For nearly 25 years, Meg's House in Greenwood has been a place where victims of domestic violence could find shelter and the help they need to rebuild broken lives. Since opening its doors in 1990, Meg's has welcomed Lander University students as volunteers working alongside the paid staff and helping provide services primarily to women and their dependent children.
Melissa Searles, standing, a domestic violence counselor at Meg's House in Greenwood, gives instructions to four Lander University students who volunteered at the shelter. Seated from left, Jade Nathaniel, of Columbia; Ashley Ferguson, of Walterboro; Chanique Haynes, of Summerville, and Rose Cox, of Greenwood. Haynes and Cox graduated from Lander on April 20.
Meg's is not named after an individual; its initials stand for McCormick, Edgefield and Greenwood. Over the years, Meg's has had four Lander graduates on its payroll and there are two remaining. Dr. Alice Hodges is the executive director, and Candace Timmerman is the HUD case manager for a program providing housing for chronically homeless individuals with disabilities.
Hodges graduated in 2000 from the University Center in Greenville, a former Lander affiliate, and went on to earn a doctorate in human services with a counseling studies specialization at Capella University. She's been associated with Meg's since 1994, and worked there part time while a Lander student.
For Timmerman, who received a political science degree in 2009, her first exposure to Meg's was when she accepted a Lander work-study assignment at the agency. She said that experience prompted her to stay on in a full time position.
Hodges said about 100 women and over 150 children receive services at Meg's each year. In addition to children, some women bring pets and they are also cared for on the property. The women can remain in the emergency shelter for up to 60 days; they are fed, clothed, and receive counseling including legal advocacy, career planning and more.
Meg's gets its funding from a variety of sources including federal and state governments, Greenwood-Abbeville and Edgefield United Ways, foundations, businesses, churches, social clubs and individuals, including schoolchildren. In addition to cash, support comes in the form of donated items such as clothing, food, personal care items and toys. Labor and supplies are also donated for many of the repairs and maintenance of its facilities.
Hodges said, "Community support is vital to our mission. Supplies and services that are donated allow us to spend money we budget for those items on more critical needs."
Meg's has 14 paid staff; Lander students are among the 100 volunteers who, according to Hodges, donate 500 hours a year performing various tasks.
Lander student organizations also collect donations and supplies. And they conduct a weeklong observance on campus each October to focus attention on domestic violence and the startling scope of the problem in South Carolina and across the country.
Rose Cox, of Greenwood, and Chanique Haynes, of Summerville, are among the Lander interns at Meg's. Cox, who majored in English and professional writing, and Haynes, a business major, both graduated on April 20. They performed a variety of volunteer jobs ranging from operating the crisis telephone line, interacting with children at the shelter, participating in fundraising activities and acting as spokespersons for the agency.
Cox said, "I am very passionate about domestic violence and I feel I can make a
difference." She used her education as a writer to assist clients with journaling as a means of developing coping skills. Cox spent about 10 hours a week at Meg's and said she hopes to continue her affiliation with the shelter after graduation.
Haynes said she became involved because she knows somebody who was a victim of domestic violence. She, too, viewed her internship as a way to help the women and children at Meg's recover from their devastating experiences.
Two other Lander students worked at the shelter during the spring semester: Jade Nathaniel, a freshman nursing student from Columbia, was a volunteer, and Ashley Ferguson, of Walterboro, a junior psychology major, was on a work study assignment.
Meg's usually has one Lander intern each semester. Hodges said, while the interns gain valuable work experience, they add insight to Meg's programs based on their worldview and personal backgrounds.