Tuesday, January 15, 2013
WOW. What a year it has been for The Dream Center of Pickens County. As my husband told me recently, sometimes we need to look back over where God has taken us to better see where we are going. Even though we have been actively seeking a building for over a year, and are still in that process, The Dream Center has never slowed down in reaching people, helping people and collaborating with other organizations to make an impact on the needs in Pickens County.
This time last year, The Dream Center made an offer to purchase Simpson Academy after hearing the program could possibly be moved to another school. The district decided to leave the program at Simpson and we turned to the possibility of Pickens Middle School. In February, our offer to purchase Pickens Middle School was declined. The search for a building continued.
Calls were coming in weekly from families in need with many either very close to eviction, or already homeless. There are no shelters in Pickens County and through our calls to shelters in neighboring counties, we found them to be full most of the time. In April, The Dream Center partnered with Family Promise of Pickens County, which is an initiative of United Way. They were beginning development of this nationally known program in Pickens County. We believe this proven organizational model is the perfect fit for homeless families in Pickens County. The website is www.familypromisepickens.org . We need 11 more host churches to begin helping families. Get involved!
The week of July 16th, The Dream Center of Pickens County collaborated with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Easley First Baptist Church to provide transportation to a free basketball camp for students. We picked up over 60 kids from Creekside and Westgate Apartments bright and early and took them to camp. We returned them home each day after a fun day of basketball, devotions and lunch. This would not have been possible without the generosity of the Release Time Program, SHINE, 5-Point Church and Pure Grace Ministries, who loaned us the use of their vans and buses.
August 6th was a day to remember as Toyota of Easley presented The Dream Center with an incredibly generous donation of $23,200. We could not have imagined we would receive such an amazing donation and we earmarked this money to go toward the building we were still searching for.
August 23rd, The Dream Center collaborated with Upstate Carolina Dance Center and REACH Ministries with a back to school bash. Thanks to the generosity of UCDC, over 160 kids received backpacks FILLED with school supplies and enjoyed an afternoon of carnival rides, a live DJ and free food.
In September, we finally got the website www.dreamcenterpc.org up and running and also facebook and twitter. Follow us @dreamcenterpc and be our friend on facebook for latest updates.
October 30th, The Dream Center announced our partnership with Ripple of One, which is a mentoring program that helps people climb out of poverty. We have recruited mentors, been trained and are officially accepting applications for the program through The Dream Center. You can learn more about the program on the website rippleofone.org.
November 6th, United Way of Pickens County and The Dream Center announced a collaboration with Bowers Transportation called WaveRider. This service provides transportation to and from work or school for individuals in Easley and the surrounding area for only $50 a week. Transportation is the #1 issue when individuals living in poverty cannot get a job. This is a HUGE step forward for Pickens County and many thanks to Bowers Transportation for investing in lives of people in Pickens County.
Also, in November, Davey Hiott of Hiott Printing and his family donated a box truck to The Dream Center. Because the primary focus of The Dream Center is collaboration, this truck will be shared by Family Promise, SHINE, Marys House and 5-Point Church food bank. You may notice the truck traveling around the county with the logo of all five organizations displayed on the sides. We are so thankful to Davey Hiott and his family for this incredibly generous gift.
December 8th was the Michael's Pizzeria Christmas Cruise 5K Run and Crossfit Challenge to benefit The Dream Center. What a fun day and amazing exposure for The Dream Center! We have accepted the offer to host this event annually.
The Jr Elite Clogging Team from Upstate Carolina Dance Center raised $825 and presented the money to The Dream Center December 12th. Wow! This small group of dancers worked together to make a BIG impact in their community. They are proof that while we cannot do everything, everyone can do something. Special thanks to UCDC and the Jr. Elites for your generosity! UCDC also provided the toys as we collaborated with the SHINE soup kitchen to have a Christmas party complete with gifts and handmade blankets for the kids. The beautiful blankets were made by ladies of Pickens Presbyterian Church.
This year in review does not include the dozens of families that received assistance from The Dream Center throughout the year. You can read about one of the most recent stories on the website if you are interested.
We believe great things are in store for 2013 and are working very hard to help Family Promise of Pickens County begin by late summer. The Dream Center has agreed to serve as the "day center" for Family Promise, which is the place the homeless families in the program will go during the day to receive guidance in becoming self-sufficient. This is an incredible opportunity and many thanks go to United Way for leading the way in helping families get back on their feet through this program and for being 100% supportive in efforts to offer families a hand-up in times of need.
Plans are being made to help families at Christmas in a different way. We will be accepting toy donations throughout the year and will open a Santa Shop in December for families to shop for the gifts. Instead of being given everything, they will have the opportunity to pick out the gifts, buy them, and wrap them. The items may only cost a dollar or two, and wrapping supplies will be provided, but families will gain their dignity and pride back and diminish the entitlement for free Christmas gifts. If they do not have any money, they will be given an opportunity to volunteer and earn the gifts. We are currently forming a "Santa Shop" team to begin work early in the year to be prepared when Christmas 2013 arrives. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your church/organization is interested in being involved.
We are currently considering four different buildings for the physical location of The Dream Center. Our careful consideration is for the best possible location to be able to serve Pickens County and make the biggest impact on the needs of children and families living in poverty. We covet your prayers for the location of the right building. To learn more about how to get involved or to make an online donation, please visit the website www.dreamcenterpc.org I wake up every day excited to be a part of the work God is doing and thankful for the opportunities He provides. Make a difference today because tomorrow is not a promise.