Monday, October 25, 2010

Passion passes, but commitment lasts

I get antsy when I meet with people who want to talk about something (or someone) they feel passionate about. Passion is fun and it’s thrilling, but let’s face it – it doesn’t usually last all that long. Talk is cheap, and people driven by passion usually talk about what they feel more than what they think. The heart and the brain are equally valuable, but . . .

Give me people who stay the course with something they care deeply about – whether that’s commitment to a person, or to a cause that actually ends up making a positive difference in people’s lives. Unlike passion, caring deeply – whether it’s in a personal relationship or a charitable concern – doesn’t turn on like a light switch. It grows and develops over time with a deeper understanding of the why’s of what is and the how’s of moving forward. Passion is fun, but it passes. Caring deeply takes work, and time to develop, but it lasts. Salutes to these stalwarts whose work demonstrates how deeply they care, in each of the eight counties we serve: Beaufort’s Shauw Chin Capps, Berkeley’s Marietta Hicks, Charleston’s Marty Besancon, Colleton’s Sylvia & Charles Rowland, Dorchester’s Mike Hinson, Georgetown’s Amy Brennan, Hampton’s Hazel Smith, and Jasper’s Sr. Lupe Stump.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting Things Done

Two things keep Carl Harmon up at night - elderly people in horrible living conditions and children who go to school hungry and without the supplies they need to learn. So, thirteen years ago, Carl started Caring and Sharing in a 10 x 14 room behind his house in Hemingway, South Carolina. That year, he helped provide 13 families within a 10 mile radius with food.

Today, Caring and Sharing provides food weekly to over 100 families who would otherwise have to do without. Caring and Sharing also helps disabled and senior citizens who are on a low, fixed-income with paying their utility bills, purchasing medicine, and filling in the gaps at the end of the month. Monthly, the organization touches 2,500 citizens' lives in Georgetown and Williamsburg Counties, two of the poorest counties in South Carolina. The non-profit also depends on an average of 20 volunteers to make up its workforce, people without which the work of providing for those in need could not be done. This year, Caring and Sharing hopes to pay out $44,000 for food, utilities, and medicine with more being donated.

Carl believes in partnerships. He works with the Lowcountry Food Bank who delivers food once a month, as well as Food Lion and Pepsi for donations. The group is working with the Georgetown County Diabetes Core Group to educate its clients on the proper foods to eat to help maintain or improve their diabetes. Carl is also working with teachers at Pleasant Hill, Andrews, and Hemingway Elementary schools to gather supplies that school district budgets can no longer pay for. Teachers are asking for things as simple as crayons, notebooks, pencils, and paper. Things I took for granted when I was a kid, children are having to do without because neither their schools nor their parents can afford to supply them.

The downturn in the economy has been hard on the organization because its two main fundraisers have been down about half. But Carl is optimistic and has faith. He believes as long as Caring and Sharing continues to help the people of Georgetown and Williamsburg, he will be able to find a way to keep the pantry stocked for those who need it most.

"Want something done? Ask a busy person to do it!" That's what Carl says, and that is an apt description of Carl Harmon, a busy person who gets things done.