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REALTORS answer last-minute call for assistance
Victim Witness
Sgt. Loren Scholes (from left) and Deputy Christina Driggers, Effingham County Victim-Witness Assistance Program Executive Director Fran Ross and Michelle Edwards of Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Co. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County Victim-Witness Assistance Program (EVWAP) Executive Director Fran Ross knows who she can count on when she’s in a bind. 

A few days before Christmas, Ross called Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Company Associate Broker Dee Moncrief to ask its employees to help two families in need. They responded in a big way as they typically do.

A few days earlier, Sherman & Hemstreet aided three displaced families through its participation in the annual Savannah Area REALTORS’ Adopt-A-Family program.

“This was an outside, at-the-last-minute donation,” Ross said. “They saved my butt is what happened. People came in after the Adopt-A-Family cutoff and I had to reach out to Dee and she saved the day — (REALTOR) Michelle (Edwards) and all of them.”

Edwards didn’t know the exact value of the emergency donation but estimated that it was about $1,500. In 2020, Sherman & Hemstreet collected $4,050 in cash and lots of wrapped Christmas gifts for a family that lost the head of its household to COVID-19.

“I work with a pretty awesome group,” Edwards said. “Everybody in the office either gave money, shopped and/or helped wrap.”

Sherman & Hemstreet’s 21 employees were notified of the latest need Dec. 17 and they had gifts ready for Sgt. Lauren Scholes and Deputy Christina Driggers to distribute Dec. 19.

“I sent a text out and a couple employees responded that they would go out and shop for one of the people,” Edwards said. “Then everybody else sent me money so I was able to go out and buy what the family needed.”

The majority of EVWAP’s aid — about 61 percent — is directed toward those impacted by domestic violence. It frequently provides emergency financial assistance for victims who are rendered homeless. 

“Ninety percent of our clients come to us through the sheriff’s office or law enforcement,” Ross said. 

EVWAP is the lone agency associated with Effingham County Family Connection that provides advocacy assistance to victims and witnesses of violent crimes.

Contact EVWAP at 912-754-7460.