The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina hosted their Collaboration for Ministry Initiative 10th Annual Conference for Women Religious on November 21 to 23 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
More than 80 individuals attended including 62 nuns from seven states and three countries. With approximately 115 Women Religious serving in Ministry in South Carolina, most come from other states and many work in rural areas of the state. The Foundation has provided more than $2.7 million in funding to support the Collaboration for Ministry Initiative.
Over the past 11 years, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina has hosted an annual Conference with nearly 100 attendees each year so sisters can convene to build relationships and learn from each other’s work.
“I have witnessed tremendous growth in South Carolina. Wonderful possibilities lie ahead for the people of this state,” Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston Robert Guglielmone, conference speaker, said. “We must continue to welcome all our Brothers and Sisters in the faith and address the conditions that help to alleviate poverty.”
The theme for this year’s event was “Patience and Prophecy: Bringing Kindness to a Weary World.” Featured speakers were Sister Sandra Makowski, SSMN, Chancellor of the Diocese of Charleston, Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, President of Saint Bonaventure University, Dr. Mark Small, Professor at Clemson University and The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.
Also presenting were representatives from Foundation grantee “Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach,” Neighborhood House of Charleston. Nikki Grimball, 55, Neighborhood House Director, presented on the work Neighborhood House has been doing in community for 99 years.
Neighborhood House’s primary function is to provide services to keep people safe, fed and clothed. The organization also emphasizes the importance of education and self-reliance.
For example, one of Neighborhood House’s programs is a front porch library. People are welcome to sit on the front porch and read a book in peace without worry of being fined for loitering. This front porch is connected to the building where Neighborhood House has their GED programs.
“We pray that we can get them to come off that porch and into the door to get into a GED, art, crocheting or computer literacy program. Whatever their interest is in on that porch,” Grimball said. “These people still have hopes and dreams like we do, but life happened.”
Neighborhood House’s successful giving programs are in constant need. Through the commitment of the Charleston community they are able to feed and clothe more people. They have the support of over 30 local restaurant and churches as well as families in the community.
“A Daniel Island restaurant ran our Thanksgiving meal. Servers, chefs and managers all came to serve a full-course meal,” Grimball said. “People sat at tables and were served as if they were at a restaurant.”
Neighborhood House expects for participants to remain transparent and honest while at their facilities.
“We will never ask someone to justify why they are in need. When a man walks up to your door in nothing but a trash bag that is not a time to ask why he is in the state he’s in,” Grimball said. “But there is an honesty that comes with these programs. We let people know that we cannot simply be their provider and that we are an emergency resource. That is why we help teach ways to sustain themselves.”
Self-sustainment and self-worth are two pillars of Neighborhood House’s mission.
“Everything we do is to build self-worth in these people,” Grimball said. “What we do is all about the dignity of a man. Once we can get people to realize they’re worth the investment, they’ll invest in themselves.”
Grimball believes that he owes Neighborhood House’s success to the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy (OLM) and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina.
“Every bit of our existence is because of the sisters of OLM. They created us by having the vision and fortitude to put into place something that has lasted for 99 years and is still seen as a trusted support system to the community,” Grimball said.
As the sisters are growing older, they decided to turn over the Neighborhood House organization to Grimball.
“I have big shoes to fill, but these sisters are still involved,” Grimball said. “They may smile and pat you on the back, but they are strong and do not quiver when it comes to their mission. They give their time and commitment to help us do it better every day.”
Through grant making, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina has also played a role in the success of Neighborhood House.
“From the first time I met with someone from the Foundation there was an immediate sense of support,” Grimball said. “They wanted to know what we needed and where they can help.”
Grimball is thankful for guidance community organizations and members have offered Neighborhood House.
“We wouldn’t have a solid organization if it weren’t for the investment that the sisters and the Foundation is making in us,” Grimball said. “Both investments are unwavering and as long as we are true to the mission I know that they’re there.”