Focus on the Upstate 102 - Miracle Hill - 5/6/18

Focus on the Upstate
Sunday, May 6th

Miracle Hill's Sandy Furnell, Communications and Marketing Director, and Beth Williams, VP of Children's Ministries, join us to discuss the organization's recent dispute with SC DSS over Miracle Hill's foster family placement criteria as a result of one of President Obama's last acts in office as well as Miracle Hill's upcoming Miracle Hill in Motion event.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome to focus on the state a program dedicated to informing you about organizations that serve our community. How you can get involved with. Here's your host Chris Evans. Good morning and welcome to focus on the upstate my name is Chris Evans today my guests are from miracle hill. We have seen Andy for now the communications and marketing director good morning thinking that morning that appear I think you for being here we also have Beth Williams the vice president of children's ministries good morning death good morning thanks for have a mass it's my pleasure. I'm start with the same question I usually do sandy which is what do you do and who do you do it why no miracle hill has been on the program several times. But I like to reintroduce the audience just to make sure they know who we're talking about. Some people probably you're gonna be familiar with your organization already from your thrift stores or maybe the that car a lot over on their way into boulevard. Or just don't you shelters or something but but I'm certain that there are some people that are not familiar with Merrick also give us the basics what do you do and he do before. Miracle hill is our largest and most comprehensive provider of services to the homeless here in our state. So when you think a miracle health think of homeless whether it's homeless adults or homeless children. We cover the gamut so we do have rescue missions and we have those in several counties across the same not just here in green bell. Government Spartanburg and Cherokee county. If a children's home in Pickens County employee shelter. We also do Foster care and so we have lots of different ways that we reach out to the community. And part of homelessness oftentimes for at least for adults. Is addiction is often involve aren't so we have addiction recovery centers which are residential. We have one for men and one for women. So lots of different things that are moving parts all the time from miracle hill nine different shelters across the upstate plus our Foster care program. So addiction recovery. Homeless shelters and Foster care. All under the umbrella of serving homeless in the upstate that's right miracle hill started out back in 1937 and as a suitcase charities yes so we are in downtown green bell and it just drew to the years are as we've seen in needs and has got has provided more open doors. We've been able to offer more services 1937 that means you guys just had your eightieth anniversary last year yes we did end. He's actually and saying well you on coming up on a hundred I mean that's kind of a big deal. You get get to 91 of course but it. All indications are that that the you'll be around for that long what's what what's it been like over the the last eighty years yeah I'm sure you have better control of that but said the even must know the history miracle hill. Well one of the things I'm hearing is that the face of homelessness has just been changing even a year now. He of people sort of have a picture on their minds of the this sort of older guy out on the street looks mentally you know like I say amen corner yeah but there's been a lot of change and that you know we're seeing a lot younger people. We're definitely seeing a lot of veterans. On who are experiencing homelessness. And then of course the number of children who are homeless that's that's on the rise too because of maybe parents to have been affected by the OP Lloyd crisis an out those children have been neglected maybe they've been or offend because of that. So there's just a tremendous amount of change and that so overseeing people from all kinds of walks of life. You might think that somebody coming into an addiction recovery center might be one way but actually we see a lot of people command who have. Professional careers. Not something may be that you would think would be facing that kind of a problem so the face of homelessness definitely has been changing. It's interesting he say something like addict or homeless and you get this image in your mind that is. Or maybe stereotypical. And as you were saying that's not necessarily the case for the people especially recently. I I've heard a lot of our reports in the news it just in the past are a year or so about almost in Greeneville specifically and in the ocean in general. That don't really fit the mold of like you said that the bomb on the street corner of the there's that you might. Having your mind when you hear the word homeless. Often the condition of being homeless is pity able you know it's it's the reason that people reach out and end. Give money to somebody's sitting on the side of the road with a sign or something like that and the reason that an organization what you were exist to help people that are in the situation. But I wonder if there's a certain portion of people who were homeless by choice. Does that happen very much they actually have a category for back called a chronic homeless guy and those may be people who perhaps have mental illness. I'm wondering yes so there are different factors like that and so those challenge is required different kinds of solutions and so. When you're working in relief ministry where year you know helping just anyone who needs emergency shelter which is what a lot of our. Folks aren't you you have to deal with all different kinds of whom situations so you do have your chronic homeless and they needed different. Type of solution but thing you have others who may be in their chests in meeting job. Scales maybe they're just eating. Financial support to be able to get back on their feet you know maybe had a medical situation I've I've heard of a situation where gentleman came to that Pringle rescue mission and he had had terrible illness and as a result of that illness he lost his job he went into debt. All kinds of things happened to Hammond and that's how we ended up homeless but once he was able to get some of those situations. Rectify it and get the help that he needed to be able to transition back into society again. That he was back on his feet so it just