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Jim Rutledge

Jim Rutledge Receives the 2011 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change

Jim Rutledge, president and co-founder of Church Builders, Inc., received the2011 Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Annual Meeting at the Spartanburg Marriott.

Jim Rutledge, was nominated for his leadership skills and the difference he has made in the community through Church Builders, Inc. “He is a humble man who merely seeks to reach out to those less fortunate,” said Andrew Hayes, with Spencer/Hines Properties. “He has created innovative solutions in tackling this critical community issue.”  Hayes nominated Rutledge.

Rutledge and his wife founded Church Builders, Inc. in 1998, coordinating their efforts in the form of a small ministry working out of their home.  Over the next several years, Church Builders, Inc. moved into other locations in order to expand the food ministry as it continued to grow, and in 2006, moved to its current location at 127 Freemont Avenue in Spartanburg.

As a community leader, Rutledge continues to address the ever growing problem of providing groceries to those in need. In addition to serving over 1,500 families per month, Church Builders, Inc. has partnered with and provides food to four soup kitchens, as well as serves free monthly dinners and two free breakfasts each week.  In 2009, Church Builders, Inc. distributed over 1.5 million pounds of food – all at no charge.

Rutledge also coordinates a group called the “Director’s Meeting,” which consists of 23 area nonprofit organizations. This group coordinates its efforts to ensure excess food gathered by Church Builders, Inc. is distributed to those organizations based on need.

“Rutledge is a great example of a community leader who has chosen to put words into action,” said John Dargan, president and CEO of The Spartanburg County Foundation. “He is a perfect example of what the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership and Community Change is all about.”

In addition to providing food to those in need, Rutledge offers guidance, encouragement, and opportunities for individuals to volunteer within the organization.

Rutledge continues to promote positive community change by his recent announcement of a youth center that will be located at 348 Preston Street. Rutledge has coordinated with both the City Police Department and the County Sheriff’s Department to operate the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in hopes to provide positive alternatives and deter crime in the area.

Rutledge was presented with an award and a $5,000 cash grant, which he has chosen to grant back to Church Builders, Inc.

Learn more about the history of the Mary L. Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change and review past recipients.