she has bought, but over the past summer she bought at least 100. 

                Her professors never told her to expect to use the degree like that.

                She says her activities are part of the giving spirit fostered by her church, Peace Haven Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.  “I have a certain amount of money to spend each month helping others.  I take part of what I earn from my booth at Lost in Time Antiques to buy coats,” she says.

                “My neighbor, Allen McReynolds, was the inspiration.  About two years ago he told me about the great need for men’s coats at The Shalom Project.  Allen kept saying ‘we need men’s coats, we need men’s coats,’ so I started looking to help.”

                Cindy finds most of the coats at flea markets and thrift stores.  She usually is able to find good coats for not more than five dollars, and, because she knows when thrift stores like the Salvation Army have half-price sales, she can find even more affordable deals.  She says flea markets and thrift stores are better sources because yard sales can be hit or miss.

                Her boyfriend is a folk artist who gets a lot of his ideas from items sold at flea markets, so they travel to flea markets a lot.  They drive all over the western half of North Carolina, catching flea markets like Smiley’s in Asheville, in Statesville, Hickory, Lexington, Salisbury, Archdale and Mount Airy, among others.  Last year they found several coats at flea markets while visiting in New England.

                “Shopping at flea markets works out really well.  Sometimes I will tell people that I’m buying for homeless people, and, even though many of them don’t have a lot of money, they will sell to me at a better price because they know the coat will be given to someone who needs it.  They are very supportive,” she said.

                At McReynolds’ urging, she has added men’s work shoes and boots to her shopping list for The Shalom Project.  “It’s harder to find shoes in my price range.  The work shoes I see usually cost eight, ten, twelve dollars, but now when I find some at an affordable price I buy them because Allen assures me they will be put to good use,” she says.

                There is always a great need for shoes and men’s coats in clothing closets because many men wear clothes to the thread before discarding them.  With thermometers beginning to register lower degrees, Cindy Jones’s higher degree will help protect many local homeless and needy men against the winter that is upon us. 

                    Her professors never told her to expect to use the degree like that.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Double the Value of Your Shalom Gift



Through Tuesday, Dec. 3 you can double the value of your gifts to The Shalom Project in Winston-Salem.  Your gift will support Circles Winston-Salem, a new partnership that helps people build a bridge out of poverty by finding, keeping and advancing employment and stable housing.


The worldwide United Methodist Church, through its Advance Fund of Global Ministries and #GivingTuesday, will match – dollar for dollar – every gift made during that time.  For every $20 you give, The Shalom Project will receive $40.


You have two options for doubling your gift:

  1. On Tuesday, Dec. 3 go to When you choose Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, your gift will be directed to The Shalom Project for Circles WS.   
  2. Send or bring a check or cash for Circles WS to The Shalom Project office at 639 S. Green St. before Tuesday, Dec. 3.   
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Join Winston-Salem’s Kwanzaa Celebration

When we understand Kwanzaa, we understand more about our neighbors. 

2013 Winston-Salem

City-Wide Kwanzaa Celebration

December 26 – January 1

A Celebration of Family,

Community and Culture

Free and Open to the Public!!!


Thursday, December 26   Umoja (Unity)

6:30 pm  –  The Urban League, 201 West 5th Street, Winston-Salem 

Theme:  Living In Harmony With Those Inside and Outside My Circle

Sponsor: Winston-Salem Urban League   Contact: 336-725-5614  


Friday, December 27   Kujichagulia (Self Determination)

6:30 pm  –  Delta Arts Center, 2611 New Walkertown Rd, Winston-Salem

Theme: Doing All That Is Set Before Me

  Sponsors: Delta Fine Arts, Inc. & Triad Cultural Arts, Inc.    Contact: 336-473-2082


Saturday, December 28   Ujima (Collective Works and Responsibility)

4:00 pm  –  Emmanuel Baptist Church, Shalimar Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Theme: Never Leaving My Brother or Sister Unaided

Sponsors: The Whole Village & Emmanuel Baptist Church Contact: 252-204-7487


Sunday, December 29   Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm  –  Carl Russell Recreation Center, 3521 Carver Road, Winston-Salem

Theme: Using My Talents in Cooperation with The Talents of Others So Together We May Prosper

Sponsors: Carl Russell Recreation Center & Victory In Life Contact: 336-727-2580


Monday, December 30   Nia (Purpose) 

6:00 pm  –  Grace Presbyterian Church, 3901 Carver School Road, Winston-Salem

Theme: Finding My Path and Purpose Through Prayer, Meditation and Spiritual Readings

Sponsor: Grace Presbyterian Church   Contact: 336-722-4399, 767-7530


Tuesday, December 31   Kuumba (Creativity)

1:00 pm  –  Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem

Theme: Freeing Myself to Experience New Ideas, New Viewpoints, New Philosophies, New Understandings

Sponsors: NC Black Repertory Theatre Company & Forsyth County Public Library

Contact: 336-703-2953


Wednesday, January 1   Imani (Faith)

4:00 pm  –  Alpha and Omega Church of Faith, 1445 N Gray Ave, Winston-Salem

Theme: Sweeping Away Fear of the Unknown, Past Regrets, Concerns for the Future

and Meeting Each Day with Active Faith

Sponsors: Alpha and Omega Church of Faith & St. Philips Heritage Center

Contact: 336-748-4787


For More Information visit the website:

Triad Cultural Arts, Inc. – Winston-Salem, NC – 336-757-8556





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment