FMU/SCANPO to bestow award upon CEO of Helping Hands of Georgetown

FMU/SCANPO to bestow award upon CEO of Helping Hands of Georgetown (Image 1)

FLORENCE – Sharon Clemmons Thomas, executive director and CEO of Helping Hands of Georgetown, Inc., has been selected to receive the 2014 Francis Marion University Non-Profit Leadership Institute's (FMU NPLI) and S.C. Association of Nonprofit Organization (SCANPO) Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership.

The North Charleston native will receive the award on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the “2014 SCANPO Together. For Good. Nonprofit Summit” to be held in Charleston.

The purpose of the award is to recognize a graduate of FMU's NPLI or a member of SCANPO who has excelled in the management of their establishment through organizational and resource development.

Thomas' passion and dedication to the mission and the unprecedented growth and recognition of the organization during her tenure more than qualifies her for the award, says Richard A. Schwab, chairman of the Helping Hands board of directors, who nominated her for the recognition.

“Not being satisfied with the status quo, Sharon has launched the Time to Change program wherein specifically trained volunteers work with individual clients to assist them in making the changes necessary to improve their lives,” says Schwab. “It has been an extremely rewarding and enlightening experience to work with her during this period in the quest to aid those who are less fortunate.”

Thomas was hired in June 2010 to lead the organization whose board chair at the time had served as executive director for 8 months while they sought a candidate. She faced the challenges of many nonprofit leaders in rural South Carolina: How do we improve operations, programming, donor and volunteer support? Thomas was hired to accomplish those tasks with an organization whose reputation had somewhat declined.

During Thomas' nearly four years as CEO, Helping Hands has experienced marked positive change and growth as a result of her effective leadership and dedication to assisting the poor of Georgetown, says Schwab. She has more than tripled the organization's annual revenues, quadrupled its volunteer base, overseen the relocation of Helping Hands to a larger more visible facility and managed the establishment of a dental clinic.

Helping Hands of Georgetown, Inc. was established in 1989 through the vision of founding board members representing 17 Covenant Churches in Georgetown County, who felt they could better help residents by supporting one organization. That entity would exist to assess and determine an adequate response to the many needs that arise in this primarily rural and poverty ridden area of South Carolina.

Thomas will receive a $500 cash award from FMU; a distinguished award to proudly display in their office; registration for the award recipient at SCANPO's Nonprofit Summit; recognition through FMU's NPLI website and newsletter(s); state-wide recognition through SCANPO communications with nonprofit, business and foundation sectors; and local recognition through the organization's newspaper media outlets. Additionally, the recipient's name will be listed on SCANPO's Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership plaque displayed at the SCANPO office in Columbia.

For more details about the award, please contact Elizabeth Jones, FMU program and events manger, at 843.661.1199 or

Registration for the summit is available online at Attendance is priced from $100 for one-day to $345 for all three days for non-members.

Previous Recipients of the NPLI/SCANPO Award for Nonprofit Leadership

2013 – Ginny Waller, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands 

2012 – Cecilia Meggs, Lighthouse Ministries

2011 – Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank

2010 – Fay Brown, Foothills Alliance

2009 – Kristi King Brock, Anderson Interfaith Ministries

2008 – Jennie W. Peze, Pee Dee Land Trust

2007 – Deborah Francis, Lexington- Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council


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