Ten at The Top Announces 10 County Representatives for Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

    Ten at The Top Announces 10 County Representatives for Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

    On Wednesday, November 18th, Ten at the Top hosted the Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event in place of their annual Celebrating Successes Luncheon. This event focused on honoring the many individuals throughout the Upstate who have devoted their time and selflessly served their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Over 130 nominees were recognized during the event as “Upstate Unsung Heroes.” You can read the full list here.

    One individual per county was selected to receive special recognition during the event. Below are the 10 county representatives that were present for this special presentation:

    Abbeville: Ethan Cornick – Dreams with Open Arms, Volunteer
    Anderson: David Baker – Anderson County, Emergency Services Director
    Cherokee: Dr. Carol McFadden – Know(2) Neighborhood Association, Volunteer Director Greenville: Marina Lewis – Mauldin High School, Social Worker
    Greenwood: George McKinney – Greenwood County, Emergency Management Director
    Laurens: Joey Avery – Laurens County, Emergency Management Director
    Oconee: Vanessa Earle – Prisma Health, Community Health Worker
    Pickens: Lesa Howard – 5 Point Church Food Pantry, Director
    Spartanburg: Charlene Cheeks – Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Upstate, CEO
    Union: Shanna “Nikki” Burgess – SC Works Greater Upstate, Talent Development Specialist Supervisor

    “To adapt to these unprecedented times, Ten at the Top felt it was necessary to change both the format and focus of this annual event. We decided to bring the upstate together by recognizing the hundreds of individuals who have remained committed to serving others amidst the many unfortunate circumstances this pandemic has brought our way,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top.

    “We hope that our event has not only shown great appreciation to these 132 nominees, but also highlighted the number of heroes we have living amongst us in the 10-county Upstate region that we encounter daily.”

     

    ABOUT TEN AT THE TOP

    Comprised of public, private and civic leaders across the ten-county Upstate South Carolina Region, Ten at the Top was created to build regional trust and consensus through data-driven research and regular convening of leaders and citizens to address key issues facing the region. Ten at the Top works with regional partners to encourage quality growth and enhance the economic vitality, natural and cultural resources and quality of life for Upstate residents both today and as the region continues to grow. www.tenatthetop.org.

    Ten at The Top Announces 10 County Representatives for Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event

    Through the Eyes of An Unsung Hero

    Marina Lewis, Mauldin High School – Social Worker

    Written By: Marina Lewis, Mauldin High School – Social Worker

    March 13, 2020.  Seemed like any other Friday, everyone was ready to get out the doors of Mauldin High and start the weekend.  The weekly food pantry backpacks were lined up for students in need to grab on their way out the door. I was busy wrapping up my emails for the week and didn’t get to speak to several of the students.  Little did I know that was the last time I would see them pick up their packs for the school year!

    The following Monday we were in a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus, schools were closed and in 72 hours teachers converted their classes to eLearning.  Everyone was so busy making virtual learning available.  All I could think is what in the world could I do? My job as a school social worker is tied to my students being at school!  The Backpack program, all the small groups, OnTrack meetings, Mentor program, Social-Emotional Learning trainings, activities, and events all came to a screeching halt.

    Quarantine stopped daily living as we knew it but life continued.  Our students needed the connection to the school that provided them stability in what was often a very chaotic and unstable home life.  That next Friday when our students normally would have picked up their extra food supply for the weekend I knew what I had to do. I needed to bring the food to them.  With an amazing co-worker (Kelly Yanity), we packed up the bags and delivered them to our 20 students in need.

    As the weeks stretched on and the state was shut down, with support of our Principal, Michael Peake,  and the blessing of my husband, my three teenagers packed up the pantry and moved it to our garage.  We continued to make weekly supply deliveries to our families in need,  as well as new families that were struggling due to the pandemic. Everyone pitched in to assist making our little Mauldin High food pantry not only survive but thrive.  Brookwood Church continued to collect donations and PTSA donated all the items from the student school store that was going unused and sponsored a sign-up genius to collect needed household and cleaning supplies.  We switched from backpacks to boxes left them at the door to have as little physical contact as possible and followed all COVID protocols.

