Delores DaCosta: leading through service
After a very successful career in our nation’s capital, Delores DaCosta recently made a move back home. She’s back in the Lowcountry as the executive director of Tricounty Family Ministries, a non-denominational non-profit providing food, clothing, medical care, counseling, job placement, shelter and financial assistance to the impoverished. It’s a big job, though she’s more than capable after a lifetime of service to the community: After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Delores worked for five years as a police officer with the city of Charleston and then received an appointment as a county magistrate for two years before an opportunity presented itself to move to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a legislative assistant to United States Rep. Arthur Ravenel, Jr. She then went on to become the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Henry Brown and, most recently, she was regional director for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
Growing up in Awendaw, South Carolina, the fourth of nine children, Delores’ family foundation is built on Christian values. Her father, Lewis Porcher, was a deacon in the church and her mother, Anna Bell Porcher, was a longtime missionary and stewardess. Her father left school in the sixth grade to work and help his parents. He later became the first black owner of a commercial shrimp boat on Shem Creek. He never allowed his limited education to hinder his success as an entrepreneur.
After starting his family on “heirs’ property,” he made a commitment to his wife to buy them an acre of land and build his family a home so that if anything ever happened to him, they would have their own place and the security that brings. Although he passed in 1996 at the age of 63, his wife Anna, who is now 84 years old, still lives in that house and Delores is living there with her. In addition to her new role as executive director at Tricounty Family Ministries, today Delores is busy working on remodeling her childhood home and addressing handicap accessibility to help care for her mother.
Delores’ mom and dad taught their family by example with old-school values and those work hard and pray hard principles have filtered down to a clan that today totals more than 60 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. She has two adult sons of her own, Richard and Aaron. She also has a seven-year-old grandson, Corey, who she calls her miracle baby, because Corey was a born at 28 weeks weighing about two pounds. Delores has a host of nieces, nephews and cousins that would make her family reunions a big event.
These life experiences make Delores well-equipped to tackle this newest challenge at the helm of one of our area’s most successful and forward-looking faith-based non-profits, serving the neediest of God’s children. However, it was not her intent to lead a ministry. Rather, after retiring in January, she started OMS Consulting with hopes of providing services to help grow small businesses. It was during Holy Week, while looking for consulting opportunities online, that she discovered this position and decided to submit a resume and cover letter. After an initial phone interview with Sue Hanshaw, chairman of the board for Tricounty, she was asked to come in for a formal interview.
Delores and Sue both agreed that it was “divine intervention” because the connection between the two was strong the minute they saw each other. When asked why she would accept the position for much less money over promoting a consulting business that could be more profitable, Delores responded by saying that, “God is placing me here for His purpose in my life. I’ve always known that I am called to ministry but did not act on it until now. Tricounty Family Ministries uses a holistic approach to ‘offer a hand up rather than a handout.’
She continued: “This ministry helps me to fulfill my purpose by becoming the servant leader that God wants me to be. The scripture tells us in Isaiah 58:10-1, to ‘feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy you with all good things and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.’ I’m just doing what God wants me to do and I am happy about this opportunity to help people.”
Her passion for her work is obvious, as she enjoys relating profound experiences. She said: “I was looking at a presentation from Tricounty and saw a picture of a man who had rags tied around his feet and I asked Sue to share his story. She said that he had walked from downtown Charleston to Tricounty in North Charleston because he needed shoes. She took him in, fed him and gave him shoes to put on his feet.” Again, this is just one of many stories told about helping those in need at Tricounty.
Delores has received awards for advocating for small businesses and as a woman in leadership but none measures up to the smile on the faces of those they help every day at Tricounty Family Ministries. The unique thing about Tricounty Family Ministries is that they receive no government funds and 95 percent of the donations go back into providing services and programs to help those in need. Delores says, “This ministry is a model for transforming the lives of those in need.” She invites you to come and tour the facilities and see first-hand the operations ministry and as always your financial support is welcome and appreciated.