Taking AIM at the Roots of Poverty
and the Anderson
Interfaith Ministries (AIM) are breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency
with help from
The walls of the AIM house at South Murray Avenue in Anderson, SC are packed with photos of women, children and families. They are all ages and races. But a closer look shows some similarities—they are all smiling, and most are arrayed in caps and gowns of graduates. Some are holding keys to cars. All have the bearing of someone who has accomplished a goal. Pride beams from the faces of their children. There is little to indicate that just a few years earlier these same faces had been covered in tears of hopelessness. When most of these women came to AIM, they came desperate, facing hunger and hopelessness and having no idea how life could ever be better. Many had come from generations of poverty. AIM took care of their immediate needs such as housing as a spring board to offer them a way to change their lives and the lives of their families, permanently and for the better.
Women and Children Succeeding (WACS) takes a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of poverty through higher education, life skills and hope, three things many of its graduates had never known. Aimed at women with children (some in single parent households) AIM first takes care of the immediate needs for food, housing, transportation and counseling. But where many social service agencies may stop there, AIM’s WACS goes further, much further. WACS offers to change the very lives and futures of its participants with sustainable self-sufficiency as the final goal. It provides child care to make it possible for the moms to return to school. It then enrolls them in the next step of their education, a two or four year degree. Some go higher. AIM also holds GED classes on its campus and higher education is available at Tri-County Technical College, Anderson University, Clemson University and numerous other campuses. AIM finds cars for those who need transportation.
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None of this is a handout. All assistance has a dollar value and is closely tracked. For every $100 in assistance, participants return an hour of community service, in many cases working with service projects associated with their area of study and career path—again creating a synergy that benefits everyone.