Business & Economy
12:22 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Triangle CEOs Spend The Night Homeless

Leoneda Inge reports on the "CEO Sleep Out" sponsored by the United Way of the Greater Triangle.
Mital Patel of Triangle Business Law with his cardboard box at the United Way's 'CEO Sleep Out.'
Credit Leoneda Inge

A group of community and business leaders spent the night under the stars last night, right across from the Durham Performing Arts Center.  The United Way event was designed to bring attention to homelessness and poverty in the Triangle. 

They made their beds out of cardboard refrigerator boxes – laid out or propped up on the grass between DPAC and the railroad tracks.

Kari Stoltz is Triangle Market President for Bank of America.  As she prepared for the night, Stoltz grabbed her khaki baseball cap.

“Really starting to think about the reality and how blessed I am," said Stoltz.

Last year, about 20 people joined the “CEO Sleep Out.”  This year it’s 38 executives from organizations like The Redwoods Group, Dress for Success, and Glaxo Smith Kline.   Mack Koonce is President and CEO of the United Way of the Greater Triangle.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is really make sure the community understands the issues and the needs are even greater and hopefully have more people to step up to do their part," said Koonce.

An upcoming report says 2,000 people are homeless on any given night in the Triangle.

But Jamie Rohe, Homeless Programs Coordinator for Orange County, says everybody knows that’s low.

“Because you’re not seeing the people who are homeless and are in institutions like jails and hospitals and you’re not counting people who are couch surfing and you’re not counting people you can’t find," said Rohe.

“Sleep Out” participants were encouraged to raise money to upgrade from just a cardboard bed last night.  One thousand dollars would get you a sleeping bag – and also cover the costs of professional support for a family for seven to nine months.