We have all heard comments like the above statements made about people who come to agencies like South County Community Services (SCCS) for assistance when they cannot meet their basic needs. I wish they could spend just a few minutes with a mother and daughter with whom SCCS is currently partnering.

Mom first came to us just before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. She looked tired and embarrassed to be coming to us for help. At that time her husband was working in farming and facing a smaller check with the winter months approaching. In order to save their home, they had refinanced it and done a lot of “doing without.” The older boys were working and contributing as much as they could. Mom, disabled by a car crash, was in constant pain after an unsuccessful surgery to correct her back injury. She has always been a hard worker and wanted to work again, especially now when her family so desperately needed the income. That was an impossible dream for her; she had to find a way to overcome the brutal challenge of no food in the cupboard and looming propane bills.

“I came to South County with no appointment, no food, and little hope. I was not turned away,” she shares. She was amazed that such a place existed in her community. She left with food and heating assistance. She was encouraged about being able to make it through the winter. Little did she know that things could get even worse.

Not long after the holidays her husband learned that the farmer who depended on his hard work and determination needed to sell the farm and retire. Suddenly there was no spring at the farm to look forward to.

Dad is a hard worker too, and as a valued agricultural worker he was used to being able to provide for his family. He is also a devoted family man and a proud man. In his fifties, he is also paying a price for all the physical labor he has done over the years. Without a job, he really feels helpless and discouraged. Mom tries to be supportive. The kids do what they can.

If you had the pleasure of spending time with mom and her family, you would be amazed at how well they do considering the challenges they face. Mother and daughter volunteer at SCCS weekly, eager to do anything they can to help. You would feel the love these parents have for their children and how that inspires them to keep on trying to solve these giant size problems. You would admire them and want to help however you could.

At South County we encourage families to find support from multiple sources and discover new ways of solving their problems. This family is looking at new ideas and resources to get them through this period in their lives. The South County staff is determined to help them meet their needs and rise above the issues they face. We are proud to be a United Way agency, close-to-home and committed to helping them achieve their dreams.

No family can do it all on their own and neither can we. We need your help. Call us at 649-2901 to discuss how you can become a part of the SCCS family.


It takes A Village

 
Brittany was a sometimes client of South County Community Services in 2015, who always came in with a great smile and often with one of her children. She had come to us for help with an eviction and received help from both HRI and SCCS in order to cover it. Her situation was tenuous, but stable. Her fiancé worked seasonally and although they were never comfortable, they made things work. In the beginning of 2016, however, things took a turn for the worse. Brittany’s father died, and she moved her family in with her mother—fulfilling her father’s request that she care for her after he passed. Brittany did not get along with her mother, who had significant health issues that often caused her to be difficult to interact with. Eventually, things came to a head and her mother kicked out Brittany and her family and changed the locks. Brittany was devastated—and to make it worse, her fiancé lost his job.

When Brittany came into SCCS, she was living in a relative’s trailer and had only a few days before she would have to move to a shelter. We helped Brittany apply for cash assistance at our DHHS kiosk and gave her referrals to Loaves and Fishes, in order to increase the frequency that she could get food from once a month to once a week. We also helped Brittany navigate the housing system in Kalamazoo, which is often confusing and frustrating for people who need housing immediately.

We saw Brittany periodically over the next few weeks when she came in for a food pantry or to turn in paperwork through the kiosk. She was always happy and friendly, and said that she was much less stressed than she had been during our last meeting. She had gotten cash assistance from DHHS, and with the influx of food and money she was able to contribute to her relative’s household and thus stay for the time-being. One day, Brittany came in with a sheet of paper that she had gotten from counselor at her son’s school. It described a new program paid for by the Local Housing Assistance Millage, which she hoped would help her with her first month’s rent and security deposit for a new apartment. She wanted to share the information with us in case we knew anyone who could benefit.

The next time we saw Brittany, she had used DHHS/Michigan Works! assistance to purchase a car in order to aid her with employment and was planning on moving into her apartment soon with help from the Local Housing Assistance Fund. Brittany was very happy to be able to stay in the South County area, where her family and friends are and where her children go to school.

I have given out information on the Local Housing Assistance Fund to several families, and every time I do I think of Brittany and her smile. The information that I have is a copy of the original sheet that she gave me, marked with notes about different contacts. I like to think of her generosity and caring being passed on to other families, and am grateful to be able to be part of it. It takes many people like Brittany to make a difference. Fortunately for South County, we have a lot of them.

Drew Johnson
Emergency Assistance Coordinator

South County Community Services (SCCS) Logo

About

South County Community Services (SCCS) is the only human service agency dedicated to serving the 25,000 residents who live in the southern tier of Kalamazoo County. With a mission to work with families to improve quality of life, the agency serves as the dynamic hub connecting persons at all life stages with the resources they need to manage life's challenges and opportunities.

Location

105 S. Kalamazoo Street
Vicksburg, MI 49097

269-649-2901

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Hours

Monday thru Thursday - 9am - 5pm
Fridays - Closed