Wednesday, December 28, 2016

UPDATE - Last of 2016

Christina and Julia are sharing the Christmas love

The Last Few Days

The Fellows ended 2016 with a flourish. 

The men used their brawn over at the Shepherd's Center. 

Greg Camacho, Reese, Ned, and Sean
As you may know, the Shepherd's Center is known for its Used Book Sale Fundraiser (as well as its hard core bridge tournaments). Every year, this senior center sells thousands of used books. Well, last year, after having their best sale yet, they still had stacks and stacks of books left over - so many books that they had to rent out a P.O.D. 

Unfortunately, the P.O.D. costs money so every month they had to pay for the books that were just sitting there. Fortunately, the Shepherd's Center heard of a used book company in Atlanta that picks up people's used books for free and shares the profits with them. All the Shepherd's Center needed to do was get all the books out of the P.O.D. and onto pallets. Unfortunately, books are heavy. But fortunately, there are Fellows in Winston-Salem.

So there we were last Wednesday, using our brawn for a good cause. (Thanks Greg Camacho for sharing your brawn as well!)

Getting there slowly but surely
Sean was in book heaven
Nine pallets later

It was back breaking I'm not going to lie.

But I did manage to score a couple gems - nothing compared to the sweet note Drea Parker shared with me.


From the bottom of my heart, Thank you, to you and your team.  The mission of WS Fellows is a beautiful one, and I will let everyone know how great you all are.

Attached are the pics captured from your work today.  I’m SO EXCITED that we’ll be able to send that Pod on off instead of paying for monthly rental.
Have a wonderful rest of 2016. Happy Holidays.

Drea Parker
Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator
The Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem
1700 Ebert Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27103

The Day Wasn't Over!

From there, the Fellows headed over to Christmas For the City for one of my favorite holiday events of the season. 

Helping out at the gift mart
 I love Christmas for the City - so much I forgot to take pictures! Ugh. This is the only one.

I promise it was more fun than Maggie and my kids are making it look!
We made crafts, listened to music, played with magic snow, ate dinner, sang Christmas carols, made necklaces and shoebox cards for charity, ran into lots of friends old and new, drank hot chocolate, ate Christmas cookies, and got filled up with about as much Christmas Spirit as one can get filled up with. 


Dave Dave and Lucy
 David and I made a special delivery to the Erickson's adopted grandmother, Lucy Coats.

Dakota shared his present from his Host Family!

 Jessica and Christina shared pictures from their epic train ride from North Carolina to Chicago.

Land of Lincoln Girls
 I didn't know Washington DC was on the way to Chicago!

Maybe it is on the Polar Express!

As for the Ericksons, we headed to Columbus to celebrate Christmas with Lia's family.

We got to watch my niece Evy dance as a Page in Columbus Ballet's Nutcracker!

 We went to a Columbus Blue Jacket's game. (They have the most points in hockey this year!)

the Simpsons put on their Black and Gold Letter Jackets
Anna Rose wrote me emails:


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thank you for your enthusiasm for this program!
Thank you for your financial support!
Thank you for your prayers!
Thank you for cheering us on!
Thank you for opening doors!
Thank you for joining us on this crazy wonderful journey!

- Pray for the Fellows while they are on break
- Pray for college seniors who are thinking about what they might want to do next year
- Pray for good family time
- Pray for year end giving.

Or send checks to 

851 W. 5th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Or contact me about other options. 

Thanks everyone! My heart is full!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

UPDATE Year 1 Week 17


1. Never circle up around a campfire!

Why? Because the smoke can only go one direction - in your face!

2. When participating in a White Elephant with Fellows - you might end up with a CD visor ripped from one of the Fellow's cars.

The Fellows getting ready for an epic White Elephant gift exchange
We had a good old Christmas throw down for our final Round Table of the year. Julia and I cooked a little breakfast for dinner, which led to a White Elephant. My favorite gift was the "Handipants" gloves snagged by Will Troxler - why he snagged them remains a mystery - why I wish I was able to snag them...a mystery as well.

