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Together, We Can...

In September of 2017, I became one of sixteen members of the Leadership Hartsville Class of 2018. Two men and the rest women. All of them were younger than me. We came from all walks of life and many different career paths. We were strangers who came together with a common purpose and goal -- to make it through nine months of classes and hopefully become better leaders and more equipped to take on leadership roles within our community. But this is not about Leadership Hartsville itself which is an excellent program provided by our amazing Chamber of Commerce and I highly recommend it.

This is about how we came together to be leaders, and ended up becoming servants.

As part of the class, we had nine months to come up with a community project that we would work together on as a team. We could not use class time to plan. We had to raise our own funding. And we only had a short time to make all of this happen -- all while working, caring for families, dealing with problems, and getting to know each other. But we did it! I could not be prouder of this group of former strangers who gave of themselves and their time to make something wonderful happen.

We chose to focus on the Hartsville Boys & Girls Club as our project. We had visited the site during one of our classes, and most of us had no idea that this haven for our youth even existed! But the outside of the building really needed some work and didn't reflect what was happening on the inside. After talking with the Director, we had an action list that was pretty lengthy, but we decided to go for it and see just what we could accomplish. Our project, Elevation Renovation; A Fresh New Face for the Boys & Girls Club, began to take shape.

There is a quote by Mother Teresa that goes like this, "You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things." And that's what happened. Sixteen people who were clueless as to how to begin, started talking, and meeting, and planning. All of our different skills and talents came together to reach a common goal.

For months, we researched and priced materials, created fundraising materials, reached out to businesses and friends, created a budget and set a fundraising goal -- and surpassed it! We cleaned the grounds, sanded and painted poles, painted doors, cut grass, built a cool hopscotch game, pressure washed and put together new picnic tables. We met with the kids at the school and had them create artwork that later was incorporated into colorful and inspirational panels for the front of the building. We had a company come in and repair the roof line, which was unsightly! We researched Butler history and came up with a way to tie in the history of the past with the present, and give our community a sense of pride what was accomplished here over the years. Several of us went to local service groups to share about our project. We promoted and shared information through Facebook (Elevation Renovation), Instagram (@2018leadershiphartsville), the Chamber, Hartsville Messenger and more. We took down the old damaged sign and put up a nice, new one! We replaced the fence in front of the courtyard to make it look more inviting. The unveiling was planned and pizzas provided for the kids! We laughed, we sweat, we planned, we were stretched, we were challenged, we became friends, and we succeeded!

Today was the unveiling. What a proud moment -- to see people walking past the front and commenting on how good it looked. A highlight for me was meeting Lovis Thomas, the wife of Coach T.B. Thomas, and his daughter, Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston, and witness their excitement as they talked about Coach Thomas while reading the quote from him. It was a lot of small things coming together to create one, big, positive achievement.

One of my favorite hymns is called "The Servant Song." This is one of the verses:

We are pilgrims on a journey; we are brothers on the road.

We are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

We could not have done this without each other. Here is a shout out to all the people who had a hand in this project and it's success! We have such a tremendous community!

Quinetta and Murphy at the Chamber, Coker College, CPRMC, SPC Credit Union, Sonoco, Duke Energy, Kiwanis, Burry Bookstore, McLeod Health, City of Hartsville, Coker College, Alleyway Printing, ABC Fence Company, RW Askins Construction, Lowes, Papa John's, Habitat for Humanity, Dr, Heatley, Jackie Kirven,Puddin, Dianne Montgomery, the Boys & Girls Club staff and kids, Jordan Braddock and Tavi Mata, the Lion's Club, Hartsville Market and more. Forgive me for any I forgot!

A big thank you to many of my personal friends for their generosity -- you know who you are and I'm so grateful for your support!

To Mark, Austin, Stephanie G., Rebecca M., Sheri, Christina, Cathy, Robin, Doreen, Rebecca C., Jordan, Debbie, Beth, and Lori -- we did it! Thanks for all your hard work and for pulling in your families to help too! You are all amazing people and I can't wait to see what you accomplish!

Now that it's over, maybe it won't take me so long to get to my next blog! Stay tuned!

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