NEWPORT — A lifelong resident of Newport and local hero to the homeless, Traci Flowers, is in need of some support from the community she diligently serves, due to rapidly increasing health issues.
Flowers, known to most as the founder and volunteer director of Grace Wins Haven, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at 39 and her health has become more and more complicated in the past few years. This year, she has been in and out of the hospital regularly — often coordinating volunteers from her hospital bed.
“When she’s in ICU she has her phone, she has her computer or tablet with her, and she answers people's’ questions and directs them where to go,” her sister Elaine Howe said. “Just because she’s ill, people do not stop contacting her — and she doesn’t want them to. She wants to continue to help people.”
Three months ago Howe took it upon herself to rally support for her sister and set up a GoFundMe page. Since then, the page has been updated regularly as Flowers continues to battle for her life. As of Thursday morning, 50 people have donated over $2,700 to help pay for medical bills, transport costs and other needs.
“The reason I’m pushing so hard to help her,” said Howe, “is she is the mother of two children living at home … and because she’s so giving to everybody else. I feel that she has helped our community so much, and people need to know that she is ill and … sometimes the people who support us need support.”
For her part, Flowers says she is extremely thankful for how much people have already given.
“I appreciate the support,” said Flowers, “and I'm thankful for everybody that has helped so far ... We live in a very amazing community.”
However, Flowers is also firm on the fact that her life is about serving others. If people would like to support her, but cannot do so financially, she encourages them volunteer at the shelter.
“If I can raise awareness of one message in my life,” said Flowers, “it’s find where you can serve your community and do it.”
To learn more about Flowers’s journey or contribute to the fundraising effort to support her, visit www.gofundme.com/traci-flowers. To learn more about donating or volunteering with Grace Wins Haven, visit its Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/gracewinshaven1