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!

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.”

“Kick Off the Vote!”, at Harley Family Center, October 16, 2023

GWC’s annual informational social, “Kick Off The Vote!” was hosted by our Grants Review & Awards and Social Committees and held at the Harley Family Center on Monday, October 16. The center echoed with exuberant voices of friends greeting each other. Light and delicious refreshments awaited, served by Holley Coyle and Courtney Christensen, Co-Chairs of the Social Committee as well as other welcoming committee members. A PowerPoint of images was compiled by the Communications Committee for the reception highlighting some of GWC’s activities during the last three months: Grant Writing 101 workshop for nonprofits, our August Quarterly Meeting, “Giving is in our Genes,” A New Members Dinner at Betty Adams’s home, our September Social, “Two are Better Than One, and the creation and installation of GWC’s 2023 Uptown scarecrow, Ms. Carey Givings.

Informational segments were presented by members of the Granst Review & Awards Committee. These began with Sally Kauffmann’s expertly performed and very humorous renditions of  “You Are So Beautiful to Me, GWC” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” (including the line “How many needs are right here in Greenwood?”), executed in the manner of Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan, respectively.

Mary Woodiwiss discussed some FAQS of Nonprofit Funding focusing on:

  • How do Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) generate and meet their budgets?
  • Why do some NPOS request or require so much more funding than others?
  • Why do GWC Grants matter?

In her review of our granting process, Mary Dula noted that we are in the very process of women’s empowerment during these days of voting on grants that will impact and influence our community. It was breathtaking to learn that GWC will surpass a cumulative total of over $300,000 in our granting history with this cycle; however, it was also humbling to recognize, once again, how much need there is in Greenwood. Our grant awards this year will be approximately half of the funding requested in this cycle.

Debbie Cousens, Co-Chair of the Grants Review & Awards Committee, recapped what happens after we vote, outlining the tabulation process. So exciting to realize that within a week or two, the most important task we do as an organization, granting to nonprofits, will be accomplished! Tabulation is an elegant process based entirely on members’ ranked votes on Survey Monkey ballots. Grants Review & Awards Committee members review this data and determine how many organizations will receive funding and how much funding each organization will receive, based on the total amount available to award in the 2023 cycle. Debbie announced that “the time is upon us” as ballot links were sent at 6:00pm, during this meeting. The ballot will remain open through midnight on Wednesday, October 18.

The power and privilege to vote is a tremendous opportunity and one that we hope all GWC members will avail themselves of exercising.

Jan Puzar, Co-Chair of the Grants Review & Awards Committee, invited any remaining questions about this year’s voting to be posed.

Rachel Strayer, GWC Vice Chair, delivered the closing remarks by introducing us to the “Caring Arms of Ms. Carey Givings”, our GWC scarecrow on display in front of The Grose Law Firm located at 305 Main St. This wonderful lady holds in her arms several scarecrow children representing past grant recipients in honor and recognition of how the women in this organization wrap our own caring arms around our community. She reminded GWC members that each of make a huge difference by being part of Greenwood Women Care.

With Rachel’s words ringing in our ears, the attending members purposefully left 2023’s “Kick Off the Vote!” with the happy realization that we are blessed to live in Greenwood and grateful for this unique opportunity to be able to make our beloved community a better place for all.

Ms. Carey Givings Returns to Main St.!, October 2023

Our delightful GWC scarecrow, Ms. Carey Givings, has returned to Uptown Greenwood! She is on display on Main Street in this year’s Annual Scarecrow Contest.

Ms. Carey Givings may be seen at the lamppost in front of The Grose Law Firm (305 Main St.).

Please pay Carey a visit and then honor her – and GWC – by voting for her as your favorite Uptown scarecrow! Click this link to cast your vote for Carey! Votes may be placed from Tuesday, October 3 at 10:00 am through midnight on Tuesday, October 31. (Winners will be announced on the Uptown website, Facebook, and Instagram on November 2.)

The GWC scarecrow is a GWC Communication Committee project initiated last year by Rachel Strayer. This year, Ms. Carey Givings features “caring arms” that hold scarecrow children representing a number of our GWC Grant recipients that provide essential services in our community.

Communications Committee members Catherine DiBenedetto, Sandy McCord, Laura Stowe, and Rachel Strayer spent a lovely autumn evening creating this scarecrow on Catherine’s farm.

We hope that Ms. Carey Givings will serve as our Uptown ambassador throughout the montth of October, encouraging more women to join us in GWC as we care for Greenwood, and give for the benefit of our whole community!

GWC Social, “Two Are Better Than One”, at Emerald Trading Co., September 12, 2023

Despite threats of gusty winds, thunderstorms, and hail, nearly forty hearty souls gathered, some with tasty treats in hand, to enjoy Greenwood Women Care’s second social of 2023 on September 12th.

GWC members and guests were graciously welcomed by Dana Riley, proud proprietor of Emerald Trading Company. Beautifully restored and remodeled and featuring three wall size murals of historic Greenwood, Emerald Trading Company was the perfect place to enjoy fellowship and a delicious repast prepared by GWC’s members whose last names begin with A – L. Dishes including potato casserole, grits, orzo salad, pinwheel sandwiches, chicken, and meatballs, along with delicious desserts, were enjoyed by all!

A station to assemble products provided by one of GWC’s 2022 grant recipients, The Period Project, into “period packs” was set up with many GWC members joining in the project. Karen Dudley-Culbreath, Executive Director of The Period Project, spoke to the group. She noted that one out 4 women lives in “period poverty” determined by such factors as rural locale or economic deprivation and has difficulty obtaining essential monthly supplies.

All attending departed under a clear sky, more enlightened and nourished in both spirit and body, and convinced, once again, that GWC is indeed “The Place To Be!”

New Members Welcome Dinner, August 29, 2023

For the first time in GWC’s history, our Membership Committee hosted a second informal dinner to welcome women who joined GWC this year. GWC is delighted to have 18 new members in 2023! Four of these 18 attended this dinner and seven were able to come to our Soup Supper last February.

Our New Members dinners provide an opportunity to extend a personal welcome, give an overview of the activities of our GWC Committees, and convene a smaller gathering for women new to GWC to meet other members outside the context of our larger Quarterly Meetings and Socials.

We shared homemade appetizers, sandwiches, muffins, salads, and desserts and spent time visiting with new and longtime friends. Mary Woodiwiss, Chair of our Advisory Board, Rachel Strayer, Advisory Board Vice Chair, and Betty Adams, Co-Chair of the Membership Committee introduced activities of the six standing committees within GWC.

It was a wonderful time to enjoy excellent fare and each other’s fine company!

Special thanks to Betty Adams for hosting us in her lovely home, Membership Committee members for providing delicious food and drink, and our new members for sharing this evening together!