In the worlds of volunteer work and civic leadership, recognition is rarely a motive or result of the hours spent helping individuals or promoting a cause. Volunteers improve the fabric of our community in ways that many rarely consider. For six years, Greenville Forward has recognized people who selflessly devote time and energy to making Greenville County a better place to live through our annual Heroes Next Door award.
The Heroes Next Door are selected by their selflessness, dedication and commitment to their cause, and their impact on the community. The typical Hero is not paid to do the work they do. Heroes are honored in the local press, and are lifetime members of Greenville Forward.
Michael Delaney has served at Carolina High School for over 11 years, first as a math teacher and most recently as school principal. Mr. Delaney serves his students tirelessly, welcoming them to school every morning, building partnerships in the neighborhoods, and creating a culture of learning in the school.
Matrulene Johnson is a matriarch at Long Branch Baptist Church, lovingly known as “Nana” by many, both young and old. Min. Johnson serves the church and community in many ways: organizing the annual Thanksgiving Day meal, directing summer day camp for neighborhood children, leading the Good News Club at Thomas E. Kerns Elementary School, and much more.
Irene Moore has volunteered at Shriners Hospital for Children – Greenville almost long enough to retire. She’s been volunteering for over 44 years, logging more than 7,400 hours since they started tracking in 1999! Whether it’s comforting children in the cast room, escorting families to the outpatient clinic or greeting visitors at the front desk, Irene loves serving everyone who visits Shriners Hospital for Children – Greenville.
Genero Marin Hispanic Community Advocate
Genaro Marin, a retired Presbyterian pastor and psychologist, has been a dedicated community volunteer since he moved to Greenville, nine years ago. Genaro has dedicated his time to helping Hispanic families find much-needed resources. Genaro helped establish two outreach programs for families, Café Cultura at the Center for Community Services in Simpsonville and a Latino Ministry at Russell Memorial Presbyterian Church in Berea.
Horace Mayes Garden Godfather At St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Horace Mays is a volunteer and the champion behind the St. Anthony of Padua’s school and church garden. Horace transformed a lot that only produced in the summer to a year-round, thriving garden. Horace gathers workers for the garden, sometimes even recruiting Gower Street neighbors right off the street, and helps educate students on where their food comes from. An 88-year-old retired Navy chef and Pratt Whitney employee, Horace is known as the “Garden’s Godfather” and his hard work results in produce that supplements the food pantry at St. Anthony’s and feeds the community.
William O’Neil Preservation Champion for Richland Cemetery
After a career of working with the National Park Service, William O’Neil continues to dedicate himself to preserving our nation’s history and is now working to ensure that Greenville history is respected and celebrated. As a board member of the Richland Cemetery, William has been a prominent leader behind the development of a conservation plan for the historic site.
A life-long educator, Patricia Burns Dillard has lovingly committed herself to helping to improve the educational and life outcomes for young people in Greenville County. Born to parents that instilled in her the value of a great education, Patricia has spent her life making sure that others have that same opportunity. Her desire to see all children have access to quality education and a better life has driven her to do whatever she can to make Greenville a better place.
John Mann Peace Center for the Performing Arts/Meals on Wheels
Since a young age, John realized that volunteerism and the spirit of community are two key pieces in living a happy and long life. He has dedicated thousands of hours of time, not for glory or for fame, but because he genuinely cares for other people.
Yvonne Reeder is passionate. Anyone she’s ever met will tell you that. It is her passion that drives her to help those that need it the most. The daughter of a minister and a church volunteer, Yvonne has worked her entire life dedicated to the idea that lending a hand and lifting a neighbor up is the greatest gift that you can give. And, she’s proved it through volunteer service and leadership in her community and beyond.
David Moore Generation Forward Winner, Christ Church School
David A. Moore is a young man who understands what it means to be his “brother’s keeper.” David has spent his few years working to make our community healthier and happier through his work dedicated to stopping one of our deadliest enemies: cancer. David’s compassion and leadership in helping a fellow student, in working to create awareness and prevention for skin cancer, and for providing resources to those that need them are what makes him a leader as such a young age.
When Bo Cable was traveling years ago, he had an idea for a way to take care of others — to literally feed the hungry in his community. This simple, yet highly complex, idea remained in the back of his mind for a decade as he quietly pondered and researched ways to make it work. After a few casual conversations and persistent nudging, Bo decided to take a leap toward creating a garden that could feed Greenville’s hungry — a garden that has quickly become a highly successful provider known as the Generous Garden Project.
Harvey Choplin Bridges to a Brighter Future/Travelers Rest City Council
When Harvey Choplin retired from being a teacher, principal, coach, and educator-extraordinaire from Travelers Rest High School, his work to serve and support students in the Greenville County region was not done. Harvey began a second career (largely volunteer-based) serving the students and staff of Bridges to a Brighter Future, a program started in 1997 whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty and low-educational attainment by equipping students with the tools they need to graduate high school and enroll in post-secondary education.
Several years ago, a fire destroyed Princella’s home. After quickly gathering her family out of the house to safety, she thought her daughter was still inside. Princella ran into the burning home for her daughter, in the process receiving second, third, and fourth degree burns on over 49% of her body. Through her painful and difficult recovery at the Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia, the adjustment to life in Greenville after her personal tragedy proved to be a difficult challenge.
Donna volunteers so much at Southside High School that most of the students think she is a full time staff member. With budget cuts and funding restraints, she is essential to the everyday functions of the school. However, Donna’s service to Southside runs far deeper than assisting the attendance secretary and helping out administratively. To many of the students of Southside, she is a mother, a friend, a confidante, and a rescuer.
Peggy Baxter grew up in the historic Sterling Neighborhood and attended the renowned Sterling High School that originated in the 1800s and was among the premier African American high schools prior to integration.
The Sterling Community is a focus of one of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System’s community development and revitalization programs. Some of the major issues the community faces include, but are not limited to: a high percentage of vacant housing; a high percentage of residents living at or below the poverty line; many pockets have become dumping sites for trash; crime and safety concerns; homelessness and lack of economic opportunities; and overall poor health and wellness.
Jimi Turner Christmas Gifts for Impoverished Children in North Greenville
When Jimi Turner was 12 years old, he watched his mother cry when she could not afford to provide any Christmas gifts for her children. He made a promise to himself that day that as long as he lived, he would try to give to children in his community who were not going to be able to afford a Christmas celebration.