Wednesday, June 01, 2022


 The weather app says the current temperature is 94 degrees and we can expect sunny conditions the rest of the day.  I did leave the window down because the last time I jumped in the Avalon the dashboard temperature said inside it was 110.  Today is June 1.  I guess we expect that this is the way it is supposed to be.  

So, the temperature is not really news but there are lots of things happening that sort of qualify as news in our town.  For example, did you know that if you live in the city limits the holiday moved your trash collection back a day.  If you generally have your trash picked up on Tuesday it should have been picked up today.  That is noted here because there has been some rumbling by people who think the city messed up -- THEY DID NOT.  

Because the Pandemic has been with us so long there are lots of things that are happening that seem to come under the category "normal/not normal."  The Darlington County School District is continuing the summer feeding program this year.

May be an image of text

For the next comment, I am out of my depth but we still have to think about it even if I am not the person to lead the discussion -- 

Children across our country, heck people across our country are feeling less secure than many people can ever remember.  Adults need to, I think, do some stepping out and reaching out to children to sometimes blatantly ask and other times covertly ask if things are okay or if there is something you can do.  And, I do not care what you believe about guns if they are in the hands of children they should not be in their hands.  We have problems in our community with groups of young people thinking it is acceptable to target others with their firearms.  This is not a new normal that we can live with.  Kids being kids, few of them are carrying weapons without others knowing.  Right now it is not a question of do you have a right to carry -- but it is a question of SHOULD you?  NO. Adults have to step up even more now -- because we can see the problem.  Adults in this community can look out for others by giving some direction.  

This blog about community thinking is generally a pollyanna blog about all the great things happening in our community  -- like, did you know that today was CHALK day at the Hartsville Memorial Library.  

I hope all of stories can cover the fun things and the interesting things and I hope we can avoid the catastrophic things are are unfortunately all too common around our world today.

Author of the blog is Richard Puffer,

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

So How Was the Holiday Weekend in Hartsville, South Carolina?

 One of the big news items over the weekend for this community focused on the Hartsville High School Boys Baseball Team.  They were in the State Championship playing Eastside of Greenville in the second of a best-of-three series.  They had been killed in the first game.

The second game started badly for the Foxes but they pitched and hit their way back making up a large deficit and taking a 9-8 lead before giving up two runs at the end of the game to lose the Championship series 10-9.  It was an amazing comeback for that team and will give them stories they will still be telling grand children 50 or more years from now. 

As sort of a side light on the baseball game, the Hartsville High graduation was held last Friday morning with about 240 students getting their high school diploma.  The valedictory speech was given by Braden Mays who also happens to be the starting catcher on the 2022 Red Fox Baseball team.  His talk focused on the lessons he learned from his playmates during this past amazing season.  I think he is heading to Clemson for his college experience.  

And the end of last week was a big time for the graduating seniors at other schools in Darlington County. The Governors's School of South Carolina, located in Hartsville; at Mayo High School a magnet school in Darlington County, at Lamar High School and at Darlington High School all said good bye to their seniors.  Think about it, our community has just graduated more than 600 children beginning to look for their productive place in our world.  That by itself is exciting!

One of the big things happening in Hartsville over the Memorial Day weekend was the opening of NEPTUNE ISLAND, our city-owned-managed Water Park that is a visitor magnet. Driving past the Park on Saturday, Sunday and Monday it appeared full of visitors.  The mostly blue skies with occasional fluffy clouds made for a pretty perfect water park weekend.

Neptune Island is a fun-in-the-sun kind of place with water amusements including some real high water slides and toddler friendly splash pad places that seem ready to delight nine months to 15 years.  Those older can really enjoy the complete freedom of just sort of roasting in the sun or renting a cabana and finding a way to just enjoy sights and sound of people having a good time.

Driving around on Monday Suga Rush had a customers in their new summer hours and there were also customers out at the tables at the Sweet Shop on College Avenue. This note about these two businesses that supply lots of sweets and in particular ice cream is important because not long ago it was not easy to find ice cream dipping in our City.  Hope you all are getting your cones, your milk shakes and other sweet treats -- they add another cool option for us in this small town.

 Generally it appeared fairly quiet on Monday afternoon as many of the busy restaurants opted to give their employees some downtime for the holiday weekend. 

