Fashion Fighting Poverty Post

The Belk design team worked against the wind as it whipped through the Main Street corridor causing a ripple effect in the water fountain in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. More than once, the Belk and Cooperative Ministry banners the team had positioned on metal stands, crashed into the chilly sea of the fountain, blocking the shine from the copper pennies that sparked at the bottom. People had thrown the coins in the fountain as they cast a wish.

As that May morning ticked by, it was clear that wishes and lucky pennies would not be enough to bring sunshine through the gloomy, thick clouds for The Fashion Fighting Poverty Fundraiser for The Cooperative Ministry. This team went beyond luck and prayed to a higher power for weather intervention.

Surely this prayer would be answered, Fashion Fighting Poverty is all about helping people after all. The money raised benefits The Cooperative Ministry and its mission of fighting poverty in the Midlands through crisis assistance and sustainability programs.

The  Fashion Fighting Poverty concept is simple. Celebrities and dignitaries, most of whom have ties to the Palmetto State, literally give The Cooperative Ministry the shirts off their backs.

People like MSNBC Anchor Craig Melvin and his wife ESPN SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak. USC football coach Steve Spurrier and USC Sports Director and national championship baseball coach Ray Tanner also gave The Cooperative Ministry team a number of items. As did Fox New Anchor Ainsley Earhardt and  former SC gubernatorial spokeswoman turned, ONE executive Ginny Wolfe.  Local News Anchor Judi Gatson spearheaded the event.

The donated items were part of an on-line auction that ran for a couple of weeks and  culminated in an open air boutique.

As it turned out, prayers were answered, the rain held off.

People stopped, learned about The Cooperative Ministry and shopped, helping raise over $3,000 for The Cooperative Ministry.

That’s not all.

A gentleman who recently lost his job was on his way to the Richland County Public Library when he happened by the Fashion Fighting Poverty open air boutique.

Dale said he was hoping to use the libraries computers and resources to continue his job search, that he was close to landing something.

Dale perused the selection of men’s suits. He said he’d love to have a new suit to wear to potential interviews.  The suit he was looking at, had no bids, so a member of The Cooperative Ministry’s staff put it in a bag and gave Dale the suit free of charge. Dale’s eyes started to tear up in disbelief.

“Take the suit but do us one favor,” The Cooperative Ministry Staff member told him.  “Yes, ma’am,” Dale’s lip quivered a little.

“When you go to that interview and land a job wearing that suit, take a picture of yourself in it and let us know.”

“Sure will, sure will,” he said as he waved and started walking away.

Raising money for Cooperative Ministry Programs, and helping provide a suit for a man who is trying to work his way to a better life in an effort to break the cycle of poverty. That is what Fashion Fighting Poverty is all about.


Hip Hop Donation to TCM is Kool Moe Dee

Cooperative Ministry CEO David Kunz didn’t break out in rap (thankfully for Hip Hop Festival goers) but he did get a chance to meet legendary rapper Kool Moe Dee at the first ever Columbia Hip-Hop Family Day: Love, Peace & Hip-Hop. The new event is rooted in bringing awareness to the important areas that affect our community:  poverty, domestic violence, education, youth, arts, employment and economic development. A perfect fit for The Cooperative Ministry.

As the name suggests, Hip-Hop day also featured a lot of great musicians and was a whole lot of fun for those who attended.

Pepsi donated beverages to the event.

Hip Hop Day organizer Sherard Duval lined it up so The Cooperative Ministry and another non profit, Concerned Black Men of Columbia could sell drinks at the festival and then keep the proceeds to benefit programing.

We’re already looking forward to next year!


TRUMC Charity Golf Tournament

The morning started out with light rain, but to paraphase a well known quote from the golf cult flick, Caddyshack,  thankfully, “The heavy stuff didn’t come down for hours!” Nearly 40 golfers tackled the beautiful Cobblestone Park Golf Club in Blythewood as part of a The Trehnolm Road United Methodist Men’s chairity golf tournament.

The results surprised The Cooperative Ministry staff. The Ministry’s own Logan Munson of Gamecock Baseball fame ended up proving he’s got game on the links too.

Munson was a part of the winning team, pictured above. In order they are: Reg Wilson, Matthew Davis, Munson and his father who had to leave before the picture was taken.

Bee Turner and Christian English put a lot of elbow grease in order to make this event a huge success.  You couldn’t find a better group of guys!


This is the second year the Methodist Men chose The Cooperative Ministry as the benefactors of this tournament. We are so grateful for all of the work TRUMC does to help our mission of fighting Poverty.


Solid Ground Grads Make History

It’s a graduation that will go down in the history i-Pads (do they have history books anymore?)  for the women in The Cooperative Ministry’s Solid Ground Program who are preparing to get their college diplomas this month.
Santana Williams and Tiffany West are part of the inaugural Solid Ground class.  In its first year, Solid Ground is giving participants a solid start on the path toward independence from government assistance and a toward a job with a sustainable income.

Tiffany is a single mother of two beautiful girls.

” I am determined to become a self sufficient, productive citizen, and be the best mother I can be. I embarked on this journey with the little resources I had, knowing that God would supply the rest,” Tiffany says. ” God led Cooperative Ministry to help me and women like me to get to school.  Even though I graduate in May, this is just the beginning. The Solid-Ground Program knows this and they are willing to go all the way with me. With that kind of support I know the sky is the limit!”

Williams is married with three children.

“For me, The Solid Ground program means still standing on your two feet, despite the hurdles in life, while being provided with the resources you need to help you reach your highest potential in life,” Williams Says.  It feels wonderful that I finally accomplished my dreams of becoming a college graduate.  It’s one of the most fulfilling feelings a mother could have.  I’m proud to say I worked toward breaking the cycle of poverty in my family.”

Williams will graduate from The University of  South Carolina with a degree in Social Services.  Ultimately, she would  like to pursue a law degree.  So would West. West was recently homeless, living with her two daughters on the streets of Columbia and in area shelters. Tiffany, through a lot of hard work and the help of Solid Ground will graduate from Midlands Technical College with an associates degree as a paralegal. Tiffany has already gotten a job offer from the Richland County Public Defender’s office, where she has been interning. “It will nice to get a pay check for a job I’ve really enjoyed doing over the last few months,” Tiffany told radio and TV anchor Judi Gatson during a recent interview



(803) 799-3853

3821 West Beltline Boulevard

Columbia, SC 29204

Cooperative Ministry