By Jeannie Colson for The Island Connection
Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services Inc. (OLMCOS), a nonprofit that has become a staple in the Sea Islands and downtown Charleston communities, is celebrating its 30-year anniversary in September.
Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, OLMCOS has been an anchor in the Sea Island community since 1989. Founded just two weeks before Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston, OLMCOS quickly became a direct relief center, helping hundreds of families rebuild their homes and lives from the destruction left after the storm.
Determined to create solutions that address the root causes of poverty and not just the immediate crisis, OLMCOS developed programs focused on the needs of the whole person that propel people toward self-sufficiency. From its small beginning in a tiny house on Edenvale Road, the organization moved to Brownswood Road and incorporated the Neighborhood House at 77 America St. in 2005, which has been serving the east side of downtown Charleston for over 100 years.
Today, OLMCOS dedicates itself to address the root causes of poverty and create systemic change by providing basic and emergency resources, education and health programs to those living on James, Johns and Wadmalaw islands and the east side of downtown Charleston. This year alone, 6,862 people have been impacted by OLMCOS’ services and programs – the most of any year in history.
To celebrate this 30-year milestone, OLMCOS hosted a community oyster roast on Sept. 21 at the Brownswood Road location.
Guests enjoyed local oysters, barbecue and Lowcountry fixings, live music from Emerald Empire, yard games and beer from Low Tide Brewing.
“Being a consistent, safe space for our communities to receive needed services, to help break generational cycles of poverty and simply remind individuals and families that they not only deserve the life of self-sufficiency that they seek but that we will be here to help is a great honor for us. We are excited to celebrate 30 years of accomplishments with our community,” said Ericka Plater, executive director of Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach.
Founded in 1989, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach provides educational, health and direct outreach services to more than 6,000 people each year in the Lowcountry. With the support of volunteers and donations, community members receive dental and prenatal care, emergency food, clothing and financial assistance, lunch five days a week at Neighborhood House and diverse educational and capacity-building opportunities such as after-school programs, money management, GED and ESL classes, workforce development and more. For more information, visit olmoutreach.org.