Thursday, May 11, 2017

The 411 on Conservatorships

You probably know Origin SC for their housing stability services.  Or perhaps you have participated in workshops in our financial education programs. In honor of mental health awareness month, Origin SC would like to highlight the hard work of our Conservator Department.

You may be wondering, what exactly is a Conservator? In the State of South Carolina, a Conservator is appointed by Probate Court when an adult has been deemed to be incapacitated.  This may include one who suffers from a mental or physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, or other cause to the extent that the individual is unable to make responsible decisions concerning their financial affairs. 

The purpose of a Conservatorship is to identify and secure all assets in order to protect the individual from possible exploitation or financial mismanagement.  A budget is then established with both the immediate and long-term needs in mind.  A Conservator determines what benefits the individual might be eligible for (Medicaid, VA benefits, etc) and would handle the application process.   The goal of a Conservatorship is to protect the client’s assets while still allowing as much independence for the client as is medically and financially possible.  

The Court generally looks for a family member to serve in this role for the incapacitated adult – however, sometimes there is no one willing or appropriate to serve in this role.  That’s when the Court appoints an independent agency – and that is where Origin’s Conservator Department steps in.  Oftentimes, when there is discord among the family, it is beneficial to have an independent agency handle the financial affairs to take the pressure off of family members.  

Assets may include cash, bank and investment accounts, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, real estate, automobiles, preneed arrangements, etc. The Conservator must file an Inventory and Appraisement within the first 30 days, then files Annual Accountings to the Court detailing all transactions and assets.  They often must meet with the client and family and testify in Court hearings as well.  

There is a second type of Conservatorship – one to protect the assets in excess of $10,000 received by a minor.  These funds can be received from an inheritance, insurance proceeds or personal injury settlement. These funds will be managed by the Conservator until the child reaches the age of 18.  No funds can be released before that time without Court approval.

Signs that an individual might need a conservatorship include:

Withdrawing or giving away large sums of money for no identifiable reason,

entering lotteries or sweepstakes,

demonstrating a pattern of late and non-payment of bills,

buying personal property that is not needed

While in the conservatorship program, our counselors:

Develop and implement a financial management plan for the client

Advocate on behalf of the client with creditors to ensure payment of debts

Provide options for pre-need planning of funeral arrangements

And, liquidate and/or consolidate assets such as selling a home or vehicle.

If you suspect that an individual may be in need of a Conservatorship, you can contact the local Office of Adult Protective Services or your local police department.  You can also contact Iris Albright, the Director of the Conservator Department, at (843) 735-7830.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Health Care Reform and Our Clients

With the new administration, the topic of healthcare has been at the top of the debate list. The proposed health care reform significantly affects three major groups of Origin SC’s clientele. Older Americans, mental health patients, and victims of domestic violence are among those who may soon have a more difficult time finding affordable coverage.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

Origin SC’s representative payee and conservator departments work with seniors and individuals receiving mental health services. Our Family Violence Intervention Program works with individuals who have physical conditions resulting from rape or battery. Many of these clients also struggle with mental disorders such as depression or PTSD resulting from abuse. Under the proposed American Health Care Act, these types of services will not be covered under public health care.

The second provision that would put Origin clients at risk is the elimination of protection for people with pre-existing conditions. In the world of medical insurance, the term pre-existing condition is not limited to conditions that one is born with. A pre-existing condition is defined as any health problem that was present before the start of an insurance plan. This can include innate conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or blindness. It can also include conditions that developed later in life but before the insurance policy began. Some of these conditions may already be part of your family’s history and have come about genetically. Others are a result from a traumatic event such as rape or paralysis resulting from a car accident.

Innate mental disability, socio-emotional disorders, and physical conditions resulting from traumatic events are all in the category of pre-existing conditions. Under the Affordable Care Act, people with pre-existing conditions were protected by a provision preventing companies from refusing coverage or increasing rates based on such histories. The proposed American Health Care Act would take away this legislation and would allow states to regulate protections to the degree that they individually determine.

The United States House of Representatives has passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday, May 4. The bill still has to come before the Senate, but Republican Senators have stated that they do not plan to vote in favor of the bill written. Rather, a 12-member Senate committee has been working on  drafting another health care reform bill. To alert your senators about your concerns with the potential changes, reach out to them at their contact info below:

Senator Tim Scott

Senator Lindsey Graham

Meet the Staff: Tracy Strickland


I had a good friend that was an attorney that worked with Origin SC. (At that time, known as Family Services,  Inc.)  She knew I was unhappy at the Law Firm I was working at and thought I would be good fit in this organization.  I applied and here I am. 

