Here’s the Church.. Here’s the Steeple

Open the Doors…. and see all the good, the people are doing inside Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

That’s a different version of the rhyme my boys love to sing as they twist and turn their fingers until their digits resemble something that looks more like a mangled pile of wiggly worms than people inside a church.

It’s easy to be drawn in by the physical beauty of the church located on the corner of Sumter and Gervais streets in Columbia, but once you open the doors and see the good that its people are doing, it’s easy to see that the beauty off this sacred place seeps from the inside of the pews outward.

That’s particularly true as parishioners join together with community members to prepare for the 64th Annual Trinity Bazaar. The event is this Saturday from 10am until 2pm.  As people shop for unique gifts and enjoy wonderful food, they do so knowing that the money they spend is donated to five organizations that do a lot of good in our community, including The Cooperative Ministry.

You may not realize that Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is an integral part of The Cooperative Ministry’s history. Trinity is one of five congregations that founded The Cooperative Ministry in 1982. Since then The Cooperative Ministry has grown to encompass congregations of all faiths, over 120 partnering agencies, and countless civic and social organizations, foundations, businesses and individuals.

We hope to see you at the bazaar rummaging through trinkets and treasures as you search to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  Please stop by The Cooperative Ministry table while you’re there. We have two new Unity cards that we are unveiling at the event.  Two local artists donated their work to be featured on the cards.  Here’s a peek at the card that includes the beautiful artistry of Mary Lane Sloan.   This portrait is symbolic of the work The Cooperative Ministry does.


The Cooperative Ministry is Fighting Poverty by building bridges for people through education and the ultimate goal of self sufficiency. We are thankful for the all of the churches, and all of the steeples, and all of the help, from all of the people. These bridges can’t be built without you.






WIS TV Profiles The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground Program

New plan offers “Solid Ground” for struggling families

Posted: Oct 25, 2012 3:30 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 25, 2012 5:46 PM EDT

By Ben Hoover

Every morning is an instant coffee morning for Tiffany West.

“Because we live an instant life,” she says, mixing warm water into a measuring cup filled with the instant fuel she’ll need to make it through the first few hours of the day.

On busy days like this in her house of sleepy eyes and the princess pajamas her daughters wear, even mini meals are microwaved.

Tiny toes and tiny heads are dressed in a dash, and homework is reviewed by moonlight.

A strong backbone helps get 5-year-old Emani and 3-year-old Jordyn off to school every morning. The rest of the day requires more than physical strength for West.

“I just wake up in the morning, say a prayer, and ask God to give us strength to get through the day,” said West.

It’s a short drive to West’s next stop, a place where we learn this life on the brink of a breakthrough once lacked a car, a home, and hope was lost. Life was instant, but not that warm, comfortable kind West finished up this morning.

It’s Midlands Technical College, and it’s time for speech class. Today’s assignment has West telling her personal story of pain and poverty.

“Most people wonder why a woman would stay. ‘Why does she stay? Who wants to get hit all the time or live in fear?'” asks West to a crowd of her classmates.

It was four years of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend. No nearby family, no knowledge of resources.

“It was abuse on all levels,” West said. “Physical, sexual, emotional, verbal.”

West was trapped until courage kicked in.

“We left,” she said.

West finishes her speech and her classmates applaud her, but just like applause, freedom fades. Instead of the fists of her boyfriend, poverty gripped West.

With no degree, a minimum wage job meant West worked all day away from her children to pay the babysitter with little money left.

“And it got to the point where it wasn’t making any sense,” said West.

Bills piled up and West was on the streets with two little girls. A motel became their home. For two years, welfare was a way of life. Until, in an instant, something clicked.

“I just decided it was time, and I had to stop making excuses and do whatever it took for me to get a degree,” said West.

West took a cab to campus, applied for student loans to cover childcare, and entered the paralegal program.

Now months away from graduation, a new, provocative program launched by the Cooperative Ministry will help ensure moms like West land on their feet, planted on solid ground.

“To me, it was an answer to prayers,” said West.

The “Solid Ground” plan requires parents like West to pick a career that’s in high demand, maintain good grades, and give back through community service.

