In 2009, the Boys & Girls Club located in the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant was struggling to keep its doors open. For many of the children living nearby, the club was their only recreational outlet. Several area churches joined forces to help keep the program operational, offering mentoring, gardening projects for the kids, nutrition and business services. Recognizing the potential in the combined resources and talents of churches working together, the members of the various churches sought to form an alliance. These early discussions led to the formation of East Cooper Faith Network (ECFN) and also raised questions about other unmet needs in the community.
ECFN members consulted with East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) and participated in several community forums that gave voice to the concerns of low-income residents. These discussions, along with a community survey, identified disparities in educational outcomes as a key concern. In response, and with the involvement of residents, experts from mentoring organizations and school administrators, ECFN launched I-Beam, its first community initiative. The idea was kept simple: place one adult reading mentor into the life of one elementary public school student for one hour a week. A related initiative of summer enrichment was then added to decrease the learning backslide that can occur during summer recess.
The Fix-It! initiative developed in 2012, after an awareness emerged regarding an unmet need of homeowners living in ill-fit conditions. Volunteers with East Cooper Meals on Wheels noted homes with unaddressed health, safety, and accessibility concerns, and ECMOW, along with ECCO and Habitat for Humanity, determined there was a need for simple, no cost repairs. ECFN conducted a study and held a public forum to seek broader input toward a structured solution, and Fix-It! was launched.
Since their inception, these programs have been supported by numerous East Cooper churches, health and human service agencies, civic groups, and local government entities. ECFN welcomes and encourages the participation of all groups and individuals, regardless of religious affiliation or background. We are limitless when we work together – through collaboration and communication – to impact our community.