by Sharon Purvis
This week, Ten at the Top hosted its annual Celebrating Successes event, in which companies and organizations celebrating milestone anniversaries are recognized, service awards are presented, and Elevate Upstate grant finalists make their presentation and winners are announced.
More than 200 people gathered at the Greenville Marriott for the event; attendees included representatives from the milestone organizations and Elevate Upstate finalists, along with Ten at the Top funding partners and other supporters.
More than 100 milestone entities were recognized, including Oconee and Pickens Counties and Park Seed Company celebrating 150 years in the Upstate. Next year’s celebration will include Ten at the Top’s 10th anniversary, and executive director Dean Hybl promises an extra special celebration. (If you know of a landmark anniversary that should be included next year, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Burdette Leadership Award, named for Ten at the Top founding board member Carol Burdette, recognizes a woman in leadership who has made a significant contribution to our region, went to South Carolina state legislator Chandra Dillard, who had previously served for several years on the Greenville City Council.
The Welling Award for Regional Collaboration, named for founding board member Irv Welling, went to two other founding board members, Terence Roberts and Rick Danner, mayors of Anderson and Greer, respectively. The two men have supported the collaborative efforts of Ten at the Top since its inception and continue to look outward from their towns to embrace a more regional outlook.
Last year was the fifth year in Phil Hughes’ 5-year commitment to fund the Hughes Investment Elevate Upstate Grants, and after last year’s grants were awarded, he committed to another five years. In those five years, 21 grants were awarded for a total of $67,000—exceeding Hughes’ original commitment of $10,000 per year.
As in past years, the five Elevate Upstate grant finalists each gave a four-minute presentation about their proposed community vibrancy projects. Out of 26 applications, the grant committee selected the following five finalists:
- Centuries of Gaffney: A Walking Tour (City of Gaffney)—signage to indicate historically significant sites from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries in Gaffney
- 1st Annual Charles Townes Art & Technology Experiment (Jeff Sumerel of Spontaneous Productions, in partnership with the Town of Travelers Rest)—laser-based light and audio installations celebrating Charles Townes, Greenville native, Furman University graduate, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
- IDEAS Festival: Increase Dialog about Engagement in Arts and Social justice initiatives (The Arts Center of Clemson/City of Clemson Arts& Culture Commission)—an interactive, community-based arts festival that increases engagement with the arts and social justice
- Ninety Six Movie Night at the Park (Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association)—in a town with no movie theater, a community initiative that brings residents together to increase use of Ninety Six Mill Park
- Environmental Art Festival (Piedmont Physic Garden, in partnership with Union County Arts Council, USC-Union, and Union County Tourism Commission)—an arts festival with the theme of “Imagine a Sustainable World,”highlighting the rich natural resources in Union County
The two grant winners were Jeff Sumerel (who gave his presentation with the aid of a ventriloquist puppet) and the Charles Townes Art and Technology Experiment, and the Ninety Six Mill Village Neighborhood Association’s Movie Night at the Park—after project coordinator Mary Ann Goodman charmed the audience with her comedic timing in her presentation. The Union Physic Garden was runner up, receiving a $3,000 matching grant.
As always, Ten at the Top thanks Phil Hughes and Hughes Investments, the grant finalists, and all of the other applicants for their contributions to community vibrancy all over the Upstate.