Spartanburg Opportunity Center volunteers helping the homeless
Spartanburg Opportunity Center brings innovative approach to challenges of homelessness
On a recent Friday afternoon, Stephanie Farmer was at her volunteer post inside the gymnasium of the City of Spartanburg’s
former Northwest Recrea-tion Center on Saxon Avenue, checking in homeless men and women who had come to use the facility’s
locker room showers and sinks.
The recreation facility, decommissioned since 2020, today is home
to the Spartanburg Opportunity Center, and, in addition to washing off and brushing teeth, homeless community members come
here to receive mail, enjoy snacks and get a break from harsh weather. There’s also a laundry service and a closet where
guests can select items of donated clothing, and heavy-duty plastic bins are available for storing personal belongings.
Not long ago, Farmer was on the other side of things at the Spartanburg Opportunity Center. Fol-lowing legal troubles
and a bout with drug addiction, she found herself facing homelessness, living in a tent for a period of time. The center provided
support for her, including case management services that enabled Farmer to secure housing.
it wasn’t for this place, it wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
A new strategy
Complex and entrenched community challenges call for innovative, collaborative solutions.
So in 2018 and 2019, leaders in Spartanburg came together to discuss new avenues to address the multifaceted and
growing issue of chronic homelessness. They considered the many struggles homeless people face—from day-to-day needs
such as hygiene and adequate clothing to longer-range concerns including employment, healthcare and, of course, housing.
Recognizing the many different dynamics at play in addressing homelessness, the United Way convened the Spartanburg
Homeless Taskforce along with the City of Spartanburg, OneSpartanburg, Inc. and Spartanburg Inter-faith Hospitality Network
(SPIHN) to explore new, sustainable solutions for some of Spartanburg’s most vulnerable residents.
An opportunity arises
Born of that collaboration, in 2019 the taskforce launched a pilot
program aimed at helping the homeless: the Spartanburg Community Center.
Homeless community members
can visit on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The center is managed by SPIHN, which has worked with other faith-based organizations
to provide shelter and other support for homeless families since 2005.
Basic services help homeless people get through the day, and case management helps to put them on a path to new opportunities.
But as much as anything, Rutherford said, the center gives people a sense of self-esteem and hope.
you see someone come in who’s dirty and disheveled, and then they go into the clothing closet to get a new shirt or
pair of pants, get a shower, and then they look totally different – that’s why we do this,” she said. “We’re
giving people hope. They’re getting unconditional love. We have people say, ‘Thank you – no one’s
ever cared about me so much.’”
“When you see someone come in who’s dirty
and disheveled, and then they go into the clothing closet to get a new shirt or pair of pants, get a shower, and then they
look totally different – that’s why we do this,” she said. “We’re giving people hope. They’re
getting unconditional love. We have people say, ‘Thank you – no one’s ever cared about me so much.’”
Bobby Young, who has been intermittently homeless for several years, starting visiting the Spartan-burg Opportunity
Center soon after it opened. Like Farmer, he decided to become a volunteer. “This place gives direction and hope,”
he said. Case managers, Young said, provide basic but invaluable services – things like understanding government paperwork
or filling out applications for food stamps. “A lot of people are at a standstill, and the center helps you move forward,”
Rutherford is pleased that some who benefit from the program decide to give back by serving
as volunteers. she said.
Potential to expand services
area has seen its local homeless population grow over the years. Rutherford estimates that there are as many as 600 homeless
residents in the county.
For its part, the City has taken an active role in addressing challenges
associated with homelessness. For example, in 2020 the City created a new staff position: homeless outreach and education
coordinator. Olivia McIntyre serves in the role, and, as she put it, “My office is the street.” She provides information
to homeless people about community health resources, job opportunities, and relief services. She also works to coordinate
and support community groups and volunteers who want to provide meals or clothing for the homeless.
the City’s Homeless Court, established in 2019, works with local law enforcement to encourage participants to receive
and complete treatment and rehabilitation programs in exchange for the dismissal of the fines associated with a criminal offense
and, in some cases, the dismissal of an offense.
