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Aug 30, 2023

Bluffton Self Help: Paving Path Through Education

Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

Photography By

Special to CH2/CB2 Magazine
Unfortunately, many teachers must pay for snacks out of their own pockets to provide for children who are unable or forgot to bring snacks from home. To ensure every child is ready to learn, Bluffton Self Help provides free snacks all year long to each Bluffton public school.

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Article by Court Cramer.

Education is a significant factor when it comes to income and serves as a strong predictor for poverty. In Beaufort County 28 percent of people who have not completed high school live below the poverty line. Sadly, in Beaufort County, 60 percent of residents are not earning a livable wage.

Bluffton Self Help is on a mission to change this. Through their adult education programs and local school partnerships, they are working to help pave the path for our neighbors all year long. Whether it is helping our youngest neighbors succeed in the classroom or giving adults a second chance, education is crucial.

Based on the belief that every person should have access to the essential tools and the support necessary to achieve stability and personal success, Bluffton Self Help offers an array of services that come together to create a path forward for all neighbors. Through a comprehensive and personalized approach, they listen to the needs of our community, and strive to provide neighbors with the widest variety of services under one roof to help them in their journey to stability.

Year-round education programs

This academic year, Bluffton Self Help will offer more than a dozen classes and workshops to more than 400 adult learners to improve literacy, gain skills, earn a GED, attain better employment, and reach personal success. Bluffton Self Help invests more than $1,200 per student each year to help them achieve success. And more than 100 volunteer tutors step into the classrooms to provide the instruction four days a week.

Their education and training programs help adults acquire the basic skills they need to be productive workers, family members, and citizens. At Bluffton Self Help’s four Learning & Literacy Centers, neighbors attend adult education classes, workshops, and trainings, have access to computers and the internet, and receive the support they need to reach their individualized goals on their path to success.

Classes include:

• Adult Basic Education Classes 

• GED Preparation Classes, Tutoring & Testing 

• English as a Second Language Classes 

• Workshops, Tutoring, & Certificate Programs 

• Open Computer Labs 

• American Civics in preparation for U.S. Citizenship 

• Educational Scholarships for higher education 

• Digital Literacy Program and Classes

Perhaps the differentiator is Bluffton Self Help’s commitment to walk alongside our neighbors to ensure they are moving forward to reach their goals. Each of their adult students and their families have client advocates available to them to help overcome any additional barriers they may face including meeting their basic needs, employment transitions, applying for higher education, and navigating the benefits and resources available to them.

This approach is necessary to pave the way for getting a job that pays a livable wage, earning a GED, gaining valuable life skills, going to college, or becoming a U.S. citizen. These accomplishments and so many more are transforming lives for generations, creating economic well-being and a better community for all.

A family affair

For a family to thrive, Bluffton Self Help knows they must consider every potential barrier that impacts a family’s success. The research is clear: Hungry children experience many negative mental and behavioral outcomes. Food security, however, strongly influences positive mental health outcomes in children and teens. When schools can ensure that students have access to the nutritious food they need, they are better equipped to learn and thrive.

Unfortunately, many teachers must pay for snacks out of their own pockets to provide for children who are unable or forgot to bring snacks from home. To ensure every child is ready to learn, Bluffton Self Help provides free snacks all year long to each Bluffton public school.

Additionally, Bluffton Self Help supports teachers in all 10 Bluffton schools by filling their classrooms with school supplies. Teachers spend, on average, $750 out of pocket on school supplies—money that stretches their own budgets. Bluffton Self Help’s school supply drive ensures success for everyone in the classroom.

Moving our community to self-sufficiency will require partnership and collaboration. You can be a part of the solution. To learn more and support Bluffton Self Help’s mission, visit blufftonselfhelp.org.  

Fabiola Diaz

Fabiol’as Story:

“My name is Fabiola Diaz; I am a wife and mother. I am from Venezuela, and I have lived in the United States for five years, and in Bluffton, South Carolina for the last year. My sons and daughter speak a lot of English; however, I had trouble understanding and speaking English, which is my motivation to learn the language. When I arrived in Bluffton, a Venezuelan friend told me about Bluffton Self Help and all their resources. I immediately registered for English classes. I also worked with their client advocate, and she helped me apply for jobs. Soon after working with her, I received an employment offer.”

Diaz began taking classes at Bluffton Self Help’s Learning & Literacy Center last spring and, through her hard work and dedication, she has already jumped two levels, a feat that would take most students two to four years. Learning English is not easy. Fabiola continues to push herself and immerse herself in the language every day. Her new career is helping her practice English more frequently, and it is paying off, not only financially but also by enhancing her ability to advocate for her family and engage with her community.

Sometimes one of the hardest barriers is having confidence and a support system. Fabiola’s classmates, volunteer tutors, and the staff at Bluffton Self Help continue to support her as she reaches her goals.

“With the help of Bluffton Self Help, I feel that my understanding of the English language is a lot better,” Diaz said. “I am very grateful to Bluffton Self Help; they are like family.”

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