GWC Offers “Grant Writing 101”, July 16, 2024

On Tuesday, July 16, GWC’s Grants Review and Awards Committee hosted Grant Writing 101. This annual workshop was offered at no charge to representatives from local nonprofit staff and volunteers. West Side Baptist Church generously provided comfortable meeting space for a third year.

The Rev. Kyle Richter, Senior Pastor of West Side Baptist Church, offered a warm welcome to our workshop participants and presenters. Mary Woodiwiss, Chair of GWC’s Advisory Board and member of the Grants Review & Awards Committee, extended a welcome on behalf of GWC and made introductory announcements.

Debbie Coesens, Jan Puzar, Kathy Emily, Deborah Natvig, and Donna Foster led workshop sessions designed to strengthen participants’ abilities to write an effective grant proposal, determine outcome measures for assessment of a program or project, and provide appropriate budget details to a prospective funder. These included activities with discussion among participants. Each session leader is a GWC Member who has professional experience in grant writing, assessment, program direction, and/or management.

Coffee and bagels provided by Margaret Conrad were served during the break.

The workshop concluded with a Funders Forum comprised of representatives from local granting organizations. Funders Forum presenters were: Marisel Losa, United Way of the Lakelands; Andria Wendell, Self Regional Community Health; Mamie Nicholson, Self Family Foundation; Mary Dula, Greenwood Women Care; and Mary Woodiwiss, Greenwood County Community Foundation. Each spoke about their organization’s granting process, and funding priorities, and responded to workshop participants’ questions.

This training provided attendees with fundamentals for improving their skills in submitting grant applications, whether in GWC Grant cycles or in requests made of other local or external funders. GWC’s Grants Review & Awards Committee members are pleased to offer Grant Writing 101 as a beneficial way to support our local nonprofits in their missions to serve our community.

GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Finding the Pathway Home”, at Greenwood Pathway House, May 14, 2024

GWC gathered in the administration building at Greenwood Pathway House to greet each other and to share in the delicious refreshments prepared by the Social Committee. We had a large group in attendance which included approximately 45 members and a dozen guests.

After enjoying refreshments, we proceeded into the Pathway House Worship Building where Rachel Strayer welcomed the group with a provocative introduction to our program during which she asked each of us to imagine ourselves being without a home and to consider how that would shape the course of our lives. Her introduction served to frame our experience as we learned more about Greenwood Pathway House and all that the organization does to help those who face the challenge of being homeless. Rachel then welcomed our guests and invited them to consider becoming a member of GWC.

Mary Woodiwiss then gave updates regarding GWC Membership, noting that in the first months of 2024, GWC has been enriched by 30 new members. Mary also recognized Debra Coleman who has been a faithful member since 2019, serving on the Communications and Programs & Education Committees during her tenure. Debra will be moving to Texas to be closer to her son and “GWC wishes her well in her next sphere of influence”.

Holley Coyle, Co-Chair of the Social Committee, informed the group that the Social Committee is actively seeking new members.

Following Holley’s announcement, Helena Wardlaw introduced our guest speaker, Anthony Price, Executive Director of Greenwood Pathway House.

Anthony Price gave a fascinating and highly informative presentation about homelessness, its root causes, and the many ways Greenwood Pathway House functions to address the root causes of homelessness in Greenwood and Abbeville counties. He noted during his talk that in 2023, 375 people were assisted and 62,207 meals were served. Additionally, the inclement weather shelter was open for 80 days.

He thanked GWC for the grants awarded to Greenwood Pathway House by GWC, the most recent being a large grant in 2022 toward the establishment of the Pathway Village. The Pathway Village is housing which serves homeless families. Thus far, Pathway Village has served 43 families with a total of 94 children. Of those, 14 families are now in their own home.

After Anthony’s remarks, Debra Coleman presented a children’s book “The Box” by Isabella Paglia, which is a story about reaching out to a new friend and “meeting others where they are”. This book will be donated to the Greenwood County Library’s Children’s Collection in honor of Anthony Price.

