Natural Breeden, a graduate student at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, is a leader in the university's efforts to address hunger and homelessness. The Master of Social Work student manages UNCP's CARE Center, which provides food and clothing assistance to students, faculty and staff in need. Most recently, Natural has worked with the Office for Community and Civic Engagement to establish an off-campus emergency housing program for homeless students. As the manager of this initiative, Natural was tasked with developing the policies and procedures for the program and housing facility, and works with a community-based organization to provide day-to-day oversight of the facility. Natural approaches her service with a level of professionalism, compassion and maturity that inspires her peers and has earned her the distinction as one of UNC Pembroke's most impactful student leaders.
As a student at UNC Pembroke, I have had the opportunity to identify and address issues facing our community and develop initiatives that promote civic engagement competency among my peers. As the manager of UNC Pembroke's on-campus food pantry, I have witnessed firsthand the struggles related to food insecurity many students and community members face. Though I did not start the pantry, I have had a hand in developing a robust program that addresses a serious need on our campus and in our community. During my time as the manager, we have seen the number of visits to the pantry double. After speaking with those using the pantry most frequently, we started to notice that there were students on campus who not only struggled with food insecurity, but also homelessness. In collaboration with a community partner, I assisted UNCP with establishing an emergency housing program for students. Since opening, we have been able to house eleven students who would have otherwise been homeless. As the manager of this program, I work with the students in identifying the obstacles in their lives preventing them from having stable housing, and then developing a plan of action to help them secure housing.