October 17, 2013

Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina holds listening session focused on family homelessness

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina recently held a listening session in conjunction with St. Lawrence Place that focused on the strengths and challenges faced by families who experience homelessness. St. Lawrence Place provides support services, life skills and transitional housing to enable homeless families with children to achieve independent living. Family homelessness is a complex issue further intensified by a shortage of affordable housing, eroding employment opportunities, shrinking public assistance and the reality of generational poverty.

The St. Lawrence Place community of 30 single-family homes in Columbia, South Carolina, was founded by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in 1989 and is operated by Trinity Housing Corporation. St. Lawrence Place keeps homeless families together and helps them cultivate the skills to become contributing members of the community. Since its inception, hundreds of children and their parents have been impacted by the program.

At the listening session, participants provided testimonies from their life journey, how they learned about St. Lawrence Place and how much the program has impacted each of their lives. Multiple factors lead families to St. Lawrence Place, including tumultuous family relationships, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, financial set-backs due to the loss of a job, drug-addiction, and mental illness, among others. The case management services, weekly life-skill training, adult, teen and children’s programs at St. Lawrence create a foundation that strengthens families as they undertake the difficult work that accompanies profound change.

Participants expressed deep gratitude for the support and community that St. Lawrence Place has provided. One participant recalled the moment she was told she had been accepted into St. Lawrence Place, “I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. My kids were excited they didn’t have to share a bed.” Another participant shared, “St. Lawrence Place helps me breathe again. I don’t worry about where I’m going to lay my head or whether my children are going to be safe.” The life skills gained help families overcome tremendous odds, as another participant testified, “The tools they give us here go with us to make our way when we never give up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to get up and go again. You have to know your worth and know that you are God’s child.”

As the evening came to an end, Tom Keith, president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina said, “We are honored to be a long-time friend to St. Lawrence Place. Tonight, we have been a witness to their transformative work and commitment to strengthen families, which aligns perfectly with our foundation vision for families to have the resources to live out of poverty.”

Since 2010, the foundation has listened directly to families experiencing poverty through listening sessions. As part of its commitment to reduce poverty in South Carolina, the foundation has visited different communities in partnership with grantees across the state to listen directly to the voices of individuals and families on issues that are complicated by poverty.

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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