Laura Bachinski closed this portion of the meeting. She shared that our next meeting will be held on August 20 at the Greenwood Genetic Center and will be our celebration of GWC 2023 Grant recipients.

To conclude the presentation, Anthony Price led a tour of the grounds of the Pathway House, including a look at the Pathway Village and the “Furnishing a Future” woodworking shop.

Annual Celebration, “GWC: Attitude of Gratitude”, at Greenwood Community Theatre, March 18, 2024

GWC’s 2024 Annual Celebration was indeed a glorious one! The entirety of the evening exemplified our theme of GWC: Attitude of Gratitude. Appreciation for our blessings, each other, our organization, our community, and Greenwood nonprofits filled the air. Upon arriving in the Uptown Courtyard for the reception, members were encouraged to write something that they appreciated about GWC. In our program portion in Greenwood Community Theatre, each speaker and segment reiterated cause for gratitude for our organization, this community, and the people and places we share within them.

Let us begin by giving thanks to Betty Adams and Martha Ann Davis of our Membership Committee who welcomed members and guests at our sign in table; followed by heartfelt appreciation to our Social Committee Co-Chairs, Holley Coyle and Courtney Christensen, who, assisted by Cindy Logan and Carol Harley, truly outdid themselves to set a celebratory tone for our special evening. Shrimp, mini-quiches, wraps, petit fours, and more were elegantly served and enjoyed along with a flavorful punch (tinted GWC green), champagne punch, and wine. A veritable feast in the lovely environs of the Uptown Courtyard – thank you to all you made this happen for us!

Greenwood Community Theatre once again extended their gracious hospitality to us and provided a perfect meeting place for our Annual Celebration program. We were graced with the presence of at least 59 of our 150 members, some of whom are also among the nine GCCF Board Members who came, and no less than 30 other guests. Approximately 90 delightful souls were in attendance! The stage was (literally) set by Ryan Hewitt, GCT Artistic Director and, appropriately, was bathed in green light. We all knew we were in for a visual and sensory treat.

Mary Woodiwiss, Chair of GWC’s Advisory Board, delivered her opening remarks in her typical gracious and eloquent manner, welcoming members and guests and recognizing the GCCF Board members who joined us and reminding us “We are150 women, over a 70-year age range, and from many walks of life; 150 women: to build a Granting Fund with, to learn alongside, to get to know, to expand our understanding of ourselves and each other, to help each of us foster an attitude of gratitude.”  Mary closed with, “I truly believe that we come to love what we give attention to. May GWC continue to be a fellowship in which we can foster attention toward this place we call home so that we may learn more about her, give for her flourishing, and grow more abundantly as women and community members.” Truly, inspiring words.

Ryan Hewitt extended a warm and lively welcome to GCT. Mary then presented a children’s book on behalf of GWC in appreciation of Ryan for his help and support entitled, Eyes that Speak to the Stars, authored by Joanna Ho and illustrated by Dung Ho. This book will be donated to the Greenwood County Library in honor of Ryan and GCT.

Tyra Murray and Morgan Bates of Next Level Lifestyles spoke of their gratitude to GWC as a 2022 GWC Grant recipient and noted that GWC awarded one of Next Level Lifestyles’ very first grants. Tyra also recounted the fact that her prospects in school did not seem very positive, as some of her teachers and school counselors discouraged her from attempting a college education. Tyra overcame their short-sighted expectations and has obtained both an undergraduate and a master’s degree. Her story illustrates the value of investing in and encouraging the development of youth, as exemplified by Next Level Lifestyles. Tyra then introduced Morgan Bates, another Next Level Lifestyles mentor who is helping younger students embrace the tenets of the program. What a beautiful story of “passing it on”!

