A dying child, one death, two caregivers, two terminal illnesses.

A family of four. Only income: social security.

There is no such thing as a “typical” case at AIM. People have all sorts of different stories of how and why they came to AIM. Every once in a while, however, there’s a case that stands out.

On the day before Thanksgiving, one of our volunteers, Elizabeth, interviewed a woman and her daughter who needed assistance with their power bill. This family was very familiar with budgeting and had been getting by for a while. They did not have any great debt or loans to pay. Unfortunately, the mother’s father had died recently and they were having trouble paying the $6,000 cost in addition to everything else.

The devastation does not stop there. The father in the family has little life left. He is not expected to survive the rest of the winter. They receive some help from Hospice, but the mother is a full-time caregiver to her husband.

Terminal illness is nothing new to the ears of the interviewers. “Most weeks we have at least one case with a sickness like that,” said Steve, the Emergency Assistance Director at AIM.

What sets this case apart from the others is that there is more than one member of the family who is not expected to live long. The daughter has a 9 year old son who is suffering from a type of blood cancer. There is treatment, but no cure. Whereas most cancers have four stages, this one only has three, and the boy is in the first stage. Not only does the boy have this blood disease, but he also has ADHD. He cannot go out and play sports because of his disease, so he has no outlet for the ADHD.

This family is struggling to pay for the cost of the grandfather’s funeral. They live solely off of the social security they receive for the father and for the child as well as food stamps. The mother takes care of her husband, and the daughter is a caregiver to the little boy. They came to AIM hoping that we could help them with their power bill for the month.

“I saw so many emotions cross their faces,” said Elizabeth when asked how they reacted to the news that AIM could help them with their power bill as well as with Christmas. “Disbelief… gratitude… relief… there was a silence at first, like they were holding their breath.”

She felt that they were waiting for the “we can help you… but.” Upon not hearing that word and realizing that they could receive help, the mother and daughter broke down in tears and thanked Elizabeth again and again.

“It was all I could do not to sob with them,” she said, yet her face showed just how much sorrow and sympathy she had for the family.

AIM was able to give this family temporary relief in the form of covering the entirety of their $400 power bill. In their situation, we hope that this little bit of a hand up will allow them to take a breather and focus on taking care of the family. That is what the Emergency Assistance program is all about: allowing people to take a breath and focus on what is really important, as well as teaching them how to budget. This family already knew how to budget, but they really needed that assistance in the midst of tragedy and sickness.

“What makes this case unusual is that it is three generations of family – gone,” said Nancy, HR Manager at AIM. “It’s a tragedy.”

AIM was able to help this family, if only briefly. Sometimes that momentary relief does a world of good in families. At the very least, it gives them hope that there are people out there who are willing to listen and help, and hope in a greater good. At AIM we know there is a Greater Good, and He has a name and a face: Jesus Christ. While our goal is to teach people to better themselves, our reason for being here is to help families like these in response to Jesus’s command to clothe the poor and help the needy, and, ultimately, to give God “all glory, honor, and power” (Rev. 4:11). Image

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When Jesus Has a Certain Plan…

….He’s going to make sure that the plan comes through.

On Monday morning a week ago I went down to the Training Center, which had been flooded over the weekend. Dottie, one of the VISTA workers, was cleaning up some of the mess. She told me that there had been some plumbing issues in the wash room and that there was major water damage to the newly reconstructed building. While I was in shock over this new development, Dottie asked me if I had been down to the Special Projects building. I said I hadn’t, but Mrs. Nancy had told me that she had worked for twelve hours the previous day gathering school supplies from Newspring Church and Publix Groceries.

“You should go see it,” she said. “It’s incredible.”

As I was walking back to the main office I saw Mrs. Nancy, the HR and Volunteer Manager, heading over to the Special Projects building with Ms. Emmie Hazle, a daily volunteer at AIM. I followed them inside.

Dear reader, I was expecting to see a lot of something, but nothing prepared me for what was actually there. Just in the first room there were a least a hundred paper bags stacked up against the wall filled with papers, notebooks, pencils, pens, compasses, rulers, binders, etc. I walked into the second room and was met with the same picture — dozens of bags and bookbags spilling out onto the small pathway through the building. My amazement was fairly large at this point, but even all this still did not prepare me for what was in the big room.

I turned the corner that leads into the big room, and … well, I can’t really fully explain what happened. I let out a big gasp and I think I stepped back a little. I was completely and utterly stunned.

The “big room” at the Special Projects building is about the size of a two car garage. There are three long tables toward the left side of the room. Against these tables sat the largest collection of paper bags that I have ever seen in my life. There were hundreds of them. Not only were they nearly reaching the ceiling — I couldn’t even see the other side of the room — but they stretched from one end of the room to the other.

