Backpack Buddies Program for the Jasper County School District (JCSD)
During 2018, AEC started the year off with 315 students (200 at Hardeeville Elementary School and 115 at Ridgeland Elementary School. This was an increase of 50 students from the previous year. However, when the 2018 – 2019 school year started, AEC was forced to begin the year with 285 students (200 at HES and 85 at RES).
The reduction in the Backpack Buddies Program was due to the loss of funding from the Palmetto Electric Cooperation, which previously donated $15,000 to the program. Fortunately, during December of 2018, AEC received funding for 15 additional students at Ridgeland Elementary School (RES) from a longtime supporter (Hilton Head’s First Presbyterian Church).
Because of that donation, AEC was able to close the year out with 200 students being served at HES and 100 at RES.
Families in Transition Program
This program provided much needed home repairs to 11 homes in Jasper County as well as emergency housing (hotel) for seven families and four individuals. This was all done under AEC’s Families in Transition (FIT) Program.
This program, organized in September of 2015, is the only program that actively tracks and monitors the homeless population in Jasper County. Because of the goal, FIT members work to assist persons with needs of major home repairs, if left unassisted, most likely would become homeless.
AEC works with other major nonprofits in the area to help persons in need of major home repairs such as United Way of the Lowcountry, Deep Well (Hilton Head Island), Salvation Army (Beaufort), Red Cross (Beaufort), Hopeful Horizons (Beaufort), Habitat for Humanities (Beaufort) and others. All these organizations’ executive directors or other top administrators meet monthly to discuss the application packets, collected by AEC, and decide which applicant will be helped and by which, if any of the partners that gather at the table.
During 2018, AEC participated with the Point in Time Count, which is a national count of the nation’s homeless population that occurs the same time all over the country. In addition to participating in PIT, AEC also held its first annual homeless brunch that attracted nearly 50 persons. Because of this brunch, AEC was able to identify additional persons who were homeless. This brunch also identified those persons who were close to homeless because of their need for major home repairs included, but not limited to, the lack of sewage and or water within their homes.
AEC also presented its second Annual Report on the homeless population in Jasper County. AEC shared the report with the community through presentation to each of Jasper County’s municipalities. AEC’s Families in Transition is the only organization that actively tracks the homeless population in Jasper County.
Summer Youth Worker’s Program
We continued the Summer Youth Worker’s Program for the fifth straight year. Fifty-two students were hired during the summer of 2018. While still holding a successful number of students in the program, the program ended with only 48 students. AEC lost several of its job/placement sites during 2018.
During the summer of 2018, AEC awarded five national trips to five of the Antioch Scholars. Unfortunately, only three Scholars took advantage of this rare opportunity. Two parents traveled and took advantage of travels to Seattle, Washington and Vancouver Canada. Seventy-one percent of AEC’s students are enrolled in Gifted and Talented classes.
Nursing Assistant Training Classes
AEC’s Nursing Assistant Training Classes continued in 2018, marking the fifth year of the program. AEC successfully graduated 28 nursing assistant students with 82 percent of them having successfully passed the SC State Exam. Another five percent had not yet taken their scheduled exam at the time of this report. The remaining 13 percent were unsuccessful or had not yet scheduled the state exam.
Peeka is a new virtual reality game introduced to AEC during their trip to Seattle, WA, in July. The designers of Peeka have since then visited the Jasper County School District (JCSD), where AEC funded the implementation of Peeka throughout all the first-grade classes and the 300 students.
Feeding Our Youth (FOY) Program
During early 2018, AEC began its FOY Program that provided snacks for Jasper County sixth grade students. This program began as a request from the JCSD’s previous superintendent (Dr. Andrews) who requested assistance for the middle school students because many of them ate lunch at 11:00 a.m. and did not arrive home until after 6:00 o’clock each evening. AEC and its partner (Deep Well) began to provide these snacks, during the 2017-2018 school year and again for the 2018-2019 term. With AEC’s volunteers, 208 students received snacks each afternoon at 3:30, prior to going home.
Clear Ahead Program
The Clear Ahead Program is an expungement program that started in October of 2018. This program allowed AEC to assist low income persons with minor criminal offenses to clear their records by making applications to the Jasper County Solicitor’s Office. Certain restrictions apply to this program, that carries a large application fee. This program was made possible by funding from the South Carolina Bar Foundation.