BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – Two Lowcountry nonprofit agencies are joining forces to better serve the community.

Bluffton Self Help and The Literacy Center have agreed to merge their services to dramatically expand the availability of basic education and training programs, in order to meet the growing needs of the economically at-risk in Beaufort and Jasper counties.

“There are over 500 nonprofits in Beaufort County alone,” explains Doug Adamson, board chairman for Bluffton Self Help. “And the growing need we have for people that are at risk. The fact we have 500 non-profits do good work is understood, but we just can’t keep up with that need. So combining two organizations with the strength and history that these two organizations have just made sense.”

Nearly six in 10 households in Beaufort County and three out of four in Jasper County are not earning a living wage, and are just one mishap away from a financial crisis.

That’s why combining services and bringing better access to more folks throughout the area is a golden opportunity, according to both agencies.

“It gives us access for our students to learn in different areas where we don’t have a position in that place,” says Don Brashears, board chairman for The Literacy Center. “So it has opened doors for us, opened doors for our staff, and also opened doors for our students.”

“Strategically joining forces with The Literacy Center will enhance access to adult education, English literacy, and career preparation throughout our Lowcountry community,” said Adamson. “Bluffton Self Help and The Literacy Center are the perfect examples of two organizations coming together, leveraging their combined strengths, and working together to build a stronger community,” Adamson said.

The merger brings expanded access to a broader array of programs and services. The combined organization will now operate in four locations in Beaufort and Jasper counties – two in Bluffton, one each in Hilton Head and Hardeeville.

With transportation being one of the leading challenges in the region for economically at-risk residents, this is one more way that Bluffton Self Help can save neighbors’ critical time, and support them on their pathway to personal success.

“People who are coming here want to know what are our standards,” explains Brashears. “And we can teach them that at Literacy, and get them qualified for the local workforce.”

In its nearly 80 years in operation, The Literacy Center has helped people from 26 different countries learn the language and become self-sufficient.

“They come with medical credentials in some cases, legal credentials in some others,” explains Brashears. “And they can’t use them here because they don’t speak English. So we are giving them the facility to be able to qualify for level jobs that are beneath their level. But they will get there. We know that.”

“I have three folks I have hired as employees and we have placed at least four in one of the local car dealerships. I expect that to continue.”

Coming out of an economic and health crisis that threatened the lives and livelihoods of people already struggling to survive, a new and different response is called for.

Bluffton Self Help is taking the lead in facilitating responses to community needs by strengthening and formalizing its network of partnering agencies, area leaders, donors, and volunteers, in order to help build a stronger foundation of high-quality services fostering good health, personal development, job placement, financial stability and career advancement.

“Because if we can give people a chance to contribute all that they can contribute to their communities,” said Adamson. “If we can give them an opportunity to develop self-sufficiency, and ultimately if we can give them an opportunity to find personal success. Whatever that means to the individual. Then we have been successful.”

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