Donations to Summer of Caring give hope to Sumter residents in crisis


As I set my laptop down, I heard a thud followed by creamy liquid and ice racing across the coffee table. I had knocked over my wife's coffee mug.

As we quickly pounced on the mess, flinging towels and dabbing puddles, the crisis was soon over. Then, I noticed a steady drip from underneath the table for several minutes. It puzzled me until I realized the source: a paper-thin accent around the table that allowed the coffee to collect and drip out beneath the table.

In responding to clients at Sumter United Ministries, it is beneficial to consider the source of emotions: "How does this client view their circumstances, and how does it make them feel?" At times, the answers are not quickly found.

Recently, a family of six visited the ministry with an eviction notice. The four children are all elementary age and younger. Because of the size of the family, only the father works. He earns pretty well, and they make ends meet … just barely. It was obvious that inflation is really squeezing their income, where diapers, food, energy and gasoline are their biggest needs.

The startling memory from the interview was how positive we felt about the assistance Sumter United Ministries offered her during her interview. We had diapers and clothing to offer. We had referrals that could lead to additional assistance. We also had a substantial financial offer to help with the eviction notice.

However, the client reacted adversely to the interview. I consider that the heat in the morning temperatures and a lack of rest because of her children's needs may have played a part in her reaction. It was also a long interview, unfortunately. These may be factors, but as I listened to her pleading her case in a loud, strong voice, I heard something else: desperation.

As months have yielded to years in this COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen relaxed policies on utility disconnects and suspensions on evictions. We have seen the government issue citizens thousands of dollars directly and also flood agencies with resources to provide help via the CARES Act. There is a shift taking place as we return to normal, whatever that looks like now. The financial assistance from these sources is diminishing, utility corporations are holding hard lines on large balances due, and our neighbors are feeling the sting of historic inflation.

We offer hope here at SUM, as we believe it is found in a God that patiently sympathizes and faithfully provides. We offer a listening ear and don't mind when the tone is sharp because the frustration is high. We are a ministry addressing substantial needs in our community, along with many other faithful organizations. Desperate times create desperate lives, and these families need a place to be seen and heard.

Summer is more than vacations, Popsicles and baseball games. When you donate to SUM, you transform this season into a "Summer of Caring" and provide hope to those in desperate circumstances. Thank you for giving!

New donations as of July 19: Bobby Sigley, in loving memory of Yvonne Sigley, $10; Sandra Goza, $100; Jim and Marsha Jones, in memory of Peggy Kinney, $1,050; Bely Inc., $300; and Mary Ann C. Nance in memory of Gwyn Curtis Thorne Monroe, $50.