Kershaw, South Carolina
Located in South Carolina, we partnered with the Arras Foundation to bring Community Heart & Soul directly to the town of Kershaw. During the initial two years of the Heart & Soul Kershaw program, youth and adults engaged in a series of conversations, community mappings, and other creative activities for the purpose of identifying our common interests and values. Kershaw Heart & Soul created a clear values and vision statement for the Kershaw community. The Heart & Soul process designed a plan that can guide community decision-making processes for the future of the area.
With financial and mentoring support from the Arras Foundation in Lancaster, South Carolina, Kershaw initiated Heart & Soul to build local communication networks, involve youth, seniors, and the faith community in revitalizing community life, and to create a new culture of collaboration and connection to act upon shared community goals. Town leaders envisioned increased local participation in municipal life so more voices could be heard. Business owners relished the chance to build stronger relationships within the community, and nonprofit partners dreamed of rebuilding the trust and pride needed to expand and strengthen educational and social services.
Heart & Soul Outcomes:
According to Kershaw’s Collaborative Community Action Plan, “Relationships and partnerships will be a key component of stewardship. Our stewardship will be the fulfillment of what matters most to Kershaw, based on input from the community in its entirety. The end goal is to empower, through collaboration among all stakeholders, the voice of the community in the decision-making for Kershaw.”
Even before the Action Plan started, Kershaw residents saw the following successes:
- New South Carolina First Steps Program – This state-of-the-art facility is the restoration of an iconic downtown landmark. The program provides much needed early childhood education.
- Placemaking and Library Relocation – Lancaster County purchased the vacant Wells Fargo Building to relocate the branch library in the heart of downtown Kershaw. The second floor will include offices for community organizations and a public computer lab, contributing to the “education corridor” in the heart of Downtown.
- Engaged Local Youth – Continued engagement with local schools is encouraging youth involvement in sharing their hopes and dreams for Kershaw. Interest exists to continue student engagement with Heart and Soul during stewardship.
- Prioritization of Health – Lancaster County and the Lancaster Recreation Advisory Council unveiled plans for a new sports complex in the Heath Springs area. In addition, partners are collaborating to expand walking trails and access for people with mobility challenges at Stevens Park and the Marion Boan Center.
- Increased Communication – Through improved social media and web presence, communication of events, news, and alerts has become much more efficient. Relationships with local media have been established and strengthened. Heart & Soul reports at Town meetings.
- Town Action – The Town has a renewed focus on solving zoning challenges, engaging the community, and working closely with the Heart & Soul Stewardship Team on the Collaborative Community Action Plan.