Door prizes of delicious and decadent treats from Charming Gourmet Sticks, created by Helena Wardlaw, and handmade journals from Main & Maxwell, provided by Laura Bachinski, were delivered by Helena to members guests as our grantee speakers each drew two names submitted by attendees.

All were then reminded of what a wonderful organizational life GWC experienced in 2023 through a slide show filled with engaging images and meaningful quotes about gratitude (with accompanying music) 2023: A Year of Gratitude, created by Laura Stowe and edited by Mary Woodiwiss. You may view this slide show (without the music) here.

Nancy Hart Wicker, mother of Willow, then spoke movingly about GCT and The Penguin Project. This program pairs children and youth with one or more of an array of disabilities with peer mentors resulting in a full, beautiful stage production of a musical. Nancy Hart described how this program has greatly benefitted her daughter, Willow, and provided a brief video of Willow joyously dancing and singing with her mentor. What a gift the Penguin Project is to those performers, their families, and to our entire community! GCT has received three grant awards from GWC in support of this extraordinary program.

Our attendees then raucously enjoyed GWC’s version of  “Family Feud”, created and emceed by Laura Stowe. Special thanks to our two extremely capable and fun GWC members/scorekeepers, Rowan Pallis, and Taylor Haigler. This was followed by a poignant slide show recognition of our seven “Families Within Our GWC Family”, created by Rachel Strayer.

Lauren Boyd and Dana Baca represented Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries, also a three-time GWC Grant award recipient organization. Their 2023 grant was for the development of the MaxFit gym for their young residents and staff. Lauren spoke of how the equipment was specifically selected to help participants deal with anger, anxiety, and trauma. These include rowers, push sleds, ski machines, slam balls, and ropes. Establishing the MaxFit gym was a three-year vision for Connie Maxwell but, in part due to the GWC grant, they accomplished this feat in one year! Dana Baca is a current resident of Connie Maxwell, an enthusiastic beneficiary of the new Max Fit gym, and a recipient of an acceptance letter from The Citadel!

Debbie Coesens and Jan Puzar highlighted GWC’s 2023 grantees and gave an overview of our granting history since our first grant cycle in 2019 in the segment “Granting for Good”, which included a slide show compiled by Mary Woodiwiss. Their inspiring presentation was followed by the fun and organized chaos of our Grant Number Shuffle. $331,874 total to Greenwood County nonprofits through 51 grants in just five years of GWC Grant Awards!

Rachel Strayer, Vice Chair of GWC’s Advisory Board, delivered closing remarks suggesting we make room for more gratitude into our daily lives; “Instead of saying, ‘I have to’, try saying ‘I get to!’  i.e., ‘I get to see my friends and family.’ ‘I get to exercise’, ‘I get to experience new things’”, etc. She incorporated several of the comments of gratitude written on paper slips by members during our reception. Rachel ended her remarks by saying, “Personally, I am grateful for this group and the wonderful work we facilitate in our community. Imagine how much more support we could provide if we DOUBLED our membership! I challenge each of you to bring at least one guest to a GWC event this year. Let’s share our gratitude for what we’re a part of by introducing it to others!”

What a fantastic way to end a great celebration! The entire evening was emblematic of a grateful organization. Thank you to all who worked hard to make this a joyous and fun event for our members and guests!

GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Greenwood Woman Care – About the Environment”, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, February 13, 2024

GWC was blessed with 19 guests and 43 members attending our February 13th Quarterly Meeting, Greenwood Women Care – About the Environment, at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Rachel Strayer welcomed the enthusiastic group with a special recognition of guests and referenced our program on local land conservation efforts and sustainability, noting: “If we don’t take care of the planet, its climate, and ecosystems, we undermine how our societies function, worsen our lives and, perhaps most directly, harm our own well-being. Clearly, caring about the environment is in perfect alignment with our purpose as an organization!”