I glanced at Ms. Emmie, who does inventory and packs the supplies to go out to the schools, wary of her reaction. She just breathed a sigh, held up her chin, and said, “Well, let’s get to work.”

So how did Jesus show us that He had a certain plan?

AIM did not really have the funds to buy school supplies to meet all the needs in the county, and, as a community-based program, we really depended on donations to have a successful program. Although AIM still received many donations throughout the summer, there were not enough supplies for the entire county. Because of these issues and less success rate than in the past, AIM started thinking about phasing out the program completely.

As I helped Ms. Emmie in counting some supplies yesterday, I heard this conversation happen in my head:

AIM: “Let’s think about phasing out the Backpack Program this year.”                        Jesus: “Aren’t you a funny bunch.”                                                                                   AIM: “But we have this issue, and this happened, and then…”                                     Jesus: “My children don’t have supplies to go to school.”                                                AIM: “We know, and we are sorry, but we can’t provide for every single child.”          Jesus: “No, but I can.”

The children with need in Anderson County will receive school supplies. I am 100% certain that there is more than enough to go around. So far we have given supplies to schools in Anderson, Iva, Starr, Belton, Honea-Path, and just yesterday we contacted Pelzer schools.

While we were sorting and counting the protractors and compasses, Ms. Emmie remarked, “We’ll be giving these out for the next two years.”

I did not get any pictures from last week, but I took some yesterday, including several of what I call the “Towering Paper” and the “Binder Circle Stuck Between the Towering Paper.”

What do we learn from this story? One, Jesus is going to make His plan happen. It really is very silly of us to argue with Him in the first place. Sometimes in church we point out the flaws of the Israelities when they argued and disobeyed God, but we actually act the very same way. We may not be bombarded and attacked by surrounding nations or lose our homes and families as a result of our disobedience, but God surely shows us when we are misguided.

Second, we need to be completely aware of the needs around us and trust that God will help us meet those needs. Here at AIM we see this happen all the time. One might think that we should have so much trust in Him by now that we would not be surprised by His provision. But of course we’re always surprised and amazed to see God’s hand in everything we do.

We are the hands and feet of Christ. Since Christ is the head of the Body, He will direct us where to go and tell us what to do once we get there.

—  Carrie Michal Mullinax
    Americorps VISTA Staff

 

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.                   -Matthew 6:33 & 34

Posted by:  Carrie Michal Mullinax, Events — Americorps VISTA staff on 8/21/12

What are AIM’s values and beliefs?

Mission: Connecting people with support, resources and education so they can empower themselves to be self sufficient.

Vision: Promote an environment where all people in the Anderson, South Carolina area can provide for themselves and their families.

Values: The following values represent our core principles and beliefs, which serve as non negotiables and will not be compromised during the achievement of our mission.

We believe in:

1. Loyalty to the mission of AIM. We will not chase dollars/grants that are not congruent with our mission and focus.

2. We will remain true to our Faith-based focus in the development and delivery of programs and services.

3. We will protect and preserve of our organizational history/background.

4. We will proactively seek feedback and input from all stakeholders to ensure we remain effective and relevant.

5. Our programs will be designed and delivered in a manner where they are non-restrictive and accessible to those that are in need.

What is AIM?

Early in 1989 a small group of Anderson Churches and Synagogue members gathered to discuss a concern regarding people in the community who needed help, as well as those who receive a duplication of assistance from various churches or religious groups for assistance in buying prescription drugs, paying utility bills, putting food on the table and other needs. Some received more help than they needed, others received none.

With knowledge of successful programs in other cities, this group of church members hoped to form an organization of Anderson churches and individuals, which serve as a clearinghouse for Anderson’s citizens in need.

Letters were sent to all churches in Anderson to solicit financial support and personal involvement. During the next few months, the personnel committee selected the name, Anderson Interfaith Ministries (AIM). On May 7, 1990 Anderson Interfaith Ministries opened its doors at 618 S. Manning Street. This building was donated rent-free by one of the local churches.

AIM’s philosophy of creating opportunities and encouraging responsibility fostered the development of “Women and Children Succeeding” (WACS). The major objective of WACS is to provide quality childcare for mothers who receive government assistance and have found the resources to continue or complete their education. Assisting mothers with child care creates an opportunity for them to become fully educated, trained, employed and moved from a state of dependence to one of independence. Other services provided to WACS’ clients aim to stabilize the family and assist them in reaching goals.

Over the years AIM has assisted families in the Anderson County area through the Emergency Assistance program, the Women and Children Succeeding, in building ramps and making minor repairs for elderly and handicapped clients, in providing non-perishable food items to the less fortunate, seasonal programs such as Back to School Backpacks and Christmas gifts, among others. As the ministries of AIM grew, so did the need for space. In September 1995 AIM moved to a larger building at 1202 South Murray Avenue, with dreams of improved and expanded service to the community.

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