The Lancaster County Democratic Party salutes two worthy organizations: Christian Services and the National Federation of the Blind - Lancaster chapter
By Martha Robinson
Ervin and I met with the director of Christian Services, Eric Kramer, who is a gregarious and enthusiastic community leader.
To do justice to all the services currently being offered and planned would require a much larger article. This non-profit was established thirty-six years ago by Helen Warren, whose mission was to connect people who have, with those who do not. Located on 1227 Great Falls Highway and the Lancaster Bowling Center behind it, the agency has seventeen employees, provides a place for those needing to serve community service, utilizes many volunteers from throughout the community, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or gender.
Christian Services has a $700,000 annual operating budget. The Thrift Store and Bowling Center provide revenue to meet over 70% of that budget. Other funding sources include foundations, churches, local businesses and individuals. The Christian Services Family Thrift Store receives donated furniture, clothing, and household items for sale to the public and provides household items and clothing to new foster families, burnout victims, released prisoners, and others experiencing emergencies. Christian Services’ Food Pantry, the second largest Emergency Food Assistance Pantry in North and South Carolina of the Second Harvest Food Bank Network, distributed over 1 million pounds of food in 2017 to over 2,900 families experiencing food insecurity and conducted 21 mobile food trucks throughout the County. To be eligible for services, an individual must meet poverty guidelines or receive disability or food stamps.
Christian Services also offers valuable life skills workshops which include classes in parenting, anger management, and budgeting. Those classes served 155 people last year, many of whom were referred by DSS. The Angel Tree program served 283 children in 2017 with 81 of them being referred by Prison Fellowship Ministries. The present requirement for the Angel Tree Program is for the adult family member to take one of the life skills classes or complete volunteer hours. Christian Services also partners with Lancaster Adult Education and together offer Job Resource Training for teenagers ages 15-17 and an After School program for ages 12-14 for the purpose of enhancing future employment and as a diversion from incarceration for those referred by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
In May 2017, HOPE in Lancaster and Christian Services formed an alliance and began the project to locate both agencies under the same roof in the Lancaster Bowling Center once renovations are completed in 2018. This initiative saves costs, expands programs provided, and offers the wonderful service of providing a “one-stop” proposition for clients needing informal counseling and referral as well as direct aid. Together, HOPE and Christian Services, through their many programs and services that include the Angel Tree program, food pantries, crisis services, and thrift store, the agencies represent a 3.5 million dollar economic impact to Lancaster County.
Mr. Kramer met us at the Lancaster Bowling Center, a 30,000 square foot building which is very attractive and is in the process of further renovations to enhance programs and services for both agencies. Mr. Kramer sees the Lancaster Bowling Center as a place for eating, celebrating, gathering, learning, and recreating together which can lead to overcoming differences and building community. Mr. Kramer believes that “Only when individuals spend time together will they ever get to have important conversations such as politics or religion.” Presently, the Bowling Center has twelve lanes for bowling, a large room for families to play arcades and video games, and watch TV on comfortable couches. There is an attractive Event Room where you can host a party, conduct meetings, teach classes, and enjoy a catered meal by the PINZ Grille. Recently, the Bowling Center provided the “Second Chance Prom” for the Buford High School girls’ softball team. The PINZ Grille provides on and off site catering and is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday. The grill has a chef, the food is made fresh, and the catering and delivery services are very reasonable. The Bowling Center is a great place to host birthday parties, glow parties, sports banquets, bowling fundraisers, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, seniors can bowl for $5.25!! Also, be on the lookout for scheduled Nutritional and Cooking Classes where you can learn to cook healthy foods.
All proceed from the Lancaster Bowling Center go towards the operation and programs of both Christian Services and HOPE. We can support these services by using the bowling alley, eating at the grill and using its catering services, and renting spaces for meetings, parties, and events. Doing so will ensure the sustainability of these organizations which offer so much for the community of Lancaster County.
National Federation of the Blind – Lancaster Chapter
By Judy Langston
Recently I attended a fundraising event for NFB-Lancaster and also one of their monthly meetings. I was intrigued by the resiliency of the people who are members of that worthy organization.
I met a lovely young lady there named Tamek Williams whose outlook on life and ability to navigate through it with joy and independence far outweigh mine, even though I have all 5 of my senses and she is missing one of hers. I am often amazed and humbled by the courage, resilience, and awesome ability of people like Tamek.
The NFB is an organization that is important in the life of those who are challenged by the loss of their vision. It is the oldest and largest organization led by blind people in the United States, it is best described using the words provided by the organization itself.
“The National Federation of the Blind is the only organization that believes in the full capacity of blind people and has the power, influence, diversity, and determination to help transform our dreams into reality. We believe in blind people because we are blind people. Our democratically elected leaders and our diverse nationwide membership are made up of blind people, our families, and our friends. We are bound together by our belief that the blind are capable of achieving our dreams and living the lives we want, and by the love and respect we have for one another and for all blind Americans. We support one another, act with courage and determination when we encounter barriers or experience setbacks, and engage in collective action to improve our lives.”
The organization provides for its members a network of people who help, teach, mentor, and support each other; the world’s largest audio service for the blind, NFB-Newsline; free white canes; a free slate and stylus for writing Braille; the NFB Independence Market, which offers hundreds of products designed for the blind; thirty national scholarships for outstanding blind students; BELL-a program for beginning Braille readers; STEM-science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs for blind students; camps for blind children and events for blind seniors. The organization also advocates and lobbies for the blind to receive equal rights.
The main source of funding for the organization is donations and fundraising events, although it does receive some government grants and members do pay dues. If you would like to contribute to the Lancaster chapter of the NFB, please send a check to National Federation of the Blind – Lancaster, PO Box, Heath Springs, SC. Attention: President Daisey Drakeford,
These courageous people do not ask for a “handout,” but a “hand up” would be appreciated.