Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services has been serving in South Carolina since before Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and in Charleston at Neighborhood House for over 100 years. Currently, OLM Outreach Services operates two campuses, one on Johns Island and the other in the Eastside Community of Charleston.
Founded on Catholic principles, OLMCOS believes in providing programming for the needs of the whole person, not just temporary solutions. The organization serves people on both ends of the spectrum by helping with immediate resources as well as direct services, ensuring that individuals are met wherever they are in life so that OLMCOS can help them meet their personal goals.
“The best way to describe our philosophy is that we believe in helping people get to the place they want to be at in their life because we believe in all those who make up our community,” Ericka Plater, Executive Director, said. “Community is important and we are a part of it. We believe that as a part of our community, everyone should be able to thrive.”
Beyond the immediate resources such as food, clothing and financial assistance, OLM Outreach Services provides education, workforce development and dental services. Recognizing that the community knows best what it needs, OLMCOS offers programs that enhance the entire community.
Emergency services are designed to address immediate needs to stabilize the individual or family. Once stabilized, clients may take advantage of educational programs, including parenting, budgeting classes, GED preparation, English as a Second Language (ESL), and a variety of other enrichment programs, including health education. In addition, the Child Learning Center offers after-school tutoring, structured play and learning activities, and summer camp for eligible children. Through The Wellness Center, OLMCOS offers the only free women’s health/prenatal care and comprehensive and emergent dental care within a 15-mile radius since its inception in 1999. Now housed in a state-of-the-art building, the Center maintains partnerships with the Medical University of South Carolina, Roper St. Francis Hospital, Trident Technical College, and a dedicated group of licensed service providers who donate their time and expertise to helping their clients.
“Our board, staff and volunteers carry the same principles that our Sisters do. They come with passion for the work and compassion for the soul,” Plater said. “It’s not an us versus them scenario, it’s WE. Our Sisters asked the community what they needed and created this. We still ask for the community’s voice to make sure we are fitting the needs of our community.”
The Foundation first funded OLMCOS in 1997, and has been a long-time supporter. Leadership at the Foundation wholeheartedly believes in their mission and the support they offer to the community.
“There’s something really special about the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, being founded in South Carolina, and serving the Charleston community since 1829,” Donna Waites, Senior Program Director, said. “Being able to support the much-needed outreach work that they continue to sponsor all these years later is a true privilege.”
To learn more about OLMCOS programming or how you can get involved, visit www.olmoutreach.org.