Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute

Spartanburg students eager to delve into justice system

By Allison M. Roberts,

High school students from Spartanburg and their parents gathered Thursday night to help launch the Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute.

The program is a collaboration between the Spartanburg County clerk of court and the Spartanburg County Foundation. The foundation is providing support for the program and a $15,000 matching grant.

The students who are participating will go through four sessions that introduce them to different areas of local government. They’ll have sessions at Spartanburg City Hall, the Spartanburg County Detention Center, the Sheriff’s Office and the courthouse.

Clerk of court Hope Blackley said she hopes the participants will come away with a positive view of the criminal justice system.

“That’s my goal for them,” Blackley said.

Mary Thomas, chief operating office with the Spartanburg County Foundation, said she wants the students to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system. Ultimately, she hopes their exposure to law enforcement, attorneys and other professionals will spur their interest in a career in the field.

“We hope they get to have a clear understanding of how the system works, because there is so much in social media and in the media in general that portrays it in such a negative light,” Thomas said. “We want to build a community, and the young people is where we have to start.”

David Goodson, 18, a Broome High School student, is an aspiring politician, which is what inspired him to take part in the program. Goodson said politics is an exciting field, and he’s hoping his experiences in the criminal justice youth institute will help prepare him for that.

Goodson said he’s especially looking forward to being in the courtroom. He wants to see the “law and order” of the system and the challenges judges face while trying to make decisions.

Ameera Surka, 16, from Spartanburg Day School, is also looking forward to observing court proceedings.

The criminal justice system and its inner workings are interesting, Surka said, and she’s looking forward to learning more. She said she hopes when the program is over, she can educate people about the criminal justice system and dispel some of the misconceptions.

“Not many people under the age of 18 are going to be able to see things like that because we can’t do jury duty,” Surka said. “I’m really excited to be part of this.”

Sara Hawkins, 16, from Chapman High School, is planning for a career in law enforcement when she’s older. She’s given some thought to being a homicide detective and is eager to see how each branch of local government works.

Like Surka, she wants to leave the program with enough knowledge about the process to educate people who may distrust law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

“I think nowadays law enforcement has a negative view,” Hawkins said. “That’s really disappointing to me, because to me, it’s about making a difference and making the world a better place. I think the biggest thing that will come out of this is people seeing that a lot of these people seriously want to help other people and change the world for the better.”

Welcome Bert Barre, New Trustee!

bert-barreThe Spartanburg County Foundation is pleased to announce the election of Bert D. Barre to the Board of Trustees for a term of seven years.

Mr. Barre is a graduate of Spartanburg High School and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Washington and Lee University. Currently, he serves as a principal of Colonial Trust Company. Colonial Trust is a privately owned trust company and wealth management firm with offices in Spartanburg, Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston and has over $1 billion in assets under advisement.

Mr. Barre brings expertise in finance and accounting to The Spartanburg County Foundation Board of Trustees. He previously worked as an Equity Research Analyst at Wachovia Securities, Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. Barre was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation by the Association of Investment Management and Research® (now CFA Society®) in 2003 and the Certified Trust Financial Advisor® designation by the Institute of Certified Bankers in 2004.

Barre has served on Fidelity Investments’ Trustee Referral Program Advisory Committee and is a graduate of Leadership Spartanburg. He has served on several boards including the Chapman Cultural Center, the Spartanburg Little Theatre, Spartanburg Community College Foundation, Pine Street School Foundation, TOTAL Ministries, and the Rotary Club of Spartanburg. He has also served as Deacon and Elder at First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg.

Bert and his wife Katherine have three children – Sallie (11), Martha (9), and Dixon (6). When he’s not working and keeping up with three children, Bert enjoys Clemson sports, fitness, and any outdoor activity.

2016 Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service

Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service Raises over $21,000 for Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network (SPIHN)

Watch the Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service, hosted at First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg, by clicking the video below.


SPIHN to receive $21,000 to help homeless families

By Allison M. Roberts, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

More than $20,000 was raised Tuesday night for a program that helps homeless families get back on their feet.

