Many of you may know Food for the Soul (FFTS) has committed to providing food to those in need in Kershaw County since 2009. Many of you may also know that we are committed to providing shelter for the homeless seven days a week, 365 days a year.
What you may not know is that FFTS is also the place for the homeless folks who are discharged from the hospital, or released from incarceration, or wandering the streets of Kershaw County with no place to go, or who do not have a family support system to take them in. Some of these people do not belong in a homeless shelter. But because of a lack of appropriate medical care, mental health care, or other services, they find themselves at the center. With the critical need for support services on the rise, employees find themselves stepping into unfamiliar shoes.
For example: There is the two-person family from Bethune, one of whom is disabled, who lived in a house where there was no appropriate heat or food. This family lived at FFTS for four months waiting for “someone” to find them housing. The director, along with the efforts of others, became that “someone” who worked tirelessly to locate safe housing for both mother and son.
And you may not know about the elderly Alzheimer’s lady who police found wandering the streets of Camden. When brought to us, she was disheveled, incoherent, malnourished, and of course, confused. After working with her for several days, it was determined that she was not medicating herself properly, had been beaten by a caretaker in another city, and had no family to help her. She did not belong in a homeless shelter. Again, “someone” assisted her to obtain access to the proper care she needed.
And you may not know about “Mary” who was also found wandering the streets in Kershaw County in an apparent daze with no belongings. Exhibiting behaviors of an eight year old (Mary is in her late 50s), it was difficult to get information regarding her past and what might have caused her to be docile and child-like. Hours, days, and eventually weeks were spent investigating Mary’s history, finally determining a diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury as the root of the problem. “Someone” found permanent housing for Mary as a homeless shelter quickly became unsuitable for her.
Community members, this is not a plea for monies. It is not a fundraising tactic. It is an attempt to make Kershaw County residents aware of the needs of the folks that live all around us. It is an attempt to make you aware of what we do, what we face, and how this is a community issue, not just Food for the Soul’s issue. There are wonderful resources that are available; there are just not enough of them to meet the needs. Becoming homeless can happen to anyone. It can happen to you.
“Awakening hope and honoring dignity to those in Kershaw County” should be everyone’s mission. It’s what we’re called to do.
Robin McAlpine, Vice Chair, FFTS Board of Directors