Since working here and doing what I do, I have planned and prepared for my future!  

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

I have been most surprised by how the organization has grown since I started. I am also amazed by the re-branding we underwent last summer.

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

Being a single parent.  I was able to learn how to be a strong independent woman!

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

Origin is known in this community for the good work that we do.  I have built very strong bonds with both co-workers, community leaders, attorneys and Judges from all over the State.  

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

My son!  I raised my son for the most part by myself.  He is now 26, a nuclear engineer and just got engaged.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meet Our AmeriCorps State and National Member: Sadie Frasier

AmeriCorps is an umbrella organization funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Within AmeriCorps, there are three distinct programs: AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), and AmeriCorps State and National. AmeriCorps State and National is the largest of these programs and has sites in every state and all U.S. territories.

AmeriCorps State and National awards grants to non-profits, faith and community based organizations, public agencies, Indian tribes, and institutions of higher education. Since 1994, more than 900,000 men and women have provided service as AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps State and National programs address community needs through a wide range of activities such as:
  • Training Citizens in disaster preparedness
  • Providing mitigation
  • Improving housing situations for economically disadvantaged people
  • Improving the school readiness of pre-k children
  • Improving the academic performance or engagement of K-12 students
  • Engaging in environmental protection work
  • Enhancing the quality of life for older or disabled adults
  • Increasing access to food resources
  • Engaging veterans and military families
Trident United Way's AmeriCorps Family Navigator Team

This is Origin SC's first year as an AmeriCorps State and National Host Site. Our AmeriCorps member is placed with us through Trident United Way's Family Navigators Program. In this program, AmeriCorps members use the Stepped Approach to assist clients in achieving financial stability. To learn more about the Family Navigators Program and the Stepped Approach, click here.

Origin SC is so fortunate to have Sadie Frasier as our AmeriCorps State and National Member this year. Read more about Sadie below.

Sadie Frasier, AmeriCorps State and National Member

Hometown: Hollywood, SC

Education: General Business, Limestone College

Favorite Hobbies: Crocheting and making pigtoe pillows and balls

Favorite Place to Visit: The beach or amusement parks, anywhere where there is NO snow or extreme cold temperatures!

Why she chose AmeriCorps: I chose AmeriCorps because I was interested in the work as well as the opportunity to receive an education award for my service.

What impact has this experience had on you?  I had no idea what to expect when I submitted my application. I started serving in schools educating parents of students on better budgeting and financial planning. Now, I am able to do the same thing at other nonprofits as well. I decided to serve a second year and was given the opportunity to work in a new school and a new agency. I can say that serving with AmeriCorps has been very rewarding. This experience allowed me to see my city in a different way and it opened my eyes to the needs of the people around me. I am so glad to be able to help people with their finances, health, and food security.

What has been your takeaway from your time at Origin SC? Serving at my agency, Origin SC, has been very enlightening. Before, I did not know of Origin and their services. This organization provides great services to the community. It has been overwhelming at times to hear and see the challenges faced by individuals and families facing homelessness. My takeaway is to be grateful for what you have. Seeing people at risk of losing everything or struggling to receive basic services has been a constant reminder of how much I am lucky to have. It is so important to remember that there are people with many more struggles than you. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Skinny Budget Woes: South Carolina Lowcountry could lose $1 million in federal funding; $61 million in direct investments

By now it is well known that the Trump Administration has released its proposed “skinny” budget. This legislation includes funding cuts for many domestic discretionary programs such as education, economic development, and transportation. One item on the chopping block is the Community Development Block Grant program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At first, one might think that this is just another administrative cut that has no direct effect on them. However, if this program is cut, taxpayers and communities across the nation will see a detrimental impact.

Housing and community well-being is a foundation contributor to the overall health of a community. Housing stability is a key factor in a family’s safety, health, educational achievement, and personal success. Simply put, when one is not in a stable housing situation, it is nearly impossible for him or her to flourish in any other area of life. Though the government may continue to invest in programs such as education, health care, and family affairs, all work in these areas is wasted effort without a stable housing situation for the families whom are served.

The Robert J. Wood Foundation recently issued County Health Rankings for every state. This information can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org. This study proves over and over that where a person lives influences how long he or she will live. The local level data makes it clear that good health is influenced by many factors—not just medical care itself. Housing is one of these factors. The Urban Institute has also released research at http://howhousingmatters.org which also demonstrates the critical linkage between housing stability and better education, communities, local economies, and more.

It is crucial that America invests in the bedrock of what makes our society stronger, smarter, and safer. Housing is much more than just shelter. Housing is the incubator for creating pathways to achieving the American Dream and social prosperity.

