Local non-profit continues fight against poverty

Joe Toppe Staff Writer

November 16, 2013

PICKENS COUNTY – Helping people find a warm meal and a safe place to sleep is only the beginning for one Pickens County organization.

The Dream Center of Pickens County is dedicated to removing hunger and homelessness by providing those living in poverty with the necessary skills to achieve self-sufficiency.

“People find the Dream Center by referral from a church or school, or some other organization,” said Chris Wilson, Dream Center Director. “Of course, we also have a lot of walk-ins.”

The Dream Center strives to provide people with resources that are need-related.

“We can offer people resources based on what their needs are,” Wilson said “If they are looking for shelter, we direct them to shelters, if they are looking for someone to help find them employment so they can get back on their feet, we offer to let them apply for our mentoring program, and if they are looking for a meal, we refer them to the SHINE soup kitchen.”

Wilson said the Dream Center acts as a guide for people to find the help they need.

“We basically try to connect them with the resources that are available to help them,” she said.

According to Wilson, the Dream Center’s mentoring program is available for those wanting to become self-sufficient.

“The mentoring program was designed for people who have a strong desire to climb out of poverty and to work,” Wilson said. “There are different levels of our mentoring program, but if they become a part of our program, we encourage them to get their G.E.D. if they don’t have a high school diploma, we help them find a job, we help them with their resume, we help them with their interviewing skills, and we also give them a financial coach as well as a mentor to work with them on a regular basis.”

Wilson said the financial coach can help them manage a budget and set long term goals while offering encouragement.

“The financial coach will help them to design a budget, set goals, and will encourage them along the way” she said. “We also help them to find affordable housing. Essentially, the Dream Center wants to help these people become self-sufficient.”

The Dream Center shares a building with the SHINE soup kitchen and works together in the fight against hunger and poverty.

“The SHINE soup kitchen has been in the building for many years and there is a close partnership between the two,” Wilson said. “We work together as far as referring people to them who come to us and are hungry, and the soup kitchen can refer people to the Dream Center that are interested in applying for a mentoring program.”

SHINE board member, David Crow said the Dream Center and the soup kitchen share a working relationship that walks hand-in-hand.

The Dream Center also works with Family Promise of Pickens County, United Way, Ripple of One, MARYS House, Bowers WaveRider, and the Five Point Church food bank.