Rutherford also credits the City for leasing
space at the Northwest Center rent-free, with the organization responsible only for a portion of the cost of the property’s
utilities and maintenance. She added that the City recently used federal COVID-19 relief funds to purchase new laundry machines
for the center.
With continued support from the City and other partners, Rutherford be-lieves
there’s potential for the Spartanburg Opportunity Center to do even more for homeless residents. Plans call for the
creation of a multi-use classroom to provide financial literacy, job training, life-skills development and cultural offerings.
BridgeWay groundbreaking ceremony
Station breaks ground in Mauldin
Hughes Investments, Inc. and the City
of Mauldin hosted a Groundbreaking Ceremony on April 8 to commemorate the commencement of construction at BridgeWay Station,
an immersive master planned, mixed-use development in Mauldin. The Honorable Henry McMaster, Gover-nor of South Carolina,
United States Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman William Timmons, Greenville County Council Chairman Mauldin Mayor Terry
Merritt were among those in attendance.
BridgeWay Station will be a multi-phase, mixed-use
development. In addition to the 500,000+ square feet of surrounding condominiums and office space previously developed by
Hughes Investments, the first phase of development will include:
• 68,939 square feet
• 210,824 square feet of residential
Approximately 73,000 square feet of office
• Approximately 81,000 square feet of institutional
• 24,691 square feet of plaza and pavilion public space; and,
• 5+ acres of parks connected to the Swamp Rabbit Trail
Future phases of development
on the approximately 80 acre site may exceed 2,500,000 square feet. With a focus on parks, plazas, towers, fully utilized
rooftops, outdoor dining, and outdoor entertainment space, Bridge-Way will meaningfully cultivate the most successful, safe,
and highly desired components of large-scale, mixed-use developments to create a pedestrian-oriented, vi-brant community.
“From the beginning, we understood that being patient as the area grows would best serve the community and
Upstate with a dynamic, new mixed-use development rather than an industrial park as originally planned,” said Phil Hughes,
President and Founder of Hughes Investments, Inc. “The unique old world architecture will be expressed in multiple buildings
with retail, office, residential, institutional, entertainment, restaurants, and public parks connected to the Swamp Rabbit
Trail. Our goal is to create a ‘sense of place’ that is fun for everyone.”
Station will be the first New Town Center development in the Upstate. Beyond a diverse tenant mix, and through public/private
partnerships, the development will offer unique placemaking architectural elements, fueled by local developer insight combined
with international inspiration. The development will create thousands of new jobs, including over 1,000 new jobs in its first
phase, and will serve as a catalyst for economic empowerment, boast new entrepreneurs, and create a highly desirable civic
The significance of these actions can only be measured in the impact to a community
where the market has long been underserved and underdeveloped. With nothing else like it, Hughes Investments, Inc. and the
City of Mauldin hope that Bridge-Way will enrich the lives of its residents as well as visitors from all corners of the city,
state, region, and beyond. “The City of Mauldin is pleased to partner with Mr. Hughes in planning and collaboration
of this development,” said Terry Merritt, Mayor.
During the Ground-breaking Ceremony,
Mayor of Mauldin, Terry Merritt, unveiled the architectural design of the new pedestrian bridge that will span I-385 and connect
the Swamp Rabbit Trail to BridgeWay Station. The construction of a .25 mile section of trail that will connect existing walking
paths along E. Butler Road to the pedestrian bridge is nearing completion. The City is exploring additional trail routes to
extend the trail to Simpsonville, Fountain Inn, and beyond.
