NEWBERRY — The Christian-based non-profit We Care might be located in Chapin but about 60 percent of the people it serves are from Newberry County.
“This (We Care) was started by churches in 1986 when the poor people were going from one church to the next,” said Karen Owens, director of the Chapin Chamber of Commerce. “They wanted to create one unified agency. If you come to us and tell us you need help, we will help you.”
Owens, who is on the We Care board of directors, spoke to the Newberry Business Alliance about We Care, which provides shelter, food, gas vouchers, thrift store vouchers and referral services to those in need. We Care serves Chapin as well as Little Mountain, Prosperity, Ballentine and White Rock.
“We are seeing situational poor people, those who have lost their job in this economy. We are seeing a different face of the poor,” said Owens.
The group provides food and financial assistance, kerosene and gasoline vouchers, a thrift shop and other educational resources such as referrals for GED assistance or other social services. They also work with the thrift store of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church where they provide vouchers as needed.
“They can go shopping and get anything they need,” said Owens.
Owens said they only have one paid employee and volunteers. They receive support from churches, small to large businesses, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department and individuals.
Owens said they also have an annual golf tournament at Timberlake in Chapin which raises thousands of dollars and they also receive grants. They are part of the Harvest Hope food bank network.
The organization is in the process of moving to a new building thanks to the St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church.
“Usually we see about 30 clients but in the past two months we’ve averaged about 45 to 60 clients,” said Owens. “We’ve outgrown the current space which was built by Rotary. The St. Francis of Assisi gave us their former thrift store shop building. We’ll have space for meetings and classes. The old building is to be a civic center for us.”
Owens said they hope to move into the new building in about a week.
Last year was a record year for the organization. Owens said as they helped more than 6,000 people and gave out more than 217,000 pounds of food.
Businesses or individuals can help support We Care by holding food drives, volunteering, giving monetary donations, providing mentoring and posting job openings.
For more information about We Care, volunteering or helping, visit www.chapinwecare.org, find them on Facebook or call 345-3244.