Income Generation Provides Pathway to Stability

Karen crop“Sometimes there is no support system; it’s just you and your grind,” Karen Tisdale says this is one of her favorite quotes. A lot of people she knows are struggling financially, so she says it’s up to you to change your situation and to make it what you want it to be. And that is just what she is doing.

Karen came to United Ministries’ Employment Readiness program because she and her husband were struggling to pay all of the bills each month. After raising three boys, Karen decided to re-enter the workforce to supplement her husband’s steady income. She told her employment counselor, Liz Murphy, that before her children were born, she used to love making jewelry.

Liz recognized Karen’s gift for jewelry-making as the missing piece in her family’s financial stability puzzle. Liz says, “In Employment Readiness, counselors help people search for jobs on a daily basis and know a lot about where to find quality openings. However, another important piece of the puzzle that sometimes gets overlooked and is income generation. It’s often difficult for program participants who lack a degree beyond high school to obtain a steady job with full-time hours. However, it is possible for these participants to supplement a part-time job or a spouse’s wages through various methods of income generation.”

Karen decided to start making jewelry again to sell. She uses semi-precious stones and wraps them with copper wire to create unique statement pieces. The extra income helps Karen balance the budget every month and maintain financial stability.

Karen says, “I want to thank United Ministries and Liz Murphy for all of their help, encouragement, and the time that they spent to help me realize my own potential.”

A sample of Karen’s jewelry is below.  You can contact her at karentis22@hotmail.com for more information.

 

Bon Secours to be Title Sponsor of United Ministries’ Transformation Walk

According to Alex Garvey, the Senior VP of Mission for Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Catholic health care has always viewed hospitals as a reflection of the communities they serve. “We believe that the all-encompassing ministry of healing doesn’t stop at the hospital walls,” he says. The call to serve God’s people in the community is part of the inspiration behind Bon Secours’ title sponsorship of the Transformation Walk.

 

Alex Garvey square cropAlex was born in a Bon Secours facility a few blocks from his home in Ireland, where he first became familiar with Catholic health care. He has spent nearly 20 years working in the health care ministry, having recently moved to Greenville to lead the Mission team for Bon Secours.

 
With his characteristic vivacity and dynamism, Alex describes the ebb and flow of ministry, “Ultimately, we believe that God calls through God’s people. We are always called, and we respond.” Bon Secours St. Francis Health System recently completed a health needs assessment to determine community needs. One of the top three identifiers in the community was homelessness due to mental health issues. Bon Secours will now begin a clinical matrix to address the needs identified.

 
Alex says the opportunity to work in tandem with United Ministries is very exciting. Not wishing to duplicate services or re-invent the wheel, Bon Secours supports local agencies that are doing a phenomenal job of addressing community needs.

 
The principles behind United Ministries’ Transformation Walk fit well with Bon Secours’ hands-on approach to ministry. Alex keeps the guiding image of Jesus as he bent down, scooped up the dirt, spat in it, and rubbed it in the eyes of the blind man. He explains, “At Bon Secours we don’t say, ‘Oh, we open our door to all people.’ We go out into the community and bring people in. We don’t say, ‘We’re a welcoming institution.’ That’s not good enough. You have to go out to where the people are. And that’s what the Transformation Walk does. You’re walking; you’re physically taking people through the footsteps of the community. There’s no more hands-on than that. That’s such a ministerial and sensory understanding of the sometimes marginalized and forgotten community.”

 
The Transformation Walk raises awareness about poverty in Greenville by taking participants on a three mile route in downtown Greenville past agencies that serve poor and homeless people in our community. The event provides funds for job skills training, adult education, financial stability programs, emergency assistance, interim housing for homeless families, and homeless day shelter services. United Ministries’ 27th Annual Transformation Walk, presented by Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, will begin at Fluor Field on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.TransformationWalk.kintera.org.

 
The Transformation Walk is made possible through our sponsors, including: Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Bostik, Carolina Power, Don Pilzer Law Firm, South Carolina Tel-Con, GSA Business Report, SunTrust, BlueCross BlueShield of SC, Bobby and Becky Hartness, CRH Properties LLC, Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, Greenville Business Magazine, Greenville Health System, Michelin, Reynolds Investment Management, Roy Abercrombie, ScanSource, Secured Advantage FCU, Smoak Public Relations, Alan and Kathy Marshall, Bank of Travelers Rest, Carolina Belting Co., Citgo, Community Foundation of Greenville, Covans Insulation Co., Custom Component Sales Inc., Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A., JHM Hotels, JTEKT Automotive South Carolina, Metal Chem Inc., NAI Earle Furman, Ralph and Becky Bouton, and Southern First Bank. For information on sponsoring, please contact Rebecca Ragland at 864-335-2614 or rragland@united-ministries.org.

