By: Traci Crabtree
The staff of Heroux & Company, LLP, chose to volunteer at Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network (WIHN) for the 2013 CPA Day of Service. Our 8-person team was asked to paint one of WIHN’s 12 transitional housing units which each have 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a dining and living room. The WIHN transitional housing program provides a family with temporary shelter (up to one year) as well as tools to maintain permanent housing and life skills to attain their financial independence. We were pleasantly surprised to discover WIHN does not stop there. The life skills portion of their program addresses things like nutrition, healthy recipes on a budget, disciplining children, coping with stress, abuse counseling, budgeting, communication skills, education, job training, housing resources, and medical referrals. Their idea is to take a homeless family and give them a home but also much more. Amy Huenemann, administrative assistant at WIHN, explained in so many words that the families living in the transitional housing apartments become a larger family. The children become friends and play together outside. The parents are there to support each other by sharing their individual experiences. Amy even mentioned a mother watching another family’s children while the other mother ran an errand. They become one large family feeding off the positive and learning from their negative experiences. As the old proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This could be transformed to, “It takes a village to raise a ‘family’.” WIHN and Wake County-area churches are raising these families up to independence and raising them out of hopelessness.
Over 60 churches in our area provide emergency shelter and 3 meals a day for around 75 families a year. When families spend the night at these churches, they are then taken back to WIHN’s Day Center where they are able to do laundry, job search, shower, and use the computer or telephone. The Day Center also has a playroom, nursery, and older kid’s room to entertain children while parents are searching for jobs, doing household chores, or meeting with case managers on site.
WIHN provides more than support and shelter. It provides a sense of togetherness. When these families have nowhere else to go, WIHN provides relief to help them prevail as a family. Working and raising a family is hard enough without having to struggle to provide food, shelter, and a consistent income to survive. But WIHN and supporting congregations are providing the larger worries of food and shelter so families can begin to focus on everyday living and family routines.
After we finished painting the apartment, we knew a family would be able to move in soon. Maybe a family of 4-6 who were sleeping in a small classroom in a church downtown together would now actually have their own bedrooms, a kitchen to cook their own meals and a dining room table to share their food together as a family. Our hearts were filled with joy thinking we sped up the process of helping a homeless family to live independently. Our sense of community has been broadened by our volunteering experiences. We love giving back because we want our community to know we care!
You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. Winston Churchill
Traci Crabtree moved from Statesville, NC to Raleigh to receive her BS in Accounting from North Carolina State University. She has worked for Heroux & Company, LLP, for 13 years focusing on individual and corporate taxation, as well as tax planning. She is married to Reagan and has a daughter, Arrington (5), and son, Fenton (2). She is a member of Holy Trinity Anglican Church and enjoys spending weekends with family and friends cooking, grilling, and entertaining.