Rachel then introduced our host for this venue, the Reverend Caroline Dennis. GWC is proud to call Caroline a member, and she recently became the newest member of the Communications Committee. Caroline spoke of the beginnings of Westminster Presbyterian 42 years ago and of a special partnership between Westminster Presbyterian and The Toddler Learning Center. This alliance had its beginning at a GWC meeting when Teresa Goodman spoke of Community Initiatives’ need for space for this program and Caroline responded by offering facilities at Westminster Presbyterian!

Summer Booker, Chair of the Governance and Finance Committee and GWC Treasurer, gave a fascinating presentation that outlined the history and purpose of the GWC Endowment. Since GWC’s inception in 2018, $100 of every member’s annual membership contribution of $550 has been added to our GWC Endowment and invested and professionally managed with other endowed funds held by Greenwood County Community Foundation. The GWC Endowment is intended for the long-term sustainability of our organization. Currently, our Advisory Board has voted to allow this fund to continue to accumulate and grow.

Maureen Kilburn of the Programs and Education Committee introduced Kirby Elizabeth Self, Miss South Carolina USA and a student in Harvard Extension School’s Sustainability Master’s Degree Program. Kirby shared six guidelines for sustainability that we should be mindful of in our everyday life: considering our method of transportation, unplugging unused devices, avoiding single-use plastic containers, recycling, shopping at green businesses, and eating local by growing vegetables or shopping at farmers’ markets.

Laura Bachinski, Chair of the Programs and Education Committee, introduced Peggy Adams, founder of the Upper Savannah Land Trust (USLT) and a Charter Member of GWC, who spoke of the beginnings of the USLT, founded in 2000 with her husband, L.B. Adams. Peggy introduced Rossie Corwon, former Board Chair of USLT and a GWC Charter Member who spoke of her work on the board of USLT with Wade Harrison, USLT’s Executive Director. Wade spoke about conservation easements which help private landowners protect their waters and land. Greenwood County has 18 easements, managed by USLT that protect 17,936 acres of land  from unwanted development and ensure that the natural beauty of the land will be available for future generations.

Courtney Christensen and Margaret Conrad presented two children’s books donated in honor of our speakers to the Greenwood County Library. Kirby Elizabeth Self was honored with Because of an Acorn by  Lola Schaefer and Wade Harrison, Peggy Adams, and Rossie Corwon were honored with Slow Down; 50 Mindful Moments in Nature by  Rachel Williams.

Mary Woodiwiss, Chair of the GWC Advisory Board, thanked our speakers, our venue hosts, and our Social and Programs & Education Committees. She recognized our 23 new members (so far!) and also acknowledged “each one of you who have come to share in this  full, rich time together.”  Mary asked us to consider: “Who else would you like to see in the next room where we meet? Who are we missing? Consider how you can help spread the word.”  She encouraged members and guests to attend our Annual Celebration on Monday, March 18th, and to bring guests!

It was a lovely, enlightening, and educational meeting enjoyed by all!

GWC Winter 2024 Newsletter

New Members Soup Supper, February 1, 2024

In their biannual tradition, our Membership Committee welcomed our newest members on February 1 with a bountiful supper of appetizers, soups, salads, rolls, and desserts – all homemade by committee members, all delicious! Even more satisfying than the fare was the experience of sharing this enlivening evening with 14 of our (currently 21) new 2024 members!

Martha Ann Davis provided the perfect setting in her hospitable home, replete with her special touches. Betty Adams, Membership Committee Co-Chair, welcomed all and led us in introductions around the room and Rachel Strayer (Advisory Board Vice Chair) and Mary Woodiwiss (Advisory Board Chair) offered brief descriptions of our six standing committees and answered questions about GWC.

There was plenty of time to linger around each table and be enriched by our conversations with new friends. We look forward to being together again later this month!

