Executive Director Twana Roebuck, Experiment in Self-Reliance (ESR), is fundamentally a teacher. “Through knowledge people can do better,” she said. “I will always be a teacher, both formal and informal.” Currently, she and her team are teaching taxpayers about claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, if eligible. She and her team are providing free tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income Forsyth County taxpayers. Launched in 2000, ESR’s Forsyth Free Tax program served approximately 4,500 prior to the pandemic. Over the past two years, the program has assisted about 2,500 clients each year. In addition to tax return preparation, the program offers community volunteerism opportunities and connects residents with asset-building programs. Learn more about Twana Roebuck in this Get to Know an Executive Director feature.
What were your early career aspirations growing up?
My early dreams were to become a schoolteacher, many of my family members were teachers, from Person, Granville, Vance, and Warren counties. I taught four- and five-year-olds for two years at a local Winston-Salem private school. In 1979, I was the first African American teacher at the school, which eventually closed.
What is something that has sparked joy for you since the onset of the pandemic?
Having the funds to help people impacted by the pandemic.
Who’s your hero or heroine and why?
My heroines were my grandmother, Julia Burton Cash, and my aunt, Shirley Cash Lester. My grandmother was a stylish lady and managed most of the programs in our modest size church. She was emcee for most of our church programs, which taught me public speaking, events planning, and program emceeing. I have served as a radio talk host for WSSU-WSNC 90.5 FM (with no formal training). I am an events planner and a public speaker. My Aunt Shirley was strong, diplomatic, and very knowledgeable of the English language. She taught elementary school and was very active in the church. These two ladies taught me command of the English language, impromptu speaking, including how to quote a bible verse, when needed. While still in elementary school, after I won the Person County 4-H public speaking contest, I competed at the state level in Raleigh.
How would you describe your specific job to someone who doesn’t work in the community action network?
My job gives me the opportunity to serve and walk with people with critical needs. My heart for people and the compassion to serve comes first. After that, I serve as a leader for an organization that manages federal dollars and provides support to help people to do better.
What’s your fondest childhood memory?
Singing in the church choir and traveling to different churches in the area to sing. I was a member of three different groups, and we could really sing.