Walk Flyer(3)

GED Graduate Finds Vocation in Metallurgy

I first met Steve Jant when he joined our GED program in 2009.  The GED was a huge challenge for him, and he studied on and off with us for four full years.  After he graduated in 2013, he went to Greenville Technical College, where he struggled with introductory college level work.

Steve stopped by United Ministries recently to tell us about his new vocation.  He is now studying metallurgy, the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification.  He speaks with energetic confidence about all the parts of the industry, from mining to pellets and slabs to a finished product.  He told us about his labs at Greenville Tech, working with all kinds of furnaces, and dealing with issues of the hardness and workability of the metals.  He now works at Five Star Carbide Cutting Tool Technology and is learning about machining metals where flutes and rake angles are important.  At Greenville Tech, his labs will be about writing his own programs to perform the operations he does at work.

During our conversation, I was impressed with how far Steve has come academically and with the enthusiasm he expressed for both his work and study.  When I praised him for his new-found confidence, he responded, “Don’t get me wrong…I have my days of frustration, too.”  This let me know how far he has really come.  He now faces his challenges with so much more assertiveness and grace than he did seven or even four years ago.

Ken Christy, Adult Education Academic Counselor

One Plus One Can Equal Three

Just over a year ago, I received a call from Tony McDade, Executive Director for Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (GAIHN) asking if we could meet with Ethan Friddle, Interim Director of United Ministries, to hear and discuss an idea. I recall the words

creative
and
visionary

being part of our conversation. After first discussing the two organizations and their complementary strengths and unique challenges, we agreed GAIHN and United Ministries have a long history of collaborating to address poverty and homelessness issues in Greenville County. Both organizations were birthed by congregations and today share many overlapping supporters who are dedicated to finding ways to help people and families in our community. I and many others had a real sense that this idea this was worth serious consideration. The “what if” developed into the boards and staff of both organizations working in tandem over the course of many months delving into the question of merging. A feasibility study facilitated by Rochelle Williams with Gather Consulting concluded in late January with a unanimous decision by both boards recommending a merger. A new math equation emerged summing up the goal a merged organization.

One
plus
one
can equal three!

There was mutual respect, collective wisdom and shared excitement of everyone involved as we saw the benefit of the new organization positioned to be a leader in the effort to create lasting change for those in our community that are working towards sustainable independence. The joining of the two agencies focused on creating a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive in Greenville.

Since the formal announcement of the merger, I continue to hear and see people on a daily basis in our community who agree and share my excitement for a new entity. As you and I think about the growing, vibrant and beautiful community around us, I hope you also share the vision of a merged organization. Together we can work towards ensuring that everyone in Greenville can be part of creating a stronger community. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity ahead as an organization seeking to provide efficient and cost effective services for the homeless and others striving to emerge from poverty. There is no time more exciting and important as now for you and me to participate in helping one plus one to equal three.

Susan McLarty, GAIHN Board Member
Susan McLarty 1

GED Graduate Returns to Share Success

We’re always so delighted in the GED program when our graduates come back to tell us how happy and successful they are in their lives. That’s certainly the way we felt when Raydale McJunkin, a 2006 graduate, surprised us when he came in to tell us about his life after graduation. Ten years is a lot of time that we needed to catch up on!

Raydale definitely has a special place on our wall of GED graduates. When he graduated, he was one of our graduate speakers. The Greenville News did a major story on our 2006 graduation and featured Raydale in their story. There is a large framed picture of this story, with a picture of Ethan presenting Raydale with his certificate, on our wall at the Learning Center. So, when Raydale suddenly appeared, it was quite an exciting event. We were definitely anxious to hear about all that had gone on in his life in the past ten years.

Raydale’s relationship with United Ministries began one day – over ten years ago – when he and his wife came to our Emergency Assistance program to ask for help with a utility bill. They received help and were also referred to our GED and Employment Readiness programs to help them with financial stability. Raydale earned his GED through our program and then, with the support of Employment Readiness, went on to get his CDL license and then on to enjoy a lengthy and rewarding career with some well-known trucking companies. His work and the people that he met through his work as well as the financial security that his work provided had greatly enriched his life and the lives of all in his family.

An injury caused him to have to leave his truck-driving career, but he had moved on to a new career working in human resources for a local company, training their new employees. He loved his new work and talked about how much it meant to him to be able to train and motivate the company’s new employees and to then see them become successful in their new jobs. He talked about how great his life is now and remembered his life before his GED, when his wife would cry because she didn’t know where their next food would come from or how they would pay their bills. Now they were financially secure, comfortable, and happy.

