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Local TV Anchor Spearheads Fashion Fighting Poverty

“When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord–and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!”
That biblical quote from Proverbs and The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground program inspired WIS TV News Anchor Judi Gatson to spearhead what’s shaping up to be a great event.

“Every time I hear about a success story at the Cooperative Ministry, which is often, I’m inspired to think about what more I can do to help!” Judi said.

Fashion Fighting Poverty was birthed after Judi saw a story her co-anchor Ben Hoover did on The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground Program.  When thinking of how to make an impact,  Judi considered asking prominent folks to literally give the shirts off their backs to help others, so that’s what we’re doing.

We’re asking celebrities and dignitaries who have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference to donate clothing and accessories to be sold in an on-line auction culminating in a boutique in front of the Columbia Museum of Art on Saturday May 4th from 11-2pm.  Any items not sold at the event will be donated to The Cooperative Ministry’s career clothing closet where they will be available to the working poor free of charge.

We are off to a great start with donation commitments from a wide range of celebrities and dignitaries. From Congressman James Clyburn to USC football coach Steve Spurrier, National Champion baseball coach Ray Tanner and his wife Karen and USC and Olympic track and field coach Curtis Frye. Journalists on board already include WLTX anchor Andrea Mock, FOX News anchor Ainsley Earhardt, MSNBC’s Craig Melvin and South Carolina news icon Susan Aude’.  The guys from Hootie and the Blowfish and the ONE organization founded by U2 front man Bono are also donating to Fashion Fighting Poverty.  Soon you’ll be able to see donated items and the people taking part at coopmin.org.

In order to make the most impact for the people we serve,  we are still looking for donations and sponsors. If you’d like to help,  contact Kara Gormley Meador at kmeador@coopmin.org or 803-422-6081.

In covering the news on a daily basis Judi says,  “These days we spend so much time debating issues like education, healthcare and unemployment, which are all very important.  But what we should be doing is drilling down on effective ways to address poverty.  It’s not a sexy subject that lends itself to short sound bites in the news but once we get serious about dealing with poverty — a lot of the other issues will take care of themselves.  The Cooperative Ministry ‘gets that’ and I hope through this event more people will get in the fight!”

 

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Solid Ground Off To A Solid Start

The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground program is a life line for people who have felt at times like they are being sucked into quick sand.  If they choose to wrap their hands around the line and apply some muscle, they can use it to climb out and plant their feet on terra firma.

The Cooperative Ministry is partnering with  local colleges and universities to encourage people enrolled in Solid Ground to enter fields of study that will lead them to careers that are in high demand.  The hope is that when a participant of Solid Ground graduates, they will be able to obtain a decent job with a liveable wage. Solid Ground is a chance for people to break a cycle of poverty that some thought they’d be handcuffed to for the rest of their lives.

The inaugural class of six Solid Ground participants is constructed of mostly young, single mothers. Child care is another big hurdle they have to overcome in order to go back to school, keep a job and be a mom. The Cooperative Ministry helps there too, but it’s no handout. For every $100 a Solid Ground participant gets to help them with childcare, they perform an hour of community service.

The  women who are currently enrolled are working hard in their studies and we’re proud to report that hard work is paying off.  In order to stay in the  Solid Ground program the ladies are required to maintain a minimum 2.5  grade point average.  Currently,  the Solid Ground women have a combined 3.4 G.P.A.  Two are scheduled to graduate in May.

One of the women preparing to get her college degree is Tiffany West.  Not long ago, Tiffany was homeless, living on the streets of the Midlands with her daughters. A survivor of domestic violence, Tiffany will graduate from Midlands Tech with a paralegal degree.  She’s currently interning with the Richland County Public Defenders office.  Through hard work and the help of people who haven’t given up on her, Tiffany is transforming her life and the lives of her daughters.

