No concrete words: just a good feeling. That’s how 51 year-old Kathy Clem describes what happens to her and others who give to Good Samaritan Center, the non-profit that is wrapping up its 40th year.
Clem is executive director for “Good Sam,” an organization devoted to helping families in crisis. Her role came after the unexpected passing of her mother, Dee Clem, who had served as the 3rd executive director. “I prayed a lot,” she says. “I asked myself ‘should I stay or not?’ but I decided to see Good Sam through.”
Good Sam was formed out of the efforts of seven Jackson churches in 1972. Hiring one social worker amongst them to solve the collective issues facing families in crisis, the churches now number 30. Good Sam has multiple case workers and serves 500 families in the Greater Jackson area. Another office is located in Laurel.
A clothing closet serves 15 families daily for twice yearly visits. Clients must visit with a case worker who can help them budget and get a better handle on their lives. “Us together is a better plan than them not managing at all,” Clem explains.
Good Sam’s food pantry serves 6,000 a month, many whom have been recently laid off. The organization advocates and mediates between clients and government agencies, often filling the gap between paperwork and progress.
Another arm of Good Sam is its resale stores, dubbed N.U.T.S. (Neat Used Things For Sale.) The original, in Midtown, is eight years old while another is located at their Laurel office. The newest locations are at the Flowood Flea Market and in Fondren. Born in early fall as a place to showcase higher-end donated items, N.U.T.S. Fondren is doing well. “People still want to buy, but want it cheaper,” Clem says. “And those who can’t donate cash donate stuff.”
Good Sam can use your donations – be they cash or used goods. But Clem says the greatest joy comes from giving of yourself. “It’s a blessing you can’t describe,” Clem explains. “I do it because there’s nothing more awesome than to know you gave of your time and it mattered.”
Give to Good Sam at goodsamaritancenter.org