Building relationships across social class lines is a complex process with many rewards and pitfalls. Best practices gleaned from other national initiatives, asset-based community development, strength-based assessment, a historical movement resulting in significant change, and other research-based material informed the development of the NETworX model. NETworX is based on the Methodist movement which French Theologian Halevy believed provided a “ladder of opportunity” for those experiencing poverty. Weekly classes, accountability, and relationship building were the core of the Methodist movement and are at the core of the NETworX initiative.

Origins of NETworX

NETworX began in North Carolina in 2015 rooted in best practices and wisdom gained from work in other similar initiatives. Others states that had also been engaged in anti-poverty work were interested in beginning something with a more relational core. After prayers for discernment and compassionate disagreement a meeting with several potential stakeholders was held in Atlanta, and the result was the birth of the NETworX initiative. NETworX continues to evolve through the feedback and wisdom of those in NETworX communities providing guidance on every aspect of the initiative.

Model and Strategy

At the model's core are weekly meetings that include shared meals, time for relationship-building and mutual accountability, goal setting, and celebration.  Childcare and transportation, frequent barriers to regular participation, are provided as needed without cost.  Education around the topics of self- awareness, racial equity, addiction in all of its forms, aspects of privilege, holistic poverty, social capital, the role of personal and community trauma, and community transformation form the topical base of the training classes.
Reciprocal relationships, built over a period, of time, are central and are built through the shared cohort experience and shared vulnerability.  Participants support one another as they develop their individual strengths, capacities, and potential. Finally, because the level of transformation desired takes place over time, participants are asked to dedicate 18-36 months to training and relationship building.

What does a NETworX Intentional Community Look Like?

A NETworX Intentional Community is created through cohorts that mirror the community at large. They should be diverse and inclusive of participants from various racial, economic, and social backgrounds invested in personal and community transformation through connection and igniting human transformation.

Who we are

Debbie Rice

Executive Director of NETworX USA

Debbie is the Executive Director of NETworX USA and serves as the Academic Coordinator for the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) Program at Walden University. Debbie has been involved with NETworX since its inception and with the precursors to NETworX since 2010.

Debbie received her Ph.D. in social work and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from the University of South Carolina. She also has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Debbie enjoys spending time with her husband Alan, the CEO of RFDCDC, especially in Aruba. She also loves to read good mysteries and snuggle with Shandi and Vinny, two Havenese dogs she and Alan rescued from a puppy mill in South Carolina.

A goal Debbie strives for is to find joy in each day.

“…And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

-Micah 6:8

Annette Weston

Director of Operations

Annette works for NETworX USA as the Director of Operations. She has been involved with NETworX since 2009. Annette is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and uses those systemic principles daily in her role with NETworX.

Annette Received her B.A. from Metropolitan State University, in Minneapolis, MN in Family Studies/Cultural Diversity Awareness.

She received her M.A. from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in Human Development with her Focus on Understanding Poverty. And an M.A. from Pfeiffer University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

Annette grew up in Minnesota, and loves living in North Carolina! Her hobbies include hiking, biking, kayaking, pretty much anything in nature. Annette is passionate about travel and experiencing other cultures and foods. One of her life goals is to write a book that someone actually reads.

"If you are tired, keep going.If you are scared, keep going. If you are hungry, keep going. If you want to taste freedom, keep going."

-Harriet Tubman

Crystal Imes

Training and Communications

Crystal has been with NETworX since 2013 first, as a participant, and in 2015 transitioning to staff. She is passionate about the relationships formed at NETworX, with everyone becoming both teacher and student. Crystal currently coordinates the NETworX Yadkin site, as well as working for NETworX NC and NETworX USA in the areas of communications and training. With the tremendous support of her husband and four children (the Fantastic Four), Crystal is working toward her Master's Degree in Social Work with the goal of furthering the work of NETworX. In the little spare time she has, Crystal enjoys spending time in the kitchen with her family passing down recipes and creating brand new ones to help her children to carry on both culture and curiosity for generations to come.

“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”

-Dorothy Day