    In the end, it became less about the food being delivered and more about the relationships strengthened and the trust earned.  The food became more of an excuse to check in with our students.  It wasn’t just for them either. It brought peace to myself and my co-workers being able to lay eyes on them knowing they were OK.  It gave me structure and purpose to my quarantine days. Assisting them with all the changes that had been thrown at all of us.  Helping them learn to do this eLearning thing.  Sharing resources and providing hotspots.  They felt heard.  They felt seen.  I felt relieved. These students gave me more than I could give them, reminding me not to take things for granted.  The hugs, the laughs, and the check ins we usually shared throughout the halls and classrooms were missing.  We realized the importance of relationships.

    The silver lining of this pandemic is it made us slow down and focus on what is truly essential, connecting with others.  Being there for one another, that’s what will get us through.  My hope is that through all the changes, grief, and chaos 2020 has brought, that it brought us something greater that can live past this pandemic, gratitude. Gratitude for each and every person that impacts our days.  Greenville will get through this stronger by focusing on each other.  I am privileged to have the opportunity to continue to serve our students, teachers, and community and will let that be my lasting memory of this pandemic.

    Ten at the Top recently hosted their Celebrating Upstate Unsung Heroes Virtual Event on Wednesday, November 18th.  At this event, they honored 10 county representatives and 130+ additional unsung heroes that have kept the Upstate region alive and well during this pandemic. Click here to view all 132 nominee listings.

    The 10 county representatives that were present at the day-of event were:

    1. Abbeville: Ethan Cornick – Dreams with Open Arms, Volunteer
    2. Anderson: David Baker – Anderson County, Emergency Services Director
    3. Cherokee: Carol McFadden – Know(2) Neighborhood Association, Volunteer Director
    4. Greenville: Marina Lewis – Mauldin High School, Social Worker
    5. Greenwood: George McKinney – Greenwood County, Emergency Management Director
    6. Laurens: Joey Avery – Laurens County, Emergency Management Director
    7. Oconee: Vanessa Earle – Prisma Health, Community Health Worker
    8. Pickens: Lesa Howard – 5 Point Church Food Pantry, Director
    9. Spartanburg: Charlene Cheeks – Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Upstate, CEO
    10. Union: Shanna “Nikki” Burgess – SC Works Greater Upstate, Talent Development Specialist Supervisor
    Native American Celebration at the Hagood Mill Historic Site

    Native American Celebration at the Hagood Mill Historic Site

    Katie Mann, Assistant Director, Hagood Mill

    Every November the Hagood Mill Historic Site observes Native American Heritage Month by holding the Native American Celebration. Every Third Weekend of November we hold this beloved celebration that we also call Selugadu.  Selugadu translates into cornbread in the Tsalagi Gawonihisdi (Cherokee) language.  Selu, meaning corn and gadu, meaning bread.  This celebration of cornbread is in reality a Harvest Festival.  November is the time of year when Native Americans reaped the harvest of corn.  All across the Americas the first people developed over 250 varieties of corn.  Corn was an essential crop in Native American life and came to be in Colonial life as well.

    At this time of year Americans Give Thanks.  Join us at the Hagood Mill to give thanks to, and honor the first peoples of these lands, for the food traditions and customs that have influenced southern Appalachian life.   On Saturday, November 21st we will bring together many people from many tribal groups to share their customs from today and yesteryear at the idyllic Hagood Mill Historic Site.

    Saturday’s event kicks off at 10 am and runs until 4 pm.   We will have our typical Third Saturday activities, including the operation of the Hagood Mill, living history demonstrations and a cherry picked group of vendors.  Visitors and guest performers will participate in the festivities of the day which will include: Native American traditional drumming, singing, dancing, flute playing, storytelling, Cherokee hymns in the Tsalagi Gawonihisdi language, and traditional crafts and demonstrations.  Performers include storyteller and basket maker Nancy Basket, from Walhalla, SC; Cherokee singer Amy Sindersine of the Reedy River Inter-tribal Association; The Kau-Ta-Noh-Jrs Society Singers of the Tuscarora Nation, NC with On’yas Locklear, Raniya Locklear and Nawayla Locklear; and Keepers of the Word from South Carolina.