3. When dining with a distinguished college president embroiled in a college football scandal - wait for them to say the first word!

Dr. Nathan Hatch bookended by Gardner Barrier and me
Our final Leader Lunch of the year was by far our most elegant. Dr. Nathan Hatch was kind enough to host us in the Autumn Room of Reynolda Hall. This was only a day or two after the press release about "Wakey Leaks." 

Dr. Hatch entered the room and before we could introduce him, he goes, "So Fellows, what do you think about Wakey Leaks? Crazy huh?" 

The lunch only got better from there. Thank you Dr. Hatch for your honest candor and wise insights. It was certainly one of our best lunches to date!

Dr. Hatch fits right in!
4. Good Growth is Slow Growth

The Fellows in discussion during our Star Exercise
We finished up our first semester at the Center for Creative Leadership on Wednesday. These sessions have been good, but I had been wondering if the travel (and financial investment) had been worth it. 

At the end of our time together, we stood in a circle and shared one thing that we had learned this semester - and by the end of it, I was convinced it was worth it. Thanks CCL!

And thank you Fellows for trusting the process. 

5. The Fellows have taught me a thing or two (or twelve).

We chose a card that described a "Leadership Challenge.

I said, "I chose this guy because I feel like I am endlessly climbing this mountain. Just when I get through the fall, I need to start gearing up for next year. It's pretty grueling, and as the only staff person I often feel alone."

Then it was the Fellows turn to interpret the card. 

"I see a radical leader."

"I see someone who is willing to put himself on the line."

"I see someone who is willing to face challenges."

"I see someone who needs a rope."

And suddenly, I realized - Wow! this job is actually helping me be the kind of man I want to be. 

I also realized what I really need... a rope!

I need support!

As they say on the rock, "I need someone on belay."


When you support this program as a financial supporter, as a volunteer, as a praying friend (AS THREE IN ONE!), you are actually keeping me on the rock!

You are the reason I can keep climbing the mountain!

But if I don't have support - I'm free climbing - and that often does not end well!

So don't forget us.

Please support the Winston-Salem Fellows this year. We need financial support. We need volunteers. And we need prayers...We really need all three.

 Give today!

To donate online CLICK HERE

To give by Credit Card, call Ned Erickson at (336) 413-4918

To set up an ongoing draft, call Ned Erickson at (336) 413-4918

To send a check to the Winston-Salem Fellows

Mail to: 851 W. 5th Street, WSNC 27101

Thank you!

6. I've got a lot to learn

The distinguished Bill McClain teaches us a thing or two (or twelve)
We sat under (not literally) Bill McCain and Ron Pegram for three more hours of mentor training on Friday, and I learned one thing: I have got A LOT to learn!

Thank you Bill and Ron for sharing both your wisdom and your hearts with us! We will not be the same because of it. And we cannot wait to start working with you in the coming year!

7. These Fellows really have made the most wonderful time of the year truly, truly wonderful.

Jessica, Christina and Rahel cheering on Zeni for her indoor soccer game on Saturday.
Dakota "teaching" Sunday School at Salem Pres
Nicknames like "Water Baby"
Attending the Holiday Gift Mart

Anna Rose finding a Walkman and dad's old 80s tapes
 8. When the Community comes together, Great Things Happen.
David helping out at the Holiday Gift Mart

Painting with Trey Sutton, Ethan Carros and Tory Spong

 9. What makes the Winston-Salem Fellows Program Great is the People.

Winston-Salem Fellows Christmas Party
Last night, we had our first annual Fellows Christmas Party. For the first time, the Board, the Churches, the Mentors, the Host Families, the Teachers, and the Fellows were all together under one roof!


There were a lot of us!

Ned trying to remember chords to Christmas carols
Ned enjoys the company of Paul Allen, one of our Mentors
Camille and her boyfriend John, home from college!

