BLUFFTON SELF HELP IS MOVING BEYOND A SINGULAR FOCUS, TO BE EFFECTIVE IN COMBATING POVERTY, Bluffton Self Help has been a leading Lowcountry nonprofit since 1987 and has continued to shift and innovate to meet the needs of the growing Bluffton community. With a long history of providing basic needs services -food, clothing, and financial assistance- Bluffton Self Help sees educational and training programming, workforce development and access to guided resources as essential tools in breaking the barriers to self-sufficiency.
“Our goal is to lead community advocacy, research and solutions by expanding our reach and services to tackle the interconnected issues of poverty, education, transportation, and housing. We know by taking a holistic approach we can ensure that all our neighbors can thrive in their family, workplace, and community.” said Kimberly Hall, Executive Director.
Bluffton Self Help’s roots are in serving the generationally impoverished, but as the region has grown, so has the demand for support for thousands of more families who are economically at-risk – those living paycheck to paycheck. To meet this need, they opened the doors to the first Education & Resource Center in Beaufort County in 2018, a pilot program focused on serving neighbors in a holistic, long-term approach. The results were astounding. This program acted as the launch pad for their Path Forward initiative, a five-year strategic plan to create long-term sustainable change in the Southern Lowcountry.
To better understand the needs of the community, Bluffton Self Help partnered with The Riley Center for Liveable Communities to conduct an extensive Community Needs Assessment. The report found that more people are economically at risk in our community than are economically secure. Nearly 6 in 10 households in Beaufort County and 3 in 4 households in Jasper County are not earning a living wage, and are just one mishap away from a financial crisis.
With more neighbors economically at risk than financially secure, Bluffton Self Help is stepping in to advocate, support and guide Lowcountry residents on their journey towards self-sufficiency. “We’ve done the research, and will continue to do so, and we are proactive in our planning and program delivery, yet nimble enough to support those in immediate crisis. And, in our commitment to neighbors helping neighbors – we can and must do more. As a community, we can no longer afford to combat poverty with just a singular focus,” Kimberly Hall added.
Last year, the organization took the first major step of this five year Path Forward initiative by opening a Center located in the Hardeeville Library to expand access to services. This expansion was followed by a strategic merger with neighboring nonprofit, The Literacy Center to enhance access to adult education, English literacy and career preparation throughout the Lowcountry community.
“We can’t do this alone and we don’t want to duplicate services. Through strong collaborations and strategic partnerships, our newly formed Red Apron Alliance will pull from existing community resources to better, more efficiently serve our neighbors,” Kimberly Hall added.
By strengthening and formalizing their Red Apron Alliance network of partnering agencies, area leaders, donors and volunteers, they are helping to build a community of opportunity to provide a strong foundation of high-quality services fostering good health, personal development, job placement, financial stability and career advancement.
“Through this repositioning, we intend to serve as advocates for everyone in need in Beaufort County and the Southern Lowcountry, with the goal of providing a pathway for self-sufficiency for all neighbors. We are ready to continue to move forward with the same compassion upon which we were founded 34 years ago with a new look, new vision and new partners,” Doug Adamson, Board Chairman said.
As part of this repositioning the organization has unveiled a new logo and new mission. Check it out on their new website www.blufftonselfhelp.org.
Bluffton Self Help’s mission is to empower and advocate for Lowcountry neighbors to improve their lives through education and training, basic needs, and guided access to a network of community resources.