Hartsville is rapidly moving into Summer mode -- It would be interesting to hear some of the activities you are looking forward to in and around our community.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Byerly Foundation Searching for Associate Executive Director


The Board of Trustees of The Byerly Foundation of Hartsville has begun a search for a new staff member who will come on board to work with the Executive Director and Board to help continue building The Foundation's effectiveness as a leader partner in the positive growth of  greater Hartsville community.

Anyone with any questions about this job search may feel free to call The Byerly Foundation at 843-383-2400.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

I recently was given the opportunity to write a little about the innovation that we enjoy in Hartsville, South Carolina for the Department of Commerce blog called Scribble. Thought it might be a good idea to share in this Community Thinking blog.


Tuesday, May 05, 2020

We are in the midst or at least inside this pandemic and graduations at both the college and high school level are being canceled.  Back in 2017 Coker, where I had worked full time as a professor for 16 years, gave me the privilege of making the Graduation Speech to the Class of 2017 -- a year after I had retired.  That invitation was the greatest highlight of my professional career.  (There is also a major incident story to go along with that speech but for the purposes of this blog, I am going to share the speech.)  The goals of this talk were to welcome the graduating seniors to the brave new world beyond the college bubble and to show them evidence that they were beginning to write their own stories by highlighting the stories of some Coker students whom I had known who doing interesting, constructive things to create their own lives and their own communities.  After my daughter Inga helped me focus my thinking, the hardest part was having to take out so many stories so I could stay in the time limit.  Based on what the graduating class is facing in today's world, I thought I would share this talk for the Class of 2020:

Keeping connected in our community with Zoom and with people who care

One of the roles that has long been part of The Byerly Foundation in the greater Hartsville community is that of connector.  During the current COVID pandemic crisis the Foundation has been playing that role as the host of a weekly Zoom call bringing together lots of organizations and individuals who are working to mitigate as much as possible the negative impacts from this extended "thing."

The first call list came from people who had made themselves or their organizations known for having a place in the pandemic people solution. Then, those who were on the initial call were asked to identify others whose work would benefit from being connected. Then they were invited. The value of such a call is the connection!

Joe Bittle, who does a great deal of connecting work as part of his community role with Health South mentioned a couple of weeks ago efforts by Care South to establish COVID testing sites. The first of those testing sites opened today (5-5-20) in Society Hill. Care South is working with DHEC and this was the email Joe forwarded to help get the word out:

Hi Joe and Nicole,
Please sent this flyer and information out to the Darlington County Coordinating Council. Thanks, Suzette

COVID-19 Mobile Clinic in Society Hill- Tuesday, May 5, 2020
SCDHEC-Pee Dee Region and CareSouth Carolina are hosting a free COVID-19 Mobile Testing Clinic on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.  The clinic will be held at the St. David's Academy, 116 St. David's Street, Sociey Hill, SC  29593, from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Please invite all to come and get screened and tested for free.  See attached flyer. 

 C. Suzette McClellan, MPH, MCHES
Community Systems Director
S.C. Dept. of Health & Environmental Control
Pee Dee Region
105 N. Magnolia Street, Sumter, SC 29150
Office: (803) 934-2878
Mobile: (803) 983-9092
Fax: (803) 773-6366

We expect to hear a little more about the turn out at the testing site during this afternoon's phone call, which will be at 3 p.m. as it has been every Tuesday for the past several weeks.

Connection is crucial as it leads to Cooperation, which is how things get accomplished and problems get handled and most importantly people get helped!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Crunch Time in All-America City Competition

Crunch Time in the All-America City Competition
It was twenty years ago that Hartsville, South Carolina was named an All-America City in the National Civic League competition.  It was 20 years ago after some devastating things that happened around the community causing man who cared to do what Hartsvillians do – get involved.  Flossie Hopkins was mayor and Bill Bruton was city manager.  Lots of people who cared about the city had been doing lots of innovative things to solve problems and get jumpstarts on pressing issues.

The 2016 competition
Fast-forward to 2016. We enter this competition at the urging of Natalie Zeigler our city manager and Mel Pennington our mayor with strong support from City Council and other organizations in our city.  Hartsville is moving forward at a fast pace.  We have people who are involved in helping to create solutions to obvious problems. We have people who are involved in the daily grind of what some of us know as community building – working to make Hartsville an even better community today than yesterday and way – wayyyyyyyy better tomorrow and the next day.

