When you sit down to hear the stories of Healing Transitions’ early days, one story comes up over and over again. Each founder interviewed for this year’s anniversary stories said, “You have to ask Barbara about the time we met with WakeMed.” And then they would laugh. Naturally this was the first question we asked Barbara Goodmon, one of Healing Transitions co-founders.
“We had decided that WakeMed had to give us $2 million,” said Barbara, her voice thick with pride as she recalled the meeting that would become the catalyst for the organization’s biggest donation at the time. “They just had to. We had no way to raise that money alone. The three of us didn’t know much about fundraising at the time. And no one else was going to give us that kind of money to invest in a program they had never seen or heard of.”
She continued. “The WakeMed board offered us $1 million, and I said, ’Thank you, but that’s not enough.’ They told us to leave and go wait for them in the hallway. They talked for a while and then came out and agreed to give us the full $2 million. Just like that.”
Barbara, Maria Spaulding (the former executive director at Wake County Human Services), and Evelyn Barber (Capitol Broadcasting Company’s former Senior Vice President for Broadcasting), agreed that without that donation from WakeMed, Healing Transitions may not be around today to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“Downtown at that time wasn’t a nice place. We literally had no services to help people back then,” Barbara noted. “The police would drive homeless individuals five miles out of town and drop them off in the middle of nowhere. Hospitals would even give money to people to make them go away. Those were the options. There were so many people with nowhere to go and no help for them.”
At the time, Barbara was serving on the board of Wake County’s Human Services department alongside Maria Spaulding. They realized the community desperately needed a better solution to the problems of homelessness and substance use, but no one knew where to turn.
“Linda Strother, a staffer on Maria’s team at the time, quite accidentally found this program,” recalled Barbara. “We went to Louisville, Kentucky to see The Healing Place program. We were blown away. We kept looking for the problems. It couldn’t really be this good.”
“When we came back, we got off the airplane, and Fred, Maria, and I made a pact that we would see to it that Healing Transitions was built. And that’s how it started.”
Barbara, Maria, and Fred were known around town as the “Dynamic Trio.” But it wasn’t always smooth sailing to get these three to agree as they worked toward their goal of opening Healing Transitions. “Fred was our leader. He was a great person, and I’m sorry he isn’t here to celebrate this with us,” said Barbara. “Fred and Maria would fuss at each other all the time. They were both strong-headed. I mean, I have a strong personality, but nothing to beat theirs. But then, we’d always get done what we were supposed to get done. And we got it done right. It was a mountain of a task, and we needed to have strong personalities to get it done.”
Today, Barbara says it’s incredible to hear the stories of the thousands of men and women whose lives have been changed for the better because of Healing Transitions’ work in the community.
“We had more disbelievers than believers when we first started,” added Barbara. “But look at it today. When I pass by Healing Transitions, it’s remarkable. They’re known far and wide. Healing Transitions has helped to make Raleigh what it is today.”