By Jessica Brodie
HEMINGWAY—One of the poorest counties in South Carolina will get some much-needed housing repair assistance this summer thanks to a newly launched Salkehatchie Summer Service Camp.
Hemingway Kingstree East Salkehatchie, based out of Mount Seal United Methodist Church, will handle housing needs in that city and the eastern portion of Williamsburg County, already an economically depressed area that was further devastated both by the 2015 flood and the 2016 hurricane.
“I’ve only been in this area three years, but since I’ve been here I’ve seen so much need. They’ve been hit very hard with the last couple of disasters,” said the Rev. Ernest Frierson, Mount Seal’s pastor. “There is a need, and we’re about the business of God.”
Frierson has teamed up with a strong core of people to start the Salkehatchie team at the request of Edd Cunningham, the Rev. John Culp and others involved with the ministry. Running the week of July 7, Frierson and the Rev. Jerry Dicks of Bethel UMC, Kingstree, will coordinate the camp as assistant directors, along with help from the Rev. William Simon James of Greeleyville Parish and case manager Cynthia Williams of South Carolina Conference Disaster Recovery Ministries.
Kathy Hart, chair of the Salkehatchie board, will serve as the camp director for its inaugural year, and then Frierson and Dicks plan to serve as co-directors next year and thereafter.
“We’re very excited about this,” Hart said, noting she’s felt God calling for a camp there for a number of years, and she’s grateful to be able to help launch it. “God has definitely put us there at the right time, and it’s full-steam ahead.”
“The Hemingway area has been very hard-hit, and several houses really, really need help,” said Dicks, who is also the Florence District disaster response coordinator, noting the eastern portion of the county has great need. “This is an opportunity for us to help that section of the county. We want to do what we can do to help as a community and a church.”
The Williamsburg County School District will let Salkehatchie use Hemingway High School to house volunteers, and Frierson and Dicks said teams of district United Methodist Men, volunteers from conference disaster recovery ministries and helpers from local Baptist and Presbyterian churches will help.
“We’re asking for other skilled laborers,” Frierson said—people who can help with electrical work, carpentry, plumbing and more. “The people of the area feel overlooked, feel like they’re on the backburner, but we’re all on the same page (ready to start helping).
“Salkehatchie is a ministry, and if we can be successful with one house, that would be awesome.”
Salkehatchie Summer Service started in 1978 and is a servant ministry throughout South Carolina where youth and adults come together to serve the community. It has grown to 46 service camps with more than 2,000 volunteers. Roughly 200 homes are helped each summer, and 6,000 families have received assistance since Salkehatchie began. Volunteers must be 14 years of age or older, complete a background check and pay a registration fee.
Registration is going on now for this and other 2018 camps: Salkehatchie.org.