 

Mentors like Moryah Jackson are a huge part of this programs success.  Jackson, director of education for New Carolina recently shared her story with the Solid Ground women. Jackson was considered an at-risk youth. Now she is the first in her family to complete college where she had the opportunity to travel to foreign countries as part of her studies. She is presently attending graduate school.

Jackson is talking to the Solid Ground women about building the perfect resume and how to prepare for a job interview. Moryah Jackson is one in a number of mentors who meet regularly with the women in this program at mandatory life skills classes.

What’s happening inside the Solid Ground is exciting. The program is meeting and exceeding internal goals. The number of  people participating has already more than doubled with 17 woman currently enrolled.  Solid Ground Program Director Douglas Bates says his goal  is to have 25 women in the program by August.  A committee is currently looking into possibilities to make this program even stronger in the future,  but everyone associated with it couldn’t be more pleased by the initial results.

The Columbia Star profiled Solid Ground and Tiffany West in February. You can read the full article by clicking on this link.

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Is Flex Time Good Business?

We’re constantly monitoring women who are working to succeed as part of The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground program.  What we’ve discovered is that often, for women to have a successful balance between the job and parenting, employers and employees need to think outside the box. That is why when we first learned of the Yahoo controversy, it made us raise an eyebrow.

In case you missed it, one of corporate America’s famous working moms is no longer letting her employees work from home. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says she isn’t trying to start a running commentary about whether or not flex time is a good thing. She claims she is making a decision that she feels is right for her company’s business climate.

The problem is, no flex time means some working moms may have to choose between their job and staying at home with their children.

When you see the statistics, you’ll understand that when working mothers have less opportunities to parent and work, everybody loses. Especially if the mothers have little or no spousal support.

Here’s what we know:  poverty is most prevalent in female-headed households with children under age 5.  To give you an idea of just how bad it is here in the Midlands, the rates are 43% in Richland County and 49% in Fairfield County. In Richland County, 33.9% of households headed by women with children under age 18 live below poverty. In Fairfield County the rate is 40.6%.

What do you think?

I’ve attached an article on the issue written by Los Angeles Times reporter Jessica Guynn so you can get a more in depth look at the issue.

|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Corporate America’s most famous working mother has banned her employees from working at home. Now the backlash is threatening to overshadow the progress she has made turning around Yahoo Inc.
Marissa Mayer, one of only a handful of women leading Fortune 500 companies, has become the talk of Twitter and Silicon Valley for her controversial move to end telecommuting at the struggling Internet pioneer.
From the start, Mayer, who at 37 is one of Silicon Valley’s most notorious workaholics, was not the role model that some working moms were hoping for. The former Google Inc. executive stirred up controversy by taking the demanding top job at Yahoo when she was five months pregnant and then taking only two weeks of maternity leave. Mayer built a nursery next to her office at her own expense to be closer to her infant son and work even longer hours.
Now working moms are in an uproar because they believe that Mayer is setting them back by taking away their flexible working arrangements. Many view telecommuting as the only way time-crunched women can care for young children and advance their careers without the pay, privilege or perks that come with being the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.
“When a working mother is standing behind this, you know we are a long way from a culture that will honor the thankless sacrifices that women too often make,” read one email sent to technology blogger Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who first wrote about the ban.
Hundreds of staffers — including those who work from home one or two days a week — will have to decide if they want to start showing up every day at the office or be out of a job, according to a memo leaked to Swisher.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s human resources chief, wrote in the memo sent out Friday. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”
Mayer, who is trying to reverse Yahoo’s long downward spiral, has raised the hopes of investors and sprinkled amenities such as free food and iPhones on battle-weary employees. But after those juicy carrots has come the stick.
“Like a team huddling before a game, there are moments in a company’s development when getting everybody to physically huddle together is a very good thing,” said Paul Saffo, head of foresight at Discern Analytics. “The question is at what cost.”
Sources told AllThingsD that Mayer has grown frustrated because the Yahoo parking lot in Sunnyvale, Calif., was slow to fill up in the morning and quick to empty by 5 p.m. — something not typical of the hard-charging Silicon Valley rivals that Yahoo must beat to regain its perch.
Some observers speculated that Mayer was looking to trim unproductive workers without the costs associated with a layoff and in the process may have gotten more bad publicity than she bargained for.

