You can almost hear the smile spreading on Evelyn Barber’s face when we start talking about her late husband, Fred, and one of the biggest joys of his life – his work at Healing Transitions.
“Healing Transitions became the greatest passion of Fred’s life,” she said. “And I felt the same way. We lost our older son, Mark, to alcoholism, and Fred was a recovering alcoholic. We couldn’t save our son, but we both felt that our work with Healing Transitions was a tribute to him. And if we could help other parents help their children save themselves…well it became very personal to us.”
Fred Barber, along with former Wake County Human Services director, Maria Spaulding, and Barbara Goodmon, former Board Member at Wake County Human Services, became known in the community as the “Dynamic Trio.” Many who spoke to us for this series acknowledged that opening the doors at Healing Transitions 20 years ago would never have happened without the trio’s unique combination of charm, perseverance, and grit.
While the three of them faced some early challenges trying to convince local leaders and donors that this program was a worthwhile investment for the community, Evelyn still remembers those early days fondly.
“I called Fred’s work with Healing Transitions his ’healthy obsession.’ And I’m so glad he found it,” she recalled. “Saturday nights were our date nights, and we’d always start them with his weekly meeting at Healing Transitions. I’d go with him, and then we’d go out to get a pancake or something to eat together downtown. That was always fun.”
Fast forward twenty years, and she still sees the rewards of her husband’s hard work almost daily.
“One of the most exciting and rewarding things to me has been encountering people in jobs around town. People who completed the program and are now functioning in the ’real world.’ That’s just so exciting. And a lot of them are now giving back to others. I love to see people go from living on the streets to living a normal life again, it’s very rewarding. My face lights up every time I think of it. It’s so heartwarming.”
Evelyn smiled as she added, “I consider myself a pretty risk-averse person. But here we were, Fred and me, Maria and Barbara, starting something that some people might say was risky. But how could you go wrong with helping others? I never thought of it as risky at all.”