The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine founded Providence Hospital in 1938. In May of 1996, the Cleveland congregation established the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, with a mission to help alleviate poverty across the state.
That was 20 years ago. In the two decades since, the foundation has become a philanthropic leader throughout South Carolina, and hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted by our work.
Despite hospital sale, Catholic sisters’ presence remains strong in SC
This year, the United Way Association released its Self-Sufficiency Standard for South Carolina, noting that “the Federal poverty level for three-person families ($20,090 annually) is set at a level well below what is minimally needed to meet a family’s basic needs.”
This reminds us that poverty is not a quick-fix issue, and for 20 years the foundation has worked hard not only to affect systemic change, but also to help those with immediate needs. The foundation has given more than 2,000 grants to more than 1,700 organizations, investing more than $58 million to support organizations in all 46 counties.
Sisters of Charity grants take aim at poverty
It was clear that low-income families without a father present were much more likely to remain in poverty, so the foundation started the Fatherhood Initiative in 1998. As a result, much has been accomplished. Thousands of men have been served through the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families, created in 2003. Instead of incarceration, many of these fathers have completed their education and gotten jobs, are paying child support and have built a positive relationship with their children.
We created the Carolina Academy to provide free training for non-profit practitioners, and more than 2,500 nonprofits staff, leaders and board members have taken advantage of this service.
The foundation has spearheaded work to understand and support immigrant families who have come to the state to live permanently. We have established a program to support family caregivers who are footing the bill for grandchildren and other kin with little or no support from the social welfare system. The foundation also has developed collaborative partnerships with other funders, nonprofits, colleges and government, enabling us to leverage foundation funding to have greater impact in the communities that we serve.
We are in this fight against poverty as South Carolinians for the long haul, and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine continue to inspire and encourage us in this work that we do on a daily basis. The impact we’ve worked 20 years to make in South Carolina doesn’t stop here. That’s why we ask all in South Carolina and beyond to join us in our mission to fight poverty for the next 20 years. It is my hope that poverty as we know it will become less of a problem as we continue to bridge the racial and economic divide in our state.
Midlands Fatherhood Coalition builds better dads
Our Catholic values are strong, and our core values of compassion, collaboration, justice, respect and courage are intrinsic in everything we do. God has blessed us with this opportunity, and we ask that you join us in celebrating these 20 years of foundation ministry.
Mr. Keith is the founding president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.