By Heather Dawkins Stalker, special to the Children’s Trust
Life can be tough. It can throw us cruel curveballs. We know we have to be flexible and learn from others. Sometimes, though, we just need help with the basics. Basics like food, diapers, rent and clothing. The things you have to have to get through a day. Without them, families find themselves in crisis.
Fortunately, there are folks out there that can help. Folks like the great team at The Parenting Place, home to Prevent Child Abuse Pickens.
Prevent Child Abuse Pickens is a South Carolina organization that seeks to fill the basic needs of its families first. “We have a huge storage area in the back of our building where we have diapers and wipes, food, dishes and pans, blankets and sheets and toiletries, paper products,” says Executive Director Gloria Morris. The agency also stocks a closet with new and gently used baby clothes and shoes, toys, etc. “People can pretend like they’re shopping, but it’s all free.”
In addition, Prevent Child Abuse Pickens’s Parenting Place is a Benefit Bank—a place where people can come to receive social services without a visit to DSS, which can sometimes involve hours of waiting. “This can be difficult if you have a baby with you,” says Morris.
The agency’s core focus is on home visits, which Morris says are vital to helping families in crisis. “It’s going into the home every week and creating those relationships that are going to help families move from dependence on the system to independence and belief in themselves,” she says. “Knowing that they have somebody to turn to when things go wrong makes all the difference.”
And in addition to meeting basic needs for the families they serve, The Parenting Place works to put families in a place where they can meet those needs for themselves “We do mock interviewing to give them confidence. We provide clothes for job interviews. We work with filling out job applications. Just knowing what to put down, what to write on a resume is so important. Knowing the right words to choose.”
Morris says people who have lost faith in themselves have trouble even making the call to apply for a job. “Sometimes just making that phone call is traumatic. They don’t have a lot of belief in themselves. They need someone to sit with them and encourage them.”
Encouragement from The Parenting Place has put many Pickens-area parents on the right track. A mother who came to the agency when her family was facing eviction from their home was able to get not only assistance with her bills, but also help finding a job in the nursing field. She is making plans to further her education.
An employee at a bank gets tears in her eyes when remembering the support she received from The Parenting Place as a teen mom—support that helped her pursue a four-year-degree and land a job in banking. And a young father who had lost his job and was struggling to support his family got help finding a job in machining. He also plans to continue his education.
Helping prevent child abuse, says Morris, is not just about help with parenting, but with self-awareness. “You can’t parent well if you’re in a state of feeling terrible about who you are. Parents who have no social outlets, nothing of their own, get bitter and angry and stressed.”
To find resources, visit South Carolina 2-1-1, a critical clearinghouse for finding assistance in your local community. The site keeps a database of a wide variety of service providers including support groups, community clinics, counselors, shelters, food pantries, programs for seniors and many more agencies in South Carolina.
Call 2-1-1 any time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to link to vital services in your community. This service is free and multilingual.