depends on the situation. We've talked a number of times on this program with a number of different organizations about the importance of employment in terms of staying. It may be off of drugs are staying in your home. Things like that and it's absolutely crucial day because if you don't have a job. You can't pay for anything he can't pay your rent you can pay utilities and that's I imagine creek near the wrong frequently help people wind up homeless other than those chronic homeless that your talking about. Like he did have folksy you maybe have had. A criminal background and that also is one of the barriers for people to get good job employment. So there's all of those kind of situations thankfully we have companies here in the upstate if you are willing. To overcome that barrier and hire many of those folks and take a chance on them. And so we have companies like that who are willing to partner can come alongside organizations like miracle held back and Chile make a difference. I recently had an opportunity to talk to the folks over at gateway house. About you mentioned mental illnesses as one of the factors and homelessness and the the strides that they've made in. Addressing mental illness in the out states with their clubhouse models really a fascinating conversation. As miracle hill and able to partner and always so with gateway house or other organizations in the upstate in order to fulfill this mission of of alleviating homelessness. Mothers actually I know there's a new crisis center that's opening up and that's a partnership among a lot of people in Greenville police department. GH bass Kelso stem. Bonds into our house system miracle hill. And their opening a crisis shelter that is for people who have mental health issues who are experiencing a crisis so rather than sending those folks you. The Bill Miller to jail they can go to this crisis shelter for a temporary stay to be able to get them. Assassins have been making go to an appropriate situation rather than just standing up in jail. So that's something I'm Erica hill has been partnering with with other organizations to bring to fruition. And you mentioned another thing that that you focus on a miracle hill this Foster care. You have a number of Foster care services that said you offer an and facilitate a Foster families with and that's. What best Williams is here to it to discuss the Foster care program note I imagine you would be involved it's as the space president. A children's ministries very deeply in in the Foster career ministry that you provide talk to us a little bit about. Yes we have large Foster care program it's actually the largest bumper regular Foster care meaning these are children without special needs and the state of South Carolina. So on any given day in the upstate we're caring for about a 18690. Children. Com and our homes and so currently we have around 230 Foster homes. And that fluctuates every day is it is a fluid number but there are many children with needs in the upstate Kenny Foster homes. If somebody wants to become a Foster home for a child what did they need to do Hannity and touch it. I'm -- they wanna become a Foster parents shaking going on her web site time miracle he'll dot org and look us up and that will give you directions on how to fill out an inquiry forms of the arena will have your information we can reach out to you an invite you to an orientation. We have orientation they don't want twice a month. And the organization so we invite those who were entrusted to reach out to us and and we will certainly give you an invitation. To participate in the orientation to learn more about how you can become a Foster parent. One of the things that that I know has come up relatively recently for you regarding the Foster care of him miracle held us and not just and I should say not just miracle hill but faith based organizations across the state. Have kind of come into conflict recently with the department social services. Over the criteria that you used to place Foster children. Talk and I wanna be sensitive so DM and I don't wanna put you on the spot make you you know say anything that would that would that would give you trouble. Right let them but sit and talk to us a little bit about what this situation is is that I'm guessing that some people heard about this but they don't really know what's going on. In 2017. Come before Obama left his administration and he actually instituted any policy with the Department of Health and Human Services. Doesn't mean that suddenly just the last few weeks of his president and ride it actually he executed it on January's get January 11 so right before he left office. Some there was a new policy put into place and it basically prohibits federal fund gained. Being given to use day eats on for those taking care of children if you if you have certain guidelines and criteria in place. And so because of miracle hills doctrinal statement that is on our web site. The department of social services for South Carolina came to us last year and felt like. We were discriminating. And not being able to follow that policy based on our doctrinal statement guidelines we have in place. I got you so this is relatively new development because I know miracle hill has worked with. South China India says four years you know providing Foster services and cooperated with them isn't as a state organization. But this is a relatively new development that involves. The federal government know wanna get too political here but. But I have learned over the years and if something involves federal government is going to be complicated. It is very complicated and we worked with the department of social services in South Carolina for numbers the years were still partnering with the alma com. They have worked with us to try to figure out the ruling and work towards a resolution and so on so we've been working with them over the last year. In this year in January of 2018. We were issued a temporary license for miracle he'll based on our doctrinal statement but we're still working with the department of social services to work through these issues on how to. Define the resolutions so that we can be in compliance with some regulations. Yet continue to practice our faith. I say so so let's let's go and establish this what is the doctrinal statement I don't know as Sunni word for word and give me the idea of what the issue it's. Right so miracle pill we do license faith based Foster parents meaning they have to be a member of a Protestant church. And so because we choose to