Case in point, the NeighborWorks Reinvestment Corporation, or “NeighborWorks America,” helps to support a wide network of 245 community-based nonprofits across the country. All NeighborWorks partner organizations focus on housing stability initiatives for families, veterans, immigrants, and seniors. Without this program, rural and urban communities across the nation would lose the critical investment that brings the private sector to the table to create housing opportunities for social mobility. Here are some statistics demonstrating NeighborWorks’ success in 2016 alone:

In 2016, Origin SC alone was able to:

Assist 557 first time homebuyers on their path to homeownership through education and coaching

Help 120 individuals close on their first home

Serve 1,169 in foreclosure prevention

Invest $51 million back into the community

Prevent 1,800 low-income, disabled individuals from facing homelessness.

According to the How Housing Matters study by the MacArthur Foundation, 63% of adults reported that they believe actions can and should be taken to make housing more affordable for more people. Additionally, a significant majority of voters across the political spectrum believe that it is responded that it is “very” or “fairly” important for elected leaders to take such action.

Each of us needs to reach out to our legislators and let them know why we value housing stability in our communities. They need to know about the impact that Origin SC and NeighborWorks America has had in South Carolina. Please write to your senators and representatives asking them to reject the program cuts proposed by the White House and to support the Community Development Block Grant program and Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (aka NeighborWorks America) “core” appropriation at $135 million. We need to specifically ask them to reach out to the THUD appropriation committee staff with a show of support.

Relevant contacts for South Carolina include:

Senator Tim Scott

Senator Lindsey Graham

Congressman James Clyburn

Congressman Mark Sanford

Congressman Jeff Duncan
Congressman Trey Gowdy

Congressman Tom Rice

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Meet the Staff: Jenna Johnson


When my husband was offered a job at an engineering firm in Charleston, it was hard for me to leave a job that I loved in Atlanta but the prospect of living in Charleston closer to family and near the coast was an easy “YES!” I stayed behind a month continuing to work and looked for jobs in Charleston’s nonprofit sector, but nothing immediately caught my eye. It wasn’t until I moved here that I stumbled upon a summer AmeriCorps VISTA position that I thought would be perfect as I got my feet wet in learning about the nonprofits here. I had another job offer on the table going in, but when Origin (then Family Services) offered me a full-time Marketing Coordinator position in place of the VISTA opportunity, I felt drawn here. I learned about the impact that this century-old organization had in the community, and how they seemed to be more behind-the-scenes. I wanted to change that and give them more exposure! 

Origin has progressed in ways that I could have never dreamed. Our programs have been remolded to fit the needs of the community, just as it has since 1888, and our services have modernized. It has been a unique experience and a privilege to be a part of the journey and the transformation.

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?

Nonprofits generally have a more “charity” and a little less “business” mindset. Obviously, nonprofits should be mission-driven, but without proper planning, many nonprofits fail. One thing that surprised me in working at Origin is the fact that it is run like a business. We look at numbers, not with profit in mind, but with sustainability in mind. How can we be sustainable for years to come so that we can continue to serve thousands of people in our community? Origin is constantly focused on answering that very question. 

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

There’s no way I can pick just one experience. Being a pastor’s daughter and a Christian shaped my desire to help individuals in my community find life and purpose. My experience as a Clemson Tiger shaped my worldview that there’s a much bigger world than what’s in my back yard, and to never give less than 110%. And I’d have to say that being married to my best friend and being a mom has changed me forever – my husband and daughter inspire me every day with their empathy and compassion. Both at different levels, but equally motivational.

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

This organization’s dream became my dream when I began working here five years ago. My experience in leading the rebranding project for our organization from start to finish was a very long career-defining moment. I had worked on large projects before, but nothing compares to leading a 128-year-old organization through strategic and creative planning that would impact it for years to come. It was not an easy job, and most of the time, it wasn’t even fun. But it was fulfilling. It means the world to me that this organization came together with all of its creative juices and expertise to whip up a name, image, and brand that reflects all facets of our mission. I learned my strengths, I worked through my weaknesses, and saw a dream become a reality. 

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

I am proud and yet so very humbled at what this organization has accomplished in the five years I have been here! It was a privilege to play a part in the rebranding project for Origin. It’s not every day that someone can say that. I am ready to see the next big thing Origin will take on! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Raising Interest Rates: What does it Mean for You?

Earlier this month, the United States Federal Reserve increased interest rates for the third time since the 2008 housing market crash. With the Federal Reserve being the center point for the entire nation’s monetary system, it is in your best interest to know what exactly the Federal Reserve does and what a raise in interest rates means for you.

