Neighbors Together first began as Lutheran Social Services of the Greater Charleston Area, Inc. (LSS) in 1983. It was started as a humble soup kitchen and clothes closet by several Lutheran and Methodist churches in the Tricounty area. This was the beginning of an incredible organization.
In 1991, Lutheran Social Services became Tricounty Family Ministries and would grow to become the largest nonprofit of its kind serving the Tricounty area. The original churches and numerous non-denominational churches and volunteers joined together with long-time Executive Director Sue Henshaw to grow the organization.
Over the years we added clothing distribution, home-bound meal delivery, and food pantry. We have served more than 7.5 million meals to date. However, we realize that solving the problem of poverty goes much deeper than simply providing basic needs. Neighbors Together addresses the cyclical causes of poverty and abuse as neighbors come to our center for basic needs, but they can take advantage of complete life-changing programs geared to move those in crisis to self-sustainability.
When neighbors arrive on our campus, we assess their situations and show them what programs and services we provide. Ongoing assistance requires accountability and completion of on-site financial classes.
We added Healing Hands Ministry in 2002 to address health matters in our multi-tiered approach. We promote healthier lifestyles and increase access to care through advocacy, education, intervention, and networking. We are staffed with retired part-time and volunteer nurses, social workers, and other medical professionals.
Families in Transition began in 2003 with residential apartments and life coaching. The program expanded to incorporate counseling, financial education, computer skills, and job training. Led by our licensed counselor and volunteer licensed professionals from the community, we strive to teach sustainable solutions through individual empowerment. Neighbors Together’s partnerships, including SC Works, aid us as we provide literacy skills, employment tips, job placement and job fairs.
In 2017, Neighbors Together opened the doors to our new facility at the corner of Cosgrove Avenue and Rivers Avenue. After nearly 34 years in our original location, we were able to locate all operations under one roof in the first floor of Cherokee Place United Methodist Church. The expansion includes an indoor dining area to provide clients a safe, comfortable place to enjoy meals out of the elements.
In 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic challenged us to adjust our services to meet the needs of our neighbors during this very difficult time. After a brief shutdown, we moved all our food distribution outdoors into socially distant walk-up and drive-thru lines where volunteers assist in a contact-free grocery delivery every week. Unlike in previous times, there is no limit to the number of times a family can receive a bag of groceries in a month. We also began work on a computer lab for neighbors that will be housed in our building.
In 2021, we became Neighbors Together to reflect the transformation we have seen when people come together to help each other. After all, we are neighbors together.