GWC Social, “Silver and Gold”, at Stoney Point Lake Clubhouse, January 22, 2024

“Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”

It was a dark, cold, foreboding January night at Lake Greenwood made bright, inviting, and cozy by more than 80 caring souls who attended GWC’s first social of 2024 on Monday, January 22, in the beautiful Stoney Point Lake Clubhouse.

GWC enjoyed a near record breaking number of more than 30 guests and opportunities abounded for keeping with our Silver and Gold theme for the event: “make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” Approximately 50 GWC members were thrilled to see each other and meet so many guests after a GWC December hiatus. Enthusiastic greetings filled the air!

Many thanks to our Social Committee and other members who secured the locale, created evites, documented our evening together, beautifully served our refreshments and beverages, and brought friends to share in the warmth! Guests and members were welcomed with lovely smiles and words! It was a remarkable kickoff to GWC’s seventh membership year of impacting Greenwood nonprofits!

Greenwood Women Care logo

GWC 2023 Highlights, December 2023

GWC Highlights 2023

January 23, 2023   GWC Social, “New Year, New Friends”, held at Synergy Counseling of Greenwood, hosted by the Social Committee

February 7, 2023   New Members Soup Supper for new 2023 Members held at the home of Martha Ann Davis to welcome our 13 (now 18!) new members; hosted by the Membership Committee

February 14, 2023 and August 1, 2023   Half-Year Highlight: GWC Biannual Newsletter; edited by the Communications Committee

February 21, 2023   GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Serving the Community Through Safety in Schools”, held at Genesis Education Center and featuring a reception and presentations by Natalie Talbert, Greenwood School District 50 Safety Manager, and Lt. Will Stroup, School Resource Officer; hosted by the Programs & Education and Social Committees

March 13, 2023   GWC Annual Meeting, “GWC: The Place to Be!”, held at Greenwood Community Theatre and Uptown courtyard and featuring a reception, fun and games, door prizes, member testimonials, and the unveiling of Greenwood Women Care: Five Years and Growing, our wonderful and unique history conceived of, composed, and compiled by Laura Stowe, Advisory Board Co-Secretary; hosted by the Advisory Board and Social Committee

April 19, 2023   GWC Women’s 2023 Health Grant of $6,700 awarded to Helping Hands Women’s Organization to assist women receiving treatment for cancer with clothing, wigs, and other needed supplies

May 16, 2023   GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Serving the Community Through the Arts”, held at Greenwood Soup Kitchen and featuring a reception and presentations by Norm Fawcett, Board Chair of Greenwood Soup Kitchen, and Barbara Warner, Greenwood Area Studio Potters; hosted by the Programs & Education and Social Committees

July 13 and 18, 2023   GWC Grants Information Sessions for prospective applicants, held by the Grants Review & Awards Committee

July 25, 2023   Grant Writing 101 workshop for 18 participants from local nonprofits, held at West Side Baptist Church; hosted, prepared and presented by the Grants Review & Awards Committee

August 1 – 31, 2023   GWC 2023 Grant Applications received

August 14, 2023   GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Giving is in Our Genes” held at Greenwood Genetic Center, featuring a reception and our 2022 GWC Grant recipients, and including the premiere of a video produced by Rachel Strayer, Advisory Board Vice Chair, and Caleb Kidd Coy, volunteer, highlighting our grantees and their funded programs and projects; hosted by the Grants Review & Awards and Social Committees

August 29, 2023   New Members Welcome Dinner for our most recent new 2023 Members held at the home of Betty Adams, hosted by the Membership Committee

September 12, 2023   GWC Social, “Two Are Better Than One”, held at Emerald Trading Co.; hosted by the Social Committee

October 1 – 31, 2023   GWC’s Scarecrow, Ms. Carey Givings and the Caring Arms of GWC, on display in Uptown Greenwood; created by the Communications Committee

October 16, 2023   “Kick Off the Vote!” informational social for Members held at Harley Family Center; hosted by the Grants Review & Awards and Social Committees

October 16 – 18, 2023   Member voting on 2023 grant requests by anonymous, ranked, online voting

