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Financial help from Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund.

Social services from churches that are part of the Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund can assist residents of the county under a number of different situations. There is help from OPSF for the unemployed, families living in poverty, or someone facing a short term crisis situation. The agency also advocates on behalf of the homeless and working poor in the Oconee County community in an effort to break the cycle of poverty.

The agency will offer support in the form of a hand-up, and not a hand-out. Any type of financial aid from the organization will come with those conditions. There may be resources such as food or a cash grant given out, or referrals, if and when the applicant works to resolve their own situation.

The information and free referral process from Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund offers tips on how to get help. The agency has information about human service resources in the community. This includes church run programs, grants from the government or United Way, and even sources of loans from credit unions.

OPSF will try to refer people in a crisis or the working poor with appropriate service providers. There is also assistance for the underemployed, people looking for new job skills, and immigrants seeking a new life in Oconee County.

When seeking support from the program, information process involves both link the family to a source of financial help (whether it is food, employment, or money for bills) and also has a follow up component. The staff will partner with the applicant on identifying and applying to relevant resources. This even can cover non monetary needs, such as identification that may be needed to apply for a job.

The goal of any support given is to end the hardship the family is facing. So OPSF will require any applicant to address employment, budgeting and other needs. This is what is required (among other things) to receive rent, medications, or utility help from the Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund.

The food bank at OPSF serves needy individuals and families, providing commodities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). There are also groceries and food purchased with federal funds and items that were donated by various nonprofit agencies in Oconee County.





The pantry team also works with dozens of charities, food banks and community organizations in the region to feed the hungry and homeless. Clients must have a household income that is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. So much of the hunger prevention is done in partnership with other local groups.

Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund is involved in easing the immediate crisis. But this is just the first step in the process of helping each family reach their goals of becoming financially stable and therefore self-sufficient. The agency has developed a vision that calls for the agency and partners to first resolve the crisis, and then to move on and engage the family in a conversation about the barriers that stand between them and their goals. So a self-sufficiency plan will be created by the OPSF agency based on each client's strengths and job background.

The Presbyterian churches take a non-service-based approach to providing guidance and long term support. Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund  will offer this even as people gain personal and financial assets. The programs are not offered as a traditional program of case management, in that families provide self-direction and participate in peer groups as they work to resolve issues and deal with crisis situations.

Case management from OPSF requires a multiple month commitment, with the possibility of adding even more time as needed. Families that are part of the non-profit are given financial incentives for work or school as they take the initiative. The churches will always require that people make changes that they identify as important in their lives.

The address of Oconee Presbyterian Service Fund is 115 W.S. 1st Street, Seneca, South Carolina 29678. The hours of the program are just Tuesday and Thursday, and dial (864) 882-0504.



By Jon McNamara














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