OLM Outreach celebrates 20 years with festival Oct. 17

Our Lady of Mercy Outreach center, Johns Island, SC

Our Lady of Mercy Outreach center, Johns Island, SCJOHNS ISLAND — Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach is celebrating 20 years of helping people in poverty with a celebration and craft fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 17 at 1684 Brownswood Road.

Since 1989, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services, Inc. has reached out to the residents of the Sea Islands who struggle with the effects of poverty in their lives. From its simple beginnings in a small home office the outreach has grown to include a multi-purpose building, education center and newly completed wellness center.

The outreach served the emergency needs of 2,000 people in its first year, according to a press release. Last year, the organization, its staff and dedicated volunteers reached over 11,000 residents through the direct outreach services program; 385 adults and children were assisted through the educational programs; and 2,815 patient visits/services through its wellness program.

Jakki Jefferson, an original staff member, said she was amazed at the growth of services and the number of partners who collaborate with them.

Sister Carol Wentworth remembers how small their storage room was and now marvels at the expanded food pantry and the on-going generosity of so many donors.

During the dedication ceremony of the new wellness center, Allen Carroll, corporate executive officer of St. Francis Hospital said that he and the employees of St. Francis “take great pride in supporting the women’s health and pre-natal programs.”

In 2005, the outreach board accepted the challenge to oversee the Neighborhood House in Charleston, where emergency services, education programs and daily soup kitchen serve the neighborhood community. The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy is energizing the soup kitchen with new life and vision, according to the release.