October 26, 2023   GWC 2023 Grants Announced! $75,000 awarded to 10 local nonprofit organizations

November 14, 2023   GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Serving the Community Through Second Chances”, held at the Arts Center of Greenwood and featuring a reception and presentations by: Jerry Blassingame, Founder and CEO of Soteria Community Development Corporation, and Denise Mock, Community Service Coordinator, Alston Wilkes Society; hosted by the Programs & Education and Social Committees

Also in 2023   GWC presentations in the homes of Betty Adams and Karen Smith and at Ivy Garden Club and Emerald City Rotary Club meetings

December 31, 2023   GWC 2024 renewal due date

GWC Celebrates Our 2023 Grant Awards!

Greenwood Women Care is pleased to announce our 2023 GWC Grant Awards! Our collective funds received through annual membership and other designated contributions enabled GWC to disburse $75,000 total in grant funding for ten nonprofits serving residents of Greenwood County. In our five years of offering GWC Grants, we have made 51 grants totaling $331,800!

GWC Grants were awarded to:

Beyond Abuse   $7000  Staff training on the investigation, evaluation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse

Faith Home   $10,000  Addiction recovery services for women 

Community Initiatives   $10,000  Materials and staff costs for expansion of obstetrics clinic at La Clinica Gratis

Greenwood Community Theatre   $10,000  Penguin Project theatre program for children and youth with special needs

Tranquility Point   $7500  Water therapy program for children and disabled, limited-mobility veterans, and 1st responders

Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries   $7500  Fitness equipment for middle school and high school student residents on Connie Maxwell Campus

Burton Center   $5500  Tablets for Day Program serving people with disabilities and special needs

The Greenwood Promise   $7000  Scholarships for the junior and senior years for bachelor’s degree programs

Junior Achievement of Greater SC    $3500  Materials for K-12 classes in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work and career readiness

New Morning   $7,000  Staff training and salaries for family planning counseling and access to contraceptives at Greenwood County clinics

Please see the article about our grant awards featured in the Lakelands Connector here.

Grant recipients were determined by ranked voting by our Members from October 16-18. Our Grants Review & Awards Committee gathered information obtained from the platform used for our online ballots. Using raw scores, weighted averages, and percentile rankings based on the total amount available to grant, the Committee evaluated the data and determined the number of projects to be funded and the amount of each grant.

Special thanks to the Grants Review & Awards Committee for all your efforts to: create a grant writing workshop, publicize this granting opportunity to local nonprofits, process applications, present information on grant requests to Members to help us make informed voting decisions, explain our voting process, determine awards based on our votes, deliver our 2023 GWC Grants checks to the recipients, and manage all the other aspects of this core activity of GWC!

Congratulations to our 2023 GWC Grant recipients! We are grateful for all your excellent efforts to improve the quality of our shared life in Greenwood County!

GWC Quarterly Meeting, “Serving the Communty Through Second Chances”, at Art Center of Greenwood, November 14, 2023

Greenwood Women Care (GWC) members and 12 most welcome guests met on Tuesday evening, November 14, at the Arts Center. Our theme was “Serving the Community Through Second Chances” which resonated with all of us as we all have been the happy recipients of grace and forgiveness to experience second chances.

Mini sandwiches, vegetarian wraps, spicy chicken nuggets, and a wide array of delectable desserts along with a lively punch and wine awaited us. Our talented and dedicated volunteer GWC photographer, Catherine DiBenedetto, who we learned is also a gifted whistler, called us from our happy socializing and herded us to pose for a group photo.