“This new town project
of BridgeWay Station will greatly serve many of the region’s untapped re-sources and demand. As well, it will and has
already brought multiple new opportunities for indirect investment and development,” added Taft Matney, Mauldin City
Hughes Investments, Inc. has worked with Street-Works Studio to define an integrated
and immersive Master Plan. McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and Eric Brown also helped in important ways to create this
impactful architectural design. Harper General Contractors will utilize unique construction techniques to efficiently erect
the 6-story buildings. Construction will begin immediately. Leasing is underway with several leases already signed and exciting
an-nouncements forthcoming. Phase one is expected to be completed in Q4 2022.
Station and the City of Mauldin’s pedestrian bridge are located at 1000 BridgeWay Boulevard (formerly Centerpointe Boulevard),
Simpsonville, SC 29681.
Hughes Investments, Inc. was founded in 1990 by Phil Hughes to create
places of lasting value for quality tenants. Phil and his team have served the Upstate of South Carolina for over 30 years
by providing smart, quality growth in ways that serve the local community. Phil and his team have been integral to the successful
development of downtown Greenville and its sustainable growth. Hughes Investments develops office, retail, industrial, multifamily,
medical, and mixed-use properties, specializing.
Garden ready: Tips for Spring vegetable prep
and planting from Clemson University
Having fresh produce available at any time is easier when
you can grab it straight from your own garden.
Home gardening is not a new trend, but it’s
continued to pick up steam in recent years, with the pandemic bringing a new level of interest to the subject. Everyone has
the ability to plant a garden, regardless of space – an herb box makes for a perfect addition to any windowsill option.
Vegetables can be grown in a variety of ways, from traditional in-the-ground planting and raised beds to pots and yes, even
The first step to building the vegetable garden you’ve been waiting for is
to start with a few basic questions:
Who will be doing the work (tending the garden)?
Will the garden be a group project with family members or friends who will work willingly through the season to a
fall harvest, or will you be handling the hoe alone in between camping and swimming? Remember that a small weed-free garden
will produce more than a large, weedy mess.
What do you (and your family) like to eat?
Although the pictures in the garden catalog look delicious, there is no value in taking up gardening space with vegetables
that no one eats. Make a list of your family’s favorite vegetables, ranked in order of preference. This will be a useful
guide in deciding how much of each vegetable to plant. Successive plantings of certain crops, such as beans, can be harvested
over a longer period of time and increase your yield. As you plan, list recommended varieties and planting dates.
How do you plan to use the produce from your garden?
If you plan to can, freeze, dry,
or store part of the produce, this will be a factor not only in planning the size of the garden but also in selecting varieties.
Some varieties have much better keeping quality than others. Care should be used in choosing the seeds, making sure the varieties
you select are adapted to your area and intended use.
How much space is available and what is
proximity to water source?
How much area can be converted into usable garden space, and how much
garden do you need? Do not plant more garden than you need.
How close is the water source? Make
sure your garden has an accessible water source, whether you can set up irrigation or simply drag a hose over when the inevitable
dry weather arrives.
Once you’ve answered the above questions and determined what you are
going to plant, plan your garden out on paper before planting – showing the arrangement and spacing of crops, grouping
plants by the length of growing period. Remember, place tall and trellised crops on the north side of the garden so they will
not shade the shorter vegetables.
Now that you’ve planned out your garden, it’s time
to plant. You can start with seeds or transplants (purchased at your local home and garden store), keeping in mind that you
want to plant after the last freeze in your area.
Keep your garden as small as possible to cut down on unnecessary work.
– Get a soil test
to determine the nutrients in your soil. A fact sheet with details on soil testing can be found on the HGIC website.
– In South Carolina, gardens should receive at least six hours of direct sun each day (leafy vegetables can
tolerate partial shade; vegetables that produce fruit, such as peppers and tomatoes, must be grown in full sun).
– Avoid planting your garden close to or beneath trees and shrubs because shade and the competition for nutrients
and water may reduce vegetable growth.
– Plants grown for their leaves or roots can be grown
in partial shade.
For additional tips and information please visit the Clemson University College
of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences web page.
Prepared by Clemson University College of
Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.