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FMU launches its Rural Assistance Initiative

FLORENCE – Francis Marion University President Fred Carter announced today plans to launch the Rural Assistance Initiative, a two-fold program aimed at enhancing economic vitality in rural South Carolina.

The Rural Assistance Initiative Program’s – Advancing Rural Community Health Project and Rural Leadership Capacity Building Project – funded through the General Assembly and the Psaras Foundation have enabled FMU to move forward with plans to go into rural communities to provide health awareness services and extensive leadership training for non-profit and civic organizations throughout the state. In addition, this initiative has created opportunities for FMU students to engage in service-learning opportunities in these communities.

 "We are most appreciative to the General Assembly and the Psaras Foundation for providing the funding for services to rural areas across the Pee Dee,” said Carter. "This public and private support will enable us to address community needs in the areas of leadership development and health education.”

The health component offers screenings and awareness seminars and preventative health education programs in these communities. Under the direction of medical director, Paul DeMarco of Marion, FMU students enrolled in programs leading to health care related professions will take an active role in providing these services. DeMarco, who practiced Internal Medicine in Marion assumed his position on Aug. 1. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s School of Medicine and has been in the profession for nearly two decades.

These health awareness programs will be provided in community-based venues to include schools, community centers and churches.

“Our mission is two-fold – to increase the level of access to health screenings and the level of awareness of health related issues in rural areas and to provide students an opportunity to be involved in a service-learning project that focuses on community health in a rural area,” said Darryl Bridges, vice president of student affairs, who will oversee the RAI Program.

Leadership training is the focus of the second component. FMU already houses the state’s premier training for non-profit leaders through the Non-Profit Leadership Institute (NPLI). Led by NPLI director Fred Sheheen, and Jay Dowd, executive director of the FMU Foundation, the initiative is an extension of these services but will also include leadership training for civic organizations. In addition, to receive this training, leaders won’t have to leave their communities.

“A number of non-profit and civic organizations assist with various needs throughout the region, but often do not have access to the resources they need to make their job easier,” said Sheheen. “This initiative will provide the on-site professional development needed by leaders to respond effectively to current and future challenges in their communities.”

This region needs this type of technical assistance to enhance local capacity in the areas of housing, community facilities, health care, and economic development, Carter said.

“Francis Marion will be an effective catalyst for furthering this endeavor,” he said.

#22 / 8-27-07
Last Published: August 27, 2007 3:20 PM
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