PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Drueding Center in North Philadelphia provides transitional housing for homeless women and children. The organization is honoring one of its most prized volunteers tonight after more than two decades of service.

“I really felt like I was giving back, like I was being helpful to the women and children there.”

A mother of four girls, Tracey Specter says she started volunteering with the center in 1987, with her mentor and founder sister Kathryn Etchells.

tracey specter 2 Woman Honored For Helping Homeless Women And Children In Philadelphia

Tracey Specter (credit: ©Kat Nania/Kendon Photography)

“She was important to me because when I was a young person she really engaged me and gave me the chance to sit on the board of this really impactful organization.”

After she joined the Board of Directors, Specter says she began fundraising and working to create new programming. But Spector says her personal love was teaching the ladies about healthy food.

“I would literally go to one of the residential floors and each of the floors at the time had a kitchen. I would show them how to go to the grocery store and buy things that are inexpensive and doctor them up to make them more nutritious or more tasty.”

Tyiesha Shields moved into the Drueding Center two years ago. She was 22-years-old with her 4-day old baby.

“Being here, I learned how to cook quick and easy meals. I took their computer classes. I also took parenting classes, which helped me learned to be more patient with my daughter.”

Today, Tyiesha is on her own and doing well. She is a part-time student and a part-time nursing assistant.

“I learned to be an adult. I have a child to take care of and I want her life to be better than mine was.”

Spector says, she continues to be inspired by Etchells legacy, as well as women like Tyiesha, who have been impacted by the center.

Spector will receive the Kathryn Etchells Leadership Award on Saturday. For more information on the Drueding Center, visit

tracey and tyesha Woman Honored For Helping Homeless Women And Children In Philadelphia

Tracey Specter and Tyiesha Shields (Credit: Cherri Gregg, KYW Newsradio)

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