ESR leaving East Winston

ESR leaving East Winston
December 06
00:00 2012

Agency to break-ground on new multi-million dollar headquarters

After calling East Winston home for 45 years, ESR (Experiment in Self-Reliance) is set to move to a new home.

Last Friday, the agency, which offers programs and services to help the “working low-income” and chronically homeless populations, unveiled plans for a new $2.7 million headquarters during a private reception for donors and supporters.

The 19,000-square-foot-building, which will be called the ESR Community Services and Training Center, will be located at the corner of Dominion Street and Reynolds Boulevard in the northern part of the city. ESR Executive Director Twana Wellman Roebuck said the new location will be more centrally-located in order to serve ESR clients, who, she says, hail from all across the city. The new site is also in close proximity to Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, the American Red Cross and other agencies with whom ESR regularly partners.

Wellman Roebuck

“It’s a very good site and place certainly to serve the population we serve and broaden our base,” said Wellman Roebuck. “…We on purpose chose a site that would keep us (close) to our clients while at the same time be more visible and accessible.”

Wellman Roebuck said the current facility at 1550 University Court has served ESR well, but lacks the space and technology the agency needs going forward. The new building will have meeting space where ESR leaders can convene community meetings and hold quarterly homeownership classes, which are currently held off-site, and will allow ESR to serve an even greater number of clients in-house through its EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) program during tax time. The agency recently completed a three-year “quiet phase” of its fundraising campaign for the new building. Details of the move and proposed new building were announced for the first time publicly at last week’s event, which was held at the downtown headquarters of Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice.

[pullquote]“It’s a very good site and place certainly to serve the population we serve and broaden our base,” said Wellman Roebuck. “…We on purpose chose a site that would keep us (close) to our clients while at the same time be more visible and accessible.”[/pullquote]The capital campaign exceeded its initial fundraising goal of $2.2 million, and is on its way to meeting the $2.7 million mark by the time ground is broken on the new facility in April 2013, said Tommy Hickman, who co-chaired the capital campaign alongside his wife, Patricia. Hickman said he was thrilled with the community’s response to the campaign.

“It’s been a real refreshing and uplifting opportunity to work on this campaign,” declared Hickman, the senior vice president of Operations for Reynolds America. “…Going out and trying to get people to connect with what ESR is doing has been pretty easy because they like the inclination towards self-sufficiency.”

Beth Hopkins, a Wake Forest law professor, is the honorary co-chair of the ESR capital campaign.

Perry Peterson of Peterson/Gordon Architects used architectural renderings to discuss key features of the building, which will include a spacious two story lobby area, a covered pedestrian walkway leading to the building and a conference room with a window overlooking a play area to allow parents to supervise their children while meeting with ESR counselors.

Perry Peterson shows a design of the new building.

“What we’re trying to do is (ensure that) each client comes in to just a warm, friendly entrance,” he stated. “… Each time somebody comes in, we just want it to be a good experience at ESR.”

The facility has space on the land parcel and is designed in a way that would be conducive to expanding the structure at a later date if needed, Perry said. The agency hopes to open the doors of the new facility in 2014, which will mark its 50th year in existence.

The current ESR building is owned by the N.C. Housing Foundation. Wellman Roebuck said she was unsure of the Foundation’s plans for it once ESR vacates the property.

Dr. Frank James III, a former ESR board member and honorary campaign co-chair, praised all that the agency does, has done and will do.

“When you sit in Board of Directors meetings and you hear some of the stories that the clients will tell, you can’t help but be moved. It just brings tears to your eyes sometimes,” he said. “…I want to thank all of you for your participation and for your support going forth in the future. We truly do have something to celebrate here.”

For more information about ESR and the services it provides, visit or call 336- 722-9400.

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Layla Garms

Layla Garms

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