She may have made a classic rookie mistake at her first meeting as a member Rockingham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners — coming in about 20 minutes late after getting second-hand information about when the meeting was to start — but Elizabeth Evans is no novice, especially when it comes to helping people.
Evans was appointed to the board by Mayor Steve Morris in August, and took office on Sept. 1. She had been recovering from an illness that forced her to resign from her position as a chaplain at FirstHealth when she got the call from the mayor asking her to take the position.
“When he asked, I made myself available,” Evans said. “I said ‘yes I would.’”
Evans has been ministering since 1978, the year she said she was saved, and has since become a pastor and took a position on the Chaplain’s Executive Board where she would pray with people who were suffering with severe illnesses.
“I believe in living a good life and I love to see others live the same way, when I see people hurt it hurts me,” Evans said. “You can’t change other people’s lives but sometimes you can give them a word or something that can help them change it, help them to think better, make better decisions.”
Evans lived in public housing for five years during what she called a period of “transition” in her life. Despite the negative connotation that comes with living in a “project” — such as poor living conditions, crime and drugs — Evans kept her faith and tried to improve the lives of her neighbors in any way she could.
She said that change can start with something as simple as convincing people to communicate.
“If you can get people to interact with people, a community is about that. It’s not just one person taking pride in their community but it’s a community effort,” Evans said. “You have to be able to communicate with your neighbors.”
Her time in public housing taught her the value of community and she began to take on more responsibilities, volunteering with the Rockingham Housing Authority, where she ran a summer camp, among other roles, over a period of nine years. She was later elected president of the Resident Advisory Board.
“It was a place that I needed to be and it was here for me,” Evans said. “I gave God the praise, accepted it, enjoyed it while I was here and did what I could to help and to improve.”
Chereka Belton, executive director of the Rockingham Housing Authority, described Evans in an email as having a “no-nonsense style.”
“She is fair, listens and is non-judgmental,” Belton said.
Evans’ role on the board will be helping to set policy for the housing authority. She said it’s the job of the housing authority to make decisions that will help people “live the best lives that they can live.”
“With housing, some people come to stay and some are just passing through but whatever they’re doing…children and adults, elderly — every group of people, this has a profound effect on their lives,” Evans said. “The decisions that are made here, they’re important.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.