07/18/12 — TRANZ Center gets home for homeless

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TRANZ Center gets home for homeless

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 18, 2012 1:46 PM

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Dennis Cook, right hands over the paper work to the property at 608 Devereaux St. to Timothy Whitfield. The house will be used as a transition spot for the homeless.

It takes a lot of motivation for someone to give away a house. But when one investor heard what Timothy Whitfield was doing for Goldsboro's youths and homeless, he was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Whitfield, who has his own center for keeping youths educated and off the streets, has made it his mission to give second chances to Goldsboro's homeless and those fresh out of prison.

"I have a passion for people," he said.

And when investor Dennis Cook heard about that passion, he contacted Whitfield and figured out how to use an old house on Devereaux Street.

Cook, who lives between Apex and Pittsboro, bought the house in 2008, hoping to renovate it. But then the economy tanked, and it wasn't doing him any good.

"When that dream faded, it seemed like the best thing was to help the community in some way," he said.

Cook asked around and said people pointed him in Whitfield's direction.

Whitfield said he would use the house as a kind of temporary haven for homeless families to get back on their feet.

"I've come across a lot of families that really need help," he said. "Since the economy is so bad, it's hard for some of the religious organizations to assist. So we want to be able to help."

But the home doesn't come without conditions, Whitfield said.

"We'll write up some kind of agreement where they'll stay in the house for a certain amount of time. They'll have to look for a job. We'll try to help them get back on their feet," he said.

Although the renovations Cook hoped to see in Goldsboro in 2008 haven't come about, he said the house is still an investment in the city's future and its families.

"I'd like to see the house come back to life. I'd like to see it deter some violence in the community by giving some guys who are walking the streets some skills."

Cook said any good the house can do would be better than just seeing it torn down.

Whitfield said he isn't sure when he will open the house for operation because it still must be rezoned, funded and renovated. But he said he doesn't expect any problems with that.

"I'm quite sure we'll get the funding for it," he said.

Meanwhile, he is also focusing on his youth group, the TRANZ Center, which must relocate in December because the owners of its current building are renovating.

Whitfield said the TRANZ Center is a place where youths go to learn to be law-abiding citizens. The acronym stands for transformation.

"We're teaching the kids etiquette, we're teaching them character building, we're teaching them foreign language, we're teaching them sign language," Whitfield said.

He said young people who participate in the TRANZ Center make better grades in school, have fewer suspensions and display better attitudes.

"I'm a tough old dude," said Whitfield, adding that he has been working with youths for 20 years. "I get good results."

Whitfield, who is an evangelist, also visits prisons and jails to talk with inmates.

"Most of the time I just like to sit down and talk to the fellas so they can see somebody from the street. Sometimes they just want somebody to sit down and talk to, rather than somebody preaching all the time."

He also encourages them to make plans for life outside prison.

"You know you're not going to be here for life," Whitfield said. "You know you're going to get out one day. What are your plans?"

Ultimately it was Whitfield's charisma with people that encouraged Cook to donate the house to him.

"The people respect him," Cook said. "He's lived up to that all the way."

For more information on supporting the TRANZ Center, call 919-396-8855 or send a check made out to the TRANZ Center to P.O. Box 134, Goldsboro, NC 27530.