Hispanic Ministry outreach programs in the Piedmont and Midlands Deaneries have recently received grants from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina to help fund Catholic Charities assistance efforts.
In the Piedmont Deanery, the grant was used to employ two Hispanic outreach workers, Rene Linares in Una and Spartanburg and Dolores Cedillo in Greer.
Linares sets up his office each Friday night and Saturday morning at a picnic table next to a small Hispanic store, “Tienda Latina Las Amigas.” People come seeking financial assistance for rent, medicines, utilities, phone bills, and transportation. Linares is able to work with other agencies and churches to assist with food and clothing needs. Parishioners from many churches also come to donate household items, bedding, infant supplies, toys and clothing that are gone before the weekend passes.
The Rev. Kenneth Cash of First Freewill Baptist Church donated office space for Catholic Charities to start the outreach. However, Linares needed to relocate to a place where Hispanics frequently do their shopping.
In Greer, Cedillo works to meet the needs of the unemployed, of those who need housing, of those needing rides to doctors and lawyers, and to those needing assistance with documentation papers. Her van serves as a mobile office. With her at all times is a card file in which she keeps the phone numbers of companies willing to hire Hispanics and job application forms, and of landlords open to renting to extended families and their rental agreements, which Cedillo translates for those just learning English.
She provides this assistance on Saturdays and Sundays, apart from her full-time employment.
“I hear the call inside of me to help my people. I have done this wherever I have lived, whether I am paid for it or not. I once was in need and others helped me. Now it is my turn to give a helping hand,” Cedillo explained.
Saluda County Outreach Center
The Saluda County Outreach Center opened on Feb. 22 and is located at St. William Parish in Ward. The center was made possible by a grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation and St. William’s, who donated the needed office space.
Catholic Charities of the Midlands, in partnership with Lexington Interfaith Community Services, created this organization to provide free food, free clothing, and financial assistance to the residents of Saluda County. With only a Department of Social Services office and a health clinic, county residents rely largely on donations and the generosity of local churches and private nonprofit organizations to assist in crisis situations.
Most of the individuals served at the center are Hispanic, as the county has a large migrant population. Clients have included the elderly, the disabled, single parents, and some that simply cannot make ends meet.
Made possible by donations from parishioners at St. William’s, the center offers a free clothing barn, with no limit on the amount of items that can be taken. Numerous families have been able to receive blankets, shoes, household items, toys, and clothing.
Since the center’s establishment, it has also networked with other agencies to obtain long-lasting services for families and to meet their immediate needs.