The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina hosted its 21st listening session since 2010 on December 2, 2016. The Foundation invited individuals from two Columbia nonprofits, Family Shelter and Work In Progress. Within small groups, people from across Columbia shared their experiences from their pasts, and hopes for their futures.

“The Foundation believes that every person and every community has a story. Grounded in our mission, listening sessions provide the chance to engage and listen deeply to diverse families experiencing poverty while identifying strengths, emerging themes and opportunities as a funder to think about how we can approach our work differently from the lens of those served,” Stephanie Cooper-Lewter, Vice President of Initiatives and Policies of The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, said.

This listening session gave participants the opportunity to celebrate and share their journeys with Foundation and community partners over lunch. Among other things, participants shared how Family Shelter or Work In Progress helped them when facing struggles and what the community may not know about these organizations.

As the small groups came together to share their discussions with the entire room, tears filled eyes as heartfelt thank-yous and stories were spoken to.

IMG_3747“The holiday event with Work in Progress and Family Shelter was extraordinary. It reinforced the fact that people that have been compromised by abuse, homelessness, mental illness and other circumstances that are real, and more common than we often recognize,” Tom Keith, President of The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, said. “It also told us that they are hopeful, resilient and capable of doing so many good things with their lives. We are honored to have spent two hours with them and feel like we are the ones that gained knowledge and perspective because of our time together.”

For more than 37 years, Family Shelter has provided food, shelter, resources and hope to homeless families. This is the only shelter in Columbia that is willing to provide emergency shelter for the entire family unit, allowing fathers and young men to stay with their families while they fight their way out of homelessness. They welcome couples, single moms, single dads, and grandparents with children who are in need of emergency shelter and other services. They are committed to empowering individuals with the resources and skills necessary to become self-sufficient and successful.

Work In Progress, Inc. provides Employment Specialists that assist persons with a diagnosis of mental illness with obtaining competitive employment. A key component of their program is the Employment Specialist who provides assistance with professional resumes, job development, hands on job coaching at the job site and follow along supportive services for the duration of the employment opportunity. The holistic personal attention that is given to the work candidate is essential in the success of the employment opportunity and the work candidate’s success.