More than 100 years of service to the Charleston community. An ambitious expansion. A desire to redefine itself. To become a thought leader. To be in the room where it happens. And all during the second year of a pandemic. Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach (“OLMCOS”) has been providing basic and emergency resources, education, job assistance, and health programs to thousands of people each year in the Lowcountry for decades. By understanding each person needing assistance and attending to each of their various needs, OLMCOS sets itself apart by dedicating itself to truly comprehensive social services. Whether it’s lunch today, a resume review tomorrow, or a child learning center, it makes it so that each person can attend their ESL program. And despite a still-raging pandemic, OLMCOS set out upon a massive expansion in Summer 2021 by expanding their eligibility requirements, areas served (to include the West Ashely corridor all the way down to Edisto in addition to Charleston, James Island, Johns Island, Wadmalaw), and services provided. To reach out to these new communities and begin to establish themselves as leaders in providing comprehensive social services, our project, R.E.A.C.H. for Success, was born.
R.E.A.C.H. stands for Relationship Expansion and Community Helpers. As part of our mission, we worked with OLMCOS to establish goals for increasing their access to new community members, whether in government, education, non-profits, civic groups, or religious groups, as part of a grassroots effort to spread the word about OLMCOS’ services, both new and old. These community members will either serve as “friend-raisers” (to raise awareness), “fact-raisers” (to assist in becoming thought leaders on important community topics), or fundraisers. Our team worked to identify more than 70 new connections for OLMCOS, which we will facilitate one-on-one interaction and education. Once we assist in making those connections, we will assess the impact of the introduction, like whether a new partnership with a non-profit arose, more engagement was seen on social media, or new opportunities arose to speak on important community issues. It is our goal to provide lasting and meaningful connections, while also providing a road map for future efforts to connect to the community and further deepen the roots of this long-standing community servant.