So, what do they do?

The Federal Reserve (also known as “the Fed”) performs five general functions: conduct the nation’s monetary policy to promote maximum employment, promote the stability of the financial system, promote the safety and soundness of individual financial institutions, foster payment and settlement system safety and efficiency, and promote consumer protection and community development. To read a more about what the Fed can and cannot do, click here.

Ever since the recession of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been working to initiate economic growth that promotes both employment as well as inflation by lowering interest rates. This makes it easier for smaller, private banks to get money, and, therefore, easier for the public to establish lines of credit and take out important loans.

Upon recovery from the 2008 housing crash, banks were able to offer homebuyers more affordable mortgages that would not require them to pay an astronomical amount of interest over the course of their mortgage term. As the demand to purchase homes increased, so did their prices. Now, home prices are at an all-time high while interest rates remain considerably low.

Because of this, the Federal Reserve has decided to put more focus on increasing interest rates and controlling inflation, rather than homeownership promotion. The Fed’s Chair, Janet L. Yellen, told reporters that the Fed is still planning to move slowly and wait and see what tax and spending decisions are made by the new administration before making any new changes. Other economists are expecting the Federal Open Market Committee to vote to move more quickly with a series of interest rate increases throughout the rest of the year.

Ellen Zetner, Chief U.S. Economist at Morgan Stanley, a global financial services firm, expects the Fed to raise rates yet again in June.

So, what does this mean for you?

Though we cannot say for certain whether or not interest rates will increase further in the coming months, we can tell you whether a higher or lower interest rate leans more in your favor:

  • Higher: for those who wish to save their money; you will also see a higher return on your deposits over time.
  • Lower: for those who would like to take out a loan or make an investment; but be careful, you will be paying more in interest rates over time. Smaller loans, such as car loans, will see greater impact in interest rates than larger loans. Those with credit card debt will also benefit from a lower interest rate because, currently, high interest rates are causing close to a quarter of a percentage point increase in interest payments.
  • Either: longer-term loans, such as mortgages, will be affected either way, but the affects will be subtle.

These are just some of the short and long term outcomes that come with any interest rate increase or decrease. The long-term effects on the housing market, employment, and price of goods and services will depend on multiple factors from both the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve and fiscal policy of the executive administration.

Get to know the Fed and take careful stock of what you have borrowed, invested, spent, and save; and remember, “…through knowledge and discipline, financial peace is possible…”
- Dave Ramsey

Friday, April 7, 2017

April is Financial Literacy Month!

April is National Financial Literacy Month. Did you know that more than 92 million people living in America would give themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance?

How do you stack up when it comes to your knowledge of money? Take this quiz to find out!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Meet the Staff: Lindsey Jenkins


Originally, I took a job with Origin as an AmeriCorps Vista. Prior to taking the position, I had recently spent most of a year volunteering in a very impoverished area of the grenadine islands. Upon my return to the United States, I realized just how much the community that I grew up in, needed help dealing with poverty too. So, when considering the position, the organization’s mission and vision, centered around financial stability and homelessness prevention, resonated with me deeply. 

The organization has changed quite a bit on the outside but still feels the same within. When I took the job as a VISTA the organization was called Family 

Services Inc. and it had a completely different look. We have since rebranded and now are known in the community as Origin SC. 

What has surprised you the most about working at Origin SC?
I think I still am surprised by all the different departments that make up this organization. For example, I didn’t realize that we had a Family Violence Intervention program until after I began working here. In addition to that, I feel like we are always trying to find new ways to make a difference in the community. Since I have started working here, we have added a new student loan debt management program as well.

What is an experience that has really shaped who you are? 

More recently, I would say the entire year as an AmeriCorps Vista definitely shaped where I am today. It was very tough financially and there were times I wanted to give up. I had to work two jobs to make sure the bills were paid. However, it made me more compassionate for some of the people we serve, the people working really hard but still struggling financially. It also made me more self-aware in terms of what I am able to overcome and achieve if I work hard. Usually, the most difficult experiences are able to bring about the biggest change or growth within us. 

How has Origin SC helped you in your career development?

My experience at origin has definitely offered the opportunity for me to grow and obtain experience in different areas. After my year as a VISTA, Origin hired me to work in the administration department. I have learned a lot in this position and in my year as a VISTA. 

What is the one thing in this world you are most proud of?

I am proud to work for an organization that really strives to help people within our community.  Also, I will be a new mom this coming July. I am proud that I get an opportunity to start a family with the person I love. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

National Women’s History Month

In 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett, and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.