The plan helps fill the gaps with cars, gas money, education, and the biggest budget item, childcare — like Jordyn’s tuition at her school — all aimed at helping parents get a degree, start a career, and stop the cycle of poverty from reaching into the next generation.


Behind the Scenes of the WIS Solid Ground Shoot

Chances are you’ve seen WIS TV Anchor Ben Hoover perfectly coiffed, donning a suit  and tie behind the anchor desk during the evening news on channel 10.


Meeting him behind the scenes on an early morning  shoot, where the only light comes from the glow of a school bus stopping to pick up children, gives an illuminating view into the character of this television journalist.

Ben is profiling Tiffany West, a single mother of two who is currently enrolled in Solid Ground. Ben and WIS photojournalist Steve Hooker are pictured here with Tiffany and her youngest daughter Jordyn.

Solid Ground is a Cooperative Ministry program that Fights Poverty by investing in families on public assistance to help them gain footing and better their lives and the lives of their family.  Currently, 6 women are enrolled in Solid Ground.

We don’t want to give away the bones of Ben’s stories which are scheduled to air on WIS at  5pm and 11pm on Thursday October 25th. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this life transforming program over the days and the weeks ahead.

The purpose of this post is to give you a REAL look, behind the scenes at REAL people and REAL change.
As you can gather from her T-shirt Tiffany is a faithful person and with good reason. She was homeless.  Now with the help of Solid Ground, she is getting ready to graduate with a paralegal degree and looking forward to giving her two daughters a better life.

Ben and Jordyn hit it off like gangbusters.

Part of the reason may be that Jordyn and Ben’s daughter are around the same age.  Maybe he’s thinking how different life would be, if he was in Tiffany’s shoes. I know I am.

If you can — check out Ben’s stories tomorrow night.

When you do,  in addition to the professional newscaster that you see sitting behind a desk under the big lights, you may be reminded of the compassionate reporter pictured here. The Real guy who seems invested in telling the stories of people in our community.

A journalist who truly seems to possess a desire to make a difference in the Midlands and around our beautiful state.


Thank You!

These two simple words are tossed around so frequently, they often float away like a balloon that mistakenly slips from a toddlers hand.

We want to change that. When say say Thank You.. we mean it.

At The Cooperative Ministry we want to do a better of job of saying “Thank You” to all of the people who work together to make a difference. We know that  if we’re going to get anything done that matters, we need to work together as a team.

That’s why we’re thankful for the generosity of team members like the folks at Rogers Townsend.


The Cooperative Ministry currently encompasses congregations of all faiths, partnering with agencies and countless civic and social organizations, foundations businesses and individuals.

Thank you.. All of you.


It’s Not A Hard Habit To Break

Forget that old, sappy Chicago song that reminds you of the prom date who broke your heart.

It’s time for you to jump out of your comfort zone.

Instead of kicking your old stuff to the curb or dropping it off at the same old spot, consider bringing it to the Cooperative Ministry.

I had a kind of conversion a few weeks ago when I met the folks at The Cooperative Ministry, both the people The Ministry helps and the people working behind the scenes. (In a number of cases, the people who help out used to be the ones who needed help.)

The Cooperative Ministry is Fighting Poverty by meeting immediate needs and teaching skills and providing resources for long-term independence and stability.

I’m not the only one whose been touched by The Cooperative Ministry.

I was delighted to discover that when Director of Community Relations, Kristy Ellenberg, saw a Facebook post in which a friend talked about cleaning her closet, Kristy said she’d pick up her discarded items and drop the bags off at The Cooperative Ministry.

That’s Kristy in between Chris and Wilie. Those guys help keep the warehouse moving efficiently.

Kristy is grinning like a Chesire Cat, because when you drop your old stuff here, you’re often greeted by a smiling face. A real person meets you, someone who helps you and appreciates your efforts.

I’m hooked on Diet Coke, but I’m trying to cut back.

I have a habit of losing my keys no matter how hard I try to keep track of them.

I find these habits hard to break..

Dropping my old stuff off at a new place.. Not so much.

Page 1 of 212



(803) 799-3853

3821 West Beltline Boulevard

Columbia, SC 29204

Cooperative Ministry