Wednesday, October 21, 2009

South County Outreach

by Marla Noel

Ed Eward of the South County Outreach presented at the Irvine Spectrum Rotary meeting on Wednesday, October 14, 2009. Ed began with a compelling story about a family who'd been receiving food and assistance from South County Outreach. They wanted to come in to say thank you to the staff with beautiful flowers from their garden. He shared a picture of a child holding the flowers as his gift. To see this small boy, who was spared from going hungry because of the great work of this organization, you understand better the value of the services provided by South County Outreach. South County Outreach is a solution center for what is going on in our society. The need for emergency help is great. Only 4% of the households come to the shelter more than 8 times. Most come during a time of crisis. With the help of South County Outreach, they can move on.

According to Ed, this worthwhile organization served approximately 600 households every month. Now, as so many of our fellow Orange County residents are out of work, the number of households they serve has jumped to 1200 households per month. They are to the point where they must turn families away at the door. The households currently being helped, will continue to be supported, however, new households can no longer get help. This included a young woman who came in for help. She had two blind twins. She was turned away. Ed hopes that this is only a temporary situation for the families who need help, and that they will be able to serve new families soon. With the help of organizations like Rotary, they can work to get the funding needed to help more people.

This organization is lucky to have volunteers. They have around 163 volunteers and 6 staff. One notable volunteer who helps a great deal is Peggy Stalter, an Irvine Spectrum Rotarian, who gives her time regularly to make a difference to those in need. Also, Tom Whaling, an Irvine Spectrum Rotarian is a Board member. Tom helps the organization in providing the necessary services to families in need in Orange County.

Ed told us about a young women who approached him at an event the day before he spoke to us. She was employed by an unwed mother's shelter. She told Ed that a number of years ago, she was homeless. The South County Outreach enabled her to get on her feet, get a job and support herself. Ed talked about their vocational specialist, who worked, through training and support, to get people jobs and improve their situation.

I could see how much Ed cared about the people they serve, as he relayed the story of meeting the young woman later that day. She was the woman who had been turned away from the door, with the blind babies. He told her to return to the shelter, and they would help her. He made that commitment to help her as South County Outreach has helped so many people. With our support, they can do more good at a time when we are surrounded by people in crisis.