    Demonstrations of food-way traditions such as stone grinding of cornmeal, cooking fry-bread, and roasting corn will take place throughout the day.  Barry Crawford’s prehistoric cooking demonstration using ancient soapstone bowls is too artful to be missed.  Members from the Foothills Archaeology Society will be on site to identify Native American stone tools and artifacts. Be sure to bring your treasure to be identified!

    We will be inaugurating “Our Native Roots: An Interpretive Trail” at noon.  The interpretive trail takes visitors along the Old Indian Path, which is an ancient trading path that took the Native Americans from the Mississippi coast and up and through the continental divide to Virginia. The interpretive trail includes a dugout out canoe which will be burned during the Native American Celebration, a river cane restoration area, a sacred fire circle for all to experience on this special day, a medicine wheel garden, a corn garden, a mortar and pestle for grinding corn, a prehistoric stone mortar, an archaeology adventure for kids, the Paul West artifact collection, and the petroglyphs that were made in prehistoric times. We are especially grateful to Paul West, who donated his personal collection of Native American artifacts, art and books to the Hagood Mill Foundation, and are now housed in the Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site.

    Due to COVID, we are limiting admission to this event.  As a result, admission will be $10 per person 13 and up and $5 per child aged 3-12.  One of our most popular events of the year, this event is sure to sell out, so get your tickets today.

    We will kick off the weekend on Friday, November 20th at the Heritage Pavilion!  We have special free programming this year thanks to the Traditional Arts Touring Grant from South Arts.   Beginning at 5:30 pm we will have an Artifact Show-and-Tell, in addition to workshops from some of the veteran performers of our Native American Celebration! There will be artifact experts on site helping folks to identify artifacts and to share stories.  Nancy Basket will provide an educational workshop highlighting Native American basket making techniques, motifs, and the different types of construction materials which can be used based on one’s demographic location.  On’yas Locklear and Ka-Tau-Noh-Jrs Society Singers will be offering song and dance workshops as well.  Concessions will be available at 5 pm .  Admittance to the Heritage Pavilion will be cut off at 150 people.  Please bring PPE and your own chairs and bundle up! Arrive early to ensure your space.  Of course observers are welcome to disperse in the fields surrounding the pavilion.

    Make a weekend of the event and reserve your camping space as well!

    Primitive camping will be available Friday and Saturday nights– $10/person aged 13 and up for one or two nights (tent/car camping) or $30 for RV spaces.  Limit 6 people per site.  Car and RV spaces are limited, so register online soon.  Folks with loud generators will be asked not to use them during special events.

    The Native American Celebration is partially funded by South Arts, Pickens County ATAX, and from generous donors like Paul West.

    Visit our website for full event details and to access the ticket portal:

    www.HagoodMillHistoricSite.com

    Text GRITS to 85100 to stay in the loop of all things happening at the Hagood Mill and to receive exclusive offers.

    Tourism in the Upstate: The Good, the Bad, and the Different

    Tourism in the Upstate: The Good, the Bad, and the Different

    A conversation with Tim Todd, executive director, Discover Upcountry Carolina Association

    Tim Todd

    Tim Todd, Executive Director of Discover Upcountry Carolina Association

    Early on during the pandemic, we had Tim Todd as a featured speaker on one of our TATT Chats, talking about the ways the tourism industry had been hobbled by COVID-19. Several months later, we wanted to check in to see how he sees things changing and whether things are looking up for tourism in the Upstate.

    Q: Tourism was hit hard and quickly by the pandemic. What signs do you see that things are recovering?

    A: While there is still a long way to go before we see things return to pre-pandemic levels, I am encouraged by several things that indicate that the industry is on its way back. In early April, the number of hotel room nights sold was down 68.9% from the previous year for the state. Six months later, in early September, the number of room nights sold was down 25.4% from the same period in 2019. Also, certain sectors of the tourism industry are doing very well during the pandemic. Outdoor activities such as boating, hiking, camping, exploring waterfalls, and fishing are especially seeing positive numbers. Lodging properties such as bed & breakfasts, cabins, campgrounds, and short-term rentals (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) are also doing well.

