Sumter United Ministries helps woman with leak from flood

Summer of Caring fundraiser will benefit ministry through Labor Day


With the first week of The Sumter Item's sixth-annual Summer of Caring fundraiser to benefit Sumter United Ministries in the books, unfortunately no money came in to mark in the books.

Every penny of the drive goes to the nonprofit, which provides emergency and life-changing services to Sumterites, everything from emergency shelter to help with bills after unforeseen circumstances and food and clothing. Those who benefit from SUM range from families to disabled residents to senior citizens.

SUM does not get enough funding from grants to operate, so the only option to stay open is support from the community, Executive Director Mark Champagne has said.

The Sumter Item has been running its Fireside Fund during the winter months since the '60s to help with heating bills and started Summer of Caring more recently to give a boost to the organization through Labor Day, as summer months are often associated with less charitable giving than the holidays.

People are in need of critical help year round.

Heath Sharrar, Construction Ministry coordinator at SUM, said she met a woman we will call Mrs. F two weeks ago who needed help with her leaking roof.

"She is short and sweet but highly motivated and intelligent, and we immediately bonded over our love of 'Walker Texas Ranger,'" Sharrar said. "When I walked into her home, she led me to her back room to show me her leaking roof. Tarps nailed to the ceiling funneled water into 50-gallon drums, and hoses siphoned the water to her toilet. Her roof has been leaking since the flood in 2015. This week, right now, we are fixing that."

A leak under her house is losing gallons a day, so she lives without running water, only turning it on long enough to bathe and fill pitchers to drink.

"When I brought the site leader to her home to meet her and point out the projects he and his team would be completing, I was quite surprised that Mrs. F had narrowed the leak to somewhere in her kitchen and had torn out the floor to try to find it, Sharrar said. "I asked her why she was doing this since we had a team coming to her house to complete these repairs. Her response was, 'A lot of people have said they were going to help.' These words penetrated deep into my heart. When I explained to her that we were coming and that is why we pulled permits to do the work, she began to cry. A look of peace poured over her face, and she just kept repeating thank you.

"Mrs. F is why we have the Construction Ministry and why we help people. Christ comes to each of us when so many others have offered 'help' and says, 'I am here. Let's get to work.'"

Donations received by Monday, June 10, 2019: None