Enloe’s Impact: A Student-Led Effort

A senior explains with the Enloe High School Charity Ball is important to him—and the community.
by Carter Wood

My name is Carter Wood, senior at Enloe Magnet High School and Vice President of Publicity for Enloe Charity Ball, which has been one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of my high school years. Enloe Charity Ball (ECB) is student-led, seeking to foster student leaders who are “alive with purpose” in order to make a lasting impact in our community. Each year, we select a local nonprofit through an extensive application process. In the fall, we raise funds and awareness through a variety of fundraising efforts, community partnerships, and corporate sponsorships. This effort culminates in the ball in December at Marbles Kids Museum, where the check with the final fundraising total is presented to the charity.

Image courtesy The News & Observer

In my four years as a part of ECB, we will have raised over $700,000 for area nonprofits, money which has had a tangible impact on the Raleigh/Wake County community. We have helped address hunger, homelessness, inclusion and poverty through not only monetary funds, but by bringing attention to the issues themselves and the systemic roots they stem from. The example of our direct impact I am most proud of is our contribution to the construction of the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness’s new Oak City Cares center. We were the largest private donor to the center, which provides a multitude of services and resources to Raleigh’s homeless population.

It’s easy to communicate the financial side of ECB; money talks in a universal language. But what I am most passionate about with our organization is our mission of making change through student leadership. Young people like myself are often the most in touch with the deep-rooted issues that envelop their communities and are most passionate about enacting real change. As seen through our 15 years of existence, high school students are capable of leading a nonprofit organization and doing so quite effectively, as we have raised over $1,000,000 and impacted thousands of lives right here in our own community. It is this effort to inspire and develop the leaders of tomorrow that I am most proud of.

I have also been personally impacted by our direct service to our beneficiaries, as I have had the opportunity to volunteer for each of them. Last year’s Enloe Charity Ball helped fund the implementation of the Autism Society of NC’s IGNITE Program, which serves young adults with autism to allow them to be successful in the transition to adulthood. One night, some of us went over the IGNITE center to participate in a game night with the members. We bonded over Uno and Monopoly, telling jokes and sharing stories of our high school experiences. As the night went on, I came to realize that it was not just us, the Enloe Charity Ball team, helping others through service and leadership, but that those we were serving were also teaching us. They teach us about humanity and understanding, about perspective; ideas which become ever-important as we move on from high school and into the next chapter of our lives, and I am grateful for these learning experiences.

This year, we are seeking to raise $200,000 for Southeast Raleigh Promise, an organization that strives to end intergenerational poverty in southeast Raleigh, Enloe’s own backyard. They do this through increasing economic opportunity, community wellness, opportunity for affordable housing and ensuring quality cradle-to-career education. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to address issues that limit opportunity and mobility for people that are truly an integral part of our city. On Saturday, we’ll celebrate our donation at the Charity Ball, where we hope to donate a big check to this worthy organization (the tickets are sold out, but you can still donate here).

Though I graduate this year and move on from Enloe Charity Ball, I will forever be inspired by the values of leadership, creativity, and inclusivity that our organization promotes in order to inspire and impact our community.