Building a foundation for those in need Building a foundation for those in need

Building a foundation for those in need

Community bands together to repair Raleigh’s Helping Hand Mission building so it can continue serving the needy


The HVAC system at Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh, N.C., had long ago stopped working. There was no insulation. And the building needed wiring and other repairs.

After all, a place that keeps people from falling apart was falling apart, literally.

So why was Executive Director Sylvia Wiggins smiling on a recent chilly morning?

Executive Director Sylvia Wiggins and manager Tom Lambeth.

Duke Energy and a few community organizations are fixing up the building on New Bern Avenue, adding insulation, plugging leaks and adding an HVAC system. In other words, helping to ensure the work of Raleigh’s Helping Hand Mission will continue.

Wiggins’ infectious smile and enthusiasm lit up a room when she talked about her 46 years-and-counting goal of making sure the needs of others came before her own.

“I am so blessed, Wiggins said again and again. “We are all so blessed.”

The Mission offers programs and events free of charge to help children, teens, elderly, homeless, handicapped, disabled, low income and victims of fire become self-sufficient. The home on New Bern Avenue provides temporary housing, tools, resources and opportunities for single mothers and other families experiencing homelessness and to transition into independent living. Since 2001, the New Bern House has also provided emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence, and is open 365 days per year.

Duke Energy, Raleigh Area Development Authority, NC State Weatherization Program, North Carolina Community Action Association, Resources for Seniors (Weatherization Agency) and Lockheed Martin recently banded together to work together to address energy improvements and heat and air conditioning for the building.  

Robbie Crabtree seals a seam on the duct in the attic.

Duke Energy has committed $100,000 from the Helping Home Fund (HHF) toward the project. Initial work has been completed, including lead paint and asbestos inspection, asbestos removal in the basement, and electrical services to evaluate and remove  knob and tube wiring throughout the house. HHF will pay for the electrical upgrade and the conversion from overhead to underground service, as well as 30% of the cost of a new HVAC system (the amount not covered by the NC Weatherization Assistance Program).

Helping Hands Mission on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.

Other updates with funds from the partners are roof repairs and weatherization, including attic, wall and floor insulation. 

“These improvements will allow to continue to help us serve anybody with a need,” said Wiggins. “I am so very grateful.”

Resident Catina Blue echoes those sentiments. “With me being on dialysis, I am cold all the time," she said. “The new heating system will be very helpful in making me comfortable and keep me warm.”

All updates are expected to be completed in February of 2020.

“Sylvia Wiggins has given selflessly for years to the underprivileged in the Raleigh area,” said Duke Energy Products and Services Manager Casey Fields. “We are thrilled to help her continue her lifetime of good service that is so needed in our area.”

Duke Energy customer assistance programs

Indiana Helping Hand

Helping Hand provides up to $300 in electric bill assistance to eligible Duke Energy customers. More information.

North Carolina

Duke Energy Carolinas' Share the Warmth and Duke Energy Progress' Energy Neighbor Fund. Duke Energy will match up to $500,000 in customer contributions during the heating season. (Funds are matched all year.)

Ohio HeatShare

Eligible customers may apply for a one-time annual assistance up to $300 mid-January through April 30, or until funds are depleted. If funds are available after April 30, they may be used for cooling bills. More information

Kentucky WinterCare

Eligible customers may receive a one-time payment up to $300 as long as funds are available. More information.

Florida Energy Neighbor Fund

Duke Energy will match up to $500,000 in customer contributions during the heating season. (Funds are matched all year.) More information

Piedmont Natural Gas Share the Warmth

Piedmont rounds up customer bills to the nearest dollar and donates the difference to an approved Share the Warmth agency in your community. More information

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