    Q: How are people doing things differently now as tourists—are they coming back to hotels, or making more use of vacation rentals like Airbnb, or doing more day trips?

    A: Visitors have slowly begun to stay in hotels again, but as I stated previously, the vacation rental properties have been more popular due to their ability to allow guests to socially distance. Hotels are working very hard to implement new protocols and policies that ensure that their guests can be safe during their stay. Our attractions in the Upcountry are seeing a lot of visitors from the immediate area, so day trips have definitely been on the upswing during the past six months. But guests are also coming for overnight stays, particularly from within a 300-mile radius.

    Q: How is the tourism industry responding with changes to make people feel safe?

    A: It seems that many of the tourism industry businesses and organizations are “building the ship while they’re sailing it.” They are constantly implementing new safety and cleaning protocols, upgrading and adding technology systems that help them conduct business more safely and efficiently. Many lodging properties now have “touchless” check-in and check-out systems now, as an example. Hotel rooms are left vacant for a day before the next guest checks in to allow for increased cleaning and sanitizing. Attractions and recreation providers are operating with limited capacity so that proper social distancing can be done. In a lot of restaurants, menus are on the website or a QR Code can be scanned to download the menu.

    Q: What kinds of changes in tourism do you think might end up being permanent changes? For example, do you see buffets making a comeback, or are they gone for good?

    A: I’m not sure if buffets will completely vanish, but I think they will look drastically different than before. I think the biggest change that is here to stay will be additional technology that is being developed and implemented to allow for less human contact—things such as the example I mentioned earlier about lodging properties implementing “touchless” check-in. I believe ticketed attractions/activities will implement reservations only policies so that their facilities can properly manage capacity.

    Art Galleries like at the Chapman Cultural Center are continuing to open exhibits, though most viewing is virtual.

    Q: With the arts being such a huge part of tourism, and many arts venues struggling to survive, what can communities do to keep those destinations alive?

    A: The arts community has obviously taken a huge hit due to the pandemic. According to an August survey by Americans for the Arts, the South Carolina arts community has lost an estimated $20 million in revenue since March. Several facilities and theaters have gotten creative and developed virtual and online programs. I have seen some organizations encourage their supporters to renew memberships and to continue annual giving pledges, even though performances might not occur for the next several months. I’ve also noticed that many organizations are encouraging their supporters and the public to purchase gift certificates to generate revenue. I am hopeful that the public, governmental agencies, foundations, and the business communities recognize the importance and impact of the arts organizations and will continue to support them in any way they can.

    Powdersville Business Council and Main Street Laurens Awarded $5,000 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants

    Powdersville Business Council and Main Street Laurens Awarded $5,000 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants

    The Powdersville Business Council for their Rhythm on the River event and Main Street Laurens for the Piedmont Blues and Roots Music Festival were the $5,000 recipients of the 2019 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Grants as announced by Phil Hughes during Ten at the Top’s 10th anniversary event on November 20th. Hughes also pledged to give $1,000 each to the other three finalists if they complete their proposed projects.

    Gordon Brush of the Powdersville Business Council accepts the Elevate Upstate Grant for Rhythm on the River from Phil Hughes of Hughes Investments

    Rhythm on the River, a community event designed to bring families and businesses together in the Powdersville community, will take place on May 2, 2020, at Dolly Cooper Park with family activities, music, and food trucks.

    Piedmont Blues and Roots Music Festival will take place in downtown Laurens on May 9, 2020, celebrating the Piedmont Blues music that has roots in Laurens.

    The other three finalists were A Common Thread: Textiles Past and Present (Arts Center of Greenwood), Trains on Main (Main Street Clinton SC), and Peg Leg Bates Dance Showcase (City of Fountain Inn).

