It’s an old-fashioned gospel sing on Sunday at Pendleton Street Baptist Church.
Kyle Matthews, Larry McCullough & Chosen Generation, USC Upstate Gospel Choir
Joyful Sound from North Greenville University and Bethel Full Gospel Baptist Church Praise Dancers all will be singing praises in what’s being billed as a Musical Extravaganza.
An extravaganza with a deep underpinning to do good.
It is one of those awesome occasions when community groups work together for a common cause. And as we have seen over and over again in Greenville, when groups get together, things get done.
This time it’s to benefit United Ministries, Triune Mercy Center and Greenville Area Interfaith Hospitality Network to help them combat poverty.
The three have been collecting quarters to put on display Sunday. The goal is 50,000, a quarter to represent every person in Greenville County living below the poverty line. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers anyone who makes less than $10,830 to be living in poverty. For a family of four, the threshold is $22,050.
The folks at Triune, United Ministries and GAIHN witness the circumstances of Greenville County’s poor every day.
On Wednesday at Triune some 70 people showed up to get groceries and clothes. But 15 had to be turned away with nothing. Imagine what that looked like.
“There is so much need out there,” said the Rev. Deb Richardson Moore. “So many people struggling, so many children born into unstable households that are going to perpetuate poverty if we can’t do something to break the cycle.”
Moore said progress was being made but then came the economic downturn.
“It knocked us backward,” she said. “We are seeing so many new people who possibly have never gone anywhere before.”
But amid it all, there are stories of hope.
Like Bobby who spent three years and four months sleeping under bridges and now owns a home and speaks to college students about life on the street. And John who overcame addiction and then spent seven months looking for a job before being placed as a temp in a local business. He has since been hired fulltime and his boss is redesigning Triune’s Web site.
Moore said the gospel sing is the first time the three organizations have come together for a fundraiser.
In the broadest possible terms, the three have similar missions – to help those in need. But each plays its own role.
United Ministries is by far the biggest of the organizations. With 27 paid staffers, the agency supplies emergency assistance, prepares people for jobs, offers adult education and operates the Place of Hope, which provides services for the homeless such as mail, showers and laundry as well as social services.
GAIHN works with local congregations to provide emergency housing and meals to homeless families.
Triune was established about a century ago as a Methodist church. It has since become an independent interdenominational church that offers Sunday worship services as well as a soup kitchen, clothes closet, food pantry, and linen closet.
Moore said for the past several years representatives of Triune, United Ministries and Greenville Mental Health have met every Monday afternoon to share information and offer support for one another.
This is not easy work.
The Upstate Homeless Coalition works to find gaps in services and meet those needs for a 13-county area. Representatives of a host of agencies serve on the board and businesses throughout the area work closely with the organization.
To say poverty – and its cousin homelessness – are bigger problems than any one organization can conquer seems obvious.
But sometimes it seems we don’t act like we know it. Sunday might be a good time to show we understand and appreciate this work the agencies do.
Fifty-thousand quarters represents $12,500 raised so far.
The concert is free, but an offering will be taken. Asked whether people should bring quarters, Moore laughs and says, “Oh, no. We’re hoping they will be putting in extremely large bills and checks.”