For over 31 years, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services (OLMCOS) has been helping community members navigate life challenges. The convergence of COVID-19 and the rapidly changing demographics of the Lowcountry, especially the rural landscape, has underlined the instability and vulnerability of those living in poverty — and even the middle class. COVID-19 also revealed the magnitude of disparities and inequities that our neighbors and community face on a daily basis. This sobering realization paralleled our most recent strategic planning process.
We prioritized bringing multiple voices to the table during the strategic planning process to co-create what we believe is a transformative blueprint for the organization and community for the next three years. If it is for the community, it must be created with the community.
This new strategic plan reinforces our focus on actively addressing evolving community needs, remaining community-centered, and expands our role in influencing local systems to help create and sustain equitable and inclusive communities.
As we reflected on our journey thus far, it also became clear that our mission and vision need to accurately and boldly reflect the impact we aim to achieve at all levels of the communities we serve. As a most valued supporter, I share these new statements with you.
Vision: Lead the community in overcoming barriers of systemic poverty, creating the opportunity for EVERYONE to thrive.
Mission: Build equitable communities and empower individuals to reach their full potential by providing basic and emergency needs, education, employment and health services.
I am excited and proud to share with you some of the changes and growth in store for us. As of July 1, 2021:
Service Area Expansion: OLMCOS is expanding its service area to address the mass movement of people in need to more affordable parts of the Lowcountry that are outside of our current service area. Our services will continue to be available to community members in need in Downtown Charleston as well as James, Johns and Wadmalaw Islands. In addition, we will provide services to the corridor spanning West Ashley to Edisto Island.
Eligibility Increase: We will also expand eligibility requirements for those in need from 150% of the federal poverty line to 250%. .
Neighborhood House Dental Clinic: Basic dental services will be provided at our downtown location, Neighborhood House, to help fill the gap and complement other dental resources being offered downtown thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of SC, Trident United Way, Delta Dental and The Medical Society of South Carolina
Home Repair Program: In partnership with Sea Island Habitat for Humanity, OLMCOS will provide much needed financial assistance to help community members complete critical home repair projects so that they have safe and efficient homes. .
emPOWER Workforce Development Program: We will expand our employment assistance programs over the next three years, knowing it is a key component to helping those we serve reach their full potential in a long-term and sustainable way.
Financial Literacy: We are shifting our Budgeting Education Program to a full financial literacy program understanding the importance of teaching progressive levels of money management that lead to a deeper and sustained achievement of stability in life.
For more information on our expanded service area and programs, please contact us at 843.559.4109. We will continue to explore and evaluate how else we can meet our neighbors where they are and help them reach their full potential as we navigate these next three years.
Ultimately, we will be able to help even more neighbors who currently have nowhere to get support, help current neighbors achieve more life goals and share the rich stories of struggle and triumph to help create long-term solutions in the broader community. You have stood alongside us as we have stood alongside those most in need. I look forward to having you by our side as we start this next leg of our journey and all that we will accomplish — for the community — together.