Bonita Simmons, Executive Director of Tried By Fire, Inc., the nonprofit organization working on creating My Sister’s House in New Bern, has announced that an anonymous donor has offered a Matching Grant challenge of $5,000 as part of the group’s first innovative fundraiser. “We launched our One-Thousand-One-Hundreds campaign during the second week of February with a goal of raising $100,000 by April 1st,” said Simmons. “We felt this would be a doable fundraiser, especially since a year of COVID restrictions have made some of our original events impossible to schedule. The campaign has had an encouraging start, but this challenge will hopefully generate some new attention and donations for this important effort,” Simmons explained. The Challenge grant was presented as of March 8 without a specific deadline date, although the fundraising campaign has a completion date of April 1st.
My Sister’s House is an ambitious project to renovate an 80-year old house at 524 Roundtree Street in Duffyfield that was donated to Tried By Fire, Inc. in 2019. When the extensive repairs are complete, this four-bedroom house will serve as the first transitional home in Craven County for women newly released from prison. Major expenses include such items as a new addition for the kitchen, laundry room and downstairs bathroom, a full sprinkler system on both floors, new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems, new siding, and replacement of all windows. The total project budget is estimated to be $195,000. “Several people have mentioned that it would be more cost effective to demolish the entire house and rebuild, but we are working with the City’s Redevelopment Commission and the Duffyfield community to preserve some of the existing architecture and history of the neighborhood,” said Simmons. Tried By Fire, Inc. recognizes this commitment comes at a hefty price and hopes the unique fundraising effort will help make it possible to complete the House by Thanksgiving.
When women come out of prison, they are particularly vulnerable to being homeless and unemployed which often leads them back into prison. Tried By Fire, Inc.’s mission is to prevent homelessness, reduce recidivism, and ensure public safety by providing temporary and supportive housing at My Sister’s House. Each resident will create an individual plan for their reentry into the community before their release, and they will have 30-90 days to take advantage of local education and job training programs as well as services available for employment, individual and family counseling, GED classes, financial literacy, and housing services. With an increase in job skills and an improved self-confidence, post-incarcerated women will have a better chance for a productive and more self-sufficient future for themselves and their children.
“We are so very grateful that a generous local donor believes in what My Sister’s House represents, a second chance for women who need support and shelter during a difficult transition period in their lives,” said Bonita Simmons. “Hopefully, we will be able to meet this challenge grant with the support from others in our community who share our goal of creating a welcoming space where your past doesn’t matter.”
Donations made to the 501(c) 3 organization are tax deductible and will be acknowledged by a letter for tax purposes. Online donations can be made at the www.TriedByFireInc.org or by mail to P. O. Box 12691, New Bern, NC 28561. Inquiries about volunteering or In-Kind donations can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Deedra Durocher on behalf of Bonita Simmons, Executive Director