Megiddo Dream Station opening in Graniteville to help former mill workers

GRANITEVILLE — A new nonprofit agency is coming to a small Aiken County community hit hard by unemployment.

 

Megiddo Dream Station will offer education, job training and life-skills classes to help people become more self-sufficient and re-enter the workforce, executive director Kay Benitez said.

The agency will serve impoverished, unemployed and homeless people.

Located on Canal Street in Granite­ville, the organization is hoping to provide more stability to the Midland Valley area. In 2006, the closing of Avondale Mills left hundreds of skilled workers without jobs.

“So many people are just stuck in poverty. They continue to make decisions that are going to keep them there because they don’t know how to see beyond what’s going to happen today,” she said. “If you can give people a vision of a future that is good, they will make better decisions.”

Many former mill workers need retraining to expand their skill sets, Benitez said. Clients will be required to attend a financial seminar and classes such as sewing, cooking and home repairs.

“We want to help them cut their cost of living by being able to do some things themselves and take care of some of their basic needs,” Benitez said.

The agency is looking to collaborate with businesses where clients can volunteer or serve as apprentices. After-school programs will be offered for children.

Local businessman and Sage Valley Golf Club owner Weldon Wyatt donated the initial financial contribution and 94 acres of land for growth. Wyatt also donated the circa-1847 Graniteville Academy school building to house the programs initially.

Benitez formerly worked for Golden Harvest Food Bank. In March, Wyatt contacted her to lead the new agency after she wrote a letter in the Aiken Standard newspaper about the correlation between poverty and crime.

The organization is recruiting volunteers and registering clients. Services will begin Oct. 1.

The agency, governed by an executive and advisory board, will begin a capital campaign to expand their
facilities. Benitez said the group would like to build family housing, a larger classroom building and a facility for welding, plumbing and mechanical training.

HOW TO HELP

Volunteers are needed to teach classes, mentor students, help with child care, pack food boxes and perform office duties. Open houses for volunteers are 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday.

Potential clients can attend an open house from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 19 or from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 25.

For more information, contact Kay Benitez at (803) 392-7044 or kay@megiddodreamstation.org.

 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Megiddo was a valley in ancient Israel considered an important economic, geographical and military center. Located on an important trade route, Megiddo helped surrounding areas prosper.

 

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