Helping Hands of Georgetown | 'It really is a life-giving place'
Imagine not having enough food to feed your family. Or clothes to stay warm. Or a way to pay for the root canal to stop the throbbing pain and infection that’s keeping you from working.
At a glance
Mission | In a spiritually rich environment of compassionate caring, Helping Hands of Georgetown offers hope, help and change.
Founded | 1989
Locations | 1813 Highmarket St., Georgetown; 37 E. Main St., Andrews
Volunteers | 60 overall, an additional 26 volunteer dentists
For too many in Georgetown County – where 20 percent of residents live in poverty - some or all of these are their reality.
Many turn to Helping Hands of Georgetown, which helps meet those basic needs and provide services such as job training to get residents on the path to live better, healthy lives.
“There is a lot of need,” said John Bush, executive director of Helping Hands of Georgetown. “Even though the economy is booming, there are a number of people who need significant support to start over again.”
Helping Hands of Georgetown partners with Tidelands Health through the Tidelands Community Care Network to combine efforts to help ensure needy residents have access to all the services they need. When residents seek assistance through Helping Hands but also need health care or nutrition consulting, the agency refers them to the network. In turn, the network refers residents to Helping Hands for assistance with basic services or dental care.
“It works both ways,” Bush said. “It’s like passing a baton from one runner to another.”
Consider the number of residents Helping Hands assisted in 2017:
- 1,950 households received nourishing food. Nearly 4,200 bags of groceries were distributed, including 453 Thanksgiving meals.
- 535 patients received dental care. The dental clinic provided 297 extractions, 161 cleanings and 55 restorative procedures to the uninsured.
- 89 residents were placed in jobs through the agency’s collaborative employment program.
- More than 14,000 clothing items were distributed.
- 1,200 people received help paying their utility bills, with the agency providing more than $110,000 in payment assistance in 2017
Helping Hands is one of about 25 partners in the Tidelands Community Care Network, which was created by Tidelands Health in partnership with Access Health SC and The Duke Endowment. The network is comprised of health educators, state agencies, transportation providers, primary and specialty care providers and others who can help uninsured residents have access to medical care.
The dental clinic, which serves more than 500 patients a year, provides a vital service to many residents seeking assistance through the Tidelands Community Care Network who need dental services but don’t have the insurance or the money to cover it. More than 25 dentists volunteer in Helping Hands’ clinic and provided dental services to needy residents valued at $165,000 in 2017.
“Helping Hands is a tremendous partner in the Tidelands Community Care Network providing so many needed, basic services to residents in our community,” said Linda Bonesteel, director of community health resources for Tidelands Health. “All the work the agency does is valuable, but the dental clinic especially is such an asset in our community. I’m not sure where these needy residents would go for basic dental care if it were not for Helping Hands.”
Helping Hands was born out of partnerships. In 1989, leaders at 17 churches came together with a vision to better serve needy residents by pooling resources into one agency. Today, more than 40 churches support Helping Hands’ efforts.
“It’s been a long tradition of congregations in the community banding together,” Bush said.
Some residents who seek assistance from Helping Hands have been enduring poverty since they were born but strive for a better life than the generations before them.
“It’s hard to break that cycle. We all follow in the footsteps of those before us,” Bush said.
Helping Hands doesn’t just provide basic services; it aims to give residents the skills and tools they need to climb out of the cycle of poverty. The agency’s collaborative employment program placed 89 residents into jobs in 2017.
“You are talking about people who have struggled in the past and are now given a chance,” Bush said. “It really is encouraging.
“It really is a life-giving place.”