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Holiday benefits: Good Friends luncheon helps those in need

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Members of Good Friends raised $42,700 at their 14th annual holiday luncheon at DeBordieu last week.

Though it’s not a record for the group that helps deserving people through temporary hard times, it was $7,000 more than last year’s luncheon raised, according to treasurer Doris Dawson.

Lois Fisher, an honorary board member who joined the group after Jenks Trotter brought the idea from Charlotte to Georgetown County in 2001, said it is a moving experience to help proud people get their electricity restored or feed their children when they are at a low point. “I wish every one of you had the opportunity to do that,” she told members of the audience.

Good Friends has raised $478,000 since it started and helped 5,300 individuals and families, according to chairman Patty Shortt.

Sharon Thomas said visiting a family helped by Good Friends and reporting on it to the luncheon group would be her last official act as executive director of Helping Hands of Georgetown County. Thomas, a resident of Berkeley County, will be stepping down soon to pursue other interests.

Thomas said she visited with a bright, articulate woman who was disabled after being injured in a car accident. She lives on disability payments and supplements her budget by making artwork from recycled plastic.

“Poverty is like a three-legged stool,” Thomas said. “One thing goes wrong, and it falls over.”

This woman paid her natural gas bill in cash in person every month, but the office moved. “For us,” Thomas said, “that wouldn’t be a problem. We write a check and put it in the mail. Her gas was turned off.”

The woman didn’t ask for help right away. She used her electric oven and a hotplate to cook for herself and three children during spring and summer. When winter came, she had no heat. Good Friends paid to have her gas turned on. “Tell them I have dreams,” the woman told Thomas, “dreams of starting a business with my art, dreams of helping other people like me.”

Amanda Drosieko, a pediatrician from the Pawleys Island area, said the memory of her family visit still brings her to tears. The husband had been a mechanic but hurt his back four years ago. His wife had been injured in an auto accident. They have a disabled son. The wife’s disability payment is their only income.

Drosieko said the couple own their home but can’t afford fire insurance. When they couldn’t pay their electric bill in August, they hit rock bottom. They were referred to Good Friends, and the electric bill was paid. “I don’t know what we would have done,” the wife said.

Drosieko said she likes Good Friends because it helps with basic needs. “Many of these families have nowhere to turn,” she said. “It makes a difference in Georgetown County.”

Holiday benefits: Girls host party to help troubled boys

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Around the dining room table the guests gathered to chat, sip drinks and nibble hors d’oeuvres. Zoë Dear and Hannan Mackey know how to throw a party.

“I’ve never been to one of these before,” said Jim Dumm, the director of Tara Hall for Boys. Parties, yes. Benefits, of course. But not a mother-daughter drop-in.

Zoë and Hannan are seventh-graders at Waccamaw Middle School. They invited 61 of their friends, plus their moms, to a holiday party at the Dears’ home in Waverly last week and asked them to bring an unwrapped gift for the boys at Tara Hall. “We’re all so grateful because we get presents at Christmas,” Zoë said, but they wanted to do something for others.

“I’ve always heard about Tara Hall,” Hannan said.

The party gave them the chance to find out more about it from Dumm, who was the only male guest.

Those who go to Tara Hall are victims of abuse or neglect or belong to families with problems. “They find us,” Dumm said. “They’re usually behind in school. At Tara Hall, we get them up to grade level and then they go to public school.”

“It sounds like a good program,” Hannan said.

There are 18 boys in residence now, ages 10 to 17, including one from the Pawleys Island area, Dumm said. Most stay at least two years. “They have emotional problems and it takes a long time to get their trust,” he said. “They don’t trust us, and why should they? They’re the ones who are hurt.”

Most boys have at least one “active parent,” he said. They go home one weekend a month and will go home for Christmas.

Zoë and Hannan said it might seem unusual for girls to have an event for a boys home, but they explained that boys don’t hold Christmas parties. So they stepped up. “I skipped basketball practice,” Zoë said. “I skipped swimming practice,” Hannan said.

“You’re going to make 18 boys very happy,” Dumm said.

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