Teaming up to streamline efforts and accomplish common goals

Teaming up to streamline efforts and accomplish common goals

team workWholespire Kershaw County, formerly Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County, is making a strategic move by teaming up with Livewell Kershaw Coalition, a coalition based on the premise that all people deserve to live well. We’re going to explain their strategy.

Shawn Putnam, the Wholespire Kershaw County chair for the past six years, stated that “throughout the past, we have been successful in having a diverse team,” which keeps diversity, equity, and inclusion top of mind during decision making. The chapter is also very active and has remained so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting monthly and transitioning to virtual meetings when it became necessary. Teaming up with Livewell Kershaw County to lead their H.E.A.L. Team has made it easier to involve more people working towards accomplishing the same goals since they are not being pulled in different directions.

What exactly is the H.E.A.L. Team?

Livewell Kershaw Coalition recently released a Community Health Improvement Plan that was to be implemented through three committees: 1) Emotional Health Team, 2) H.E.A.L. Team, and 3) Access to Care. Their H.E.A.L. Team shares similar objectives and initiatives with Wholespire Kershaw County. This is where the strategic partnership with Wholespire Kershaw County came from — ensuring all of Kershaw County was focusing on the same initiatives.

Building on a foundation of successes

Before teaming up with LiveWell Kershaw, Wholespire Kershaw County achieved quite a bit of success in increasing access to healthy choices. They put together fitness circuits at local parks, created the road safety program, and supported the mobile nutrition center through the United Way of Kershaw County. The new partnership between Wholespire Kershaw County and Livewell Kershaw Coalition aims to build on this work and do more, including one exciting project, the 5-2-1-0 campaign.

What is the 5-2-1-0 campaign?

The 5-2-1-0 campaign educates kids and their families about the benefits of eating 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting their leisure “screen time” to 2 hours a day, getting 1 hour of physical activity daily, and drinking 0 sugar-sweetened beverages. This campaign is taking place in schools throughout Kershaw County. To add some excitement, the campaign is being turned into a competition to encourage more children and their families to participate.

The competition takes place by having children log their results at the end of each day, then tallies are taken each week, and prizes are given to classes with the highest scores. The 5-2-1-0 campaign was launched in February of 2020 but was halted by the pandemic. The hope is for Wholespire Kershaw County and Livewell Kershaw County to reintroduce this campaign to schools in February of 2022.

Collaborating for a stronger future

Wholespire Kershaw County is a shining example of what can be accomplished when partnering with another organization like Livewell Kershaw County. The projects being conducted now, and those taking place in the future, closely align with the Wholespire mission to “provide communities with proven and sustainable approaches that lead to increased access to healthy choices for ALL people.”

Upcoming projects for the partners include providing advocacy training for their coalition to better prepare them to make policy, system, and environmental change, as well as teaching the coalition how to be involved in project review processes. They’re also planning an expansion of the road safety program that focuses on advocacy for the awareness of cyclists by car drivers and to create safer roads. More projects will be unveiled soon.

If you are interested in getting involved with the initiatives of the Wholespire Kershaw County and LiveWell Kershaw, help is always needed. Active recruitment for the coalition is taking place now for those interested in the mission. There are no dues, just be passionate. To learn more or join the coalition, contact Shawn Putnam at or find Livewell Kershaw on Facebook.


Community Leader Spotlight: Irini McCarthy, Wholespire Lancaster County

Community Leader Spotlight: Irini McCarthy, Wholespire Lancaster County

For the past three years, Wholespire Lancaster County, formerly Eat Smart Move More Lancaster County, has been under the co-leadership of Irini McCarthy and Candra Riley. During this time, the Wholespire chapter has made some major policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes. Now, the chapter is looking for a new co-chair as Irini McCarthy’s public health career leads her to new opportunities in North Carolina.  

While working for the Upper Midlands Rural Health Network (UMRHN), McCarthy was responsible for expanding the UMRHN into Lancaster County and leading the Lancaster County Health and Wellness Commission. Through this work, she began attending Wholespire Lancaster County meetings and became a chapter member. When the chapter’s chair stepped down, McCarthy was approached by coalition members to take on the role of co-chair alongside Candra Riley.

“I loved Candra, and we’ve been working on stuff together. I knew this was going to be a great partnership. I decided that if Candra is doing it, I’ll do it along with her,” said McCarthy.

Irini was good at getting the emails out and I was good at taking minutes and coming up with the agenda,” said Candra Riley, co-chair of Wholespire Lancaster County. “If I could have a co-chair like that for all my coalitions and committees…she made it so easy.”   

McCarthy felt it was awesome to work with the group in Lancaster that was so diverse. Chapter members had different perspectives, but common goals of wanting the community to thrive by focusing on equitable change, food security, access to care, and PSE changes.  

According to Riley, McCarthy had a huge impact on healthy eating and active living in Lancaster County, and she had a vision of some things that she wanted to do like bringing FoodShare to Lancaster County. She was very instrumental in the initial engagement of partners on the FoodShare Lancaster County project, which is still doing well today. She also helped by bringing in different local speakers and creating the newsletter for the chapter.

