Grant aids Catholic Charities’ partnership with public schools

CONWAY — A two-year $73,400 grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina has enabled Catholic Charities to enter into a collaborative partnership with rural public schools to assist families in need across the Pee Dee.

The Community Empowerment Program is a program of the Pee Dee Office of Catholic Charities. Diane Bullard is the regional coordinator.

“The Sisters of Charity Foun-dation invited us to participate in their Opportunity Grant Program,” said Bullard. “We had been meeting with the school districts in Marlboro County and lower Florence County to talk about some of the needs of the students and families and possible ways to address the needs of poor children in the rural areas.

“As a result of these discussions, we developed the Community Empowerment Program. Representatives within the schools will receive 12 hours of intensive case management training from Catholic Charities. The trained representatives will serve as community liaisons between families in need and Catholic Charities. The program also works to engage school personnel and partners within the business and church community who will all work together to address issues of poverty within their communities. Our client advocate Daryl Kangarloo will coordinate those efforts.”

“I’m excited about it,” said Kangarloo, grant program coordinator. “To be in the school system, which is the mainstay of the community, gives us a lot of opportunities to help more people. We’re going to be able to help the school counselors to do their job better because we’re going to get them some financial assistance and training. They’ve got training in case management.”

Social worker Katrina E. Spigner, M.S.W., serves as a consultant for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.

“I provide technical assistance to some of the grantees of the foundation,” she said. “Catholic Charities is an organization that I have had the privilege of working with. Diane Bullard and the staff are doing a fantastic job in implementing the Community Empowerment Program. With a desire to foster partnerships between communities and schools to improve the well-being of families and children, Catholic Charities has gotten at the heart of the foundation’s mission to address the challenges of poverty.”

The Sisters of Charities Foundation of South Carolina is a public foundation dedicated to furthering the mission, ministry and purpose of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and personalizing Catholic values by action, advocacy and leadership. The foundation is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, which was instrumental in founding Providence Hospital in Columbia in 1934. The foundation was established in November 1997 as an element in the partnership between the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System and Columbia/HCA.

The participants of the Community Empowerment Program include Clio Elementary and Middle School in Marlboro County with community liaison Peggy Johnson and North Mullins Primary School in Mullins School District 2 with Amy Lane as community liaison.

Johnson has worked with families for years as a Title I parent educator.

“It’s very frustrating when a family asks for help, and you don’t have the information or the means to assist them,” she said. “The Catholic Charities empowerment program will eliminate those frustrations by empowering me and the staff at my school to assist families in providing an enriching educational environment for our students.”

Lane said that she is “excited about the opportunity to offer information and help for our families.”

Year two of the program will include many more schools located in Marion, Marlboro, Dillon, Williamsburg and lower Florence counties.

Catholic Charities will assist Lane and Johnson to help support families with services including crisis pregnancy support services, advocacy services for injustices, geriatric care management services, clothing and food centers, adoption services, case management services, disaster response services and emergency assistance programs.

Donations may be mailed to Catholic Charities Community Empowerment Program, P.O. Box 3091, Conway, SC 29528.

For more information contact Catholic Charities at (843) 488-2112.