work with Protestant Foster parents. This date at the federal level felt like we were not abiding by the policy. This and you have to open up to every one America hills not saying they can't be a Foster parent we want people to be Foster parents of any faith. And so we do help Foster parents who plywood says that may not be of a Protestant faith we give them directions again no to be with. You know would be able to serve an ailment and their family. And so this is not closing the door for Foster parents outside the Protestant church but miracle hill does have our doctrinal statement in places as. We work with Protestants. Faith based outsiders and what's the reason for that is it is just a numbers thing you can't work with everybody and see just had a narrow it down her or was it more of a mission based. Decision right this was a mission based decision that was put in place years ago and so it is really too on miracle hill is. As part of our mission statement that we've always been associated with the Protestant church. And so this did not come down to numbers at all and that really doesn't have any any relevance to it. Gotcha and so I just want him make this point again this is a relatively new development. About a policy that you had in place for decades and it. This has never been objectionable to to the state before until this particular federal policy went into effect. Yes we've been under the same doctrinal stay mad for years and DSS license miracle hill they have an annual review of our information and our policies and procedures. And so we bring you are licensed humorous times over the years. I'm in 2017. Was the first time that this issue arose. Edit and we should point out it's not just miracle hill that being affected by this you use the ones that are sitting in my studio to take. But it's it's it's it's really all faith based Foster programs that are. Well and even adoption programs and so nationally there are also issues with adoption agencies who again our faith based and I'm they want to come work with adoptees. On people who want to adopt that you know have a particular faith. And so it's really it's not just even a stated C this is really been an issue. Federally as this new administer you know the administrative change came into place in 2017. To the people who would object that this policy of miracle hills and say well you know other people of other face people of something other than the Protestant faith. Maybe just is capable of being Foster parent what do you say to them. I would welcome down to be Foster parents and so we want as many people to come forward and serve the community and serve children as possible. And so that's why we want to give them direction on what you know where they can get oh. There are many different possibilities and opportunities to Foster department of social services as one that there are many other private child placing agencies is well within the state. And so there are many options to become Foster parents you don't have to go through me or don't have to get through miracle hill or one of the the other faith based Brian Foster programs. I understand that there have been a few developments so far since January of 2017 and all of this started. But talk a little bit of bounce the progress that you've made in resolving this. My government master has really been helpful and supportive of the ministry and so omni in March. March 13 2018. He issued an executive order and so what that means is as he's. He's issue in order to DS ass to the department of social services to really say that they have to work with us and so we will continue to practice. Hands that he is saying that our license will be continue to be an existence. So he issued an executive order so that come as a cabinet agency of he has. They and then continue to work with us and so it kind of puts stop hold on and ending our license come July 26. Which they were in the position of doing. That it ev and frankly having to do you rises this policy so he's. Basically authorize them to to continue working with you on on temporary basis effectively. Right he is in says he is issuing them to continue to work with us and it's based on on some of backs that we haven't placed the freedom of religion restoration act. And so he references that in his executive order but had come that he is protecting the rights of faith based provider so there's. Pending legislation that hasn't made its way through via the legislature yet that could. Have an effect on this whole situation. Right we're currently working with legislators and so there's band come. One of proviso bills which is attached the budget it actually made its way through the house for approval for child placing agencies again to continue to practice their faith. It's in the senate it's had multiple readings and so we are hopeful that it's going to be passed. But we're waiting on final word of that. It's an and it sounds to me like you're trying to. Resolve this amicably through through cooperation through policy initiatives rather than just running to accordion you met you may have point before the program to a specified that this is not a lawsuit on either side you haven't been sued by do you assess and you're not suing the SS. And a lot of people lamented the the litigious nature of American society these days and so like I think that's that's a good thing. Where does this go well what's what's the next step free. Are hoping legislation will be passed so that we can change the legislative admirals in the states to include faith based providers. We're not trying to exclude any Weiner we're not trying to say again that you can't be a Foster parent. We just wanna be part of the inclusion. And so we would like the law alternate to specify for faith based providers that we have the right to practice time and license families of our faith. So that's really who you know what it's about and we're excited that we are having movement within the legislation and for those legislators have been supportive of this it's been wonderful as well as government master it's been. It's been great to see the support from the community as well as legislators. Well I'm interested to see what the resolution of all of this is in my guess is since has been going on for him almost a year and a half now that it's probably not going to be any time soon. But keep in touch and Pamela will follow up with you guys to see how this how this all progresses. Before we run out of time here because we're we're coming up on the into the program I want