This year’s Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service at First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, sponsored by The Spartanburg County Foundation and the Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance, raised money for the Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network, a local nonprofit that assists homeless children and their families.

At the service, $13,555.01 was collected from those in attendance. The Spartanburg County Foundation gave $5,000, and an anonymous donor pledged to match $2,500 of it. All total, $21,055.01 will be donated to SPIHN.

“The bar has been set very high this year, perhaps close to doubling the take from last year,” said the Rev. Sally Beth Shore of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Spartanburg, just before announcing the amount.

Shore said it takes about $5,000 a year to support each family that goes through SPIHN.

“I imagine they’d be deeply touched if they knew of the work of this community coming together just for one night to make this all happen in the coming year,” Shore said.

The Rev. J. Edward Morris of the Episcopal Church of the Advent urged those who attended to give generously to help those families who have unexpectedly found themselves in transition.

Morris recalled a list of people from the Bible who found themselves in some kind of transition at some point in their lives. He said he kept thinking of what it’s like to be without a home, and hoped those in attendance would help SPIHN serve those families.

“SPIHN knows about transition. It knows about the difficulties and challenges that face family,” Morris said. “I’m pleased, proud and humbled as the Episcopal Church of the Advent to be one of the 16 churches in this community that hosts SPIHN families a week at a time. They move in and we host them, feeding and providing a warm, safe place to lay their head.”

Beth Rutherford, executive director of Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network, said she was honored to be part of the service and talked about the organization’s work.

SPIHN helps provide life skills to homeless families, and it works with 16 local churches that provide overnight shelters and food. Volunteers from the churches have converted classrooms into sleeping areas so families can stay together during that moment of crisis, Rutherford said.

If the adults in the family aren’t working, they come to the day center, where a case manager works with them on life skills such as budgeting, financial responsibility and parenting, Rutherford said.

The goal is to help them get back on their feet and teach them the necessary skills to be self-sufficient once they leave SPIHN, Rutherford said.

“We do everything we can do to help our families become sustainable once they leave SPIHN,” Rutherford said.

Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Alliance Logo Final
The Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service has provided an annual opportunity for people of faith to gather together in celebration and gratitude for over fifteen years. Following the 2013 Service, a group of Foundation staff and clergy met to discuss how the faith community could come together more than once a year. The group researched various faith community networks and formed the Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance in 2014.

The Purpose
The Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance is a network of clergy, lay leaders, and faith communities joining together for the purpose of contributing to the common good. The Alliance was formed as a partnership between area clergy and The Spartanburg County Foundation. In 2016, the Alliance began hosting an annual program of events focused on different community issues and opportunities to connect and serve together. A schedule of Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance Meetings is listed below.

The Goal
The central goal of The Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance is to serve as a resource hub for community engagement and create a network to leverage the faith community and its many assets to meet the needs of the greater Spartanburg County community.

The Compassion Fund
In 2014, the Alliance established The Kirk H. Neely Spartanburg County Compassion Fund to honor the Reverend Dr. Kirk H. Neely for his instrumental work in uniting the faith community to charitably and collectively meet the needs of worthy causes through the offerings collected each year at the Spartanburg Community Thanksgiving Service. The Alliance is currently working to build this fund and has not yet reached the point of awarding grants. Once fully funded, The Compassion Fund will award grants to faith-based and community-based organizations meeting the immediate needs of the poor in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. This access to additional resources will provide the Alliance the opportunity to come together to meet needs in the Spartanburg community. If you would like to contribute to the Compassion Fund, click “Give Now” on the left side of the screen and type in “Compassion Fund.” All contributions are tax-deductible.


Are you interested in becoming a part of the Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance?

Join us at any of the 2017 Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance Meetings!  Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance 2017 Schedule


Please click here to download a partnership form and mail it to “Attention: Spartanburg Interfaith Alliance, The Spartanburg County Foundation, 424 E. Kennedy Street, Spartanburg, SC 29302.”  Please call The Spartanburg County Foundation office if you have any questions at (864) 582.0138.