'Compassion for people': Community Ministry of North Augusta breaks ground on new building

Thursday, September 19, 2019
News 12 at 5:30pm

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Community Ministry of North Augusta broke ground on a new building Thursday afternoon.

The ministry has met the needs of those in need across the community for 35 years.

At the afternoon groundbreaking, so many people showed up to support the ministry that they ran out of space. It's the same problem they have at their current building; they need more space.

Right now, rooms are separated with dividers, paint is chipping and there's a leaky roof.

"One of our goals here is to make sure our clients are treated with dignity," said Elizabeth Merritt, director of the Community Ministry of North Augusta. "It's hard some days, when the roof is leaking to feel like this is a dignified place for them."

Merritt has only been on the job for a little over a month.

"I'm amazed by how much need we have in North Augusta," she said. "I think we miss it on a daily basis. We go about our daily lives. We go to work."

The new building is possible because of community donations. It will give more room to staff and keep their whole ministry in-house.

"We have two small cubicles in which to interview and there's no privacy for them. It's very cramped," Merritt said regarding current conditions.

Shirley C. Jones is one of those interviewers. She speaks with those who come in to get help and has been doing it for 16 years.

But for years, she was on the other side of the phone working for the power company. She felt a call to help when she retired.

"I have compassion for people," Jones said. "I love helping people. That is why i do it on a daily basis."

Some volunteers work in the thrift store, others sift through donations. All are serving to see lives changed.

"We had a young woman who we helped when she was in high school," Merritt said. "She has gone away to college now. That's fabulous. That's why we are motivated to keep doing this work."

The non-profit organization plans to move they into the new building by the end of next summer.

Volunteers say they still need donations on a daily basis, and it truly helps those who need it most.