Orangeburg County Community of Character was born from an idea sparked during attendance at a South Carolina Downtown Development Conference in Charleston, South Carolina in 1999. Bernice Tribble and Laura Hibbits (representing DORA as Board Chair and Director respectively) attended a breakout session led by, then, Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh. The session was based on a program started in the elementary schools of Aiken to build strong character in students. The name selected for the initiative in Aiken was Community of Character. After hearing about the program in Aiken, SC schools, they came back with the idea to implement a character initiative in Orangeburg. It was determined that Orangeburg would benefit from implementation of a character program to reach and engage our entire community (taking it to a level beyond just schools). The concept was shared with other key local leaders and a grass roots effort ensued thereafter. Aiken’s Mayor and Human Resource Director, Stanley Quarles, made several trips to Orangeburg, providing input and outlining steps for setting up a program here in Orangeburg. Some of the other initial key leaders involved from Orangeburg included Dede Cook, Donnie Jameson (both from the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce), Hal Johnson (Orangeburg County Development Commission) and Cathy Hughes (The Times and Democrat).
Identifying compelling reasons for character building, character education and a vision for a better community, in 2000, the decision was made to go county-wide. All 17 municipalities*, and the County itself, signed resolutions of support proclaiming each to be “Communities of Character”. Hundreds of volunteers from across the County became involved. One dedicated and devoted community member, Nancy Ayers, served as the “spark plug” in getting the program started locally and in sustaining the momentum to move the initiative forward, along with other integral, dedicated community members.
Orangeburg County Community of Character By-Laws were adopted on February 12, 2004; and the Organization subsequently filed and obtained 501(c)(3) status.
The program operated without paid staff until 2006, when an Executive Director, Don Tribble, was hired to coordinate the efforts of the many volunteers who had worked diligently to make the program a success. Don Tribble served as director until 2012. Kristina Thomas replaced Mr. Tribble as Executive Director on January 7, 2013 and served until June 2015. Evelyn Disher became the new Executive Director on December 21, 2015.
Initial activities focused on character education in the schools. Since that time, the program has grown to partner with all segments of our community including the following.
· Business and Industry
· Government, Law Enforcement and Public Safety
· Social Services and Health Services
· Civic organizations and other non-profits
· Faith based organizations
* The 17 municipalities of Orangeburg County include the Town of Bowman; the Town of Branchville; the Town of Cope; the Town of Cordova; the Town of Elloree; the Town of Eutawville; the Town of Holly Hill; the Town of Livingston; the Town of Neeses; the Town of North; the Town of Norway; the City of Orangeburg; the Town of Rowesville; the Town of Santee; the Town of Springfield; the Town of Vance; and the Town of Woodford.
Note: In 2000, the South Carolina General Assembly adopted legislation mandating character education. Amended in 2005, the South Carolina Code of Laws (Section 59-17-135) outlines requirements for character education in schools.
Orangeburg County Community of Character is a registered charitable organization with the State of South Carolina and a member of Together SC (formerly known as the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organizations, SCANPO).
Inspire, Motivate and Recognize
Excellent Character in Orangeburg County
Orangeburg County Community of Character is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our purpose is to strengthen the citizens, their families, and the community by promoting excellence in character, and thereby to become known as
Community of Character.
How we plan to get there
Why We Exist
Where we're headed
A county distinguished by the excellent character of its citizens