By Dr. DaNine J. Fleming
RIDGEVILLE—Oak Grove United Methodist Church and the Dorchester Parish have a rich history with more than 100 years of working within the community.
Oak Grove was awarded an Every Day COVID-19 BIPOC mini grant from the South Carolina Christian Action Council to engage the community with a focus on rural marginalized populations in acquiring factual information concerning COVID-19 and healthy living “post COVID.”
Oak Grove UMC developed Creating Community Connections: Health Collaboration and collaborated with three local organizations to maximize the community outreach.
A major goal of the CCC program was to be inclusive of an intergenerational audience to provide pertinent training and factual information that some constituents would otherwise not receive. Oak Grove UMC solicited the partnership of diverse age levels to meet each group where they were and bring everyone together on one accord.
Our strengths continue to be in faith in the community, not wanting to see anyone needlessly suffer, our rich history within the community, community trust as well as the ability to reach those that some may consider unreachable and/or unteachable.
“The community is accustomed to our outreach efforts and trust us. Our goal was to leave no one behind,” said the Rev. Laurie Tomlin, pastor of the Dorchester Parish.
“It was a pleasure creating an opportunity for intergenerational community members to work together in rural communities that spanned the tricounty area to provide factual information about the spread of COVID-19, ways to remain safe while getting back to our “new normal” and incorporating opportunities for edutainment,” said Dr. DaNine J. Fleming, author of the grant and program coordinator.
The intent of the mini grant was to create sustainable community engagement to stop the spread of COVID-19 with safe practices, innovative community engagement and healthy living. Oak Grove UMC partnered with Lambda Nu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. (Summerville/Ridgeville), Academic Excellence Academy (college student-owned tutoring company) and F&B Consulting Inc., formerly The Nevaeh Group (diversity, equity and inclusion consulting company). The didactic training enabled participants to work with others through virtual training on the impact of COVID-19 and living during and post COVID; a Post-Pandemic Mental Health Forum; Demystifying COVID-19 and Youth Pillow Talk to provide practical information and the utilization of the information in schools and on college campuses; a COVID-19 Scavenger Hunt; and providing necessary information and personal protective items to families and sustenance during high transmissible times as necessary.
We were also able to provide critical information during the Taking Back Our Village 8th Annual Cops and Kids Back to School Bash.
“It was beneficial, and the students that attended not only enjoyed the program but were able to share the information with students that could not attend,” Sydnei L. Fleming said.
We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the community through innovative efforts and look forward to additional ways for further outreach.