Friendship Place Board of Directors 2008
|Linda Keith ' 08
||Carol Gomolski '09
||John Gregory '10
|Don Mabe '08 President
||Chet Maslowski ' 09
||George Blalock '10
|Matthew Elliot '08
||Harry Cagle '09
||Harvey Brown '10
Charlie Ball, Executive Director
1905 Front Street
PO Box 282
Georgetown, SC 29442
History of Friendship Place
Friendship Place is a Christian organization working to provide a hand-up for people to meet their basic needs. For more than 8 years, we have fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless and worked to creatively and cost effectively meet the unmet needs of the citizens of the county.
Our efforts began in 1998 when a group of concerned citizens gathered at St. Cyprian’s Outreach Center to discuss the unmet needs of Georgetown County. Over the course of several meetings, the group settled on hunger and homelessness as the major unmet needs in the area. By 1999, the group evolved into a board of directors and with the help of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, commissioned a study of the services available to the needy of the entire low-country of South Carolina. The study confirmed that there were very few services offered to the hungry and the homeless of Georgetown County.
In January of 2000, Friendship Place borrowed s small corner in an unused room at St. Cyprian’s Outreach Center and “opened” its doors. Our initial goals were to meet the unmet needs of the community, to not duplicate any services already available in the community, and to listen to the needs and concerns of our clients. We have used this approach to design and implement the programs we currently offer.
Our first efforts involved establishing a year-round feeding program. The Sister’s at St. Cyprian’s operated a hot meal program one day a week, from January through March. We took over the program and immediately expanded it to two days a week. The hot meal program provided the staff and volunteers an excellent tool to impact the needs of the hungry and homeless and simultaneously identify the needs of the needy in the community.
Over the years, we have expanded the hot meal program to five days a week. We serve our meal from 11:00am to 12:15 pm to anyone in the county that is hungry. We work hard to treat everyone that enters the dining room as a guest in our home, and all we ask in return, is that all of our guests reciprocate. Each meal is started with a prayer, usually led by a client. We also occasionally have community information or health related classes presented by volunteers.
Nine area churches and one Rotary Club provide the volunteers for each meal. The volunteers are the wait staff and serve each plate of food to the guests, there are no buffet lines at Friendship Place. Our part time chef does an excellent job providing a nutritious meal to 50 to 100 guests that arrive for each meal. He works very hard to keep the cost of more than 20,000 meals each year down.
As we have listened to our clients we have been forced to put aside our preconceived ideas for the solutions to their problems. Using their input, we designed and implemented programs to meet their unique needs. In February of 2000, we assisted our first homeless individual. The gentleman came to the meal program after sleeping in a car in the neighborhood for a few days. He needed a stable place to help get his life back in order. We assisted him with emergency shelter and our sheltering program was born. The program has continued to develop over the years and we are able to offer temporary emergency shelter to our neighbors in crisis. We base this program on an application and a background check and offer shelter in a local motel. The purpose of the program is to provide a hand-up to those in crisis by providing them stable safe shelter while they work to secure permanent housing. We serve between 50 and 80 people a year with this program. By using local motels, we are able to meet the emergency sheltering needs of the community without the expense of a typical shelter. After eight years of work in the community, Georgetown does not demonstrate the need for a mass shelter found in most larger cities. Although we do have families and neighbors in crisis, we can meet their needs without a building.
The weekly shuttle service from the city of Georgetown to Smith Medical Clinic in Pawleys Island is another service that evolved from the hot meal program. When some local nursing students came in during the lunch program to provide our clients a free blood pressure screening, we found that many of our clients had dangerously high blood pressures. At that time, we did not have a relationship with local doctor to make referrals. Most, if not all of our clients have no access to medication or to a doctor. With no insurance and limited public transportation the clients were left with few options to treat their serious conditions. In response to this unmet need we started the shuttle service to Smith Medical Clinic at Camp Baskervill Ministries in Pawleys Island. The Clinic offers free medical attention to any citizen of Georgetown County without medical insurance. We regularly take 5 to 8 people a month to the clinic. The shuttle service has saved the life of some our guests and improved the quality of life of several more clients.
Unemployment has been a problem in Georgetown for several years. In response to the high unemployment rate Friendship Place started a job-training program in 2003. The intent of the program is to provide inflation proof, recession proof, job opportunities with potential for up-ward mobility for the unemployed and the under-employed of Georgetown. Each applicant is screened and interviewed by a selection committee for the free job training program. Upon acceptance the participants are provided a scholarship to the Occupational Outlook Center, textbooks, school supplies, uniforms and all the equipment required for the class. We have a part-time office manager that works with the students one night a week during the class to work on study, note taking, etc. We have a very high success rate and most of our graduates find employment within a few weeks of completing the state required certification.
In July of 2005, Friendship Place started a collaborative effort with the Georgetown County Housing Authority. Friendship Place now manages a five bedroom house. The house is used as a transitional housing for Georgetown County families that are homeless or living in sub-standard housing. Families are selected to live in the home rent free for a period of 45 to 90 days, in order to get back on their feet.
During their stay, the house’s administrator works with the families to develop a savings plan that will lead self-sufficiency. Each family must work and find a sponsor while staying in the house. Some families are very successful and flourish in the environment we provide while others fail to live up to their savings plans and have to move out early.
For the future we are studying our need for a social worker and the need to expand our meal program to include Saturdays.
All of our programs are the result of listening to the needs of our clients. We feel each program meets an unmet need in our community and serves the unique needs of the people of Georgetown.