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Giving circle repairs homes, race relations

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Julia Vail

RALEIGH, N.C. — When the Way Out Giving Circle awarded its first round of grants in May, its members could not foresee the tremendous changes their gifts would set in motion.

The first gift was a $500 donation to Hayes Place, a shelter in Raleigh for homeless women and their children. The second was a $1,000 gift to People Helping People South East, a Wake County-based organization that helps low-income families and single mothers repair their homes.

The circle’s biggest gift, however, was putting these two organizations in touch with each other, requesting that People Helping People use its donation to benefit Hayes Place.

The result, when coupled with donated goods and services solicited by People Helping People, was more than $35,000 worth of renovations to the Hayes Place facility.

“[People Helping People] did painting, they landscaped, they put in new appliances and all new furniture,” says Kim Best, president of the giving circle and executive director of the Family Resource Center of Raleigh. “It’s a completely different house.”

Hayes Place executive director Carletta Moore, who was onsite every day to watch the changes unfold, says she is still in disbelief.

“I think the families are going to feel more welcome and more at home,” she says. “I’m so excited that we’re getting a new start.”

A group of friends and colleagues formed the Way Out Giving Circle after Darryl Lester, CEO of HindSight Consulting in Raleigh, stressed the need for giving circles devoted to issues facing African-Americans in the South.

Since its founding in August 2006, Way Out has been committed to raising awareness of racial disparities and developing African-American leadership in Wake County.

“When you think about philanthropy, you don’t necessarily think of people of color,” Best says. “We’re trying to change the picture of philanthropy to include African-Americans.”

Way Out is made up of 11 members, all African-American, who contribute $360 each per year. The circle meets the first Friday of each month at the Family Resource Center, where members discuss and plan events that shed light on race issues in the area.

In addition to the $500 gift to Hayes Place, the giving circle committed 60 hours of volunteer technical assistance to the organization.

“[Moore] felt she needed some help with an open house and support services for the women,” Best says. “However, the circle determined she needed much more. She really needed help with strategizing about where the organization was going to go.”

Way Out also contributed $2,500 in May to the Community Success Initiative, which helps former inmates succeed personally and professionally after serving their sentences.

Though she has contributed to her church and other organizations, Best says Way Out has given her and other members the chance to become actively involved in philanthropy.

“It’s such an amazing experience,” she says, “just to see how it can become contagious to give back.”

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