This local company is making Samaritan’s safe houses feel more like home

Tracie Stern volunteers to repair and renovate safe houses for Samaritan House with her company, The Curvy Flipper (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Tracie Stern)
Tracie Stern volunteers to repair and renovate safe houses for Samaritan House with her company, The Curvy Flipper (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Tracie Stern)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Victims fleeing domestic violence or abusive situations typically leave their home as quickly as possible and with nothing more than a backpack said Eva Fuze, marketing coordinator at Samaritan House. 

Fuze said it takes a partnership with the community to ensure once their client asks Samaritan House for emergency re-homing services, they don’t have to worry about the bare essentials.

The nonprofit’s partnership with female-owned and operated residential rehab company, The Curvy Flipper, does just that when it provides minor to major maintenance and repairs services for their 14 safe-houses through donated services.

Tracie Stern is the former plus-size model turned house flipper who owns the business. She said they started by providing free home inspections for the organization.

Now The Curvey Flipper is Samaritan House’s go-to phone call when an issue needs diagnosing in one of their safe houses.

The Curvy Flipper has done everything from full renovations to just painting a few walls and even raised funds for interior decorating for the nonprofit.

Stern said it’s important those temporary homes are up to a certain standard especially in the instance someone is seeking safety.

“I can’t imagine them walking into a space that is a safe house and having it not be an environment that’s sort of like a hug,” she said. “It’s important my team and I create a space that is inviting and at least for a couple of nights allows them to close their eyes and know that they’re in a safe place.”

After spending 25 years under contract doing runway and print modeling with major agencies like Elite Model Management, Stern said the initial plan was to flip homes with her husband as a retirement plan after his time in the Navy.

Stern said the business started growing while her husband was still on active duty and realized she had been committing full-time hours as the project manager on job sites, “that’s when I stepped away from traditional modeling and created The Curvy Flipper,” she said.

While she’s adjusting to her new career in a male-dominated industry, she’s taken it a step further by taking classes at Tidewater Tech to not only be the brains behind The Curvy Flipper’s projects, but also the muscle.

“I went back to school to get certified in residential plumbing, electrical, framing, HVAC, and all that goes with it so I can physically do the work myself,” she said. “That also means I can present it [those skills] to other women and teach them hands-on because I’ll be qualified to do it myself.”

Providing renovation and repair services to Samaritan House is just one way Stern has applied her skillset to the nonprofit’s mission.

On Oct. 26 and as part of Samaritan House’s annual “Paint 757 Purple” campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Stern is hosting a clothing drive to garner fashionable choices for clients who are sized 12 and up who rely on the Samaritan House’s clothing closet for work, school, and everyday outfits.

RELATED STORY: This former plus-size model is using her fashion sense to benefit the community

During the month of October, shoppers will see local businesses with a “Paint 757 Purple” poster in the window to show they have pledged to either donate a portion of their proceeds to Samaritan House for the entire month or are participating on Oct. 24, the designated “paint 757” day, Fuze said.

Based in Virginia Beach, Samaritan House owns and operates safe houses for those seeking emergency shelter, and in their permanent programs shelter about 110 people per night.

They also provide services and programs for adults and children with the mission to “ultimately break the cycles of violence and homelessness,” according to the website. 

The nonprofit is also literally painting the 757 with its second cause-connected mural set to go up at the Oceanfront by the end of the month.

Fuze said they’re encouraging the community to come out to shop at businesses on the 24th or go online to support the fundraiser but all year round accept monetary, food, and diaper donations — a constant necessity they rarely receive.

Stern is accepting all brands of gently-loved plus-size (12 and up) clothing and doing live home renovation demonstrations at the Ashley Stewart location at 700 N. Military Highway in Norfolk Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information or to donate to Samaritan House, click here or for more on the “Clothing Closet Drive” event, click here. 

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.