One of McCarthy’s most memorable moments with Wholespire Lancaster County was completing the walkability assessment in the Town of Heath Springs. She was impressed with all of the partners that attended including Lancaster County Council, Town Councils, and residents. Implementing the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition Program was also a high note for her, especially working with the churches, Town of Heath Springs Community Relations Volunteer Dr. Zora Denson, and Professor and Director of the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center Dr. Sara Wilcox. She pointed out that these two projects are examples of systemic change and small steps to implementing a culture of health.

When asked if her work in Lancaster prepared her for her new role in North Carolina, she replied, “Oh yeah, oh my gosh!” While at UMRHN, she helped Lancaster become the first county in South Carolina to become 100% tobacco-free. According to McCarthy, her career experiences and community and chapter work is knowledge that she can take with her and apply in her new role as Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Mecklenburg County.

“All of the work that we did in…those are all big PSE level changes and that’s what this new role for me is,” said McCarthy. “I always knew that I wanted to do PSE level work because it impacts the greatest amount of people. And it has to be equitable. For me, that’s exciting. I love that kind of work. That’s what we did in Lancaster, and that’s what I’m doing now.”

During her time as co-chair of Wholespire Lancaster County, McCarthy also showed a great deal of leadership around health and racial equity. The outstanding notes she took during the 2020 Promoting Equity Among Communities Effectively (P.E.A.C.E.) training were shared with other coalitions and she modified a race equity assessment to be more applicable for coalitions. 

When asked how she became interested in equity she explained, “It started working in rural communities. We don’t have a lot of monetary funds but have an asset-based approach of using our different partners and using the resources we do have to try and make things equitable, and you can do a lot with a little.”

McCarthy is very passionate about racial equity and disparities. She said, “There are so many people who just don’t get it or who don’t understand it and as many times as you’re talking it’s almost like you’re hitting a wall, but you don’t give up. You keep talking. You keep educating. And you hope that you plant a seed, and you advocate for the right thing to happen That’s where my passion is – equitable PSE change. That’s kind of where I want to be.”

Community health improvement requires community leadership like that of McCarthy, her co-chair Riley, and the members and partners of Wholespire Lancaster County to truly make change happen. During her short time as co-chair of Wholespire Lancaster County, Irini McCarthy has had a lasting positive impact on the people of Lancaster County, and she will be truly missed by those not just in Lancaster County but in other counties too.


Community garden expansion: taking a collaborative approach

Community garden expansion: taking a collaborative approach

The Koinonia Community Garden is thriving.

In 2020, Wholespire Richland County, formerly Eat Smart Move More Richland County, collaborated with Koinonia of Columbia and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to support a local community garden. The community garden was funded by SCDHEC and demonstrated the idea of community and unity by taking a collaborative approach to fulfill the mission that Koinonia of Columbia, an asset-based community development non-profit in the Eau Claire community, had proposed.

The Midlands Community Systems Team at SCDHEC worked with the Central Midlands Council of Governments to provide grant funding to Wholespire Richland County for healthy eating initiatives. Funds supported the Koinonia’s expansion of 8 garden beds to twelve beds, along with supplies for building, gardening, and education.

Tecoria Jones, program manager at Koinonia, is responsible for gardening maintenance and educational programming. She says they intend to continue providing hands-on learning through gardening as part of their afterschool curriculum. “Koinonia is so appreciative to have been a recipient of the Wholespire Richland County funding. We are thankful for the growth in the children and in the community this opportunity has presented.”

It Takes a Village

Children from the Eau Claire Community learn how to plant a garden.

A few years ago, the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) of Lenoir-Rhyne University began its partnership with the Koinonia to install the first raised beds. Since then, neighboring families, LTSS staff, and volunteers have grown vegetables in the gardens and sold the produce as a fundraiser for Transitions Homeless Center in Columbia. Students of an LTSS ethics class joined in on the collaboration after learning about asset-based community development from Koinonia staff and board members. They also learned gardening through a hands-on harvesting event with children. Ethics students also have participated in Koinonia’s mentoring and afterschool programming.

“As a Christian seminary, our partnership with Koinonia demonstrates a theology that upholds a healing connection to land, food, and neighbors. When we grow good food together, we demonstrate what God’s beloved community can look like in action,” said Dr. Melanie Dobson, assistant professor. 

Dr. Dobson went on to explain the partnership allows LTSS to practice being a good neighbor, both in the sharing of land as a resource and in building relationships with local children. 

Breaking Ground and Expanding

Wheelchair-accessible garden beds.

In March 2020, Wholespire Richland County, Koinonia and LTSS broke ground on the educational garden expansion. With the approval from LTSS leadership, Koinonia was able to map out and design a layout for the future beds. The funding supported the building of two 12’x4’ beds and two 4’x4’ wheelchair-accessible beds. Wholespire Richland County members, Koinonia staff, and LTSS staff and students rolled their sleeves up to help build the proposed beds. 

On Earth Day 2021, Koinonia kids did their spring garden planting. Kids planted herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, peppers, and squash to the existing spinach, cabbage, and collard green plants.

