Latta, SC - LATTA, SC (WMBF) - Rob Pierce has been pastor of Latta Baptist Church for less than a year. When he saw the WMBF News 'Pass the Cash' segment, he knew right away a woman in his church could use a helping hand.
"We have a lady that is very active in our church. She is a widow, she is in need," Pierce said. "I felt like 'Pass the Cash' would be good for her, helping her and her financial need."
Loretta Austin teaches Sunday school and also is very active in the church's ministry, two roles she's been able to maintain even though she no longer drives. Pierce says a number of the church's members pick Austin up and bring her to church.
Austin is also in pain - she's waiting on neck and back surgery in the coming months.
"I've got pain, but you know, we all have pain," Austin said. "It's just part of the human experience, I think. You learn to deal with it and go on."
"There's some days she can't be here, obviously, because of physical ailments," Pierce said. "But we're glad that she's here when she's able to be here."
Austin is also a former missionary. She spent years traveling with her husband across the country to help people better understand scripture. She saw poverty up close and considers her time on the road anything but a distant memory.
"I know the lord a lot better than I did before. I have much more compassion for people and I'd love to be back on the road, doing mission work again," she said. "Those were some of the happiest times I know."
These days, Austin shares religious teachings with her church, a congregation she says Pierce has brought closer together.
"There's a distance between pulpit and congregation; he cuts that out," Austin said of Pierce. "He's one of us. People are more comfortable."
Pierce says Austin can use some money to get her through a tough time, and she'll use the $300 to help make ends meet. He says it will probably help her pay her power bill or buy some groceries.