United Way highlights target areas for Black History Month

Barbara Frost has seen all of the negative changes in the Bowen Park neighborhood over the past few decades.

United Way highlights target areas for Black History Month
February 03
09:08 2022

A few years ago, the United Way of Forsyth County unveiled their plan to help revitalize several neighborhoods in the eastern portion of the city with several community partners. Their initiative, “Place Matters,” has a goal to positively impact the community by attacking issues plaguing these selected areas, such as under/unemployment, education, housing and healthy living.

For Black History Month, the United Way is highlighting certain residents that inhabit their target neighborhoods. The first individual who was selected to be interviewed was Ms. Barbara “Bob” Frost of the Bowen Park neighborhood.

Frost was the eighth of 11 children. She has three children and one stepchild and raised them all in Bowen Park. She attended Kimberley Park Elementary and Paisley Middle School. She dropped out of high school to take care of her first child, but returned to get her GED in 1997. Frost eventually went back to school to obtain her nursing assistant license.

As a resident of her current home for the past 41 years, Frost has seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood. She says it used to be a neighborhood where children could play in the yard, people spoke to each other, and everyone looked out for one another.

People used to be able to sit on the porch and enjoy the ambiance of the neighborhood, but now the area is filled with violence and drugs. She mentioned that a neighbor was shot while sitting on their porch last year. Frost is adamant about staying in her neighborhood and has no plans on leaving.

“This is my home,” she said in an interview with Regina Craven, director of strategic communications and public relations with the United Way of Forsyth County. “I wanted this home. I am not going anywhere.

“We live where we can afford. When you come inside, my home is clean. When you walk on the porch, that’s not where we live. A lot of people look at people on the outside and don’t know what’s on the inside.”

In 2016, the City of Winston-Salem did some small renovations to her home. Last year, Habitat for Humanity, a partner of the United Way, came in and made her home wheelchair accessible after she had several surgeries.

Craven has not been with the United Way for very long, however, she is from Winston-Salem and says some of the areas in the Place Matters neighborhoods have been trending downward for years.

“It’s the thing that you see now and it’s not a surprise,” Craven said about how some of the neighborhoods have made a turn for the worse. “And even when I was interviewing her (Frost) and asking her what was the timeframe where she saw a change, she didn’t even remember a change either, she just knows that it’s different from what it was back in the day and I kind of feel the same way.”

Frost and other people in the neighborhood like her make revitalizing these areas all the more worthwhile. Craven is proud to be a part of the change in East Winston.

“Being new with the United Way and not even knowing we did this type of work, it brings me pride being from Winston and seeing we are doing these things,” she said. “It brings me pride as a Black person knowing that we are helping other Black people in the neighborhoods and they are not forgotten about.

“I think people tend to shy away from knowing that there is violence and drugs in some places and you just don’t talk about it, you kind of just go around it. But knowing that we are involved in it and trying to make that impact and Ms. Frost can’t even articulate how United Way is helping, but she knows we are here. Those things make me proud.”

For Frost, her hope is that the neighborhood returns to its glory days of neighbors looking out for one another and a cease in the violence and crime.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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