The staff of Foothills Family Resources may be small — three full-time employees and one working part-time — but they bring years of experience and deep local roots to their mission of improving the quality of life in northern Greenville County. The nonprofit is a gateway to crisis services like assistance with food, shelter and utilities. Its Center for Working Families offers financial counseling, education and workforce development to prepare residents for financial security.
“We make up for our small numbers in passion for our work,” said Marilyn Neves, who became executive director in November 2019. “We’ve been here for 34 years, and remain just as committed to providing services to our community as we did on our first day. If we can’t address their needs internally, we certainly will find a partner who can.”
Neves spent 30 years as a television and print producer before joining the nonprofit sector. She volunteered at FFR for many years before becoming director of community outreach. Now, in addition to serving as executive director and primary fundraiser, she and all of her staff and volunteers coach one-on-one classes with students in the Center for Working Families and the Probation/Parole Program for ex-offenders.
“I grew up in this area, and my dad retired from the Slater Mill, just across the street from our building. I have very fond memories of this community and still live 10 minutes away from the office,” she said.
Like other nonprofits, FFR has had to find ways to meet community needs — some greater than before COVID-19 — while protecting the safety and health of employees and clients.
“Most of our partner agencies are still working from home, so it seems like we’re even more remote than before,” Neves said. “We closed for three weeks in April at the urging of our board, but couldn’t wait to get back for our clients who needed food, SNAP services, rent/utility and Medicaid assistance.”
FFR now serves two clients in the lobby at a time, with masks and custom dividers that allow staff to safely help clients complete applications and access assistance.
“We’ve seen more people here for our Food Pantry than before the virus, and expect even more now that SNAP benefits have gone back down to their original amounts,” Neves said. “We expect to also see a dramatic increase in the need for help with rent and utilities, since the power companies had a ‘no disconnect’ policy for over two months. Those who weren’t thinking long-term will now owe for any bills before the policy change, as well as what has accrued during the grace period.”
The organization is applying for grants to cover as many of these needs as possible. Donations are always welcome, but particularly critical now with increased demand for crisis and employment services.
“We are not federally funded, and rely on grants and individual donors to allow us to continue offering our services,” Neves said. “Because we operate on a lean budget, we constantly try to find ways to stretch our dollars.”
The Community Foundation of Greenville recently provided a $5,000 grant to FFR as part of its initial pandemic response to get emergency funding to relief agencies covering all areas of the county.
“Over its history, Foothills Family Resources has earned the trust of the community,” said Bob Morris, president of the Community Foundation of Greenville, “and an unrestricted gift was appropriate as they look to serve more families amidst the current health and economic crisis.”
Neves’s dreams for FFR are many: a program to provide food and activities for seniors; help with unemployment and Social Security to save clients a trip into Greenville; childcare for students and clients of the Center for Working Families; and reliable public transportation in the area for clients trying to hold down jobs.
“I’m constantly looking for additional ways we can help our residents thrive and have happier, more stress-free lives,” Neves said. “We hope to be able to provide the support and services needed by our residents for many years to come.”
For more information, visit foothillsfamilyresources.org.
Foothills Family Resources believes that all those served:
- Deserve to feel loved
- Should be served by a humble heart
- Have the right to experience happiness to their full potential
- Have gifts and talents beyond even their own understanding