Sumter United Ministries provides lasting solutions, financial aid for Sumter residents

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 1/9/19

The largest populace that benefits from The Sumter Item's Fireside Fund continues to be seniors on modest fixed incomes.

Established in 1969, the Fireside Fund is an annual wintertime fundraiser where people donate money through the paper, which …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Sumter United Ministries provides lasting solutions, financial aid for Sumter residents

Posted

The largest populace that benefits from The Sumter Item's Fireside Fund continues to be seniors on modest fixed incomes.

Established in 1969, the Fireside Fund is an annual wintertime fundraiser where people donate money through the paper, which then gives it to Sumter United Ministries to help clients with heating needs.

"Though we do not exclusively assist seniors," said Kevin Howell, Crisis Relief Ministry director at SUM, "the cases we see involving seniors demand the most intensive assistance and move us with compassion to act."

This past week, he said, the Crisis Relief Ministry interviewed a couple from Dalzell accompanied by a family member and family friend.

Both the husband and his wife are wheelchair-bound and have other physical limitations, Howell said.

"They are now in their mid-80s and continue to live in their home 'independently' as it was described to me," he said. "The family friend approached me first to describe their dire circumstances."

She was becoming increasingly involved to get their finances in order because managing household bills had become too great a task for the couple, Howell said.

"She had no idea how bad the situation was with the electric bill," he said. "The balance had grown to nearly $1,500 for their Duke Energy Progress account."

In the past three months, Howell said, the HVAC had leaked most of its refrigerant and could not properly heat the home.

For the past two months, their electric usage averaged $800 each month with the heat pump running constantly.

"The beauty of what we do at Sumter United Ministries is seeking to provide 'whole solutions' rather than simply pay a bill," Howell said.

He said he spent two hours with all four individuals and provided a solution to reduce the energy usage.

The couple felt helpless when the thermostat would not disengage the heat pump, he said.

"I encouraged them to cut it off at the control panel and buy floor-standing heaters," he said, "which would reduce electric usage by 60 percent."

"I further encouraged the family friend to become a custodian of the couple's finances with Social Security or become a power of attorney," Howell said.

At this time in their lives, he said, the couple can no longer live without the help of others, and those kind individuals seeking to get involved simply needed clarity on what to do.

"We provided substantial financial assistance to ensure the electric stays on and alternative heat sources can be purchased," he said.

With this problem resolved, the couple has enough money each month to be self-sufficient, he said.

"None of this would be possible without your donations," Howell said. "Each time you give, you make life easier for those who may not be able to help themselves."

Donations received by Monday, Jan. 7:

Charles Pitts, in honor of Bunni Russell, $25; Jimmy and Eunice Bradshaw, in honor of all of our family, $300; Lee and Marian Denny, in memory of our parents, $200; Ruth Sunday School Class, Bethel Baptist Church, $50; in memory of our dear mom Katie H. Ingram from your children and grandchildren, $100; Son Shine Sunday School Class, Northside Baptist Church, in memory of Ann Corbett, $100; Sandy Noonan, in memory of Bill Noonan, $100; Scott and Tammy Mickey, $310; Mr. and Mrs. DeLeon Evans, in honor of Edna Morris, $25; Jack and Susan Osteen, in honor of Kyle B. Osteen and family, $100; The Johnson-McIntosh Trust, $50; in memory of J.P. "Bud" Rivers Jr. and Mary Rivers Hiller, $100; and in memory of Porter Medley Jr., $100.