10. Love wins!

thank you, friends, for joining the journey. 

You are sharing the story...

You have spread the love...

- Pray for future Fellows: 6 guys and 6 gals for class of 2017-18
- Pray for finances: $24,000 to go.
- Pray for safe travels for our Fellows
- Pray for sweet time with family and friends.

Please reach out! I'll be around over the holidays and would love to catch up. 

Thanks all!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

UPDATE Year 1 Week 16

Seasons Greetings from the Fellows!

The Fellows at the Black Nativity
If a door won't open, find a window to jump through...

We were framed!
Thanks to the Stogners, who once again provided a delectable meal for Round Table. Tonight we will be having our last Round Table of the year at our house, a little breakfast for dinner to be followed by a White Elephant gift exchange. Woo hoo!

A BIG THANK YOU to Melissa Phipps, Vice President of Patient Services at Novant, and her team, who hosted one of the best Leader Lunches we have had this fall. Melissa's passion for patient advocacy was truly inspirational. We are lucky to have women like her in leadership, particularly in Health Care. One day we will need it - and because of her vision - you and I will receive the care we deserve! 

Sorry for the form photo - another fail...
Thank you to friends of the Fellows, Jay Helvey and Kevin Miller, for inviting the Fellows to your Christmas party.

Rahel enjoying the spread (Photo Bomb cred: Kevin and Beth Frack)
I was impressed with Jay, who had just come off what appears to be an intense "work retreat" attended by Will Troxler, one of our Fellows.


The Fellows with Ron Pegram and Bill McClain
I'm excited to announce a new partnership! The Fellows are joining forces with Ron Pegram, Executive Director of KidzXtreme, and Bill McClain, Executive Director of G.I.D.E. (Guiding Institute for Development Education). 

We are undergoing six hours of training that will equip us to mentor with these organizations. 

In addition, next semester our Fellows will be performing three Action Projects for these organizations! These include:
  • Creation and Formatting of a Mentor Curriculum  
  • Development of a Volunteer Recruitment Strategy
  • Upgrading of their Communications both print and online
These Fellows are up to the task. At the same time, we have so much to learn! Three hours into this exemplary training - I have learned that there is a WHOLE LOT MORE I need to learn than I thought I had to learn before I began!

Thank you Ron and Bill for sharing your stories and your decades of wisdom with us!


Thank you to each one of our investors. The truth is the Winston-Salem Fellows cannot and will not exist without the generosity of people like you. Please consider at what level you are able to give this year. 

You can give online by CLICKING HERE

You can give by mail by writing a check to the WS Fellows and sending it to:

Winston-Salem Fellows
851 W. 5th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

NEW!!! You can now give to the Fellows by Credit Card!

Please email me at or to learn how!


And each time we receive one, this is what happens...

Please help this happen!!!


THANK YOU NIGEL ALSTON, Executive Director of the Black Repertory Theater Company, for inviting us to volunteer and attend the Black Nativity - hands down my favorite Christmas Holiday Tradition. 

If you have not ever attended this performance - put it on your calendar for next December. 

Joseph and some shepherds and us

We had so much fun. 

Christina selling tickets

Rahel and Julia at the concessions tables
Alex and Jessica greeting people

Sean greeting Sarah Alston
Ned and Lia on Will Call duty
An amazing night had by all

Other Highlights from a Highlight Filled Week

The Fellows take over Skatehaven!!!
Anna Rose's Choral Concert

Eating lunch at one of my favorite restaurants El Triunfo
Jessica and Alex enjoying the Nutcracker Saturday night
Cassia Capital Christmas Party

Going on a "Recruiting Trip" to Chapel Hill with Matt Hornaday, John Kirkwood and David Speakman. Go Cats! and Thanks Matthew!

If so, please have them contact me. I would love to meet them!


Keep spreading the word and sharing the love!