Renew Our Community seeking greater public support

rsouthmayd@heraldonline.comDecember 21, 2013 

  • What can Renew Our Community do with a small donation?

    $10 can buy enough kerosene to heat a house for a weekend.

    $15 can buy three prescription medications.

    $25 can get someone their driver’s license or birth certificate.

    $42 can buy someone a night in a hotel.

    How to donate to Renew Our Community

    Before Christmas: Drop off wrapped gifts of hats, gloves, scarves or socks, labeled if they are for a man or a woman, at ROC Central between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday or Monday, or between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

    Anytime: Give donations of clothes, canned goods or money at ROC Central or mail tax-deductible contributions to 119 East White Street, Rock Hill, S.C. 29730 or donate online with a PayPal account at renewoc.org.

Each chilly winter day before 10 a.m., a line forms outside the former Kia car dealership on White Street in Rock Hill.

People without a job, without a home or who just need a little extra help wait patiently for the doors to open, where employees and volunteers of Renew Our Community are waiting to give those people a snack, some assistance, some guidance or maybe just a smile.

“We are a one-stop shop,” said Iris Hubbard, the director of ROC Central. “I don’t think the community really knows all that we do.”

Jacob Stanley, 22, a frequent ROC client, can tell you exactly what they do.

A few months ago, Stanley was living in the woods, with no home, no job and nowhere to go. ROC helped him get some temporary housing, and now he’s living in his own apartment.

One of the members of his family at ROC, Dorothy Mitchell, 60, also knows exactly what people at ROC can do.

“They’ll help anybody a whole lot,” she said. “They’re here for anybody who needs them.”

ROC helped Mitchell, a diabetic, get the medication she needs to stay alive. They helped her get furniture, so now when she’s not out ringing a bell for the Salvation Army at this time of year, she’s at ROC, talking to others and trying to spread cheer.

This past year, ROC reached out to Fort Mill's homeless, including a group living in woods near Carowinds Boulevard, and now offers weekly transportation from Fort Mill to the ROC center in Rock Hill.

And more people than ever are trying to take advantage of the services ROC offers.

In November alone, 1,535 people were served by ROC Central, as the Rock Hill location is called, a record number for an organization stretching its resources to help as many people as possible, Hubbard said.

If the nation’s economy is recovering, Hubbard said, she can’t see it here.

During this time of year especially, people want to do so much to help others, but they aren’t sure how to help a place like ROC, said community relations specialist Jenny Overman. The organization wants to help its clients have not just a merry Christmas, but a good life and hope for a better new year.

“There’s no Christmas here because people just aren’t thinking about this population right now,” Overman said.

To help, ROC is soliciting donations for small items that go a long way, like gloves, hats, scarves and socks.

“A pair of socks is like a mink coat to someone without any,” Hubbard said.

Once, she said, a man showed up at ROC with nothing but a hospital gown, boots and a coat. For many of ROC’s clients, basic needs are their first concern.

Hubbard said she likes to emphasize that every little bit – every hat, every handful of change, every can – makes a huge difference in the lives of their clients.

On Friday morning, she carried in three fleece blankets, made by young children at Westminster Catawba Christian School who wanted to do something to help. Hubbard held the blankets, decorated with cartoon characters and bright colors, and smiled.

“There is going to be someone that comes in here with a child,” she said. “And this is going to make a wonderful present.”

Mitchell and Stanley said the kindness of people really shines through during the holidays and that there’s no kinder people than those who work at ROC or who go to ROC for help.

“They‘re like family,” Mitchell said of the staff.

But Stanley corrected her.

“They are family,” he said.

Rachel Southmayd •  803-329-4072

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