Couple's story inspires outpouring of support
Posted February 21, 2012
Updated February 22, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh couple opened their lives Monday, sharing their story of homelessness and struggle on WRAL News. In response, the community opened their hearts and wallets, triggering a tsunami of generosity that will help John and Lee Venable and others in similar situations.
Lee Venable's tears of desperation turned to cries of joy when a stranger paid for the couple to spend Monday night in a hotel – their first night in a real bed in weeks. A period of joblessness found the Venables sleeping in their car and washing up at a local grocery store.
The Women's Center of Wake County, which has been helping the couple, was flooded with calls Tuesday offering money, gift cards, even jobs.
"We let the public know, and now there's this outpouring of love that's being poured into what once was an empty cup," said the center's Regina Brooks. Co-worker Jean Williams added, "It's been a little bit overwhelming, but a good overwhelming."
John Venable, who has been out of work for a year recently found a manual labor job, and the couple is starting to re-build a sense of security. Triangle Family Services is helping them secure an apartment.
"At this point, they're still reacting by gut," said Julie Sager, of Triangle Family Services. "Having that person to kind of normalize things for them really helps."
Keeping a head count on the homeless can be tricky. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tries to track the number of homeless veterans by counting how many people it serves. Donors respond to couple's plight
Groups who work with the issue estimate there are 2,000 homeless people on the streets in the Triangle on any given night. Those who are on the move and don’t ask for help can be some of the toughest homeless people to track down. The Venables were among those – finding “home” wherever they could.
Williams hopes their story results in more help for others in similar situations. "There are so many more Venables out there," she said.