Category Archives: Interns

Blog post from the interns at TFS.

Listen Up!

TFS is working hard to get our message out.  After 75 years, you’d think everyone would know us.  In fact, they should be tired of hearing about us.  But that is just not so….

SO….  We are working to STOP BEING SO SILENT….  It’s time to let everyone know what we do, how we do it, where we do it, and when…

Here’s a small example of why we need to stop being so silent…  This video contains a small sample of the programs, people, and outcomes that make us want to blow our own horn until everyone knows that TFS is BUILDING A STRONGER COMMUNITY BY STRENGTHENING THE FAMILY!




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Empowerment Zone!

At TFS, we seek to understand and render services in a comprehensive, whole way.  It is in this spirit that we present the Empowerment Zone.

Rarely is a testimonial given about rebuilding financial stability without the presence of feelings of shame, remorse, anger, frustration, or other negative feelings.  When dealing with creditors or having to retrain well-ingrained patterns, rebuilding stability can seem impossible, if not daunting.  The good news that TFS’ Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) department wants to share is simple:  You are not alone.  You can do this.  We will help.

I can speak to this struggle personally.  At one point, while living on the thinnest shoestring possible, I resorted to using my credit cards.  Before long, it seemed that the mountain of debt had become insurmountable.  I felt so ashamed that I had made the decision to use my cards.  I felt angry that I had to use them to keep gas in my car so I could get to the job that didn’t pay the bills I was incurring.  I felt like everyone assumed that if I had credit card debt, it was the result of too many Coach bags or Jimmy Choos.  I had none of that to show for my debt.  I just had the anxiety that came from seeing a 1-800 number show up on caller ID, knowing that the funds to make the situation right were still not available to me, no matter how much I worked.

The day I picked up the phone to approach my creditors was terrifying.  I felt unprepared and inadequate to the task.  The days, however, that followed as I worked a plan were empowering.  I negotiated down some of the balances I owed and did research on my rights, making sure I was taking advantage of the protections I didn’t even know I was entitled to.

To have a support system as you go through this scenario is invaluable.  To have professionals who can help you navigate the dangerous passages, as well as guide you toward the areas of repose is an advantage not afforded to everyone.  Most of all, however, to have your empowerment returned to you so that you can be you without the anxiety and fear and shame and self doubt (or whatever your emotional preference is) is a benefit beyond measure.

Our professionals in CCCS are able to help.  They’ve created the Empowerment Zone for just such an occasion.  Come, get information, get empowerment, and get on with the life you should be living!

Empowerment Zone
Blue Ridge Location
2:30 – 4:00 pm, Wednesday, March 13, 2013
919.821.1170 for more details

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Tuesday on Triangle



Any of you who have spoken to Alice Lutz, our CEO, in the last 6 months have probably already heard our new agency mantra… we have been quietly helping families in crisis for 75 years and it is time to make some noise.    This theme of “helping out loud” and serving as a “voice for the Triangle” will be obvious when you attend Wake Up with TFS, our annual breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 6 in the PNC Arena.  This breakfast is held as a way to bring community members together and to recognize the leaders who have served on our Board of Directors, Advisory Board and a host of other committees over the last year.  But we will also be celebrating this year and making a lot of noise.  We have an amazing staff who tirelessly help our clients day in and day out.  We have clients who work hard to improve their lives and want to inspire others to do the same.  It’s only an hour and a half of your time and you really don’t want to miss it.  Walking in the door last year it looked like a Who’s Who for Raleigh when you glanced around the tables.  The food is excellent, the program is brief, the conversation is stimulating and it is just a great way to spend a Thursday morning.

The good news is Alice shot down all of my ideas about how to make noise.  Unfortunately there won’t be any noise makers, staff cheers, or bullhorns.  But there will be an opportunity to hear about the things an amazingly talented staff are doing to help your friends and neighbors in our community!

So go right now to our website and buy your tickets.  Take some friends from your office.  Head over with your spouse before you each start your days.  See you there!

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Triangle on Tuesday: Barbara Rodriguez

ImageToday I am excited to highlight a staff member in the Triangle on Tuesday’s blog.  Barbara Rodriguez is the Supervisor of Family Safety Division which includes our DOSE (Developing Opportunities for a Safe Environment) Program and our Time Together Supervised Visitation Program. Barbara recounts her most memorable experience of her 4 years at Triangle Family Services as her recent interactions with a DOSE client diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He began the program as a court-ordered participant with a lot of anger and a really bad attitude.  By the end of his 26 weeks he asked to be a spokesperson for the agency and remarked that the program had “saved his life.”  Barbara commented, “This client epitomizes the difference we are able to make when someone wants to change.  The clients that are court ordered into our program usually don’t want to change at first; it takes several weeks of participation until they begin to see the benefit to examining their beliefs and actions.  But each time we get through to a client, we haven’t just made an impact in his life; we have also improved the lives of his family members and friends because we have helped him change his abusive attitudes and behaviors.”  Barbara doesn’t just have the antidotal evidence that the DOSE program is changing lives and helping families, she also can demonstrate some pretty amazing outcomes.  The national data on clients ordered to Batterer Intervention Programs is that 67% reoffend after a year of completing the program.  Only 2% of clients who complete the DOSE program reoffend after a year.  That is an amazing comparison.  I asked Barbara why she believes we have such a remarkable success rate.  “Our goal is to change attitudes not just behaviors.  When a client enters the DOSE program he is assigned a case manager who works with him throughout his time in the program.  The case manager meets with him if he is having issues in group, helps him access other agency resources if there are financial problems or mental health problems in the home, and helps him work through any issues that would keep him from attending group.”

