Since late 2019, when a house at 524 Roundtree Street in Duffyfield was donated to Tried By Fire, Inc., the plan has been to create a transitional home for women newly released from prison, the first such facility in seven counties of eastern North Carolina. After more than 1000 volunteer hours, donated material and services by area businesses, and approximately $15,000 of expenses, a recent comprehensive engineering report has led to the very difficult decision to schedule the house for demolition and rebuild a new house at that location.
“The reality is that the extent of structural damage, inside and outside of the house, was not obvious until we began working on My Sister’s House over the last year and a half as we prepared for renovations. We had no way of knowing the extent of water, weather, and termite damage until we began to expose the “good bones” we were initially told the house possessed,” said Bonita Simmons, Executive Director of Tried By Fire, Inc. “Obviously, we did not expect any serious concerns with the foundation, but apparently, due to the methods of construction 80 years ago, the concrete footers and spread footings required to meet code today will require the existing foundation to be removed and replaced.” After receiving estimates for lifting the house, and serious concerns expressed for the structural integrity of the house due to water and termite damage to survive that process, the Executive Committee of Tried By Fire, Inc., and the Project Team agreed the most cost effective and prudent decision is to proceed with demolition and reconstruction of the house in a similar architectural design.
To say this decision has been personally difficult for so many who have been closely involved with this project would be an understatement. But we’re strengthened by our belief and commitment to understanding that My Sister’s House is not about a physical building but to our Mission. Certainly, the women we hope to serve with this transitional home often find it necessary to work through adversity toward a desired goal. Our struggle to persevere in our efforts to reduce homelessness and recidivism among post-incarcerated women is, in many ways, easier to face because we know that we have resources and strong community support behind us.
From the beginning of this project, it has been important that we be honest and transparent with our goals, funding, and objectives to meet our Mission of assisting women who need supportive transitional housing while they rebuild their own foundation for a better life. We are choosing to see this unexpected and unfortunate turn of events as a blessing in disguise. Yes, it will require more time and a new fundraising approach, but we truly believe we will continue to move forward and welcome the community as we celebrate the eventual opening of My Sister’s House!
A public meeting has been scheduled for Monday, August 30th at 6:00 pm at the Craven Terrace Community Room, across the street from My Sister’s House. A detailed presentation will be made to share our plans for this project, the reasons for this decision, and to answer any questions the community may have. If there are concerns in the meantime, please contact us directly by calling 252-637-2339 or via email.
Submitted by Deedra Durocher on behalf of Bonita Simmons