04/19/17 — Program offers resources, not handouts

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Program offers resources, not handouts

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 19, 2017 9:57 AM

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D.J. Coles, founder of the 4-Day Movement, a grassroots non-profit that helps struggling people with resources and a hand up rather than a handout, explains about the group's mission and plans to expand. This week marked the launch of the ministry's capital campaign, which will fund such efforts as a summer feeding program for children and a house for neglected and abused teens.

The 4-Day Movement, launched in 2013 to connect residents in need with resources "four days at a time," is expanding.

Founder D.J. Coles has spent the past four years building up the non-profit as a go-to organization for those who are struggling.

"We never look for a case, they find us," he said. "They're finding us through word of mouth, Facebook, our website. Those are the big three."

There are plenty of examples of people in need around this community, Coles said -- from the woman who had no heat in her home and the family displaced during Hurricane Matthew to the mom of three going through cancer and the victim of domestic violence seeking a safe house.

"We made a really strong impact during Hurricane Matthew. We helped over 110 people, whether it was lodging, food, care kits," he said. "Since we started we have impacted 500-plus people in some manner, whether it be direct resource or referral."

It's time to take the 4-Day Movement to the next level, Coles said.

"The demand is becoming a lot larger than our infrastructure," he said. "We want paid staff, full-time and part-time and we're looking for a permanent facility."

The organization is currently staffed by volunteers, with Coles the only paid staff. Even that is minimal, he explained, because the bulk of the donations go to those in need.

His salary as youth pastor at the base chapel allows him to donate his time to the grassroots ministry.

This week he announced the kickoff of the capital campaign, "Preparing 4 Rain." The title came naturally, he said.

"When it rains, you need cover," he explained. "4-Day is that cover for many people. We're that umbrella but we also are preparing for rain because we're preparing for harvest."

The group's reach has gone beyond Goldsboro and Wayne County, Coles said, with help extended as far away as Mecklenburg County and Richmond, Va.

Purpose of the capital campaign, from now until June 4, is to raise funds and pledges to support the ongoing efforts, which include some lofty goals.

From developing sustainable community gardens and collaborating with agencies to provide technology and recreational areas for youth to a summer feeding program for children, Coles said he has marveled at the response from the community.

"It's been a miracle. That's the word I want to use because people that have (volunteered) to work with 4-Day and organizations in our community that have reached out to help us, they have lent their time, talents and treasures," he said.

The premise of the 4-Day Movement is not about giving handouts, but rather a hand up, he said.

Whether to break the cycle of poverty or addiction, the aim is to be part of the solution, to empower people to become productive citizens in the community, Coles said.

Another part of the equation is follow-up, he added.

"We don't just give them something and walk away," he said. "We follow up with the clients within four days, within 14 days, 44 days, 74 days and then four months, and then continuously as needed."

Coles admits he is still "figuring it out" as he has never run a non-profit.

Details are being ironed out but he hinted at an imminent announcement he hopes to soon share.

"In about a month, we're going to open up a house for abused and neglected teenage boys, Newby Legacy House," he said, calling it a "soft landing house" that will have a housing attendant on staff 24/7. "They'll be able to go there and attend high school and even college, stabilize their life and put them in a stable environment."

"We went to St. Louis to look at the model (for the house) and we're going to bring that model to Wayne County."

There are also plans to open a second house, for abused and neglected girls, in the future, Coles said.

Suzanne Southerland, a volunteer who works with 4-Day Movement with Coles and his wife, Ruth, says to expect even more in the future.

"We're going to be big-time. They are already looking to grow into Jacksonville, Florida, Houston, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri and even Atlanta," she said. "We might seem like a fledgling organization but it's moving fast and it's growing fast."