“… I learned to know the homeless and they are people just like you and me but homeless.”
Nan Griswold’s involvement with homelessness began in 1982 when an influx of individuals could not access emergency shelters in Winston-Salem, NC because they were full. At the time, the only shelters in town were the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army and Lighthouse. The Reverend Ginny Britt at Crisis Control Ministry, asked Nan to help find a solution to the problem. At the time, Nan served as the assistant director at Downton Church Center. She, Ginny and other concerned community members rallied together to find a solution. They came up with the idea to ask downtown churches to open their doors to individuals experiencing homelessness. She and Ginny proposed the idea to several congregations in the community, many of which agreed to participate. For approximately five years willing congregations opened their doors to people experiencing homelessness during the winter months of January through March.
In 1986 Nan and a few others were selected to be on a task force created by Mayor Wayne Corpening and Chairman of County Commissioners, Richard Linville. The task force presented six housing and basic needs recommendations to the City and County. One of the recommendations was to establish a permanent council for homeless services to improve coordination and planning of homeless services. Thus, the Homeless Council was created as a place for people and organizations with an interest in homelessness “to communicate and share ideas.” The Homeless Council continues to meet every third Tuesday of the month. Nan has seen the community make great strides to strengthen the relationship amongst service providers resulting in better service to those experiencing homelessness. Nan said “we learned to work with each other; we’ve learned to depend on each other.” Since the mid 80’s, Nan has intimately been involved in the development of homeless services in Forsyth County. She is happy to see that the Homeless Council, now known as the WSFC CoC continues to support the work to end homelessness in Winston-Salem.
After her retirement as Founding Executive Director at the Second Harvest Food Bank, Nan continued to serve on the Homeless Council executive committee. The past several years she has not been as active but still concerned. However, she is still active in the community. She believes in the ministry of helping others and is committed to a life of service to others. She now serves on the Faith and Justice Committee at her church, St Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Nan served on the board of Samaritan Ministries for six years and the Capital Campaign for the new building. She has been a big supporter of Samaritan Ministries since the beginning and takes immense pride in her involvement with the organization and what is has accomplished over the years. With an extensive background in social work she is familiar with interacting with youth of various backgrounds. She has worked with troubled youth in the criminal justice system and is interested in working to find housing for youth as they leave foster care.
When she is not busy addressing homelessness, she enjoys a good read and spending time with her family. As a devoted animal lover, she is also involved with the Forsyth Humane Society, where she participated on their capital campaign for their new building located on Country Club Road. Nan’s passion for social justice issues continues to fuel her drive to stay active in the community. Overall, she feels fortunate to be amongst passionate colleagues and is appreciative of her longtime career.