PICKENS COUNTY - Mary's House, an local shelter for women and children who are victims of criminal domestic violence, received a welcomed gift of ten computers last week, adding to the quality of life they plan to offer their temporarily displaced clients.
"We are so happy to receive these computers," Deborah Lanford, a victim advocate for Mary's House, said. "This will really go far in helping us to move ahead in getting Mary's House ready to open."
AgSouth Farm Credit, with area offices in Anderson, Laurens and Spartanburg, was told of the soon to open shelter's needs by Easley resident Gene Merritt, who is a board member with that agency, AgSouth Marketing Manager Mariam Pflug said.
"One of our board members lives in (Pickens County) and he knew about the Ministry Alliance for Regaining Your Safety home (Mary's House) that is being built," she said.
"He knew that AgSouth often donates to causes such as this, and submitted a request."
Pflug said the computers come equipped with everything that makes a computer operational and useful, including software and printer.
"I believe we even put a scanner in with the donation," she said.
A computer will be placed in each of the five bedrooms in the residential facility along with the offices, Lanford said. Internet access will only be available on the office computer, for safety reason, she said.
"Women will be able to practice their computer and typing skills in their own room," Lanford said. "This will help them become more ready for a career of their own, to make a new beginning for themselves.
"Having computer knowledge and better typing skills will allow them to re-enter the workforce more quickly," she said.
Lanford said Mary's House should be ready to house victims of domestic violence in late August.
"People have asked me why it is taking so long to get the house open, but Mary's House will be paid for when we open the doors," she said. "I realize that to many, this has been a long time in coming, but it is being done right."
Efforts on behalf of Pickens County residents and donations from businesses and organizations, such as AgSouth, has made the dream of having a local shelter for domestic violence victims a reality, Lanford said.
"God has been good," she said. "Throughout this whole process of planning and then building Mary's House, whenever there has been a need, someone has stepped forward to fulfill that need."
When fully functional, the home will provide a safe haven for women and their children who are attempting to break away from an abusive relationship. While living at the residence, women will receive counseling - both emotional and career, she said.
Each woman entering the facility will be assigned to a female mentor who has received a specialized training that will allow them to both understand the impact domestic violence has on multiple lives, as well as ways to support victims during the transitional period of leaving the abuser while establishing a new life, she said.
"We are looking for women wanting to help through mentoring," she said.
Each client of Mary's House will be partnered with a suitable mentor, she said.
For the safety of the residents, the location of Mary's House remains a secret, with leaders of the agency saying only that the home is somewhere in Pickens County.
AgSouth Farm Credit is one of the largest agricultural lending cooperatives in the Southeast, Pflug said.
"AgSouth was started in 1916," she said. "We aren't a bank so we don't provide checking or savings accounts.
"We provide loans for farms - property, agriculture, cattle or horses, for what is needed to make a farm functional," she said. "Even with land being developed, farming is still an important part of this area."