September 10, 2018

Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina annual report shines light on those making a difference

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina recently released its 2018 annual report with a theme of “Shining a light on those making a difference.” 

In 2017, the foundation awarded 189 grants totaling $3,309,300 million, which is the largest individual grantmaking year since 2001. Also, the foundation continued partnering with a multitude of nonprofit organizations committed to serving those living in poverty as well as addressing systemic change, invested in initiatives lifting up immigrant families and kinship care providers and supported emerging student leaders in the world of philanthropy at Benedict College and Columbia College. Since inception, the foundation has invested more than $67 million in the areas of education, health and social services through more than 2,938 grants in all 46 counties of the state.

The annual report shares several of the stories behind the numbers. One of those stories is below. Read the full annual report here.

Respect: Trinity Housing Corporation

In 2015 Homeless No More, which was then Trinity Housing Corporation, began to recognize that their services had a gap in them: emergency shelter services. They saw families that lived in cars show up needing emergency assistance, but were unable to support them through the St. Lawrence Place program, an existing primary program. It was with this understanding that they listened to their community and began their journey toward merging with Family Shelter, the only emergency shelter service in Columbia, South Carolina.

“After we finished our strategic plan, we knew we had two options: either build our own emergency shelter, or we work together to bring Family Shelter into the Homeless No More family,” Lila Anna Sauls, President and CEO of Homeless No More, said. “At that time we were still Trinity Housing Corporation and no one knew what the future looked like. What we did know, though, was that emergency shelter was a part of it.”

As a grantee, Family Shelter came to the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina recognizing that they needed help in order to continue serving families in the Midlands. With this understanding, the Foundation brought various nonprofits to the table to discuss how to make sure that Family Shelter continued offering assistance to families in need. Homeless No More was part of the answer.

Sauls then found herself in a position where she had to convince two separate boards that merging together was the best answer for the community.

“We had two issues moving forward: my board needed to be okay with how to pay for this, how to run it and the Family Shelter board needed to be okay with this change. I was having to convince my board that we weren’t taking on a negative, and someone was having to convince their board that it’s okay to make this merger,” Sauls said.

Making a change as large and as important as this respectfully was at the forefront of Sauls’ mind throughout the entire process. While Homeless No More managed Family Shelter in 2017, Sauls wanted the Family Shelter family to feel welcomed and a part of Homeless No More. The Family Shelter board of trustees self-selected who joined the full board.

“We respected this board who had put blood, sweat, and tears into this organization. Dissolving this board was never a thought,” Sauls said. “We knew we needed to respect their timing and space because no matter what, making this shift was going to be uncomfortable and tough.”

Along with the board, staff from Family Shelter also joined Homeless No More. Sauls found it important to stress the importance of new staff and existing staff operating as one team.

“We never wanted to walk in and wipe out the Family Shelter staff—that would be foolish, but after six months we could tell that they weren’t happy,” Sauls said. “We started hiring joint staff, meaning no more ‘I’m St. Lawrence Place’ or ‘I’m Family Shelter.’ Everyone is Homeless No More. All the children attend our Children’s Program and you can’t tell who is a St. Lawrence Place child or Family Shelter child; I just know that it’s a child we are all taking care of.”

Being one team is crucial to meeting the needs of Midlands families, and the organization’s shared missions have been the key to moving forward.

“Respect of the family was an unspoken among all of us. During all this transition serving our families was at the forefront. Respecting their needs is what drove all of us to make this transition as easy as possible – we didn’t want them to see a thing. The only thing our families had to deal with was that there were some new rules in place to make services seamless,” Sauls said.

As of January 1, 2018 Family Shelter officially became a part of the Homeless No More continum of services. Though they worked strategically and thoughtfully to make this transition respectfully, there are still lessons to be learned.

“We now have a new team and board. The work culture has had to change for everyone. We suddenly went from 6 employees to 27 employees, so you go from all being in one place together then suddenly there 27 of us and we’re all on different campuses,” Sauls said. “It’s a constant challenge of remembering we’re all on one team. We still have not nailed it; we’re still working on it. It’s a perpetual challenge with constant assessment.”

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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