by Mimi Montgomery
Getting back on your feet can be hard. The Carying Place in Cary tries to make it a little easier. The nonprofit helps working homeless families achieve independence through a mentoring system that focuses on managing personal finances, obtaining affordable housing, and maintaining a steady job. Families selected to work with the program are housed by the nonprofit for 16 weeks while they take steps toward independent living. After they move out on their own, the families become part of a thriving support system that includes about 300 volunteers who work with them to develop budgeting skills and debt-payment plans and help find permanent housing. Volunteers also work with children of the families to help develop their self-esteem and build a sense of stability.
It’s a successful program, which is why The Carying Place is in such high demand: Last year, 350 families who sought assistance from the organization met the initial criteria of its three-tiered application process. Currently, the organization only has eight housing units available, which allows it to help 22 families a year.
Executive Director Leslie Covington is eager to increase that number, which makes the April 16 Taste of the South event all the more exciting. It’s an annual gala hosted in Washington, D.C. by a committee representing 12 Southern states as well as members of Congress from across the South. Proceeds from the event are donated to Camp Koinonia in Knoxville, Tenn.; Dog Tag Inc. in Washington, D.C.; and one charity selected by each participating state. This year, The Carying Place is the North Carolina nonprofit recipient.
It’s a choice expected to make a real difference. “When choosing The Carying Place as our N.C. charity, it was important to us that our donation be able to make a strong impact on the organization, and would not just be a drop in the bucket of their donor pool,” says Laura Gulledge, vice chairman of the North Carolina committee for the event and a Raleigh native. Last year, the event donated close to $6,000 to its N.C. charity.
Covington knows the philanthropic support will be put to good use. “This will allow us to hopefully seek out more housing and maintain it,” she says, and to “find those families who are willing to work hard and get on their feet, and we’ll have the space for them to do that.”
And there’s more purpose-driven partying happening closer to home, too. The Carying Place hosts its own gala April 29 at Prestonwood Country Club. It’s a busy social month for the nonprofit, but Covington knows the fun falls second to the true mission. “It’s for the families.”
Taste of the South: April 16; Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; tasteofthesouth.org
The Carying Place 15th Annual Benefit Auction: April 29; 6 p.m.; Prestonwood Country Club, 300 Prestonwood Parkway, Cary; ticket and sponsor information as well as volunteer opporunities: thecaryingplace.org