Tender Hearts Ministries in York, South Carolina is a grassroots nonprofit organization that seeks to break cycles of homelessness, poverty, addiction, abuse, and despair within western York County. Tender Hearts serves all people within the community who need a helping hand by providing a safe environment, shelter, clothing, assistance in recovery and transformational programs, access to health care and medications, food through its food pantry and garden, job training and education, counseling, employment, wellness education, transportation, and mentorship. Through donations, gifts, fundraising events, funds from operating four thrift stores, a wealth of volunteers and some paid staff, Tender Hearts provides tremendous hope and opportunity to those within its community.  

Founded 20 years ago by Ainslee Moss after experiencing her own challenges receiving assistance during a difficult time in her life, Tender Hearts has grown into a far-reaching and impactful organization that continues to fill in the many social services, health care, and recovery gaps within this rural county. Fifty-seven percent of people within the county are considered below the poverty level, and 87% of the children in school are receiving free or reduced lunch. The CCME Foundation provided a $25,000 grant to provide free and sliding scale access to health care, mediations, and supplements for uninsured and underinsured residents needing this assistance.  

Valarie Reilly, a Tender Hearts Ministries beneficiary, started her own small business in York in 2021. She fell into “the insurance black hole” after losing her employer-sponsored health insurance plan but did not qualify for government sponsored insurance. Since small business owners do not qualify for social service assistance but cannot afford the high premiums available to them through private insurance, quality health care became inaccessible to her. Desperately needing back surgery after a year and a half of pain and paying over $7,000 out of pocket to get a diagnosis and treatment plan, Tender Hearts Ministries was able to step in to assist Ms. Reilly in accessing funds to help pay remaining upfront costs to get her surgery so she could finally be relieved of severe chronic pain. This is one example of many of how Tender Hearts helps York residents, who fall within the coverage and other social services gaps, receive needed services, medical or otherwise.    

Participants in the men’s, women’s, and transitional housing programs are also enrolled in the Functional Medicine program, which was developed and instituted by the Tender Hearts Ministries area pharmacist. This program is meant to educate residents in how to make informed decisions that affect their health and wellness, oftentimes improving or solving chronic disease-related challenges affecting vulnerable populations. Participants receive lab tests and an individualized plan to address their chronic diseases and nutritional deficits affecting their overall health and wellness. They attend a 15-week course to learn how to address these medical challenges through nutrition, diet, supplements, learning to read food labels, and if needed, medication management. John, a beneficiary of the Tender Hearts Ministries Functional Medicine program stated, “I’ve been paying closer attention to my diet, and I’ve been making a lot more healthier decisions that are truly benefitting my life.”   

To learn more about the work of Tender Hearts Ministries in York, visit https://tenderheartssc.org.