Creating a Refuge for UHYin Moore County
Tambra Chamberlain is the homeless liaison for the Moore County Schools. Tambra started leading the charge to mobilize her community while serving as a school social worker at Pinecrest High School. She utilized a tool kit from the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) about mobilizing communities to assist with resources. This was the beginning of creating a community of change agents to address the needs of homeless students. When the first meeting was held at Pinecrest High School in 2015, the decision to continue collaborations and involve additional community and faith-based entities were made. There was a consensus that utilizing their local resources would be key when working in their rural community. Since this first meeting, the Sandhills Student Assistance program was created. This program, which Tambra sat on the board of, is devoted to supplying any tangible needs for all 23 Moore County Schools. In 2017 during an Interfaith Quarterly Meeting, a local faith-based leader asked what was still needed. Tambra immediately mentioned transitional housing for youth. As a committee, community forums were held utilizing the community mobilization model. After five community forums, an initial organizing committee met every two weeks for 15 months, developing a non-profit case statement to develop the Young Women’s Transitional Home of Moore County. A board was created in 2019, and from there, the board of directors began fundraising.
During the fundraising process, the board voted and decided to DBA (do business as) TambraPlace. Much to Tambra’s surprise and wanting to change the name to Harmony Home, the board decided to push forward with the namesake. “Till this day, it humbles me to be honored in this way,” Tambra relayed. Since then, especially during COVID, different faith-based organizations, community stakeholders, and colleagues have begun to grasp our missions. Our school social workers and counselors are aware of the daily needs of the students. It is telling a resilient teen, which has nowhere to go or is escaping an unsafe situation, sorry there’s no place for you in this county, that is heart-wrenching.
Currently, TambraPlace has an Independent Living Program (ILP) donated by a local church and anticipates this facility to be filled by February 2022. The ILP is run much like a dorm, and the young women can stay for 24 months. The program model is meant to assist young women aging out of foster care or seeking a place to escape abuse and heal from trauma.
TambraPlace is breaking ground on an additional facility on donated land. Friends of Pinehurst Surgical spearheaded the building proceeds by organizing a two-day fundraiser and, by the end of an exciting bidding auction, had raised $70,000. On December 13, 2021, TambraPlace received an additional $50,000 from the Empowering Kids Foundation to build a home for young men. Tambra and her board project these lofty goals will be completed by the end of 2022.
Tambra credits the fruition of this program to her community and God. In rural areas, it is a struggle to fulfill the unseen needs of Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (UHY), especially since they are not always visible. Community change agents and collaboration with community partners are what made this project possible.