Then Raydale started explaining why he had come to see us. He wanted to thank United Ministries for all of his happiness and success. Having watched students succeed over the past thirteen years, I understood that, of course, the students accomplish their own successes. We certainly teach and support and care, but our students’ ultimate successes come from within them. Our major role is to believe in them until they can believe in themselves. So I began to explain this understanding to Raydale. He was the one with the abilities, the determination, and the work ethic. His reply was stunning, and he had such a depth of understanding of his own life and the impact that United Ministries had in helping him change his life. He knew what the help and support had meant to him in his life because, he said, his life had been so dark and United Ministries had turned on a flashlight for him so that he could find his way. He had certainly found his way, and we’re all grateful and proud of all that Raydale has accomplished. We’re also very grateful for his unique explanation of what United Ministries is all about.

Janey House, Adult Education Academic Counselor

My Mom Goes to Science School

“My mom goes to science school!” Elvia overhears her six year old son proudly telling his friends. Elvia chuckles to herself, not bothering to correct him that she is really just studying for her GED through the United Ministries’ Adult Education program.

As a wife and mother of three young children, Elvia has a busy life caring for her family, helping with the PTA at her son’s school, attending church, and studying for her GED. As a teenager, she had to drop out of high school to help her mom care for her seven brothers and sisters. Now she wants to be a good role model for her children and declares that “Dropping out is not an option for my kids!”

As she studies for her GED, Elvia knows it will open many doors for herself and her family. She hopes a GED will help her get a job in the medical field to supplement her husband’s income and ease the financial pressure on her family. She has already obtained her silver WorkKeys® certificate which is required by many health care employers, including Greenville Health System. Now she is focusing all her attention on the GED. She has already passed two of the four subjects on the GED. Although math is the hardest subject for her, she knows she can conquer it with the help of United Ministries’ staff and tutors!

Hannah Thompson, Adult Education Assistant Program Manager

Brrr…It’s Cold Outside

Josalin Betts, a senior citizen on a fixed income, came to United Ministries to receive assistance with her Duke Energy electric bill. Because it had started getting colder, she began using more power to heat her home. When she received her electric bill, it was a little higher than she expected, and she could not afford to pay the full amount of the bill.

Ms. Betts’ electric bill is generally around $80.00. Because she began using her heat, her bill is now around $140.00. She had never heard of United Ministries and did not know what services we provided or what programs were available for seniors. I explained to Ms. Betts what services we offered in Emergency Assistance, including our HEAT program, which is available to seniors during the winter months.

United Ministries was able to pay her entire electric bill and take away her worries of how she was going to pay it. She was very thankful and appreciative. She said she didn’t know there were places out there that could help seniors the way we were able to help her.

Rosaline Golden, Emergency Assistance Program Assistant

Venus Mansel: Inspirational Speaker at United Ministries’ GED Graduation 2013

Venus Mansel

After turning her life around from a 15-year addiction, Venus Mansel began setting goals for herself and achieving them.  She gave the following inspirational speech at the United Ministries’ GED Graduation, Spring 2013.

First of all, I would like to thank God for the many opportunities He has blessed me with. It is an honor and privilege to be able to stand here tonight and share some of them with you. To begin, I would like to let you know a little about me and my journey. I didn’t finish high school, could not hold a job for more than six months, and led a life of addiction for over fifteen years.

 
On November 26, 2006, I experienced the delivering power of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I had a strong desire for a new way of life. I wanted to set goals in my life. No more starting something and not finishing it. I came up with a list of things that I wanted to work on immediately: first my driver’s license, followed by my GED, and next would be a job that would last more than six months, and a college degree that would help jump start a career.

 
My first goal was one that brought about some fear. Some years ago I had a DUI and thought it would prevent me from getting my driver’s license. I was about to live out 2 Corinthians 5:17 [“Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (ASV)]. I gave the lady at the DMV my information and waited as she ran it through the computer. They didn’t even have a record of me ever having a driver’s license. Jesus wiped my slate clean, and I had achieved my first goal.

 
My next move was signing up for Greenville Literacy’s Rotary Program. I began taking classes four days a week. The first time I took the GED test was January 5, 2008. I passed every subject except math! The person I used to be would have given up right then and there, but I said the Lord has brought me too far to quit.

