Bluffton Self Help has a new logo, a new website, new partners and a new vision. But the nonprofit organization has the same goal it has had since its inception in 1987 – to help the people of Bluffton.
For more than three decades, Bluffton Self Help (BSH) has provided food, clothing and financial help to residents in need. As the community has grown, so has the need. And as more people have moved to the outskirts of Bluffton, the local organization has expanded its reach geographically to include all of Beaufort and Jasper counties.
“Our heart is the footprint of Bluffton and the families here,” said Constance Martin-Witter, BSH board member and daughter of the organization’s founder, Ida Martin. “That will never change, and that will always be at the top of our list. But the needs are greater now. … I think my mother – and I know my father – is very pleased and excited about these new opportunities that we have to empower families outside of our core area.”
With the help of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities, based in Charleston, BSH reassessed the community’s needs and found some startling statistics. Almost 60% of Beaufort County households and 75% of Jasper County households are not earning living wages, according to BSH’s marketing and communications manager, Danielle Dekruif.
While expanding its reach beyond Bluffton, the local organization is also transforming the way it helps people in need. Rather than just giving them food or helping with a bill, BSH is now taking a more holistic approach to get to the root of the problems causing situational and generational poverty.
The organization will continue helping people with their basic needs, but it will take an individualized, long-term approach to helping clients achieve self-sufficiency.
“When people are struggling every day for childcare, for rent, for utilities, they’re less likely to thrive,” said Kimberly Hall, executive director of BSH. “We’re taking people from surviving to thriving.”
Client advocates will meet with individuals to figure out how the organization can best help them succeed, whether it be through adult education classes, job training, mentorship, counseling or help finding other resources.
“It’s really difficult to ask for help,” Hall said. “So, when we can create a dignified, welcoming environment, that’s all the better for folks. Our goal is for them to come in and really feel like they’re a part of their own plan and their own process, and that they’re feeling supported.”
For more information on Bluffton Self Help, visit blufftonselfhelp.org or call 843-757-8000.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.