Community Builder: Social worker serves Midlands' homeless and beyond

Community Builder: Social worker serves Midlands' homeless and beyond
Source: WIS
Source: WIS

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia woman Charmaine Primus has a heart for meeting the basic needs of people all over the Midlands.
Primus started a nonprofit to help the homeless more than 15 years ago, but has also made it her mission to make sure students at her Richland One school don't go without.
Once a week students at WG Sanders Middle School fill backpacks for students for a project called NEAR.
"NEAR actually stands for Nutrition Equals Academic Readiness," said Primus, who is a social worker at WG Sanders Middle School. "Because the snacks are healthy, the kids join the club because they are interested in healthy snacks to make them smarter."
The snacks are also there for students who may otherwise go without. Primus helped bring the program to Sanders nearly four years ago.
"Every Friday after lunch, the Montessori students who are a part of the community service group, they come and they pack the NEAR project students' backpacks," said Primus.
Primus has empowered the students to work together to organize the project, which is what they were doing when Matt Mungo from Mungo Homes surprised her with the news that she's our latest Community Builder. 
"I just wanted to say because of all your work, not only with the backpack program here at WG Sanders, but all you do to help homelessness in the community, you have been nominated and chosen as a Community Builder," said Mungo. "You will get a $1,000 check to the charity of your choice."
Primus, in shock, threw her arms around Mungo and said "Thank you." With Mungo was Primus' nominator, Janice Johnson. She said Primus' work inside the school is just the tip of the iceberg.
"Over the year Ms. Primus, Charmaine, has progressively attended to the basic needs of people in general," said Johnson.
She started the non-profit Restoration in 1999 to feed Columbia's homeless and hungry in Finlay Park. She's also traveled across the world to help those in need in South Africa.
"She's a person of service, she's a missionary and she's a jewel," added Johnson.
For Primus, it's a chance to live out her calling inspired by something bigger than herself.
"It's a mission, so I would say definitely my faith and my belief in God," Primus said about her inspiration. "I think as an educator, you're responsible for doing more than just what is on your job description. When we talk about education, we're not just talking about educating on the inside, we don't leave out our community. I really think this is just part of my checklist, it's not extra, it's nothing extra done. It should be something we all feel inspired to do and I hope that's what I'm doing."
Primus said her $1,000 donation from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation will go to help Restoration continue to provide for the homeless.

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