Summer is never what it seems

Greetings!

It feels so long since we have spoken with one another. I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer as we quickly approach the official start of the season. When we last spoke, I was going to help create a Promise Neighborhood grant together for the city of Columbia. The city changed their mind, but like every good SPEA student, we think on our feet and always have a back up plan. My connections in Columbia have been wonderful in plugging me into various projects and while I will explain them all in due time, I will start out with the project I have been assisting as of late.

The nonprofit is called River’s Edge Retreat, a brand new nonprofit started by a single man, Steve Ware. He has been a business entrepreneur in the local area for over 15 years and decided the empty feeling inside needed to be replaced by giving back. His story is powerful, having grown up as a foster child and living in as many as 14 homes in 1 year alone. He was discovered by a youth minister in Greenville, SC playing basketball at the homeless shelter he called home – he was 14. The youth minister entered him into a private school where he quickly blossomed, graduating high school as class president and holding the scoring record for the entire state. He received a full-ride to play basketball and has had an extremely successful business career.

The partnership has been a major blessing for both of us. My business background prepared me for his mindset, but my focus on nonprofits in the last 3 years have helped him adjust his mindset on how to run the retreat. We are partnering this summer with the University of South Carolina and their award-winning Challenging Horizons Program. Camp started today! I am also working to find grants to get our amazing Junior Olympic sized pool up and running. We could all use a swim at the end of the hot days here!

I have attached a flyer and more information about the Retreat, including some pictures. The retreat is beautiful and a great break from the city life of Columbia. I continue to wish you all the best this summer and will be back soon to tell you about some other great happenings and updates on the Retreat. Cheerio ladies and gentlemen.

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