    The five finalists were chosen from a total of 23 applications submitted for the two grants available in 2019. Hughes Investments contributes at least $10,000 per year to the program with two recipients each year receiving $5,000 to support a new vibrancy initiative in the Upstate. The program began in 2013 in conjunction with a series of Community Vibrancy Workshops hosted by Ten at the Top. Since the inception of the grants program, Hughes Investments has contributed a total of $93,000 to 29 community vibrancy initiatives across the Upstate.

    Finalists Announced for Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grants

    Finalists Announced for Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grants

    Ten at the Top (TATT), an organization created to foster collaboration, partnerships and strategic planning across the Upstate, has announced the finalists for the 2019 Hughes Investments Elevate Upstate Community Vibrancy Grants.

    The five finalists were chosen from a total of 23 applications submitted for the two grants available in 2019. Hughes Investments is contributing $10,000 per year to the program with two recipients each year receiving $5,000 to support a new vibrancy initiative in the Upstate. The program began in 2013 in conjunction with a series of Community Vibrancy Workshops hosted by Ten at the Top. Since the inception of the grants program, Hughes Investments has contributed a total of $80,000 to community vibrancy initiatives across the Upstate.

    Prior to the Ten at the Top Celebrating Successes luncheon on November 20th, the five finalists will each provide a brief overview of their initiative before the 2019 recipients are selected and announced at the luncheon. The finalists’ presentation will be held from 10:30–11:15 a.m., and there is no cost to attend, although registration is requested. The cost to attend the luncheon is $50, and prior registration is required. The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. at the Greenville Convention Center, with Governor McMaster as the guest speaker. To register for either event, go to www.tenatthetop.org or contact Sharon Purvis at spurvis@tenatthetop.org.

    Below are the five finalists (project name, applying organization, and brief summary):

    Rhythm on the River – Powdersville Business Council
    The Powdersville Business Council (an extension of the Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce) is looking to promote and sponsor Rhythm on the River, an event designed to bring families and businesses together in an unprecedented manner for the Powdersville community. This event will take place in the spring of 2020 at a local county park.

    A Common Thread: Textiles Past and Present – Arts Center of Greenwood
    In Greenwood, textile mills began to dominate the business scene in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s. The mills and mill villages played a vital role in the life of this county. The Arts Center and The Museum will present exhibits and events in the fall of 2020 to honor our textile history and to educate and entertain visitors and residents. The themed event, A Common Thread: Textiles Past and Present will be a review of the institution of textile mills, village life, and more current trends in the commercial and artistic realm of textiles.

    Piedmont Blues and Roots Music Festival – Main Street Laurens
    The Piedmont Blues and Roots Music Festival will be a celebration of the rich past Laurens has with blues, jazz, and even rock music genres. The event will be held in Downtown Laurens and will focus on the traditional piedmont blues music, mill hill blues, and other types of music that have played such an important role in music history. There will even be an opportunity to highlight local record companies and local bands who produced their own records back in the day!

    Trains on Main – Main Street Clinton
    The young and young at heart all love to stop and watch the trains as they roll through the City of Clinton, parallel to Main Street. Trains have long been a part of Clinton, so what better way to showcase this history than with Trains on Main. Model trains provided by the Copper family, the participation of downtown businesses, and Main Street Clinton volunteers, can all make this possible. The model trains will be on display and operating along the top perimeter walls of local businesses, in hopes of attracting local Clintonians and visitors from afar to step in and take a gander.

    Peg Leg Bates Dance Showcase – City of Fountain Inn
    The Peg Leg Bates Dance Showcase will be an exciting opportunity for local dance groups to participate in a free and fun event at the Fountain Inn Activities Center. This Showcase is open to all dance groups, however, the purpose of this project is to create a premiere dance event for groups who may not be able to afford or have access to traditional dance events/competitions. The goal is to have at least ten local dance acts participate throughout the day of the event. The idea is not necessarily to compete, but to highlight extraordinary local talent in the area of dance while creating an opportunity to celebrate an amazing native of Fountain Inn and his accomplishments.

     The selection committee for the Elevate Upstate Grants Program includes Phil Hughes (President, Hughes Investments), Ingo Angermeier (Retired, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System), and Terence Roberts (Mayor, City of Anderson).