Hard Times

Imagine being rid of the junk drawer you swear you’ll someday clean out, the leaky faucet you keep meaning to fix, the outdated carpet you’re saving up to replace.

No, don’t picture the home of your dreams. Instead, ponder having no home at all.

Life is unpredictable, and even ordinary families with comfortable lifestyles and working parents can find themselves getting the short end of the stick.

Abraham Wishnoff was one of those people.

While living in New York, he lost his job as a taxi driver last winter. Soon after, his family — wife Aaliyah and three kids — lost their housing. They had nowhere to go.

“We had to sleep in our car a couple nights, but most of the time we had a hotel to stay at. My wife was very resourceful,” Wishnoff said. “She was able to pray a lot, look around (for resources) a lot, and we got help. We made it through.”

From December to April, they had no place to call home, staying at hotels or extended stay facilities along the East Coast. That changed when they found The Carying Place, one of several organizations that serve the homeless or those threatened with homelessness in Wake County.

Many support organizations follow a similar model: provide housing for a few months, while helping the family establish financial and lifestyle goals.

“To get out of poverty or being in a tough economic space, you’re going to have to be proactive. You need to say, ‘My situation’s not going to change by people continuing to hand stuff to me.’ You have to do the other half on your own,” Wishnoff said.

A requirement of The Carying Place program is all family members participate in weekly meetings to analyze finances and discuss goals. During their four-month residence in a furnished Cary duplex, the whole family met with advisers from the organization to discuss their financial goals and priorities. Their children, ages 17, 11 and 10, found the experience educational too. “They saw how real life worked,” Wishnoff said.

Now a server at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and renting their own Cary home, Wishnoff says things are on the mend. “It’s still tight, but we’re doing a lot better. We’re not rich yet, by any means, but we’re in a better space. We have some momentum.” He couldn’t have done it without help, he believes.

Raised in a stable home, he never would have pictured himself homeless, until complications from losing his job snowballed. “Sometimes things get rough and you don’t take an honest look at what’s going on,” he said. “You kind of block everything out instead of addressing problems when they’re small.”

He’s not alone. In January, there were 1,132 homeless people in Wake County, 181 of whom were minors. That number only reflects those on the streets, living in cars, or in emergency or transitional housing — not families much like his own that find themselves living out of hotels, with friends, or otherwise without a permanent home.

The statistics significantly under-represent the number of true homeless, according to Beth Bordeaux, executive director of support organization PLM Families Together. “Parents work very hard to disguise their homelessness and to keep their children safe by staying sporadically in hotels, doubling up with friends, family or even people that are not friends/family, sleeping in cars or emergency rooms,” she said.

Many of the families served by support organizations locally find themselves in danger of losing their homes after unexpected life events, from job loss to death, injury or natural disaster. “They’re normal people who had good jobs and who went through a bad mortgage deal or lost their job or their housing,” Wishnoff explained.

Charity Directory

Ever wish you had a comprehensive resource for all the places you can spread goodwill in the area? We’d like to help you with that.

Cary Magazine is introducing an online Charity Directory, combining an introduction to the missions of all the outstanding organizations in our area with ways you can help.

If you know of additional organizations you’d like to see added, email editor@carymagazine.com with information.

Helping Hand Mission

Offices in Raleigh and Wendell
Contact: (919) 829-8048, Sylvia Wiggins, Executive Director
Mission: Provide relief and support to needy families and victims of fire; distribute food and clothing to persons in need; direct people incapable of handling their business to appropriate sources for help; train and educate the unemployed and help them to find employment; help persons become self-sufficient; restore dignity and pride to those who have had difficulties as a result of a lack of services and resources.
Volunteer opportunities: Volunteer time or business services. Contact the Mission to discuss opportunities.

Donations: Money, via a secure online donation service.

Food, via collection boxes located in shopping centers in Raleigh, Cary and Garner, or at a Mission office.

Clothing and toys.
Furniture. A pickup service is available for large items such as furniture and appliances and can be arranged within 24 hours.

Most needed items: Household items such as baby supplies, beds, bed linens, pillows, bedroom sets, pots & pans, kitchen appliances, lamps, living & dining room sets, washers/dryers, TVs.

The Carying Place

Contact: (919) 462-1800, Pat Lykins, Executive Director
Mission: Teach homeless, working families with children life skills for independent living while providing short-term housing and support. The Carying Place helps families who are homeless, “doubled-up” or otherwise inadequately housed, or are in jeopardy of losing their current housing; who are without the needed financial resources to be able to acquire or maintain adequate housing; who are motivated to improve their situation and are willing to work hard at budgeting, time management and setting and attaining goals; and who recognize that changes are needed and want help in identifying and enacting those changes.

