January 2, 2013

Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina senior program officer speaks at statewide training conference

Katrina Spigner, senior program officer at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, recently spoke at the statewide training for Family Connections in Columbia, South Carolina.

Family Connections, whose mission is to strengthen and encourage families of children with special health care needs through parent support, has been focused on learning more about the issues and consequences of poverty and has formed a small group dedicated to keeping discussions about poverty current and at the forefront of staff involvement.

At the training event, representatives from across the state met to talk about the changing face of poverty, ever-present stereotypical thinking and the predisposition to prejudice. Many in attendance had similar stories to convey and listened intently to Spigner speak on the foundation’s commitment to the poor and underserved, and to the compassion that must be evident when seeking change. Using the Lowcountry Food Bank, a foundation grantee, as a model of just how to holistically approach the issue of poverty, Spigner spoke to creating healthier models of charity that empower and educate.

“The Lowcountry Food Bank prepares, educates and has a culinary component to their mission for adults as well as children.  These programs allow the recipients opportunities to help themselves and learn skills to help them out of their current situation,” said Spigner. “Many charities have fallen into the bad habit of creating programs to help the poor when in reality the only people they are helping are themselves, creating a toxic form of charity that needs to be reexamined and fixed.”
Robert D. Lupton, whose book Toxic Charity encourages organizations to help the people they serve to learn skills to help themselves, says,” We must think practically on how to get those we serve involved in service projects that truly help.”

With this in mind, Spigner ended her discussion with a simple "Oath for Compassionate Service," which is based on Lupton's recommendations:

(1) Never do for the poor what they can do for themselves
(2) Limit one-way giving to emergencies
(3) Empower the poor through employment, lending and investing to reinforce achievements
(4) Subordinate self-interest to the needs of those being served
(5) Listen closely to those you seek to help
(6) Above all, do no harm

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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