 
I continued studying and went back on September 18, 2008 only to fail again. At this point, I signed up for the Adult Education program at United Ministries. While enrolled in this program I began studying with (Academic Counselor) Ben Sullivan. Ben took the time with me to break things down to help me better understand them. I became more confident during this time and eventually took the test again on June 13, 2009 and once again, I failed. When I spoke with Ben he asked, “Venus, what’s wrong…I know you know this?” I told him that I was not sure what was going on. On the test day, I just go blank. I continued studying but did not take the test again for some time.

 
Throughout this whole process, I was working full-time at Walmart. I began in the Maintenance Department cleaning bathrooms and floors and doing various other tasks. From there I moved to the Automotive Service Department as a service writer for six months. My next position was a Customer Service Manager. This was the first position in which I managed other associates in the store. Before taking my last GED test, I had reached the level of Department Manager of the Deli and Bakery.

 
In May of 2011, after a day of studying, I went to Ben to say, “I think I’m ready” to take the test again. He simply said, “Ok, I will see you tomorrow.” My Daily Devotional on this particular day was on the story of David and Goliath. The Lord was letting me know that math was my giant and He was going to give me the tools to defeat it. I took my practice test this day with confidence and faith in knowing God was going to see me through. I passed it with a score of 590. Ben said he knew I was ready, and he signed me up for my test. On June 7, 2011, I took the test but without the confidence I had during my practice test. Even so, I said that if I failed I would not give up and would go back.

 
A few days later I went to see Ben to tell him I felt like I had failed the test again. He said, “Let’s just see how you did.” I didn’t even know the results were in. Ben said, “YOU DID IT!” I said “I PASSED?” He said, “Yes,” and we hugged and cried, knowing this had been a long hard struggle for me. I called my family and friends to tell them all the good news. With my scores, I went straight to Greenville Tech and enrolled in college.

 
While in college studying for my Associates Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling, I maintained a GPA of 3.6 and was on the Dean’s List. Going into my third semester of college, I got married and was promoted to Assistant Manager at Wal-Mart. God has truly blessed us.

 
I am here to let you know that you should set goals, strive for them and never give up. You have accomplished one major goal in receiving your GED. Now you must continue on, while aiming high…SHOOT FOR THE STARS.

 
“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” –Michelangelo

 

United Ministries Celebrates Food Pantry Renovation

Representatives from Leadership Greenville Class 41 and the Graham Foundation gathered with staff and volunteers of United Ministries on Thursday morning to mark the renovation of United Ministries’ food pantry and the program’s transition to a client-choice model.

 
“Our approach to food distribution has been limited by our physical space. We are excited to finally have our space designed to meet our needs and to create a more dignified experience for the people we serve,” says Ethan Friddle, Interim Executive Director of United Ministries.

 
The new client-choice food pantry model will return dignity to those seeking assistance by giving them the ability to choose food items that fit their families’ needs. In the old system, pre-packaged bags were given to qualifying participants. In the new model, participants will be able to choose from available foods that best fit their families’ nutritional needs, thereby cutting down on food waste and allowing active participation in their food assistance experience.

 
“This new model will allow both participants and volunteers to be more engaged in the process of food assistance,” says Davida Bryant, Emergency Assistance Program Manager.

 

With the help of essential volunteers from partner churches and in-kind food donations from congregations, civic groups, schools, and businesses, United Ministries’ food pantry plans to serve more than 2,800 local families next year.

 
More than just food assistance, United Ministries practices the type of transformative charity that discourages dependency on charity and promotes the dignity of work. By offering programs in adult education, employment readiness, and financial literacy, United Ministries focuses on developing the potential that each family possesses to become self-sufficient.

 
The food pantry renovation is made possible through the generosity of Leadership Greenville Class of 41, Harper Corporation, the Graham Foundation, and John I. Smith Charities.

Middle-aged Employment Readiness Participant Finds a Job

Mrs. C. is a great example of the many middle-aged and senior participants whom we serve in Employment Readiness. Mrs. C. is in her mid-50’s and has worked several jobs that lasted for many years. Unfortunately, she was laid off from her most recent job and was having a difficult time finding work on her own.

Mrs. C. has some difficulty with processing information and using the computer to complete applications. She worked with her employment counselor to find jobs that would be a good fit for her skills. She applied for a custodial job at a local community college, and she received positive reviews from her interview.

Her counselor helped her stay in touch with the hiring manager, who assured Mrs. C. that they wanted to hire her. Mrs. C. had to be very patient while waiting for the HR paperwork to be processed.

Finally, after three months, Mrs. C. was offered the job! She was very relieved, and her counselor was very proud of her. She has a strong work ethic, a bubbly personality, and will be a great asset to the college’s staff.

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