Volunteer opportunities:
Office Volunteers: Needed on weekdays for general office tasks like data entry, answering phones and filing.

Support Partners: Meet weekly with assigned families to help them plan steps toward sustainable, permanent housing.

Caring Sponsors: Serve as friends to their assigned families and make informal contact each week.

Child Care Providers: Care for children of both the families and volunteers during the weekly sessions on Thursday evenings. A pool concept is used for child care, with schedules established several weeks in advance.

Selection Committee Member: Interview and perform background checks on applicants.

Moving Team Members: Help move our families in and out of rental units and pick up donated furniture and household items.
Jacks-Of-All-Trades: Fix a leaky pipe, pick up a donation, fix a toilet, do minor repairs or other tasks as needed.

Donations: Furniture and household items are greatly appreciated; call (919) 462-1800 to arrange drop-offs.

PLM Families Together

Contact: (919) 212-1123, administrative line
(919) 212-4181, Beth Bordeaux, Executive Director
Mission: Helping homeless families reach independence by providing housing and empowering supportive services; engaging volunteers in meaningful ways; advocating with and for homeless people.

Volunteer opportunities: Service Projects: Welcome basket collections, giving tree collections (one organization/church group is needed to sponsor a giving tree each month), special family or holiday events, holiday gift giving, facilities cleanup days.

Help Children: Tutoring/homework helpers, afterschool activity helpers, Saturday children’s activity helpers, field trip chaperones.

Help the Families: Assistant Mentor Advocate, coordinate donations.

Organizational Support: Data entry, office/clerical work.

Apartment Support: group painting.

Facilities Support: Landscaping, facilities and grounds maintenance; special projects.

Committee Members
Donations: Monetary donations accepted for the Homeward Journey Society, Sustainability Fund and Growth Fund.

PLM Families Together is a member of Lutheran Services in America. This allows some donors to have their gifts to PLMFT matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

GoodSearch.com search engine donates half of its revenue, about a penny per search, to user-designated charities. To use it as your Web browser and add it to your toolbar, go to goodsearch.com and enter PLM Families Together, Inc. as the charity you want to support.

Shop via yellowbrickmall.com/PLMFT.php from merchants like Amazon.com, Walmart, Old Navy, REI and more, and a percentage of your purchase will be donated.

Register your Food Lion MVP card to support PLM Families Together.

Haven House Services

Contact: (919) 833-3312, Michelle Zechmann, Chief Executive Officer
Mission: Haven House Services strengthens youth and young adults through effective programs, advocacy and community mobilization.
Volunteer opportunities: Plan group activities for youth at Wrenn House, such as workshops, etc.

Supervise youth and plan group activities for Saturday Work Groups for Restitution and Community Service.

General office assistance such as filing and file maintenance; shred sensitive and confidential documents; neaten and maintain waiting room, small conference rooms and unused offices.

Plan and implement fundraising events and/or agency fair for general resource development.

Bring lunch on Saturdays for approximately 30 youth who are performing community service work.

Volunteers needed for grounds maintenance at Wrenn House and at Outreach Center. Duties include mowing lawn, raking, trimming, etc. Individuals needed at least twice a month for 2 to 4 hours. Must be at least 18 years old and have transportation to and from worksite.
Donations: Monetary donations are accepted via a secure online server.

Western Wake Crisis Ministry

Contact: (919) 362-0657
Mission: Provide a helping hand to the Apex & Holly Springs community — in the form of food or crisis financial aid — to those in our community whose ability to sustain independent living is threatened by unexpected circumstances: illness, car or home repairs, decrease in wages, etc.

Volunteer opportunities:
Volunteer orientation and tours held on the first Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. Email info@wwcm.org if you would like to attend. Youth over the age of 12 may volunteer under the supervision of their parent on Sundays.

Pick up food donations from a local grocery between 9:30-10 a.m.
Answer phones and do other small administrative tasks. During busy times, you may help process families requesting food aid.

Unload USDA food deliveries on the fourth Thursday of each month between 10 a.m. and noon.

Host a food drive.

Small fundraisers/children’s projects: WWCM encourages small projects such as mailbox painting, rice or bean repackaging, or other individual projects to raise funds and teach children about helping others.

Donations: Food, office supplies or pantry supplies may be dropped off at the Ministry (103 E. Chatham St., Apex) during office hours Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., or you may drop off at Apex Baptist or Apex United Methodist Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *