Family Service Center offers help for families in need

With this economy, hard times are felt by all and it's not always easy to find a helping hand.

There's one organization that has been helping families for nearly 200 years and most of it's services are free.

From special needs adoption services and budget/credit counseling to dental and eye care, the Family Service Center in Columbia has been listening to families and helping them get through and avoid crises.

"We do have people in pain from a tooth or have a home foreclosed, and we address those issues, but try to get to the root of the problem," Russell Knight said.

Housing counselor Tuck Self also helps with the center. Her services are free.

"Most people don't know how to handle their credit, how to handle their debt, don't know how to handle their finances," Self said. "It's no big deal that you don't know."

Self helps people figure out how they can keep their house or helps them find other options.

"We may can work with their lender to get the loan modification. We may can submit them for the Hardest Hit Funds program. We may talk to them about how they can improve their budgetary skills to actually pull themselves out of the trouble," Self said.

The center also helps families with children who've been through the foster care system.

"Just because a kid is no longer in foster care doesn't mean they don't need support to continue and it doesn't mean the trauma they suffered is gone," Debra Beecken said.

Beecken used to be a case worker for children in foster care. Now she and her husband are foster parents and she's adopted two children.

"It has completely changed my life, definitely for the better," Beecken said. "Doesn't mean life's always easy because again the children's trauma doesn't go away."

More than 4,000 children in South Carolina are in foster care and Beecken uses workshops to help parents and children adjust.

"They've left everybody they knew behind and it's very difficult for children to deal with that, their security is gone," Beecken said.

For families in need, the center offers an array of services to give back hope -- they just have to know where to go.

On Sunday, May 20, the center will hold an event called "Evening of Family Ties" to celebrate the center's 196th anniversary. For more information about this event, visit the center's website.

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