Tuesday, March 26, 2013
When a person feels insecure, a hug is always reassuring. From a young child with their favorite worn-out piece of cloth to the victim of a traumatic event, wrapping a blanket around someone has become synonymous with bringing comfort and hope. At ECCO, we offer “wrap-around” services designed to reassure people who are going through times of crisis and insecurity. The services initially bring relief, but eventually move our neighbors to a point of gaining control and striving to reach their goals to regain self-sufficiency. Our staff and volunteers perform comprehensive assessments with first-time clients on their individual needs and situations in order to render a wide range of aid, followed by the offer of empowerment which brings the belief and the tools to create a better life.
Last week, our client services manager, Sheila Russell, conducted an initial intake assessment of a 49-year-old female. She came in to ECCO with financial troubles due to her recent divorce. Her ex-husband was not making his child payments. During the interview, Russell explained how ECCO’s wrap-around services worked. Not only were we interested in meeting her basic immediate needs of food and clothing, but we also are concerned about meeting her health and education needs. The woman revealed that she could not remember the last time she had seen a physician. Further, she had never had a mammogram. While she was in dire need of food and clothing for her children, it was clear there was so much more that could help her reach her inherent potential.
It is so easy to take everyday food and clothing, doctor and dental appointments for granted. Fifteen percent of Mount Pleasant residents, and almost half of those who live in the outlying East Cooper neighborhoods, are classified as the working poor. Many people work full-time and still lack the means to make ends meet. They fall under the 200 percent of poverty that exists in our area. ECCO provides a pathway out of poverty by inspiring change.
In addition to food and clothing, appointments were also made for her to see our Nurse Practitioner, to have a mammogram, an eye appointment, a detailed needs assessment with the case manager, and a pro bono legal appointment.
Furthermore, she really wanted a computer class to improve upon her skills to find employment. She was also encouraged to consider our Getting Ahead class for single mothers who struggle with financial and emotional problems.
Our mission at ECCO is to provide safety net services for our low income neighbors while empowering them to create better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.
The woman who entered ECCO’s doors that day carried many burdens on her shoulders. She left with ECCO’s Blanket of Hope wrapped around her ready to tackle the challenges before her.
Jack Little is the executive director of East Cooper Community Outreach.
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