South Carolina

1000 Feathers’ Newest Team Member

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Meet our new intern!

Morgan Roberts is a senior at the University of South Carolina majoring in public relations and minoring in Spanish. She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, but decided to venture south for college to escape the cold Michigan winters. Morgan has previously interned for both the Palmetto Health Foundation and South Carolina Future Minds but is excited to step out of the nonprofit world and work for 1000 Feathers this semester. An involved member of her campus, Morgan is a member of Sigma Delta Pi Spanish honors fraternity, as well as the collegiate public relations society, PRSSA. She loves her community, volunteering for organizations like Palmetto Health Richland Children’s Hospital and EdVenture’s after-school children’s program. Morgan loves traveling and has been to 20 countries around the world, most recently during a semester-long study abroad in Ireland. She is expected to graduate in May and is looking for public relations jobs along the east coast.

Welcome to the team, Morgan!

An Open Letter to Don Flowers

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“It’s good to be blessed. It’s better to be a blessing.” – anonymous

More than 20 years ago, in the early 1990s, conversations were taking place among a few committed citizens in South Carolina - all concerned with the high teen birth rate in the state. As the stories have been told to me, this was a small group. A very small group. Maybe six people at the most. Joy Campbell, who would ultimately become the founding executive director of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign), had called everyone together.

Notably, the group included a Baptist minister from Greenville...Don Flowers.

Somewhere along the way, Don – in a fit of weakness – agreed to become the first board chair of the SC Campaign, circa 1994. Data from the state health department reminds us that in that year, nearly 9,000 young women in South Carolina under the age of 20 became mothers.

Fast forward 20+ years to 2017 where the data shows there were 3,696 births to teen mothers in our state. A decline that exceeds 60%! Find me another public health issue that has seen such remarkable progress over the last two decades… there aren’t many! Don Flowers is truly one of a very few who can say he has been involved with the organization and the effort since day one. Literally, from the first meeting. As he and his wife pack a moving van today to head off to their next adventure north of the border (that's the US border, Nova Scotia to be exact), I hope he has time to read this note, because it wouldn’t be right to let him pull away without an appropriate THANK YOU!

Don will deflect any credit for this massive success story, but I’m not willing to let him.

Had the teen birth rate in our state not changed at all since 1994, think of the 10's of thousands of lives that would have lived out a different trajectory. It is not a stretch at all to say that Don’s willingness to say yes, his willingness to give his time and energy to this cause, resulted in improvements in the lives of thousands of young people – many of whom are now adults. After all, how often does one have the opportunity to reflect and know that the time and work you put in had such a direct and profound impact on thousands of other people?

Don will deflect any credit for this massive success story, but I’m not willing to let him.

There have been countless staff members, board members, and volunteers who have contributed notably to the work of the SC Campaign. They all deserve thanks and praise. But, none have exceeded Don’s tenure – as a board member, as a board chair (twice), a mentor, a thought leader, and a voice for change. None of them, none of us, have done as much as Don has done. Don likes to say that when he served as board chair the first time you could “put everyone in the state who was concerned about this issue in a phone booth.” By the time Don’s second term as board chair began in July 2007, just a few months after a young 20-something-year-old kid had taken over the role of executive director, the organization was hosting statewide conferences for 300+ people every year and reaching thousands more through training, education, and outreach. At some point in between his multiple stints as chair of the board, Don and his family moved to Charleston. That in and of itself opened many doors for me and the organization that wouldn’t have been opened otherwise – “…how bad can we be, our board chair is a Baptist minister from Charleston, SC!”

Don will deflect any credit for this massive success story, but I’m not willing to let him.

You’ve probably guessed who the 20-something-year-old kid was, and this is where the story takes a bit of a personal turn. The relationship that Don and I have formed over the last 10-plus years, beginning with that organizational transition in 2007 (even though we had met and interacted some several years before) is more special than words could ever explain. Don has been there for me personally and professionally, without hesitation, any time that I needed him to be – even times that I didn’t know I needed him to be. Don has been a friend, a mentor, a side-kick, a confidant, a voice of reason, a spiritual support, and so much more. He has been by my side, quite literally, through the highest of my highs and the lowest of my lows.

  • Need someone to talk through a big decision with… call Don.

  • Find out a family member or loved one is ill, or having surgery, or battling cancer… call Don.

  • Getting married… call Don and fly him to New York to officiate the ceremony.

  • Need a reality check, someone to put you in your place… “Forrest, Don is on line one.”

  • Need someone to lift you up in prayer… call Don.

  • Just want to vent a little bit… call Don.

  • Syracuse beats Wake Forest in (insert sport)… call Don.

There are times that people come into your life and when you take the time to look back and reflect, you know you wouldn’t be who you are today without them. That is true of Don’s involvement with the SC Campaign. More importantly, that is true of Don’s involvement with me. I honestly don’t know where I would be today without his guidance, wisdom, support, tough love, and occasional stubbornness.