Setting a high bar in community development
And that is one place the All-America City competition comes into play.  How is this dynamic, cosmopolitan small city in the Pee Dee of South Carolina doing in comparison with other growth, quality minded communities around the country.  In Hartsville we like to compete and we like to see the bar continually raised.  All-America City competition raises the bar.

Hard charging team of youth and adults
This year we have a team of nearly 25 individuals heading out to Denver, Colorado to help tell the stories of how we have been working to make our community a much better place for youth at all levels. Hartsville has recently begun a social media campaign themed #IAMHARTSVILLE to begin building visibility for this initiative that has been going on for nearly seven months with intense collaboration over the past six weeks.  The team, which includes six youth, has been practicing and rehearsing to consolidate the Hartsville story into a ten minute presentation and a ten-minute Q&A with judges.  Mary Catherine Farrell, who has been in charge of pulling this project together, says the team has been working very hard and she thinks they are ready.

Empowering youth is the 2016 theme
The overall theme of the competition is empowering youth. The Hartsville story is one of pulling together from a variety of devastating incidents to developing a wide array of successful programs helping empower youth and aid their school performance.
The Byerly Foundation aided many of the programs with seed funds and other funding. The people of Hartsville have done the work and while we already believe we live in an All-America we hope the team is successful in the competition so we have that outside validation!  Go Hartsville!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fundraiser Provokes New Thinking for Non-Profit Industry

I have recently finished a thought-provoking book on philanthropy. Jimmy LaRose wrote this book to encapsulate the advice he has been giving his clients for a number of years. It is advice that does not go down easy and it is advice that does not always make him popular in the non-profit industry. LaRose, who is based in Lexington, S.C., titled the book RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY.  His is a challenging message that I have to believe has received a good bit of blow back in much of the non-profit world.

Why the blow back? Well, LaRose is telling non-profits they need to do a better job of serving their primary clients while at the same time telling them the primary client is not the person receiving the non-profit’s services but the person and the people supplying the funds to sustain the non-profit’s work.

Throughout his book and the videos and other materials in which he shares his ideas, which are bed rocked in the statement, “Money is more important than mission (or Ministry).” (p 30)
With his unblinking focus on money, which he terms the oxygen of the non-profit system, he then concludes that “donors are more important than causes or people.” (p 33)
                                                Who is the actual "client"/ "customer?"
And as he continues to build his argument in that first chapter of his book, his next major position is that the customers, clients or non-profits are not those who are served but those whose money pays for the services. His in-your-face statement in positive terms is: “Successful nonprofits understand that donors are the object of their mission and must be served before people in need.” (p34)

Reading this as the executive director of a grant makingorganization (a donor organization) it immediately struck me that LaRose was choosing a very provocative frame around which to discuss how philanthropy might work. As a donor organization we work with non-profits to help them achieve amazing goals and succeed in making a positive difference in the life of people and the structure of community. I am not sure we have ever thought of ourselves as the customers of the non-profit.

As I process the information from this book, I am still not sure on which side I come down but I can say it provokes thought and new ideas for strategy and tactics in both fund raising and organization management.
                                                          Example of Mission Statements Changing
In this blog I am not going to try to provide all the arguments or assess the arguments. In this communication my goal is to make you aware the argument is out there.  And to show you a little about the direction the argument takes here is an example LaRose gives of a typical mission statement: “Harvest Town Food Bank exists to provide our community’s hurting, hungry, and homeless the clothing, food, and nutritional care they so desperately need.”  (p 35)  Now, here is that mission rewritten with a new audience as focus:  “Harvest Town Food Bank provides donors, volunteers, and advocated the organization they require to serve our community’s hurting, hungry and homeless.”
                                                              Opening New Discussion
Once you begin to see what reimagining philanthropy means in terms of mission it begins to make more sense and lead onto multiple paths of discussion – if not understanding – that may need to be part of building stronger, more sustainable non-profit organizations.
I have an extra book and am willing to share with anyone who would like to read it. And, you can find much of the Jimmy LaRose message in video on his website