Volunteers boost Triangle Family Services

Triangle Family Services
Triangle Family Services

Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — At Triangle Family Services, volunteers have been pitching in to improve the building the agency purchased two years ago on Western Boulevard in Raleigh.

On April 1, about 15 volunteers from the Leadership Raleigh Alumni Association gathered at the building, which Triangle Family Services occupied about a year-and-a-half ago.

Their assignment was to demolish what had served as a break room, and to spruce up some other run-down rooms.

Since then, subcontractors hired by Rebuilding Together of the Triangle and paid through an $8,000 grant from Honeywell Building Solutions, have been doing electrical and plumbing work at the building.

And on April 30, 25 to 30 volunteers from Honeywell, along with volunteers from Rebuilding Together, were scheduled to gather at the building to handle chores ranging from flooring and painting to trim and cabinetry work.

“The building is quite old and has a lot of things that need to be worked on,” says Tiffany Mielnik, agency coordinator for Triangle Family Services.

The Leadership Raleigh Alumni Association provided volunteers for its inaugural spring service day.

Responding to a request for proposals from the Leadership Raleigh group, the agency submitted a wish list for repair projects, including converting the building’s old break room into a multi-functional service and therapy room; equipping a call center; and clearing the rear parking lot of debris from fallen trees to make room for more parking.

Triangle Family Services also connected, by chance, with Dan Sargent, executive director of Rebuilding Together of the Triangle, a local affiliate of Washington, D.C., nonprofit Rebuilding Together that works to keep low-income homeowners stay safe and healthy in their homes.

The nonprofit provides home repairs, modifications for people with disabilities, and weatherization, mainly through volunteer labor and donated funds.

In 2010, for example, Rebuilding Together of the Triangle handled 18 individual projects, and plans to take on about 30 projects this year, including two to three nonprofits that serve the same constituency it serves.

At a grant workshop sponsored by the city of Raleigh, Sargent met Jennifer Brown, marketing and development coordinator for mental-health and family-safety programs at Triangle Family Services.

That initial conversation led to a partnership, with Rebuilding Together of the Triangle enlisting Honeywell, which has a national relationship with Rebuilding Together’s parent group.

“We mobilize community resources to meet the needs in the community for housing,” Sergant says.

Jack Connell, energy sales leader for the South region for Honeywell Building Solutions, which has an office in Morrisville, says the company is “committed to supporting the communities we live and work in,” and typically does two projects a year in the Triangle through Rebuilding Together, including another one this fall.

Mielnik of Triangle Family Services says the volunteer efforts on its behalf represent “an affirmation to our staff to see that the community wants to partner with us, and that multiple groups are taking these projects on.”

It also is “an affirmation to our clients,” she says, “to see that the community is supporting us.”

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