Our Lady of the Valley expands outreach programs

Our Lady of the Valley Church in Gloverville is offering assistance for low- and moderate-income families to obtain government services, grants and aid.

Our Lady of the Valley Church in Gloverville is offering assistance for low- and moderate-income families to obtain government services, grants and aid.GLOVERVILLE—Our Lady of the Valley can help you find money for living expenses, medical bills, education and more.

All that is required is a trip to the church and enough time to fill out a simple, online form.

Of the 26 people the church has served so far, more than half qualified for food assistance, according to their records.

Sister Mary Jean Doyle, DC, who helped establish the program, said it’s shocking how much money is lost every year just because people don’t know it’s there.

Ready? Low- and moderate-income people miss out on $500 million in aid each year, according to statistics from The Benefit Bank of South Carolina.

But people are working to change those statistics.

Sister Mary Jean, director of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center, said she first heard about The Benefit Bank program from Area Churches Serving Together.

She thought it was a wonderful way to help those in need, and immediately established the service at the church, in partnership with ACTS, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and a handful of volunteers.

Laura Jarvi, a member of St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, is one of those volunteers. She said they are still trying to spread the word in the community that help is available.

The process is confidential, quick and easy, Jarvi said. Volunteers help clients fill out a quick-check form, which creates a list of any and all services the client is eligible to receive. The most common is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

There are many others, including tax credits, student aid, and assistance with medical bills, prescriptions, utilities and more, Jarvi said.

An additional benefit starting in October is LIHEAP, which helps with heating bills, Sister Mary Jean said.

Dave Post, another volunteer and a parishioner at Our Lady of the Valley, said having the program in Gloverville is a huge boon to residents, because it means they no longer have to travel to Aiken to register for services.

Sister Mary Jean, a member of the Daughters of Charity, said the church is within walking distance for many, and others are just a short drive away.

Everyone involved with the program stresses the $500 million that is not used each year. Post said it is a lot of money not getting to those who need it.

Sister Mary Jean said she hopes that Our Lady of the Valley will be the first Benefit Bank link in a chain that stretches across the state.

She said it is extremely easy for any church or organization to participate. It only requires one day of training, and participants are served breakfast and lunch.

The outreach operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Our Lady of the Valley. Call (803) 593-2623 for an appointment. For information, visit www.thebenefitbank.com/SouthCarolina.