Hampton County Chamber of Commerce Presents Annual Community Service Awards

Arts and economic development took center stage last Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Community Service Awards Banquet.

Among the coveted awards presented that evening were the Person of the Year Award, presented to Heather Bruemmer of Hampton County Arts, and the Business of the Year Award, presented to the SouthernCarolina Regional Alliance.

“I’ve been in the Lowcountry for 22 years, and about half of that time has been here in Hampton County,” Bruemmer said. “It was so humbling and empowering to receive this recognition of my work from the leaders of this community. I hope I can continue to do work that makes people like me proud to call the county of Hampton at home.”

Kay Maxwell, vice president of marketing at SouthernCarolina Alliance, was equally proud.

“SCA is thrilled to be named the Chamber’s ‘Business of the Year’,” said Maxwell. “We are proud of our partnership with Hampton County on economic development, where SCA has played a central role in announcing 3,105 in the area during the pandemic years. of 2020 and 2021. More than 1,500 of these jobs will be created in Hampton County over the next five years, and SCA looks forward to working with the Chamber in the years to come as these companies begin hiring our workforce. local workforce and to do business with our local vendors and suppliers.”

The Hometown Hero Award went to the Hampton Regional Medical Center Immunization Team, the Community Service Award went to Open Arms Fellowship, and the Education Award went to Leah Stanley.

Business of the Year Award – Southern Carolina Alliance

In 1996, the SouthernCarolina Alliance was formed as a critical connector, connecting industry and government leaders at the state, national and international levels. From humble beginnings as the Tri-County Alliance (Barnwell, Bamberg and Allendale), it has grown to seven counties strong.

The addition of Hampton County in 2008 led to the organization adopting its current name of SouthernCarolina. Colleton, Jasper and Beaufort would follow in 2012 and 2017.

In 2018, SCA established its regional headquarters in downtown Hampton, renovating the historic McSweeney Building into Class A offices to house the Alliance’s regional economic development team.

Since contracting with SCA for full-service economic development services seven years ago, Hampton County has been among the region’s economic development leaders, announcing more than $400 million in investments in capital and 1,800 new jobs.

For calendar year 2021, SCA recorded record hiring with 18 projects announced in the Seven Counties area. The Alliance has helped Hampton County facilitate 117 additional jobs and $22 million in capital investment in 2021, including Italian and Canadian business recruitment and expansion.

Person of the Year – Heather Bruemmer

Bruemmer is Executive Director of Friends of the Arts of Hampton County and is an author, arts administrator and community advocate. Her love for the arts dates back to when she was a student at the Rod Serling School of Fine Arts.

Bruemmer’s love of the arts once again took center stage. She is a longtime member of the Hampton County team for “Art of Community: Rural SC”. In 2019, she was appointed to the Hampton County Arts Council. His accomplishments include serving as regional captain for South Carolina Advocacy Day in Columbia, to being part of the South Carolina State team for National Advocacy Days in Washington, DC. in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She was a consultant and project director for the Estill Fall Arts Festival.

In 2020, Bruemmer and her friend, artist Amiri Farris, formed SLAY (Support Lowcountry Artists Y’all) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on the local arts community. SLAY has raised and distributed over $15,000 in cash for the basic needs of artists in the Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia.

Under Bruemmer’s direction, Hampton Friends of the Arts raised the funds necessary to bring the films back to the historic Palmetto Theater. She worked with Friends of the Arts President John G. Wright to forge a partnership with SC State University to expand arts and music education offerings for Hampton County students. The recent Friends of the Arts project is Studio 111, an incubator for small, emerging businesses in Hampton County. During his tenure with the Arts Council, the Stanley Arts Center was transformed into a vibrant community venue. She was recognized for her work on the project by Senator Tim Scott.

Bruemmer is originally from Binghamton, NY, lives in Estill, SC and is a proud mother of six. She is a longtime board member of the Lowcountry Homeschool Association and has previously volunteered with Hampton County 4-H. She was recognized by President Obama for her years of service as an ad litem guard in the 14th Judicial Circuit.

Hometown Hero Award – Hampton Regional Medical Center Vaccination Team

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine was set up to be internet-based, but Hampton Regional Medical Center opted to register as a so-called third-party clinic due to multiple disparities in health and technology infrastructure in our community. Literacy rates are low and only about 68% of our population has broadband Internet service. The decision was made to open a third-party clinic to facilitate the registration of vaccines for our citizens. The vaccines team created an email for vaccine requests and began scheduling vaccines over the phone for citizens without internet. All recipients registered through a paper-based process, and then staff entered all data into the US Center for Disease Control’s VAMS system. This required additional manpower, a team of three staff.

Hampton Regional began vaccinating employees on December 17, 2021, with the start of the Phase 1-A population. They quickly realized they were the only vaccine provider in Hampton County, so they opened their doors to anyone who was eligible for Phase 1-A. They contacted Bamberg County because there is no hospital or vaccine provider for the first few weeks of Phase 1-A.

In January 2021, with a surge in demands, the team of three nurses needed a larger team. They partnered with the local EMS and hired two full-time staff members to help with planning and data entry.

On June 3, 2021, Hampton County ranked 13th out of 46 counties in resident immunization percentage rates. By January 2022, more than 7,000 vaccines had been administered. The team is proud of the role it played there.

Hampton Regional Medical Center has been recognized by the South Carolina Hospital Association for its immunization clinic model and is considered best practice for rural hospitals.

Community Service Award – Open Arms Scholarship

Open Arms Fellowship was named because having open arms for others is a core value of our church body. Jesus walked the earth helping to meet the needs of those who suffered physically and spiritually. The Open Arms family strives to do the same. There are many struggles that people in our community face on a daily basis. No group can solve them all.

Open Arms serves over 100 families each week offering fresh fruit, meats and desserts every Monday morning. A hot cooked meal is offered every Thursday to anyone in need. Over 200 families are served, including a local disability ministry. With other churches and the help of our community, a traditional warm Thanksgiving is served the day before the holiday. Last year, more than 5,000 meals were served to residents of Hampton, Allendale, Bamberg, Colleton and Jasper counties.

Open Arms seeks to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those who are homeless, passing through the area, or need help with basic bills. Open Arms is often called upon by the local police department to help the homeless. The church provides them with a motel room, food and other necessities and tries to help them get to the desired place.

Accepting the award for Open Arms were Ronnie and Diane Stanley.

Education Award – Leah Stanley

Leah Stanley’s teaching philosophy is, “As a teacher, my calling is to build relationships with students and families that will impact their lives for eternity.”

Stanley taught in Hampton County schools for nine years – the first two at Brunson Elementary and the last seven at Ben Hazel Primary. Last year she was chosen Ben Hazel Primary Teacher of the Year. In October, she was chosen the first Hampton County School District Teacher of the Year for the newly consolidated school district. She was recently recognized by the Palmetto State Teachers Association as one of the top teachers in the state of South Carolina.

Some of Leah’s accomplishments at Ben Hazel are:

After school choir and drama programs

· Two productions of plays each year for the school and the community

· Directory editor and coordinator

Hampton District One Technology Master Teacher and Ben Hazel

South Carolina Mentor Teacher

Chair of the School Improvement Council

Member of the Hampton County School District Superintendent’s Advisory Council

Organizing community and service events, including the Light Up the World with Kindness campaign

During Leah’s first year teaching at Ben Hazel, a little boy came into her room who would later become her son. Because she taught him, she was able to be in his life at the right time to give him her home and family when he needed it. Leah and Skyler live with her parents, Ronnie and Diane Stanley. She is the worship leader at Open Arms Fellowship.

Norma P. Rex