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Monarch helps Sandhills’ artists pursue their dreams

Two artists in the Sandhills are receiving support from Monarch staff so their work can be shared with others.

Since the 1980s, Reggie Carson, a resident of Monarch’s McArthur Apartments and participant of the PSR in Richmond County, has enjoyed photography and has worked dutifully on his hobby. The Anson County native said because his mother loved flowers so much, he started to capture images of them and from there his interest for photography blossomed. Because he captured images on film, at that time, he would have them developed so his mom could look at beautiful flowers year round.

Reggie Carson pic“After that, I got involved in an international society of photographers and I won some awards,” explained Carson. “I got a few photos published in a few publications. I won the Best Photo of the Year in 2003 and 2005. It’s really a hobby that I enjoy.”

Last April, with support from staff, the award-winning photographer joined a local photography club after reading about the organization in the local newspaper. Recently, Carson’s and his fellow photography enthusiasts’ images were featured in a photo exhibit at the Richmond County Library in Rockingham. Carson’s photos of a lamplight and an Iris were among those featured.

Duane Unger, who lives at E. Seawell Street Home in Lee County, is also an artist. Unger is a poet, who is working to publish his second book of poems using funds raised from last year’s Dreams Take Flight Golf Tournament. Angela House, operations director, said staff are in the process of helping Unger type his draft and are working with a publisher to print his work, in an effort to help Unger’s dream to publish his poetry come true.

“This book will contain his thoughts and different aspects of his life,” House explained. “He even has a poem about Monarch in this second book. We are super excited about this publication in Region 2 and the fact that Monarch made it possible.”
Pictured above: An image of some of Carson's photos.

‘Meet your Neighbor’ helps to debunk perceptions

When Annie Tate interviewed for her position as operations manager at Monarch three years ago, admittedly she passed the group home numerous times where the interview was to be held.

meet your neighbors“I was looking for a house that had doubled-doors, sort of plain -looking, like group homes use to be,” said Tate, who has worked in human services a number of years. “What I found is not what I expected. It was a very, very nice home – a very personal and inviting place.”

So Tate made it her mission to work with staff to develop a plan to help change how some people perceive group homes. They decided the best method was to allow people to see the homes firsthand.  After nearly a year of planning, Tate, supervisors and other staff recently hosted several “Meet your Neighbor” events to allow some members from the community, families, guardians and other residents in the neighborhoods where Monarch group homes are located in Richmond and Moore counties to visit,  take tours and meet the group home residents and staff. The fun and festive events were held at Cauthen Drive, Charlotte Street, Circlewood Drive, a six-bed home that opened last August, and Richmond Adult homes in Richmond County. In Moore County, two events were hosted at the homes on Oak Drive and West Connecticut Avenue.

They created flyers and the people supported distributed them to their neighbors and others inviting them to their home for the event, which they didn’t want to call an open house, because that sounded too impersonal, Tate said. She and others were impressed with the turnout as well as the responses from guests.

Tate told Community Life Improvement Committee (CLIC) members during the group’s January conference call that a parent of a person with disabilities was very pleased with the condition and personality of the homes. She was impressed with how cozy and personal the homes were with family photos adorning walls and colorful decor.

“There was a time you couldn’t put anything up on the walls of the group homes and there use to be little beds in plain rooms that had no personality,” Tate recalled. “This mom said she kept her daughter out of the group homes because of how she remembered them. She asked how to get her child into one of Monarch’s homes.”

Tate said the goal is to host more, similar events so group home residents can interact more with their neighbors and the community.

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