In Summer 2021, Koinonia is hosting Freedom School, a culture-specific framework sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. The children of Koinonia will be seeing themselves in every book they read at Freedom School.

“We will be spotlighting and celebrating black culture. Watching and talking about how things evolve will be an essential conversation,” explained Jones.

The garden will also provide learning opportunities like agriculture, water cycle, ecosystems, and entrepreneurship.

Finishing Touches

Select Health of South Carolina donated a bench for the garden.

Select Health of South Carolina (SHSC), the oldest and largest Medicaid Care organization in South Carolina for over 26 years, got on board and donated a garden bench to support the continuity of community’s mission for sustainable, healthy communities. 

“It was our deepest pleasure to support Wholespire Richland County on the 2021 project at Koinonia’s Community Garden, which hosted the Spring Garden Planting on Earth Day,” said Addie Bors, SHSC director of community education and outreach. 

Impact of Community Gardens

One of the several tomato plants for the garden.

Community gardens bring positive activity to neighborhoods. They provide a source of fresh, affordable and local produce. Some produce is donated to the community and used in educational and nutritional cooking programs. This garden is an excellent learning tool in Koinonia’s afterschool program. The gardens will provide access to nature, healthy food, green infrastructure, and ecological restoration for the community. 

“We are thankful for all of our coalition members and community partners. It is our hope that these children will start having a natural love of gardening. We would love to see their enthusiasm spill over into other school subjects that are related to the garden, like science, art and math,” said TQ Davis, Wholespire Richland County chair.

If you are interested in learning more or joining Wholespire Richland County, please visit our website.

Koinonia of Columbia is a asset-based community development non-profit in the Eau Claire community. Founded by Kelly and David Strum, Koinonia of Columbia sees the power of nature as equally important in the growth and development of children and the village around them. They aim to provide a fruitful and robust nation of good citizens, and they believe children are key to the future.


Community Leader Spotlight: Pam Spivey, Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County

Community Leader Spotlight: Pam Spivey, Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County

Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County (ESMMKC) will have a change in leadership in the coming months. Current Chairperson Pam Spivey is retiring from the United Way of Kershaw County after nearly 20 years of service. She has spent eight of those years leading the ESMMKC chapter.

If you’ve ever met Pam, then you probably remember her spunky, positive attitude. That can-do attitude has contributed to the success and growth the ESMMKC chapter has experienced over the years, along with the leadership of other chapter members.

“Pam Spivey has done an excellent job leading ESMMKC and I am thrilled to follow in her food steps, even though those are big shoes to fill.  She’s a great example of what a true leader really is and it’s an honor to take her place,” says Mary Reames, chairperson-elect of ESMMKC. “I am so looking forward to my training with her until December. Thank you Pam for all of your hard work through the years!”

Since her time as chair, Pam has worked with ESMMKC to take on healthy eating and active living projects in Kershaw County. As chair, she helped secure in-kind and grant funding to advance initiatives like:

  • the construction of the new Kershaw County Farmer’s Market,
  • the construction and completion of the Sweet Gum Trail,
  • the formation of the HYPE Team and the implementation of their healthy concessions project,
  • implementation of USC’s Faith, Activity and Nutrition (FAN) training,
  • implementation of church food pantries in remote areas of the county,
  • the development of the Kershaw County Mobile Nutrition Center, and
  • the arrival of FoodShare SC in Kershaw County, among other high-impact initiatives.

“I know that Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County will be in great hands with the new chair Mary Reames,” said Pam. She went on to offer some advice to the chapter, “The funding will come. Stay ready!”

During ESMMSC’s Let’s Go! South Carolina grant project (2012-2017), ESMMKC was funded to make large policy, systems, and environmental changes in the community and Pam was the designated coach. In this role, she was responsible for coordinating local efforts and ensuring the implementation of their action plan. Pam led efforts to leverage over $375,000 in funding to support many of the accomplishments listed above. The ESMMKC chapter also accomplished some policy wins under Pam’s leadership:

  • the adoption of the Kershaw County Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Plan to establish county-wide safe and active transportation and recreation environments,
  • the revision of the Kershaw County Comprehensive Plan to include healthy eating and active living objectives, and
  • the adoption of an open community use policy by all schools in Kershaw County.

Pam also played an instrumental role with ESMMSC, serving on the Communications and Marketing Committee during the organization’s infancy. She assisted in guiding the development and execution of the communication plan, including brand development.

“Pam’s leadership has contributed greatly to the success of ESMMKC. It has been a pleasure working with her over the years. Whenever I encounter Pam, I can always count on her passion, positive attitude, smile, and fashion.,” said Trimease K. Carter, youth engagement manager at Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC).”

Serving the United Way of Kershaw County since 2001, Pam is currently the Vice President of Campaigns and finds immense joy through her job. She was a dental hygienist and stay-at-home mom for 22 years and finds working the front lines of fundraising challenging and rewarding. Pam and her husband Don have an immediate family of 16, which includes 8 grandchildren. Pam says she’s excited to spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren when she retires.