The politicians have been spending a lot of time and money to argue about the economy. One thing we all know: The economy is not as healthy and strong as it should be. Yet we need to be careful that we don’t slip into thinking about “the economy” in abstract terms. A broken economy means hurting people with real needs.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could look past political and cultural differences and work together to meet the needs of our community? What if churches, non-profit organizations and government agencies could sit down and talk to each other, so we can really work together to help people?
The good news: We are. At least, we are starting to do so, through a new network and a new technology. The new network is the Chesterfield and Marlboro Assistance Network (CAMAN) and the new technology is CharityTracker. With the help of the Benefit Bank of SC and the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, several churches and agencies in our area are starting to work together in unprecedented ways.
CharityTracker is innovative software that allows organizations to communicate with one another and coordinate care within our community. Through CharityTracker, members of CAMAN can alert one another to needs that arise, coordinate the care required to meet those needs, refer people in need to an agency or church who can best help them, and ultimately work together to lift people out of poverty. The goal of CAMAN is not just to meet needs but to instill hope and work together to bring about lasting change.
We have too many children living in poverty in Chesterfield and Marlboro Counties. We have too many broken lives in need of real hope. The government cannot solve this problem. Churches alone do not have the resources to meet every need. Non-profit organizations have specific areas they can help, but they cannot meet every need. Cooperation is the key to comprehensive care.
Cooperation is scary because it requires trust. It also requires a vision for our community that reaches beyond the walls of our own churches and organizations. We need to see that God has placed us here and called us to work together as a community.
Rev. Paul Wood, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Cheraw, said, “I have served as a pastor in several communities where we needed something like CAMAN. The churches and agencies in Chesterfield and Marlboro counties have also needed to share information. CAMAN is a dream coming true.”
Right now, the biggest need CAMAN has is for more members. In order to effectively work together to serve our community, CAMAN needs more members, especially more churches. Right now, six churches are members of CAMAN: Faith Presbyterian (Cheraw), First Presbyterian (Cheraw), First United Methodist (Cheraw), Oro United Methodist (Pageland), St. David’s Episcopal (Cheraw) and the Chesterfield Baptist Association. Two other churches are in the process of joining.
CAMAN is more than a network of churches. It also includes Department of Social Services (DSS), Chesterfield-Marlboro EOC, McArn Food Bank and CareSouth Carolina.
Technology can be a powerful tool if it is used well. CAMAN provides a great opportunity for churches, charities, agencies and government entities to use technology to work together and serve our community. If you are interested in joining, please contact me at Faith Presbyterian Church — email@example.com or 843-537-7264 — or make plans to attend the next CAMAN meeting, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. in the DSS Commons Room in Chesterfield.
— Van Bemmel is pastor at Faith PCA, Cheraw, S.C. For more information, visit www.faithpcacheraw.org.