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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

DREAM CENTER OF PICKENS COUNTY

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Counseling, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Homeless Shelters, Human Services, Mental Health, Thrift Shops

Mission: The Dream Center exists to encourage, educate, and empower people in need through the love of Jesus Christ. The Opportunity Village exists to provide shelter for the homeless while empowering and equipping them to achieve a healthy lifestyle of self-sufficiency while following the programs of The Dream Center.

Results: The Dream Center has served 1,608 walk-ins since January, 2015 with 706 of them being homeless. These are people who are in crisis related to poverty. Over 50 free classes a month on topics such as parenting, budgeting, Bible study, and anger management are offered free of charge. In addition to gaining valuable knowledge, clients earn Dream Dollars by attending classes. These Dream Dollars can be redeemed for use of the showers, laundry facilities, personal hygiene items or can be used to purchase clothing and household items in our two resale stores.

Target demographics: Individuals and families in poverty

Geographic areas served: The Upstate of South Carolina

Programs: Assisted over 1,600 individuals since January, 2015, many of whom were homeless. Free classes are available on topics such as budgeting, parenting, healthy cooking, Bible study, exercise, and more. The Dream Center operates a one of a kind homeless shelter program called The Opportunity Village which opened in March, 2017. The Opportunity Village consists of 23 tiny houses and 10 transitional houses. Legacy sponsorships are available. Additionally, The Dream Center operates the Santa Shoppe Assistance Program. Parents needing assistance are given the opportunity to attend classes to enrich their lives and earn credit used to purchase their children's gifts in the Santa Shoppe. Parents are also given the opportunity to wrap their own gifts and experience the blessedness of earning for their own children. As of 2018, 32 schools from Pickens and Anderson District One schools are referring parents to the program. Since Christmas 2014, 100% of participants say they do not want to return to one way assistance at Christmas. Every program of The Dream Center is designed to offer a hand UP instead of a hand out with a focus on long term transformation.

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

The programs developed by The Dream Center are reversing homelessness one person at a time. The Opportunity Village homeless shelter program has 23 tiny houses and 10 transitional houses but the real change comes from the curriculum and team of support that surrounds each person who lives there. I’m excited to see the life transformation and blessed to donate my money to support this place.

Jim A.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a mentor supporting a resident of their transitional shelter, I have had opportunity to see the reality of meeting needs in receiving a neighbor in crisis. Walking with them as they earn sustainable living. The myriad of contributing factors that keep someone trapped in poverty is a lot. But what I see at The Dream Center is a solid commitment to taking the time required to help train, discuss and take single action steps at a time to produce a new result. The two foundational factors that seem to work the best are relationship and empowerment. Relationship is not as easy as it sounds and takes training and commitment on both sides to work through hidden languages and cultural differences between socioeconomic influences. Empowering someone to believe they can do more is really trying to change a whole way of thinking from the inside out. The Dream Center program works because they meet our neighbors where they are and they stabilize the immediate crisis, providing a refuge and time to work in changing mindset and giving space to discuss and encourage new choices, producing different life results. What has surprised me the most is how much I have learned about myself and my pre-conceived notions about someone facing poverty. How much I was being governed by personal fears. Having a trained, safe, supported environment to engage in this service to my neighbor has changed my life, my whole way of seeing others. The amount of energy and resources The Dream Center staff pours into each person coming into their facility is tremendous. Everyone on staff, from the top to the bottom is on the same sheet of music and values everyone that comes through their doors. A community of love, support and commitment - not easy, but effective.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at The Dream Center and they have a wonderful program. They help people who are homeless get the help they need with dignity and respect. Clients earn the things they need by attending classes. They even have a tiny house village where clients can live and work to gain skills to live on their own. People at The Dream Center give folks a hand up. They are truly making a difference.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such a great place! They are doing amazing work to help the homeless!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The dream center helps so many people by giving them a hand up instead of a hand out!! I love seeing the lives that are changed there daily

Alison U.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing facility that makes a difference in our community!

awilson94

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love everything about the dream center. They have such amazing hearts and are willing to help anyone in need.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Having visited the Dream Center and taken a tour, it is obvious that their "Hand Up - NOT a Hand Out" value system is working beautifully to transform lives! The fact that they offer the participants classes to help them with a variety of skills needed for success in life and work is evidence that this nonprofit understands the value of education. The participants are also able to earn "dream bucks" so that they can purchase clothing and household items available at the two Dream Center stores. This instills values of effort, responsibility, and self-discipline and defeats any promotion of sense of entitlement. While attending a fundraiser, the most important value I saw was genuine love for the participants. It is clear that this nonprofit truly cares about others and is on a mission to not only overcome tremendous obstacles and prepare the participants for a bright future but also help them develop character that will serve them well throughout life!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have witnessed The Dream Center change so many lives through their Hand Up method. They empower their clients by showing the love of Christ to others by loving others as yourself. I have seen individuals walk out of the building with hope and confidence, which is what The Dream Center strives to do on a daily basis. Pickens County, as well as the entire upstate of South Carolina, are so blessed to have an organization like The Dream Center to educate others and empower them at the same time.

