BY KEVIN HOWELL
Sumter United Ministries
I love watching videos of people rescuing “stuck” animals.
Recently, I saw a man rescue a bighorn sheep trapped in the deep mud of Lake Mead by lassoing the animal’s massive horns and pulling forward. The animal, despite its best efforts, was completely helpless when a simple act of compassion gave it freedom.
In 2019, a customer went to the Crisis Relief Ministry for financial assistance with an electricity bill. After assessing her situation and her budget, the comments I wrote were “She’s stuck!” She did not earn enough income to break through and improve her situation. We suggested to him a second ministry of Sumter United Ministries, the Educational Support Ministry. This ministry exists to provide connection, resources, and support to working single parents trying to earn a post-secondary degree or certification.
Shortly after, the client contacted EAM administrator Heather Collins. Client enrolled at Central Carolina Technical College in July 2020 and was quickly accepted into our program. Due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, classes were online and an access fee was charged. EAM paid this royalty at the same time as it bought books. In a subsequent semester, EAM again purchased books for the client and continued to provide resources where financial aid was insufficient.
This client continued to be an ideal investment. She responded whenever asked and faithfully followed the program guidelines. She was alone in Sumter. Her mother had recently passed away and her father was living in another state. Sumter United Ministries was a dynamic part of his support and an encouraging voice in achieving his goals.
Later that semester, her apartment flooded and she was forced out of it until repairs could be completed. Again, the Crisis Relief Ministry stepped in and provided a few nights in a hotel. When her vehicle needed tires, a Business Alliance partner provided support beyond what she was able to afford on her own.
This client, a single mother of a teenage son who has worked for Prisma Health for a long time, dreams of completing a medical billing and coding program and continuing her education in human resources. She is approaching her last semester. SUM was there at the beginning, throughout her studies, and we will be there as she achieves her goals. Through all the pitfalls and challenges she faced, God continually provided generous people like you to enable us to carry her forward. A client who was “stuck” a few years earlier found this rope to move her forward in the ministries of Sumter United Ministries.
Heather says, “I was impressed that she was determined to finish. For example, she tested positive for COVID-19 early on, just at the start of the semester, and the school advised her to postpone. Regardless what she faced, she endured, and now she can see the finish line and hope for a better future.”
Thank you for donating to Summer of Caring to keep stories like this going!
Kevin Howell is the director of the Crisis Relief Ministry. Heather Collins is the Administrator of the Department of Education Aid.
New donations as of August 16: Ruth Heater, $200.