Very recently, we - at Sumter United Ministries' emergency shelter - had a client we will call "Joanna."
Joanna came to us after living the life of a millionaire. She was the chief operating officer of a health care administration company and …
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Joanna came to us after living the life of a millionaire. She was the chief operating officer of a health care administration company and also a co-owner of a trucking business.
When a new parent company dissolved her position, officials offered her a severance package with insurance that would cost her $1,000.
In the meantime, Joanna accepted another job position that would start in 30 days, so she declined the insurance coverage.
However, a car accident in between the two jobs began a process that led to the local shelter.
Joanna wasn't able to afford the needed physical therapy after the accident, she wasn't able to start her new job, and then she went through a divorce. Her work license lapsed during this process, and all prospects of recovery turned into long-term options.
When Joanna entered the shelter, I knew immediately she was an ideal client who needed very little case management.
I remember walking into the shelter when Joanna first got there, and she was talking about Jesus with another client. Shortly after entering the shelter, she began working to get her health care administration license reinstated. The process took some time because she needed to take some continuing education classes, but Joanna had her license within months and began applying for jobs.
She recently left the shelter after accepting a position in her home state of Georgia.
Joanna wrote us a card with the following note inside:
"Thank you Sumter United Ministries for providing the shelter and safe haven that I needed for healing. I needed to 'dig deep' to begin healing old scars and wounds that led to my homelessness. You provided a place where I could start my journey. I will continue daily on this path [of] transformation, and I am grateful you allowed me to 'live and die' here. I am forever changed and eternally thankful and appreciative. I am no longer a victim."
Joanna's life was changed. The way she looked at life around her and how she fit in it had now changed. Her worldview shifted from thinking some of us are "victims" and others are "perpetrators." It shifted from thinking some of us are "losers" and some of us are "winners."
Joanna learned her circumstances and past do not have to define her. She was able to find refuge in our shelter and allow Jesus Christ to do a work inside her to heal the hurts of the past. We are so grateful to have been able to witness this life change in her and are looking forward to another great Summer of Caring. Please consider donating to the Summer of Caring.
Travis Kinley is the director of Sumter United Ministries' emergency shelter.
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Sumter United Ministries' services include the emergency shelter, construction and home repair, financial aid for bills, primary health care and education assistance.
Donations for Summer of Caring 2018, a partnership between The Sumter Item and Sumter United Ministries, will be collected through the week before Labor Day, which is Sept. 3 this year.
Those who wish to contribute can send financial donations to:
The Sumter Item
P.O. Box 1677
Sumter, SC 29151
Contributions can also be dropped off at The Sumter Item's offices, 36 W. Liberty St.
If a donation is made in honor of someone, please provide that individual's full name. Groups' names and acronyms should also be spelled out completely.
For more information about Sumter United Ministries and other ways to get involved with the ministry, go to www.sumterunitedministries.org or call (803) 775-0757 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Donations last week through Monday include: Retired Master Sgt. William L. and Janice D. Oden, $100.
Donations received this week: $100
Total donations received year to date: $100
Total donations received last year: $3,555
Total donations received since 2014: $21,272
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