Don will deflect credit for the role he has played in my personal success story too, but I’m not willing to let him.

I drove down to Charleston yesterday to say, “see you around.” I’m comforted knowing Don will still be no more than a phone call away (wait, they do have phones in Nova Scotia, right?), and I’m glad that I was able to give him a big hug yesterday before he left town. But, the blessings Don has given me, given the SC Campaign, and given to this entire state are just too incredible to keep to myself.

Godspeed, my friend. You are indeed a blessing! 

Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit

We are thrilled to partner with Venture Carolina and VentureSouth to bring a first-of-its-kind seminar to Columbia, SC on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Taking the Non Out of Nonprofit will bring together leaders from the nonprofit community alongside individual investors to discuss the importance of nonprofits operating more like businesses and less like charities. At the same time, we are excited that this will give us an opportunity to spotlight the amazing work currently being done by nonprofits across the state! 

The lineup of speakers and participants is nothing short of amazing. Check out the line-up and then register today because the early bird saves money. From now until August 9, registrants will enjoy a $30 discount. And while there is a lot of buzz around this event, space is limited, so we encourage those who are interested to register early!

Finally, what's really exciting about this event is the Innovation Challenge. Nonprofits from across the Southeast have the opportunity to have their good ideas not only heard, but funded. During the seminar on Sept. 13, Venture Carolina will give one lucky winner $5,000 to help bring a profitable idea to life.

Ready. Set. Register!

SC Community Loan Fund Needs Your Help

Our friends at the South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) are conducting market research to gauge demand for their services throughout the state. If at any point you've considered obtaining financing for a community development project, have borrowed capital, or think you might consider it in the future, they want to hear from you!

Whether you represent a for-profit, nonprofit, or government entity, they want learn more about your experience in financing your community development project.  Perhaps you've considered creating affordable housing in your community, wanted to open a small business of your own, hoped to bring healthy foods to your neighborhood, or tried to secure financing for a school, clinic, or town hall. All of these (and more) are community development projects, and knowing what you need in order to make them a reality is important to SCCLF.

This survey should take you approximately 5 minutes to complete, and your answers will be kept strictly confidential. As a thank you for participating, you can be entered to win a $100 Office Depot gift card at the end of the survey.

South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Released

In May, we were honored to stand alongside the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the South Carolina Rural Health Action Plan Task Force to unveil the initial recommendations of the Rural Health Action Plan for our state. It was a pleasure and a privilege to lead this group of 50+ individuals over the past eight months.

Throughout the course of our eight meetings, the Task Force culled through a number of issues and concerns, heard from content experts, gathered feedback from community members, and were presented supporting literature and data. Ultimately, the group landed on five key areas of focus necessary to improve the health of rural communities in South Carolina: Access to Health Care; Community Assets, Leadership & Engagement; Economic Development; Education; and Housing.

The full report will be released on November 16 as part of National Rural Health Day, but be sure to review the initial recommendations and send us your feedback.

http://scorh.net/south-carolina-rural-health-action-plan/

Look for the Helpers

We are barely three weeks into 2017 and what a year it has been already. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when Heather and I launched our consulting firm late in 2016, but it has, so far, been a journey like no other I’ve ever been on.

In a short time, our work has taken us across South Carolina and across the country.

  • On one of our projects, we’ve spent time reading, listening to residents, asking questions of the experts, and trying to better understand the challenges and barriers that exist to health and well-being in rural South Carolina. The challenges are real, significant, and deep-rooted.

  • Our team is back and forth weekly to Charlotte, NC working with a group of funders and philanthropists to develop a system of change that presents greater opportunity for the citizens of Mecklenburg County. Certainly not rural America, but the metro has its own challenges.

  • We are preparing to lead a board/staff retreat next week for a statewide nonprofit who is poised and ready to tackle the significant challenge of affordable, reliable housing in South Carolina.

  • Our travels have also taken us to Waco, TX, Tulsa, OK, and Washington, DC. All unique communities with their own challenges centered around race, poverty, and access to health, education, and financial resources.

What’s striking to me is that despite differences in size, region of the country, and demographics, the challenges in these communities are all very similar. From rural South Carolina, to metro-Charlotte, to the “heart of Texas;” all different communities with familiar challenges.

What’s even more striking is the massive number of helpers we have come into contact with. Without exception, one of the first things I notice when visiting a new community is that the helpers are already in place! So many kind and caring souls giving their all, dedicating financial resources and human capital to the causes that matter.

It was Mr. Rogers who reminded us that “when (you) see scary things… look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Indeed.

Having recently celebrated a “day of service” in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s fitting to point out how many helpers there are among us. It’s also not lost on me that we are mere hours away from the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. To be sure, with so much uncertainty in front of us, those helpers will be more important than ever. So, my message to you today and in the days ahead is two-fold:

If you need help, whatever that means to you, please don’t be ashamed to reach out. If you are a helper, please don’t be afraid to stand up and make yourself available!