At 6:00 sharp, we congregated together for our program. Rachel Strayer, Vice Chair of GWC’s Advisory Board, recognized our guest attendees and delivered a gracious welcome to all, along with a thought-provoking introduction to our program. Rachel noted: “This is a big topic that stirs different thoughts and feelings around the room. There is no pretending – we are human which makes us far from perfect. Sometimes people make bad choices that result in profound consequences. Other times being in the wrong place at the wrong time can result in equally dire consequences. Neither of these scenarios should cause a person to become an outcast or have judgement passed against them for the rest of their lives.” She continued, “Bad choices or mistakes are a part of life. We have all been there in some manner of speaking. Thankfully, we have been shown grace and have been allowed, even encouraged, to succeed despite them. That same mercy should be offered to those engaging in reentry to society following incarceration”. Rachel concluded her remarks by thanking us “as always, for your interest in looking at topics we may not often encounter with an open mind.”

Sylvia Martin, Executive Director of the Arts Council and GWC member, generously welcomed us to the Arts Center. She expressed thanks for the GWC grant award last year that allowed outreach enrichment opportunities focusing on the Gullah Geechee culture that culminated in a beautiful exhibit of art by Jonathan Green and dance by the Columbia City Ballet, “Off the Wall and Onto The Stage.”

Debra Coleman, Programs and Education Committee member, introduced Denise Mock, Community Service Coordinator of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties for the Alston Wilkes Society (AWS). A multistate nonprofit organization, AWS provides supportive services to individuals with justice system involvement, veterans and their families, and at-risk youth and adults in our community. Denise also coordinates resources with other agencies for those who are transitioning back into their communities as productive and successful citizens. Denise described AWS services and then introduced Candace Adams. Candace is a successful realtor in Greenwood who gave us insight into the struggles and challenges faced by the formerly incarcerated as they reenter society.

Sabrina Miller, of the Programs and Education Committee, introduced our next speaker, Jerry Blassingame, Founder and CEO of Soteria Community Development Corporation. Soteria CDC is committed to empowering and assisting individuals to reach their full potential as citizens in the Greenville community. From financial-planning and goal setting to positive decision-making, job training, and affordable rental housing, their programs assist previously incarcerated individuals. For those who complete the 12 months training, the recidivism rate is 0! Jerry conceived of Soteria while he was an inmate charged with drug offenses. Six months after his release, Soteria CDC was incorporated. Residents attend classes, learn a trade, participate in weekly church services and meetings with mentors, and share in daily devotions. Soteria now occupies eight buildings in the neighborhood of his former home and of his mother’s murder when he was a young child. In the Q & A portion, Jerry explained that Soteria is the Greek word for “salvation”. (Please see this link for Jerry’s stirring presentation at TEDx Greenville in 2018.)

Helena Wardlaw, Programs and Education Committee member, presented two books to be given in honor of our speakers to the Children’s Collection of Greenwood County Library. Trying by Kobi Yamada was given in honor of Jerry Blassingame and Maybe, also by Kobi Yamada, in honor of Denise Mock.

Mary Woodiwiss, Chair of the GWC Advisory Board, ended our evening with gratitude to our Social, Programs and Education, and Communications Committees for their preparations for this reception and program and to the Grants Review and Awards Committee for “leading us though our fifth granting cycle with aplomb, resulting in 10 GWC Grant awards totaling $75,000! This year’s awards bring our cumulative total awards in 5 years of grantmaking to 51 grants totaling $331,800!”

Mary also extended heartfelt appreciation to our speakers, noting that the book given in Jerry Blassingame’s honor is “a story of persistence and perseverance to achieve works of beauty and meaning. For decades, you have persevered – in shaping your own life story and the stories of those you have served faithfully and well” and that the book recognizing Denise Mock’s presentation is “a story of hope and possibility. You have encouraged hope and opened possibilities for many who may have lost sight of these intangible necessities”. She added: “You both move toward the hard things in life, and lives are reclaimed and renewed because you do. You encourage hope in us as well by sharing with us your heartfelt work for the betterment of our community as a whole and for so many individuals and families within it. Thank you again for taking time to share your commitments and visions with us. We hope for every blessing for you and your organizations as you persevere.”