Being dependent on the generosity of others is something Tanya Mauldin knows all too well.
The director of The Shepherd’s Table in Conway said the soup kitchen receives an annual $3,000 grant from the City of Conway. That’s where the secured funding ends.
All other monies needed to provide the average of 70 hot evening meals come through donations. In 2015, The Shepherd’s Table served 18,000 meals through monetary, food and supply gifts from individuals, businesses and churches.
“Without their contributions, we would not be here,” Maudlin said. “We are unique in this area and the only soup kitchen in Conway. Without us in the community, there would be a gap there.”
One community of people who consistently stands in that gap is doing so again and the public is invited to join in.
Union United Methodist Church is holding a yard sale Saturday, May 7, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 4491 U.S. 701 South. The yard sale is an annual spring event hosted by the women’s group of Union, known in the Conway area for its action-oriented, civic-minded service.
Women’s group president Dannye Singleton said the team’s mission is to serve God through local missions and that all yard sale proceeds will be used to better people’s lives.
“This money will go for the good of the community,” Singleton said. “It is not for us to have parties.”
Unless those are family Christmas parties for underprivileged children. The group regularly provides Christmas gifts to area families that have fallen on hard times. The women’s group connects with local schools like South Conway Elementary to identify families who are not able to provide a merry Christmas for their children. The group’s yearly Tea Cup Sale in the fall helps them “play Santa” each December.
As part of this new year, Union’s women’s group is focusing on priorities.
“You can’t spread your talents too thin,” Singleton, a retired nurse, has learned. “To make a real difference, you have to be focused.”
Singleton has witnessed some of the great needs in the community during her 30 years in the public health industry. The natural born extrovert is excited to continue to serve the community as the group’s newly-installed leader.
“I am following in fabulous footsteps,” she said.
She is also on a mission.
“It comes straight from God,” Singleton adds. “I don’t do things I’m not passionate about.”
Who needs help
The women’s group is currently assessing community needs to determine who most will benefit most from the monetary donations of the yard sale.
“I’m going out and asking, ‘Come speak to us,’” Singleton said. “We’re learning daily.”
Mauldin, of The Shepherd’s Table, was a March women's group meeting speaker and informed Union that the needs of the soup kitchen continue to become greater. The nightly dinner crowd can fluctuate from 50 to 100 guests, with most of those visiting near the end of each month when the paycheck or benefits have started to dwindle.
In a recent in-house, informal survey, 56 percent of The Shepherd’s Table patrons reported they were disabled and on a limited, fixed income. That same percentage said they owned or rented their home, 36 percent said they lived with family and friends and 8 percent described themselves as homeless.
Sixty-eight percent said they have been coming to the soup kitchen regularly for more than two years. Most are adults, with 76 percent being between the ages of 19-59.
Along with past financial contributions to The Shepherd’s Table, Union’s women and youth also offer their presence in the kitchen as cooks and the dinning hall as servers.
Through their stomachs and around their shoulders
Chris Williams knows firsthand the work done by the hands of the women of Union.
The women cook and deliver holiday meals, including Easter and Thanksgiving, to the boys at the Waccamaw Youth Center where Williams is director.
“They continue to have us on their hearts and minds,” William said. “They find what we do out here as God’s work.”
Union’s Stitches with a Prayer (SWAP) group also recently presented handmade quilts to Williams for each client at the center.
“Those quilts have a lot of love in them,” he said. “The boys have wrapped themselves up in that.”
Williams was particularly taken aback when he and his wife were handed over a quilt loving made and prayed over by the SWAP group.
“We love it,” he boasted, adding the not-yet-fully-spring weather has enabled them to continue using it since December.
Like Mauldin, Williams knows donations keeps the doors open and the lights on.
“It’s vital to our survival,” he said. “It is our bloodline.”
To also aid in its finances, the Waccamaw Youth Center is holding its 9th Annual WYC Starfish Gala Friday, May 6, beginning at 6 p.m. at Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach. For tickets to the night of food, dancing, a silent auction and more, visit here.
A collector’s paradise
The day after the big gala, expect Union’s yard sale trinkets and treasures to flood its Fellowship Hall and front lawn. Popular items for browsing include home decor pieces, bedding, wall art, kitchen goods, books, toys, sports gear, and clothing.
“They will be greeted with a smile,” Singleton assures yard sale buyers. “We will have our stuffed priced low to go.”