Charles Warner Editor
September 25, 2013
UNION COUNTY — A local church’s efforts to reach out and minister to the needs of low-income families and homeless individuals continues to grow as the need for its services continues to grow.
The members of Trinity Baptist Church were busy Monday afternoon separating and storing food and other items donated to the church’s Channel of Blessings Community Outreach Ministry.
“This is basically our distribution center for our community outreach ministry,” Rev. Neil Keisler said. “We distribute from 12 different places in Union County, literally from Cross Keys to Lockhart.
“We target low-income families,” he said. “We distribute food and essential household items like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and diapers.”
Trinity began its outreach ministry two years ago and Keisler said the church is currently providing food and household items to approximately 600 families a month. He said the growth in the church’s ministry is due to the growth in the number of families in the county who need its help.
“There are so many families in Union County who are just barely making it who need our help,” Keisler said. “There are so many families that are not making who need our help.
“There’s a huge need in this county,” he said. “We did a survey last year of our clients and the average family income was $8,500 a year. Some have zero income, no income whatsoever.
Families facing economic hardship are not the only ones who need and are benefiting from the ministry.
“We’ve helped 16 families in crisis situations this year,” Keisler said. “Those are families that come to us through local enforcement or agencies like SAFE HOMES. We’ve provided them with everything from food and clothes to blankets and furniture. We’ve paired with other agencies to pay power bills and to provide temporary shelter.”
Another group that the church ministers to is the homeless. Keisler said while small compared to larger communities, Union County’s homeless problem presents special challenges.
“If you put it in the perspective of Greenville and Spartanburg it’s a minor problem,” Keisler said. “We’ve placed 18 homeless people in shelters this year and while that number is small compared to Greenville and Spartanburg, in a county that offers no options for them then it becomes a major issue.”
Keisler said one of the greatest challenges facing the ministry in addressing the needs of its clients is finding them jobs.
“One of the big problems is finding employment for these people,” Keisler said. “We’ve helped several people find employment but in this county it is hard to do.”
Despite the challenges facing it, Keisler said the church is going to continue with its ministry and on Saturday will host a special event for the county’s low-income families.
“We’re having a Community Block Party geared toward low-income families on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Union County Fairgrounds,” Keisler said. “We’re going to have a live band, events for the kids, a large bounce house, free hot dog lunches, and also give away household items such as dishes, pillows, blankets, etc. to families in need of these items.”
Keisler said the church’s ministry began because the congregation had “a burden for the hurting and struggling families of Union County.” He said that burden remains and has increased since the church began its ministry. It is, however, a burden the church gladly bears.
Anyone who needs the ministry’s help should call Rev. Keisler at 864-706-0481.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.