Thursday, April 12, 2012
This is an update to the progress of The Dream Center Project. First, I must say I am glad this is not my vision, Jim's vision, or anyone else's vision. It is God's vision. If this were dependent upon us, I would've given up a long time ago with the obstacles that have been placed before us. A divine vision is limited only by God's potential and resources. which means anything is possible. If it is just a good idea, we would have to make it happen. Because we know God gave this vision, we have a sense of standing back in wonder and watching it happen.
Two weeks before the upcoming board meeting, I received a call about a family in Pickens County in need of help. I, along with a friend, went and paid this family a visit. What we discovered was a family with two grandparents and 8 kids living in a single wide trailer and a single mother with 6 kids living in the back yard in a camper with no running water. They use the bathroom in a five gallon bucket. This family represents 14 kids in Pickens County. We were immediately met at the car by the oldest child, a 17 year old boy. Within the first five minutes he tells us he just recently turned 17 and dropped out of high school. We are now working with this family to make their living conditions acceptable to raising 14 children. But...this family needs mentoring. Period. Without a new direction, all 14 children will be Pickens County dropouts, the girls will get pregnant, and the next generation will still be living on that hill raising another generation of high school dropouts. The reason Pickens County has a high drop out rate is not because of the curriculum, teachers or programs. It is because 1,464 students in Pickens County schools are classified as homeless because they are living in situations such as the one I am describing. 80% of students living in such crisis drop out.
The very next day, I received a call about a 17 year old girl who spent the previous night on a bench outside at the Easley library. The police were there with her and couldn't find anywhere for her to go. Preventing drop out is too late for this girl. Her parents had lost their parental rights and she had run away from the state's arrangements for her twice. They didn't want her back. She not only lacked mentoring, she lacked basic parenting and now, there is NO WHERE for her.
Later, I received a call from a social worker. She had a situation with a grandmother who is raising two beautiful little girls enrolled in a Pickens County elementary school and she had suffered a heart attack. She is in need of heart surgery but they have no money for food and if her rent was not paid in three days, they would be evicted and homeless. We paid this family a visit. In addition to needing immediate rent assistance, this grandmother needs a mentor to help her budget and make responsible plans in the raising of these little girls or she will never get out of this cycle of poverty. There are over 20,000 people living in poverty in Pickens County and while many are satisfied to stay there, there are thousands that would like to break out of this cycle if they only knew how. We are currently helping these families the best we can, but we need a facility in order to collaborate with other organizations and make the biggest impact on the needs in this county. The Lord confirmed to us that The Dream Center is His plan and success for us means one thing...remain faithful to the process He has laid out before us.
Monday, March 26th, was the Pickens County School Board meeting where the issue of selling Pickens Middle School was mentioned. Jim was allowed to speak for 3 minutes about our continued interest in purchasing the (soon to be vacant) school for $275,000 and turning it into The Dream Center. The only other bidder on the property had withdrawn his bid completely. It seemed to be a perfect match for us to purchase the building. At the end of the board meeting, chairman Alex Saitta, seemed to remain unmoved on his position and stated that the board is still deciding if, when and how they will proceed with the future of Pickens Middle School. The board expressed no interest in accepting the offer. We have been steadfast in our attempt to purchase this building and feel confident that we have done everything we could to make it happen. God must have a better location for us and we have begun the search to find it.
While our future location is yet to be determined, the vision remains clear. We are helping families, we are feeding the hungry, we are planning a summer camp for at risk kids and we have set up an account to save the money we are receiving for The Dream Center. We are asking Christians to pray with us for the location of The Dream Center and we invite anyone who is interested in being a part of this vision, join us as we move forward. We know that waiting time is not wasted time as we are seeing God put many different people together in His timing and will reveal the best location when we need it. Our responsibility is simply to do what we know to do today, and wait for Him to fill in the blanks.