On Aug. 24, 48 people, representing churches and service organizations, met at the Clover School District administration building to discuss better ways to communicate in order to better assist those in need in our area.
The main purpose of Clover Cares, co-sponsored by Clover Area Assistance Center and Clover School District, was to take steps toward identifying services each church or organization provides and find ways to eliminate duplication of services.
Last year, United Way of York County, CAAC and the school social workers communicated with each other regarding who was receiving similar services from multiple organizations.
The result was less duplication of services and the ability to then provide assistance to a larger number of people in need.
I expressed the need for each organization to specialize in one or two services rather than trying to do it all.
I used the analogy that the services available are like a basket of fruit: We all need to be very good at a few things, like apples and oranges, but let someone else be good at the bananas and grapes.
There are more than 20 food pantries, mostly in churches, within a 10-mile radius of Clover.
We are not dealing with a population that is starving. We are dealing with a population that is hungry.
By having so many of the same resources available, we actually make it easier for some to abuse the services, especially when we fail to communicate with each other.
CAAC is currently looking to find other organizations willing to take over services they will no longer provide, including blanket collection, Easter baskets, Purses of Love for Mothers Day, the distribution of mens sport clothes for Fathers Day, and eventually Santas Closet.
We can help a group get started with these services, and CAAC could still be a drop-off site for items.
Courtney Jones, Marcia Dickson, and Natalie Rimmer, all social workers for the Clover School District, passed around a list of current needs. The schools provide many services to students and families, including a special fund to help pay for utilities or purchase clothing for students.
They provide coats, hats and mittens, and full outfits to children in need. They also provide Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and partner with the Jaycees in having Christmas gifts delivered to everyone in a family. In addition, they have pantries in the schools so children do not go hungry, particularly on weekends.
CAAC and the schools currently partner with Second Harvests backpack program, which provides a backpack full of nutritious foods weekly to more than 200 children in the district.
Sherri Ciurlik, school board member and CAAC Board of Directors member, started the project. In the summer, when the backpack program is not running, Ciurlik sees to it that students continue to receive food, all of which is donated by individuals and organizations in the community.
Its about giving a hand up. Debbie Hayworth, president and CPO of the United Way of York County, said its crucial for people to learn to help themselves.
It isnt just about helping someone with an immediate need. It is about finding ways, as a community, to educate and break the generational cycle of poverty, she said.
Any church or service organization that would like to join Clover Cares email list are encouraged to email courtney.jones @clover.k12.sc.us.
Questionnaires about services are still being accepted through Sept. 21, by mailing to CAAC, P.O. Box 521, Clover, SC 29710.
Clover Cares will be hold follow-up meeting in the spring.
Karen van Vierssen is executive director of Clover Area Assistance Center.