Next Steps of South Carolina (NSSC)
Next Step Program
The Next Step Program is a self-help program that promotes change, dignity, and self-reliance in people who are in need.
Our Organization is called Next Steps of South Carolina (NSSC) and operates under the Department of Social Ministries of the Diocese of South Carolina. We work with Christian churches to form NSSC Affiliates in communities throughout South Carolina.
- Is composed of a group of Cooperative Churches working together in their community.
- Provides the core support for their Next Step Program through Cooperative Church members’ donating their time, talent, and treasure.
- Has a Next Step Program Board of Directors that is made up of Cooperative Church members and a Cooperative Church Council that is made up of representatives of each of the Cooperative Churches in the community.
Our Vision Transforming lives through Jesus Christ—one conversation at a time.
Our Mission, NSSC is a Christ-centered, all-volunteer ministry that uses the Next Step Program to inspire and equip congregation members in the cities and rural areas of South Carolina to cooperatively help the poor in their communities to make positive changes in their lives: (a) emotionally by listening to their hopes and fears, (b) physically by linking them to employment and social resources, and (c) spiritually by sharing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ.
NSSC Samaritan Mentors and Lazarus Mentors are the principal Cooperative Church volunteers working with the Affiliate’s Next Step Program. These Mentors meet with the poor and disfranchised (Program “Participants”) to set personal goals. They then break down each goal so that the Participant can pursue each of his/her goals one step at a time. Participant goals often involve employment, housing, family life, and medical or addiction issues.
Why “Samaritan” Mentors? In the story about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, Jesus asks “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” [The lawyer] said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” So should we do in our communities today!
Why “Lazarus” Mentors? In a story in Luke 16:19-31 about a rich man who ignored the suffering of a poor man named Lazarus, Jesus taught that the people who are now first will be last and that those who are now last will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no doubt that Jesus sees and values those people who are “invisible” in this world and that he will lift them to a special place in God’s kingdom. So should we do in our communities today!
Most Participants will have incomes below the poverty line and approximately 40 percent will be homeless or at significant risk of becoming homeless. We work with anyone who wants to make positive changes in his or her life. And we work with people as long as they need help and want to participate in the Next Step Program. We help them set and take Next Steps toward their goals, providing encouragement, needed information and referrals, and other resources that will help them to reach their goals.
Our experience is that this approach supports opportunities for success and is a way of overcoming barriers to the achievement of personal goals. Many Participants don’t feel like they have a track record of success when they come to the Next Step Program. We try to help them identify their strengths and build on them, one Step at a time. Next Step Program Volunteers are encouraged to befriend and pray with Participants, and invite them to Church events and worship. By so doing, Participants and Volunteers find themselves walking with God and opening their hearts to the gifts of the Holy Spirit--compassion, kindness, patience, meekness, and humility.
Employment and Social Services that Samaritan and Lazarus Mentors help Participants access include referrals for employment, skills training, resume writing, housing, obtaining government-issued identification papers, mental health and counseling, HIV/AIDS retreats and group support, substance abuse and treatment, grief support, health service and information, and much more.
Other Resources Next Steps Participants receive may include such things as a valid photo ID, interview clothes, hygiene and food products, transportation assistance, and a place to use the phone, the Internet, and receive phone messages and mail.
Other NSSC Volunteer Opportunities include:
Although the Diocese of South Carolina offers the Next Steps of South Carolina (NSSC) Next Step Program database tools and volunteer training at no cost to Christian churches in South Carolina communities, each Affiliate will need funds to operate its Next Step Program.
NSSC is indebted to Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (www.samaritanministry.com), Lazarus Ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA (www.historicchristchurch.org), and The Cooperative Ministry, Columbia, SC (www.coopmin.org) for allowing us to pattern our Next Step Program after their successful ministries.
(Last modified 5/22/2013)