Alex O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Awesome place with amazing people who are sharing the love of Jesus with everyone who comes through the doors!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In a time where there seems to be so much negativity in the world, there is one place that is a guiding light of positive love. The Dream Center in Easley, SC is a place where love, hope, and peace descends like a gentle spring rain. As a volunteer, I have first hand experience of how individuals are given a hand up. This agency is truly the hands and feet of Christ.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have loved being able to serve under and alongside those at the Dream Center. This place is truly incredible not only for the welcoming staff but also in the length they go to in order to help those in need. In the short few months of volunteering with them, I have seen firsthand how well they love their clients and residents. When people come in the door they are greeted with kindness and treated with respect. I truly believe in their hand up instead of a hand out method because of the transformation that occurs within those in need. The Dream Center has created an example for those in the surrounding areas when it comes to helping those in need and playing a part in eradicating poverty.

Donor

Rating: 5

The Dream Center helps people who are homeless or in poverty through a hand up not a hand out! Through free classes and an $8 Dream Dollar incentive for each class taken, The Dream Center teaches their clients how to be self sufficient. The $8 Dream Dollars earned for every class can be used to purchase personal hygiene items, use of laundry facilities, use of shower facilities, and they can go to either thrift store to purchase clothing, furniture, household items or any appliances they may need. The Dream Center truly loves their clients and walks alongside them in their journey to help them become self sufficient!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with this non-profit for almost 4 years. I can say without a doubt The Dream Center goes above and beyond what any non-profit I have ever seen do. They genuinely care about helping people beyond what their immediate needs may be. They want to see real change in people's lives and they do that by offering a hand up versus a hand out. This model is life-changing!! I personally grew up in poverty and if there would have been a non-profit like this around my life growing up would have been much different. Thankful for these people and this wonderful organization!

Board Member

Rating: 4

I have served as a volunteer, board member and business advisor with several non-profits and foundations that address human service needs. The most exciting of these are faith-based organizations that provide housing, education, mentoring, and counseling to those people who are often overlooked in our communities. The Dream Center of Pickens County (South Carolina) is a unique organization of over 330 volunteers and staff in the process of developing resources to expand their mission in this rural area of upstate South Carolina. So far this year (2017) they have served 438 walk-ins, of which 235 were homeless. The Dream Center is special in that they own and operate a repurposed public school building to house 8 other faith-based non-profit human service groups and offer educational classes. This is in addition to 23 transitional homes and 10 independent living homes all of which serves as "a hand up and not a hand out" to restore lives.

My wife and I have been blessed through our service at the Dream Center by new and growing relationships with the enthusiastic staff and volunteers. We develop friendships with the homeless people in our neighborhoods. We have seen lives transformed through the educational programs, work projects, and mentoring sessions. The Dream Center of Pickens County is clearly blessed by God to help those in need of encouragement and physical and spiritual support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The county of Pickens, SC is so blessed to have the Dream Center as part of the community. Empowering people to reach their highest potential by helping them to understand their value and worth is what this organization succeeds in doing on a daily basis. Lives are being forever changed and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve as a volunteer here.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with The Dream Center since the first year it opened. I absolutely love the hand up, not hand out philosophy. The first year the Santa Shoppe opened, I watched a lady buy her kids Christmas gifts with Dream dollars she had earned herself. She did this by participating in classes for the number of children she had. These classes range from budgeting, to exercise to self image, etc. This lady cried the entire time she shopped. She wasn't the only one crying. I was, too. She said she had never been able to buy her kids Christmas. This was very rewarding for this lady because she earned the Dream Dollars. This was as much rewarding for me since I had watched her work hard and accomplish this. The Dream Center is a wonderful place to be accepted no matter your situation. There is a lot of love and grace shown here.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I serve as a volunteer at the Resale Stores for the Dream Center. These stores serve our community by having 100%of the profits go directly back into the Dream Center programs. I serve alongside friends, new and old. I have the opportunity to talk with both customers as well as our clients spending the Dream dollars they have earned by attending self improvement classes.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Dream Center goes above and beyond in serving their community. The staff and volunteers really understand what it means to put others first while empowering people to live better lives.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Dream Center has experienced measurable success in helping people change their lives. I have been volunteering for 4 years and have been blown away by the many lives that have been impacted in that short time. The programs are a model for addressing homelessness and other crisis issues associated with poverty.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Dream Center has had an unbelievable impact on Easley and on Pickens County! Their "hand up, not hand out" methodology is impactful on people in need and empowers them to reach their goals and in turn, give back to others. This investment in people allows those in need to access service that can help with people who care, and break the cycle that they are in. The people that the Dream Center helps are not just being provided with a short-term physical fix, but a long-term plan with accountability partners who help them stay on track. I can't talk enough about how much Easley has benefitted from having this organization. Love the Dream Center!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Love your neighbor as yourself. Go and tell. Be the hands and feet. Care for the needy. Change lives. All describe the heart of the Dream Center. I can give my time/talents/money anywhere but giving it where it does the most good is why I serve here. Seeing long term results in lives not just feeling good about what I have done is what true impact is and is what happens here !

