By Natalie M. Zeigler
It has been 20 years since the City of Hartsville has been recognized for its distinction. Now the city is again up for the prestigious honor of being named All-America City. “A City with Heart”- Now a city with greater pride. The City recently received news that we are one of 20 finalist cities. As we prepare to journey to Denver, CO for the final round of judging, we take this opportunity to reflect on the many victories accomplished by the tireless efforts of so many in our community.
This year’s application spotlighted an array of programs that improve quality of life for our residents, with particular emphasis placed on those initiatives which seek to ensure that all children are healthy and supported to succeed in life and education.
Our schools strive to provide the best education for our youth and have established a reputation of academic excellence. Our corporate citizens, Sonoco and Duke Energy, serve as pillars and partners in building up our community, aligning themselves with community organizations and leaders to best leverage resources for maximum impact. The Byerly Foundation and Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville serve as catalysts for multi-faceted change in the community, incubating efforts ranging from downtown revitalization to programs that uplift marginalized neighborhoods.
The list of individuals and entities who have come together to empower our residents and improve our City are too numerous to detail here. From Carolina’s Kids ensuring that all children are clothed and fed, to Darlington County First Steps advancing early childhood development and empowering parents, to the PULSE (Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence) Initiative-made possible by a Sonoco grant for $5 million-improving our educational environment through partnerships with the Governor’s School and Coker College, to Cypress Adventures challenging students through outdoor experiential learning and mentorship opportunities, and so many more, our City is teeming with those who pour their heart and soul into making life better for our youth.
The obstacles faced by Hartsville are certainly not unique to our little town. It is how we cope with these common challenges that sets our community apart. Hartsville has been made great through uncommon partnerships and creative collaboration. It is because of this that our city is being recognized as a finalist for the All-America City award. Our city has much to be proud of.
A planning committee of key stakeholders has begun the challenging task of developing the final presentation and planning logistics for the upcoming trip (June 2016). Funds for this trip are currently being raised. Delegates will be chosen from programs and institutions highlighted in the application.
In this exciting time, we celebrate our successes, while acknowledging that there is still much to be done. We must take this opportunity to reflect, both collectively and individually, on how we can better serve our community and uplift our youth.
Natalie Zeigler is the City Manager of Hartsville. For more information, call City Hall at 843-383-3015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.