Born and raised in Woodruff, Fran Burgess has been the director of the Woodruff Community Center (WCC) for three years. Prior to becoming director, she volunteered at the WCC and was on the board of directors for a year. She is a retired teacher of government/economics and U.S. History from Laurens District 55.
What is the Woodruff Community Center? The WCC was established in 1999 as an after-school program under Spartanburg District 4 school district and was located in the old Northside School building (what is now the Agape Care Center). The WCC received its 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2007 in order to broaden its outreach in the district area. The following year, the WCC moved to its present location at 116 South Main St., with room to provide events and meetings for various groups. Over the years, the WCC has sponsored health fairs, job fairs and other public seminars. The organization partners with S.C. Works, Safe Homes, and the Forrester Center for Behavioral Health (all three based in Spartanburg) in order to access needed services for the community. Major programs include a free three-week summer camp for grades 1 – 5, Road 678 Ministry for at-risk youth, the Giving Tree (Christmas for disadvantaged families), and Gifts-in-Kind (toiletries and hygiene products for senior citizens, plus household items in emergency situations). Our mission is to encourage the residents of southern Spartanburg County to live healthy and empowered lives. Our goal is for people to develop a successful life style without dependency on others. Our vision is to be a vital part of our community by offering services, programs and projects that include all residents.
Describe your role? I’m only one of many that makes the WCC what it is, but as the director, I “wear many hats”. One is to make sure that we are as financially self-sufficient as possible. Although we do receive donations from churches, businesses and individuals, most of our income comes from our resale store, private rentals, fundraisers and grants. Another major role is to evaluate each service that is provided, making sure that it meets our mission and to research, plan, and establish new programs and services that will continue to improve the quality of life and well-being of our residents. I always say, “My office is always open although my door might be closed.” If someone has a need, I invite them. If we can’t help them, I will find someone who can. One of my favorite roles is promoting the WCC. If you ask me about the WCC, I can talk for hours, but it’s not just about the WCC. It’s about the people who volunteer here and their heart for others. It’s about our board of directors who gives us direction, support, and a vision of how we can best serve our community. It’s about those with whom we come in contact. It’s about how our community blesses us with their time, talents, money, and especially, encouragement.
What is the best advice you ever received? Listen to your heart, not your mind! What’s in your heart is the truth. You have to train your mind to follow your heart.
What is the best advice you could give someone? Know that God has an amazing plan for your life. Listen to Him and reach out to those who can help you discover that plan.
Where are your favorite places to spend time in Woodruff? I love visiting and shopping at the Main Street stores – all of them! I love the connections and relationships that we all have.