Yahoo declined to comment on “internal matters.”
British billionaire Richard Branson publicly criticized Mayer for being out of step with the modern workplace in a blog post: “Give people the freedom of where to work.”
“This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever,” Branson wrote.
The U.S. already lags behind the rest of the industrialized world in flexible work arrangements, said Jennifer Glass, a sociology professor and research associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
“It’s sad to see a large employer go in this direction,” Glass said. “There is no functional reason that people who work from home can’t work just as productively as they do from the office.”
Still, only a small percentage — about 2.5% — of American workers primarily work from home despite congested roadways, long commutes and the demands of caring for young children or elderly parents. But that number is growing at a rapid clip: up 66% from 2005 to 2010, according to Telework Research Network.
UCLA management professor David Lewin said the telecommuting ban is a risky step that could further damage Yahoo employee morale and performance and undermine recruiting efforts in a hotly competitive job market.
A 2011 study by WorldatWork also found that companies that embraced flexibility had lower turnover and higher employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement.
“This policy certainly goes against the grain,” Lewin said. “That’s one of the main reasons it is catching so much attention.”
Mayer has some prominent defenders. Donald Trump praised her on Twitter, saying she’s “right to expect Yahoo employees to come to the workplace vs. working at home.”

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Fighting Poverty In The Rain

When thinking of volunteerism, many picture spending some time outdoors in the sunshine, mingling with people and engaging in meaningful conversation about the greater good.  They think about rolling up their shirt sleeves, using some elbow grease and seeing the time they put into volunteering really pay off.

This was not one of those events.

This was not one of those days.

On this February morning in South Carolina, temperatures dipped into the 40’s and the cold rain sounded like a toddler beating a bass drum with a mallet as it beat down on the medal POD these Junior League volunteers found refuge in.
The Junior League of Columbia worked to Pack A Pod for The Cooperative Ministry as part of the Healthy Learner’s Fair held at Dreher High School.


This is the 5th time the owners of PODS of Columbia have donated a POD to The Cooperative Ministry. Rachel Olsen says PODS is looking forward to participating in many more of these events. (especially when the sun is shining) “As local owner-operators of PODS here in Columbia, we believe in supporting the community we do business in.  The Cooperative Ministry has a critically important mission of helping the many people faced with poverty in the Midlands and we are thrilled to partner with them to support their efforts by providing PODS containers at various events throughout the community.”

Despite the nasty weather at the first Pack A  POD event of 2013, the JLC volunteers kept a positive attitude and actually managed to collect a some needed items for people who visit our Clothing Closet and furniture warehouse for help.

When looking at some of the donated children’s clothing, there’s no doubt that the work done on this frigid day really made a difference in someone’s life.

When things (like the weather) don’t seem to work out according to our perfect plan, you have faith that it was HIS perfect plan all along.

 

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Our Mug Runneth Over Thanks to Lizard’s Thicket!

When we asked you to “Show Us Your Mug,” you went on a caffeine binge in the name of fighting poverty.  The result, the folks at Lizard’s Thicket presented Cooperative Ministry Board Treasurer Joseph Horne with a check for $3,000.

“The Cooperative Ministry is honored to have a successful South Carolina business, built on hard work and strong family values as a  champion for the people we serve,” Horne said.

This donation was made possible by Lizard’s Thicket customers, who purchased a special 35th anniversary mug, which was available for $5 from January 25th – February 3rd.

The  money raised will be used to aid Midlands families in crisis. It will also fund programs that help move hard working people off government assistance toward careers that provide sustainable wages and a more stable life.

Lizard’s Thicket Chairman, Bobby Williams says, “We chose The Cooperative Ministry because the organization has proven to be valuable in helping others through hard times, but also in helping them get back on their feet.”

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