The ways we connect – big or small – to the children, families and adults in our lives improves individual well-being and our community overall. Stories of how everyday connections are making a difference are coming soon!

Science shows that connections matter, but testimonials are real-life proof! Share your story by e-mailing Please note that the stories you send could be shared publicly to promote the Connections Matter NC effort.


Real Stories About Connections

Paying it forward: that’s what Robert Roy does every day in his job as an After-Hours Social Worker with Durham County Department of Social Services.

Robert grew up in an inner city neighborhood and now helps families realize their dreams. He chose to work in the Child Welfare field because he loves to engage with the entire family. Robert believes his calling in life is to help others.

 “I get my most joy when I’m able to make someone smile or happy when they are down,” said Robert.

That love and joy likely sparked from the influence of positive role models in his life, including his oldest sister, Sabrina. She was a school principal who was invested in her students’ lives, not just academically, but personally. Robert remembers his sister buying clothes for students in need. Sabrina’s goal was to provide those students with the same level of education and respect as students in middle- and higher-income level schools.

Robert experienced his biggest growth in middle school. He credits his teacher, Chris Inserra, for this. Robert says she taught him and his classmates things that “truly opened [their] eyes”. Robert learned sign language, met Chris’s family, and visited places outside his neighborhood.

“She showed us a whole different life,” said Robert. Chris Inserra installed values of caring for others and helping your fellow citizens.

Ultimately, Robert’s sister and his middle school teacher were the positive connections who inspired him to work with low income families.

Now Robert feels like he has the responsibility to pay it forward.

“I need to spread the love and support that I have received throughout my life to others,” Robert said.

Robert hopes to be that one person who makes a positive change in the life of a child.

“When I’m able to see a child smile or having a parent who’s able to exhale as they realize that there are people who’s interested in assisting them and their family,” Robert said, “that keeps me motivated.”

Every journey begins with one step. When Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC’s President & CEO, reminisces on her first steps that lead her here today, she notes that it all started with hikes with her great grandmother on her farm.

Sharon learned the value of concrete support and social connections very early thanks to hikes with her great grandmother, who would tell amazing stories, forming a bond between the two that would become ingrained in Sharon’s memory forever. Her great grandmother was that trusting adult who provided the stability and positive influence in Sharon’s life.

Sharon has grown from that little girl, hiking on the farm in Pennsylvania, to an active member of her community in Durham, North Carolina. She’s been a Sunday School teacher, Deacon and Elder at her church and served on Boards at Urban Ministries of Durham and the Child Care Services Association.

As a young girl, Sharon watched her mother support her sister, who was going through a tough divorce, and her two children. Sharon watched her mother have them over for dinner often, and be an emotional support when they were going through a tough time. Sharon realized that the support her mother provided for her sister, niece, and nephew is the kind of support she wished all families had.

Inspired by the support and investment modeled by her mother, Sharon decided to dedicate her career to ensuring that all children grow up safe, loved and nurtured.

Now, Sharon’s work revolves around making North Carolina the best place to raise children in the country – where families are supported to raise children to achieve their full potential. She’s a firm believer that when we don’t build and strengthen our most vulnerable, our society cannot reach its full potential.  It’s like the old saying, “the chain is no stronger than its weakest link.”

Sharon see’s the power of positive change that one person can make in the life of a child. Helping others make that connection has been her goal and she’s seeing positive change in North Carolina.

“More and more of our community leaders across the state and at the State Department of Health and Human Services are committing to building systems of support for children and families,” Sharon said, “Being a part of shaping that change is incredibly exciting and gratifying.”

Today, when she gets to visit her aunt and cousin who live in NC now, too, she is reminded of how resilient and strong one can become when they have healthy, supportive relationships on their corner.


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