Their first objective was to lead a coalition that successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as National Women’s History Month, now celebrated across the land.
Today, the NWHP is nationally known as the only clearinghouse that provides informational services and educational and promotional materials which recognizes and celebrates the historic and diverse accomplishments of women.

Today, the NWHP is nationally known as the only clearinghouse that provides informational services and educational and promotional materials which recognizes and celebrates the historic and diverse accomplishments of women.

20 Facts About Women:

1. In 1975, fewer than 47% of mothers with children under 18 years old worked. Today, 71% of them work. In the 70s and prior, the idea of women working outside the home was frowned upon, to say the least, and women who did so worked as maids, seamstresses, took in laundry, or worked in one of the traditionally female-dominated fields. Today, not only do more women work outside the home, they hold a wider variety of jobs – some even working dominant positions in both business and the science and technology industries.

2. While women now have the right to vote, women are still heavily underrepresented in the political sphere. Currently, women only hold 17% of both Congressional and Senate seats, and 18% of gubernatorial positions in the U.S.

3. In 1950, women comprised less than 2% of the U.S. military. Today, approximately 14% of active members in the U.S. armed forces are women.

4. Over 60 percent of college degrees awarded in the U.S. every year are earned by women. In fact, women are more likely than men to get a high school diploma, and the numbers are only expected to rise in the coming years.

5. One of the highest IQs ever recorded, via standardized testing, belongs to columnist and author Marilyn vos Savant.

6. While larger numbers of women are moving into the workforce, they are still taking on traditionally female positions like teaching, nursing, and social services. These three industries alone employ nearly one-third of all female workers.

7. Susan Kare developed most of the interface elements for Apple Macintosh, and helped developed the bulk of the small icons early Mac users clicked on every day. Though Kare left Apple in the 80s, she is still working with and improving innovative technologies and design.

8. Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run and finish the Boston Marathon in 1966. Of course, she did not get official credit for it, as women were not allowed to enter the race until 1972, but her wins in ’66, ’67, and ’68 seriously challenged long-held beliefs about the athletic prowess of women.

9. Virne “Jackie” Mitchell-Gibson, a pitcher, was the first woman to play baseball professionally. While women still do not have much of a presence in baseball today, Mitchell proved that it wasn’t because they could not play. During an exhibition game, she struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Her performance most likely played a part in baseball commissioner Kenesaw Landis’ ban of women from the sport later that year.

10. In 1921, American novelist Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence, a story set in upper-class, “Golden Age” New York during the 1870s.

11. Queen Victoria ruled one the largest empires in the history of the world, at one point controlling land on nearly every continent. This included countries such as: India, Australia, Egypt, Kenya, Canada, and British Guiana.

12. African-American performer Josephine Baker was working in France during WWII, but not only as a singer, dancer, and actress. She was also helping the war movement, smuggling numerous messages to French soldiers. She often hid messages inside her dress or concealed with invisible ink on her sheet music. Baker’s work in the war is only part of what makes her such an amazing figure, as she was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, perform in a concert hall, and played a big role in the Civil Rights Movement.

13. In 1756, during America’s Colonial period, Lydia Chapin Taft became the first woman to legally vote with the consent of the electorate. While all women did not enjoy this privilege until 1920, Taft was allowed to vote because her husband, a powerful local figure, had passed away right before a major town vote. She was allowed to vote in his stead.

14. The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. While women would not be granted the right to vote by a constitutional amendment for nearly 50 years, there were no laws prohibiting one from running for the chief executive position.

15. The first female governor of a U.S. state was Wyoming Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, elected in 1924. Wyoming was also the first state to give women the right to vote, enacting women’s suffrage in 1869.

16. The first female member of a president’s cabinet was Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt (more commonly known as FDR). She remained in office for the duration of both of FDR’s terms and helped put together the labor programs needed for the New Deal to succeed.

17. On May 15, 1809, Mary Dixon Kies received the first U.S. patent issued to a woman for inventing a process for weaving straw with silk or thread. Before then, most women inventors did not bother to patent their new inventions because they could not legally own property independent of their husbands.

18. Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of her work with the Hull House (a settlement-house for European immigrants that provided educational, recreational, and other social services to the community in which it is established) alongside Ellen Gates Starr. She was a public philosopher, writer, leader, and suffragist who will forever be known as one of the most influential and prolific women in American history.

19. The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as Prime Minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970. She is still one of only a handful of female heads of states, though numbers are growing with female leaders being recently elected in countries like Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rice, Lithuania, and Gabon.

20. In almost every country in the world, and for nearly all causes of death at all ages, the life expectancy for women is higher than men. Scientists are not entirely sure why this is the case, but believe it might have to do with the presence of estrogen in the body, improving immune function.