FORT MILL — This is the latest installment of an on-going series focusing on the reality of homelessness in Fort Mill.
Bruce McKagan and Kim Vinesett have spent one day a week for three months taking a van around Fort Mill, picking up homeless men and women in the area and helping connect them with services they need, as part of the ROC Rides program.
They visit the soup kitchen, where the homeless receive a meal. They sometimes stop at the Salvation Army for clothing needs, and they always stop at ROC Central, a community center where a host of volunteers can assess their needs and help connect them with a variety of services, from help with getting a job to connecting them with a shelter or a drug and alcohol treatment center.
In this way, ROC Rides has connected 11 of the 18 identified homeless men and women in Fort Mill with assistance theyve needed. Sometimes the needs are small. Sometimes, clean clothes and some food are the greatest need. For a few that have been ready to make major life changes, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers were located.
The program is working, said McKagan, but more volunteers and more resources are needed to help it continue to be successful. McKagan envisions the program being a community-wide effort with churches and individuals throughout the Fort Mill area supporting ROC Rides and its parent ministry, Serving Our Neighbors, created by McKagan and Vinesett in response to an outpouring of interest in helping the homeless in the community.
The time to gather volunteers and resources is now, McKagan added. While only 18 homeless men and women have been identified so far, McKagan believes there are more. Winter is coming and with it, the needs of the men and women living in tents near Carowinds and under blankets around Main Street will increase.
We say this with urgency, because weve been doing this in the summer. We cant help but think as winter comes, these numbers will go up, McKagan said.
The program needs volunteers to drive the van weekly as well as to assist with doing laundry, so the homeless can have fresh clothing weekly. Volunteers that can organize clothing drives are also critical, and counselors who can volunteer their time would also be helpful.
Financially, SON ministries runs the ROC Rides program on less than $1,000 a month, which includes money for toiletries, prescriptions, laundry, shelter and emergency needs. It also includes a budget of $100 a month to pay for government documents, such as ID cards or birth certificates, which are critical to helping the homeless tap into government services.
The program also needs donations to pay for gas for the van, which totals approximately $150 a month. McKagan would like to see a church or several churches consider taking on ROC Rides as a mission project, he said. Keeping the van fueled is an easy monthly donation, he added.
Thats just 18 churches giving $9 a month [each], McKagan said.
If youve thought about going on an overseas mission, this is a mission field in your backyard. Behind Kimbrells and right beside an amusement park, Vinesett added.
More volunteer opportunities and donation needs exist. For a full list of volunteer opportunities and needs or more information, contact Vinesett at firstname.lastname@example.org.