A picture of Representative G. K. Butterfield
George B.
Democrat NC 1

About Rep. George
  • Honoring Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum, a Trailblazer

    by Representative G. K. Butterfield

    Posted on 2016-01-07

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    BUTTERFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my condolences on the passing of a giant in the Durham, North Carolina, community, a trailblazer, one who dedicated her life to improving health outcomes for disadvantaged citizens, including veterans.

    This trailblazer, Mr. Speaker, was my friend, Dr. Sharon Elliott- Bynum. Sharon passed away on Sunday, January 3, at the young age of 58, 2 days before her 59th birthday.

    We lost this giant far too soon, but not before she revolutionized the delivery of care for those in need through the founding of Durham's first free-standing, comprehensive healthcare clinic, called Healing with CAARE.

    My first visit as Durham's Congressman was an enlightening visit to CAARE. I saw Sharon at work, I saw paid staff, and I saw dozens of community volunteers. We mourn this tremendous loss, but we also celebrate Sharon's remarkable life, which was replete with the success that many can only hope to achieve.

    Born in Durham, Sharon Elliott-Bynum was a graduate of Northern High School, Durham Technical Institute, the Watts School of Nursing, and my alma mater, North Carolina Central University. She also received a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Victory International College.

    Sharon was a dedicated member of a great sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. As a member of the Durham Alumnae Chapter, founded in 1931, she led by example. Sharon was also a member of the National Council of Negro Women, of Sigma Theta Tau International, of the Top Ladies of Distinction, and of many more service organizations. Finally, she was a faithful member of the Faith Assembly Christian Center in Durham.

    Dr. Elliott-Bynum was attracted to the field of nursing when she, at the age of 16, began volunteering at the historic Lincoln Community Health Center. Sharon's volunteerism motivated her to pursue a nursing career. So, in 1995, Dr. Elliott-Bynum and her late sister, Patricia-- ``Pat'' she called her--founded Healing with CAARE, Inc.

    What began as a nonprofit, community-based provider of services for individuals who were living with HIV expanded to being the primary healthcare home for more than 1,000 individuals who live with cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. CAARE [[Page H108]] also provides free dental care, substance abuse counseling, a food pantry, and free housing for homeless veterans.

    Her remarkable work has been honored over the years through many awards and recognitions. They include The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is the highest civilian honor presented by the Governor; the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Veterans Braintrust Award; the NCCU Distinguished Alumni Award; and the Durham Chamber of Commerce Women's Leadership Award.

    Dr. Elliott-Bynum's lifetime of tireless work and service to thousands of disadvantaged individuals had an immeasurable impact on the Durham community, a grateful community that joins me today in celebrating this life.

    I ask my colleagues to join me in expressing our recognition to Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum's two children, Ebony Elliott-Covington and Damien Elliott-Bynum; to her beloved brother, Joe Elliott, Jr.; to her sisters, Carolyn Hinton and Addie Mann; to her grandson, Ahmad; to the entire CAARE family; and to all of those who have been impacted by her extraordinary work. Some of her family members are with us today.

    Mr. Speaker, in closing, on tomorrow, I will say just a few words at the Celebration of Life service in Durham by making a very plain, but profound, point. It goes like this: Durham, North Carolina, is a better place to live and work because of the unselfish service of Dr. Sharon Elliott-Bynum.

    May she rest in peace, a life well lived.


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