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I recently participated in a fashion show fundraiser for the center. I was honored to be on stage with ladies from the community and male and female clients of the center alike. The inspiring testimonies of these clients were applauded by the audience. One story that was most impactful was from a woman in her 60s whose life has been changed by the education, resources and support of this amazing place. She said that she had never experienced the love shown to her from family or friends or anyplace in her life that she's felt at the Dream Center. That statement says it all. The staff is unbelievably loving and focused on serving their community by giving people a hand up not a hand out. And the pride from being empowered by that philosophy was evident in the stories shared on stage the day of the show!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been the director of 2 different non-profits in Nashville, TN when we were at Vanderbilt. I wish I had the wisdom it took to develop a Dream Center there, for I think it is the most progressive non-profit with which I have been involved!! It is an organization that surely gives a "hand-up" not a hand-out, for the clients attend classes where they get the knowledge they need to profit from a "hand-up". Bible studies are even taught if the client chooses to attend!! Whether they are adults or children, the Dream Center treats the whole family, giving both tutoring and sports help for the children who are homeless--and for the adults, who earn points by attending classes on addiction, budgeting, interviewing, dressing for success, education, etc. and can spend these points at the clothes closet and gift centers at the Center--or for living in a "little house" which the Easley, SC Dream Center has built--I believe there are 23. The clients are also shown TLC by the staff and volunteers--and respond accordingly!! I think the Easley, SC Dream Center gives a total hands up to their clients, meeting their needs --and adding more ways to help as needed!! This is one of the very best run non-profits with which I have been associated. Chris Wilson, the Director, and her staff and Board, do a tremendous job in helping their clients in every way!!They have certainly helped so many people--Just recently, they had a fashion show and brunch fund raiser that was attended by TV personalities , and where some of their residents modeled and allowed their stories to be told!! It was fantastic!! TAlk about building self-confidence!! Most sincerely, Nancy M. Bennett, PO Box 1604--Clemson, SC 29633

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From the people who serve and volunteer here as well as the work that the Dream Center does and how they impact our community for good, this organization is by far the most outstanding nonprofit I have ever had the opportunity to serve through! I have served through several nonprofits over the years and I don't leave this place without a smile on my face and an uplifted spirit - EVER! So empowering, refreshing, uplifting, real, honest, truth-filled place.

Robert F.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The dream center is an amazing place with amazing staff they have helped change my life to one of hopelessness to a life filled with hope.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have watched the Dream Center grow and help in many different ways, in my local city. The lesson of Hand Up not Hand Out, has been the most exceptional gift that has been given to so many in our county. Just watching the joy and listening to experiences from those who came to the Dream Center of looking for a different way to do life. Knowing that they are given the tools to succeed in every aspect of life, is a lesson that God meant for all of us, and that is exactly what they are taught. The Dream Center in my opinion is exactly what LOVE looks like!

I Love Watching the Joy

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at the Dream Center, I've seen the awesome passion that everyone at the Dream Center has for the Pickens community. They have a faith-based mission to give a hand up to those in need, rather than a hand out. This approach requires thought, effort, and a heart for others that the people at the Dream Center consistently and abundantly give to everyone who walks in the door. They focus on building relationships, which allows them to both show love and provide accountability to clients. This gives Dream Center clients a chance to get a solid foundation that they can build a new life on, rather than a temporary fix. The people at the Dream Center go above and beyond for the Pickens community through the model that Jesus has set out for his disciples and followers. I cannot recommend the Dream Center enough to our community as an awesome way to get involved and volunteer in a program that fosters real life change. Love the Dream Center!