to talk about one of the sing. With sandy which is an upcoming event that you have going on called miracle hill in motion. They're so excited about this event because it's multi county so if you have any. A uneasy at all yes yes if you have any affinity at all from miracle help we would love for you to participate come out and support the homeless here in the upstate. So what this is in the Gaffney we have a five K walk for all ages in Spartanburg we have a five K walk for all ages. And in this neck of the way it's over here in Greenville Pickens area. We have a cycling event and we also have a ninja warrior course for kids ages four to ten very popular on TV these days yeah. Our obstacle courses absolutely so we're hoping that the upstate will get in motion. To raise awareness about the needs of the homeless and to raise funds to support what miracle helped us in the upstate. So we would love to see families get involved in this your business of your organization. Your church your neighbor made. Get a team together you can register and miracle Hilltop or urged. And it really is a great way to have some fun together get out be active and it's on June 2 so it's coming up not too far off. Great way to kick off the summer people need to get registered and they should just show up on the day like yes please register ahead of time you can register the day of the event but. Preferably register early that we could do a little bit of fundraising beforehand as well. As soon miracle hill dot org is where you can find out more information about this. And this is an event that you've done before this is not. We pieces of it this is the first time we've actually come buying everything and we were doing that is because we want. To show that. Miracle Hillis all across the state cannot just in one location. So we wanna get everybody together in motion and to show that paid miracle hill is serving the whole upstate community in terms of home services and let's talk. By that for a little bit because very often on this program immunity in Greenville is kind of a hub of activity and in the in the upstate. There's plenty going on another places Spartanburg Anderson Pickens you mentioned cherry counties all over the place but Greeneville is kind of did the center of at all. You know people probably think a miracle hill who know less because we started angry voter. But as I said earlier we have spanned out across the upstate as the needs have arisen so as we have seen needs as far away is Cherokee county. We wanted to try or meet those needs that's always been sort of ambition of miracle health. Is to try to make sure that every area is comfort. In terms of serving the homeless because we know every community has homeless. So as much as possible we wanna try to meet those needs so where are the locations in other counties that people might be less familiar list. Yet in Spartanburg county we have to Spartanburg rescue mission which is right in downtown and that serves men women and children. We also have a facility called homes for life in Spartanburg which serves young men ages sixteen to 21 who have been in and out of the Foster care system because that's a group home. We also have in Cherokee county the Cherokee county rescue mission and that also is for men women and children. And then in Pickens County is where our children's home is located. And we also have our boy shelter which using green belt and then we have our agreement rescue mission we also have shepard's case. Which is for women and children and that's a separate homeless shelter just for women and children and that's located in Greenbelt. So we are definitely all stand out and then the addiction recovery programs both of those are actually located in Greenville but we take people from all over all across C upstate. How is or what are the questions are one of asking organizations is how is your organization funded Beth talked a little bit of balance. This new policy. You know they came out of the Obama administration suspending federal funding. I guess and I gather some of your funding comes from the government money. Actually don't know okay primarily we are funded through private donations so approximately 60% of our funding comes from people who just support us like you are. Like anyone else in the community. We do also get some grants for granted so that's part of it times sometimes you'll have a organizations that want to fund nonprofits. So we have some of that as well and but primarily it is definitely through donations. So people want to make a donation again that website miracle hill dot org. Is how they can do that absolutely and even if he can't participate with us on June 2 for miracle Helen motion if you wanna support us and help the homeless in your community. Please go to America held dot Oregon you can support the event you can support somebody else who's may be participating that day or just go ahead and make a donation. Even an ongoing basis would be wonderful. So in June 2 is the miracle hill in motion event there are several events around the upstate that people can get involved in Spartanburg Cherokee Greene counties. All over the place. Go to miracle hill dot org. Four more information about which one is in your area which ones you can sign up for and participate in maybe make a donation to. Real quickly Porter and at a time talk well volunteer opportunities to some people wanna donate their time and. Yes definitely if you wanted to volunteer from miracle hill deathly go to our website look at the volunteer opportunities. There are are also going to be some volunteer opportunities for miracle Helen mentioned as well. But we are always looking for people who want a partner with us and bring their skills. Their abilities their background to the table to invest in the lives of the homeless and people are hurting people who are addicted. Because those people need a lot of resource is a lot of help to get back into the can be needy and it's all about billing those connections and those relationships. Sandy for now the communications and marketing director for miracle hill and Beth Williams he vice president for children's ministries of America who have been my guest today thank you very much pleased to be here thank you thank you and my pleasure. I'm Chris Evans and this has been focused on the upstate. You've been listening to focus on the upstate with Chris Evans if you would like more information on today's topic email Chris. At C Evans @entercom.com.
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