UNION — A church that already helps the less fortunate through its food ministry will use a $30,000 grant to renovate an old store on Main Street for a ministry designed help the less fortunate get jobs and become self-sufficient.
Trinity Baptist Church provides food and some other necessities to the less fortunate of Union County through its Channel of Blessings Ministry. While the church plans to continue with its Channel of Blessings food ministry, Pastor Neil Keisler said the church is taking the next step in helping those in need by opening “The Meeting Place on Main,” a ministry that he said will focus on job preparedness to help those who need that help find gainful employment.
“There’s a common belief that there are no jobs in Union but that’s not true,” Keisler said Friday. “There are jobs in Union, it’s just that there are people in Union who just don’t know how to get them and how to keep them. That’s because they aren’t prepared to get them and that what’s we hope to change through our Meeting Place on Main Street Ministry.”
Keisler said the Meeting Place on Main Street Ministry is an outgrowth of the church’s Channel of Blessings Ministry and is designed to take the church’s service to the less fortunate to the next level.
“In our Channel of Blessings Ministry, 60-70 percent of the people we help are ages 19-64, that’s working age,” Keisler said. “While we we want to help them through our food ministry, there comes a point where sometimes you have to teach them to be self-supporting and that means getting them prepared to get a job.”
To do that, the church plans to renovate the old Wm. McCall Studio at 111 West Main St. in downtown Union to serve as the location of its Meeting Place on Main Street Ministry. The church got a big boost in that effort on Friday when Keisler and Channel of Blessings Board Member Kristin Keisler were presented with a check for $30,000 from the Original 6 Foundation. The check was presented by Foundation Executive Director Victoria Halydier who said the organization is proud to be assisting the church in its new ministry.
“We are beyond thrilled to be a part of this partnership,” Halydier said. “We understand that the only way to keep companies in the community is to train and have the workforce they need to keep them, so we are excited to be here.”
According to its website (www.originalsixfoundation.com), The Original 6 Foundation, which was founded by Gov. Nikki Haley, “functions as a resource to build bridges now for a better quality of life tomorrow for the residents of the communities that we serve. As she took office in 2011, Governor Haley sensed that many individuals and organizations wanted to assist South Carolina’s neediest communities, but they needed guidance to unite their efforts to make the biggest impact with their time, talents and treasures. She created the Foundation in 2011 to serve as a non-partisan facilitator, catalyst and funding mechanism to unite these efforts to improve these communities.”
The Foundation’s focus is on the counties of Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Clarendon, Dillon, Marion, Marlboro, and Union.
Keisler said that he first became aware of the Foundation during Haley’s reelection bid in 2014 when she spoke of “welfare to workforce.” He said that after hearing Haley speak on that subject several times, he concluded that “Union County certainly needs welfare to workforce” and sent an email to her office about the church’s plans. Keisler said before he even got back home after sending it he’d already gotten a response expressing interest in what the church was planning to do. He said that in the years since he has remained in contact with the Foundation, developing a relationship that resulted in the ministry being awarded the $30,000 grant.
The next step in the process of converting the old Wm. McCall Studio into the new Meeting Place on Main Street will be the renovation of the building. Keisler said he is already getting estimates, adding that while the building has been closed for a few months it is still in good shape. He said that one aspect of the renovations will be designed to help people literally clean themselves up as they work to enter or reenter the workforce.
“We’re going to install a shower and have a bathroom here,” Keisler said. “This will be to help people get cleaned up. We will also be helping them get a new suit of clothes suitable to go to apply for a job, go to a job interview, and go to work in.”
In addition, Keisler said the ministry will work to bring in Human Resource managers from companies in the community to talk to those being served by the ministry about what companies are looking for when they are considering hiring a person, including their appearance. He said the ministry will also work on developing a mentoring program that will provide those being served by the ministry with one-on-one counseling and guidance.
Keisler reiterated that the church is going to continue its Channel of Blessings food ministry, stressing that the new ministry complements it as it seeks to address the long-term needs of those being served.
“Persons who need a job often need help at home, and we plan to provide them with both kinds of help,” Keisler said.
Anyone who would like to assist with the ministry and/or who wants more information can call Rev. Neil Keisler at 864-706-0481.
The old Wm. McCall Studio on Main Street in downtown Union will serve as the site of Trinity Baptist Church’s new "Meeting Place on Main Street" ministry which will focus on job preparation. The church has received a $30,000 grant from the Original 6 Foundation to help pay for the renovation of the building.
Victoria Halydier (left), Executive Director of the Original 6 Foundation, presents Rev. Neil Keisler (center), Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, and Kristin Keisler (right), a member of the of the board of the church’s Channel of Blessings Ministry, with a check for $30,000. The church will use the funds to help pay for the renovation of the old Wm. McCall Studio on Main Street in downtown Union to serve as the site of its new “Meeting Place on Main Street” ministry. The new ministry will focus on job preparation.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.