Ironically, when you ask Barbara about her most difficult client, it is also the story of her biggest achievement.  She tells about a client who had very strong views about women and their subservient place in respect to men.  He did not appreciate his group leader being a woman and he was terminated from the program because of his attitude and negative behaviors in group and towards Barbara.  The judge sent him back to DOSE and during his second time through, he began seeing Barbara and the other staff at TFS as his allies rather than his enemies.  He engaged in the program and successfully completed it.

Barbara sees her role with clients as that of “compassionate accountability.”  “We hold the clients accountable for their behavior, but we also offer them hope.  If they make these changes they can provide better lives for their children.  They can choose to stop being abusive and that choice is what can break the cycle of violence in their family.”

Barbara is obviously a dedicated and passionate staff member.  I wanted to know about what she does in her free time.  As the mother of two teenagers she doesn’t have a lot of free time.  As a new graduate student at UNC-CH School of Social Work she is going to have even less!  Barbara was accepted into their part-time program and starts taking classes in August.  We are all so proud of her for being accepted into such a competitive graduate program.  How will she do it all?  She has an amazing team of professionals who work in the DOSE and Supervised Visitation program!  And, “who needs sleep!”

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Tuesdays with Triangle!


[Lisa Allred Draper, COO and Amelia Allen, Peace College Intern~1st Blog Post]

Welcome to the weekly Tuesdays with Triangle! blog. I am going to be providing updates on TFS programs, people, and ways to connect with our agency and the community.

As we all know, tomorrow is July 4th, which is a great day for connecting with the important people in your life. Most folks have the day off and are looking for ways to stay cool and celebrate Independence Day. Yesterday we asked a few of our staff members what their plans were for the fourth. Here is a list of some of the things they will be doing:

  • Cooking/grilling out
  • Traveling
  • Spending time with friends, family, and significant others
  • Attending the Festival for the Eno
  • Attending one of the many local firework displays

 As you’re celebrating with watermelon-spitting contests, fireworks, or splashing around the pool, please take a moment to be grateful for the abundance in your life. I know I will. I am grateful to work with a team of people who genuinely care about the clients we serve and the mission of the agency. I am also grateful for my improving health (I’ve had mono), my delightful daughter, and access to a pool that I get to float around in all day tomorrow.

What are your plans for the 4th? What are you grateful for?

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Culinary Corner: An interview with Pastry Chef Amanda Burgess of Sweet Escape Bakery

Sweet Escape Bakery is the vision of Owner and Pastry Chef Amanda Burgess, who is yet another talented culinary artist making our upcoming Gingerbread Benefit a success. I’ll warn you ahead of time that she’s a little mysterious in her interview–I simply can’t imagine what her Gingerbread house will look like, but I know it will be absolutely amazing! Wanna chance to check out Burgess’ creation? Be sure to purchase your tickets TODAY.


Sweet Escape Bakery's Owner and Pastry Chef Amanda Burgess

What or who inspired you to become a pastry chef? I have always loved baking and creating.

When you start a project do you have a vision or goal in mind, or do you figure it out as you go? I generally have some level of a vision to begin with and then it’s a work in progress.

What are your three favorite ingredients to work with?  Chocolate, fondant and more chocolate!

What will the inspiration for your gingerbread house be? I’m planning to do something around a child’s view of the Christmas spectacle.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a pastry chef? I would say that one of the bigger challenges is taking someone’s vision and bringing it to reality.

When do you feel most rewarded for your work? I feel most rewarded when I see a client’s face and know I’ve exceeded their expectations.


The 9th annual Gingerbread Benefit is to be held on December 1, 2011 at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Tickets for the event are available online at

Buy now–before the event sells out!

Check us out on Facebook!

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Culinary Corner: An interview with Chef Ilya Koltusky of Sweet Loralee Pastries

Each year, the Gingerbread Benefit gives area pastry chefs an opportunity to share their creative gingerbread masterpieces with our event attendees. It’s interesting to see the various shapes, sizes and forms the gingerbread houses take on–indicating the sheer genius and vision of their creators. Pastry Chef Ilya Koltusky of Sweet Loralee Pastries uses his Ukranian heritage as inspiration to create his gingerbread Byzantine church. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

Chef Ilya Koltusky of Sweet Loralee Pastries

What or who inspired you to become a pastry chef? Who do you look up to in the field? I have wanted to be a pastry chef ever since 1968 when I walked into the Minnedosa Bakery in Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canada with my mother who took me there after a dental appointment for a raspberry filled donut. I also think Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and Martha Stewart are some of America’s best bakers.

What will the inspiration for your gingerbread house be?  I want to do a Byzantine style church (my heritage is Ukrainian) and use the domed churches that I grew up with on the prairies as inspiration. I have a computer whiz making the templates (the son of my assistant). I love rolling out the gingerbread dough by hand.  I always look forward to making it as we only make it during the Holidays.  By the end of the Holiday season I don’t want to see it again for another year. I usually hot sugar the pieces together so the structure becomes sturdier.  You have to work quickly to do this.

What is your favorite ingredient to work with? One favorite ingredient would be meringue.

When do you feel most rewarded for your work? I feel most rewarded for my work when someone comes into my shop telling me that the cake they ordered for their recent birthday was the best they ever had.

The 9th annual Gingerbread Benefit is to be held on December 1, 2011 at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Tickets for the event are available online at

Buy now–before the event sells out!

Check us out on Facebook!

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