New centers

325 E. Main St.Moncks Corner8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdaysGrand opening: 2 p.m. Tuesday.222 Old Trolley RoadSummervilleOpening in February

MONCKS CORNER — For folks who are down on their luck, one problem often leads to more.

No high school diploma can mean no job.

No job can lead to financial problems.

But a new initiative in Moncks Corner and Summerville aims to provide assistance through one-stop shops that offer comprehensive financial stability assistance. Officials hope to expand the effort into Charleston in the future.

Called Prosperity Centers, they are collaborative efforts by Trident United Way, Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina and Family Services Inc.

“We had service centers where we had different organizations that provide all types of different services,” said Prosperity Center Manager Tomeika Martin. “We really wanted to look at a more collaborative effort to bring in core partners that help individuals with financial stability all under one umbrella.”

Prosperity Centers are popping up across the country as part of an initiative of United Way Worldwide. While they can focus on any issue, the local thrust is on workforce development.

“We are definitely a work-in-progress,” said Jim Hughes, vice president of mission services for Goodwill. “What it looks like today and the next day may be different things as we find our way.”

The local centers will offer services such as employment training; help finding jobs; basic literacy, GED and WorkKeys services; financial education; credit counseling; home-ownership; and foreclosure prevention.

Visitors also can get help with tax preparation, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (food stamps) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (financial assistance for higher education).

Clients do not have to meet requirements to qualify for assistance.

Although dozens of organizations offer services in these areas, this is the first effort to put them all together in one place.

“It really represents the opportunity for community organizations to provide services to clients in one area,” Hughes said. “The beauty of the Prosperity Centers is that these are the three essential services that people who are unemployed look for. People who come to see us at Goodwill are usually underemployed or unemployed and as such very often have financial barriers and educational barriers, so they have a need for those other services.”

The goal is to do it in a seamless fashion, so “you don’t know if you’re working with Family Services, Goodwill or United Way,” Hughes said.

And to make it easier for those in need to get help.

“We would rather provide space to other agencies than to duplicate services,” Hughes said. “The Prosperity Center allows us to do much more together than we would be able to do alone.”

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.