Tranette Engram has been inspired and mentored by others since she was a girl, making her calling seem to drop into her lap. Growing up in Alabama, she watched her grandmother, also known as Big Ma, and her mother go out into the community to share the word of God and serve those in need. They would provide toiletries and make home-cooked meals with food from the local grocery store, Mr. Smith’s Groceries, Tranette remembered fondly.
When she was a young adult, Tranette moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida to live with her uncle. He was also passionate about serving others and had an outreach to help the underprivileged. Through this connection, she met Mr. Lundy. He ran a local organization that taught boys and young men necessary work and life skills. Tranette knew then her calling.
After Tranette moved to Tampa, she continued to serve the community in various ways. Whether it was working as a children’s human rights advocate or in group homes, like The McCrae House, it’s all about the kids for her. She is driven to build trust with the kids she works with by being consistent, and in my view, a beacon of light.
Tranette watched young men and women struggle to transition out of the foster care system because they were not taught the needed skills to live on their own, despite having a state-appointed Independent Living Specialist. According to Tranette, it is more difficult for girls to readjust, as “they look for dependency on others to take care of them. In this new generation, they lose hope easily, and they lose hope in God.” Through her continued work, Tranette met Caroll Marshall-Josephs. Because of Caroll’s work on community revitalization in Tampa, she has taken Tranette under her wing, so she can become established with the state of Florida. Only then, did Tranette’s idea become a nonprofit organization.
That organization, She Helps to Empower (SHE) The Foster Success Group for Young Ladies, is a program that empowers young women transitioning into adulthood out of the foster care system or human trafficking to find healing and restoration. It offers opportunities to develop themselves in fields such as the arts: performing, visual, and literary; career success; and entrepreneurship. Tranette is spearheading her program in the local group homes for 15- and 16-year-old girls. However, she has a vision to include this program in her current project: Healthy Alternative Living Organization (H.A.L.O.), an Independent Shared Living Home for young ladies aging out of the foster care system. Her plans for the girls in this home are to support them in their transition to the workforce. The girls will learn how to pay bills, keep a stable job, and save money. Tranette also anticipates partnering with dental companies, physicians, and therapists because “[her] focus is on the well-being and health of the girls.”
As she works to open this home, she is faced with obstacles of her own learning curve and the support of others being continuously declined. This rejection causes self-doubt. “I go to God every day asking if this is my vision.” Despite her frustration, she leans on her co-founder, Daniel Chaffman. His belief in her vision makes him “a great rock,” giving her direction and support. She chuckled as she said, “I have my hand in everything, so when I bring a new project to him, he just says, ‘We’ll think about it.’” Daniel is her hands and feet, doing interviews and reaching out to people for support, while Tranette feels more comfortable working in the background. “Whenever I need to talk about my program, I freeze up.” Her fear of speaking to others and how they would view her began when she suffered a stroke in her 30s. But she is determined to overcome it, opening herself up to more opportunities to talk about her projects. Tranette’s vulnerability will be an asset to help fulfill her dream of opening independent homes all over the country.
Tranette is excited “to settle into something new” but recognizes she needs support from a board that is a similar force to her and Daniel. If you know someone who can support Tranette in her vision, send them an email through their website. And, if you would like to make a donation to the organization, you can do that here. Or if you are local to Tampa and would like to volunteer, contact Pertrice Perry at The McCrae House at (305) 332-1428. Tranette will be the guest speaker at Joy’s Foundation Induction, a mentorship program for girls, in Summerville, North Carolina on December 19, 2021. Their theme resonated with Tranette: “She Believed She Could So She Did.”
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