GREENWOOD, SC – What started as the vision of one man here in Greenwood 25 years ago changed the lives of 72 homeowners and countless volunteers and staff. For that service, the Greenwood Area Habitat for Humanity (GAHFH) honored its founder, Tom Bryson, with a special dinner at the Gatewood Country Club on Tuesday night.
On hand for the dinner were Chad Charles, executive director of GAHFH, Larry Gluth, senior vice president of Habitat for Humanity International, Senator Floyd Nicholson and a host of others whose lives had been touched by Bryson in some way.
Bryson said he got the idea to start a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Greenwood from a visit with his son in Kingsport, Tenn.
“I worked for Clemson Extension for 32 years, most of it in Greenwood,” Bryson said. “Part of my responsibility there was to teach people different things about housing. But I really wanted to make a difference. My first real contact with Habitat (for Humanity) was at my son’s house in Kingsport. After that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do in Greenwood.”
Nicholson presented Bryson with a plaque from the South Carolina State Senate thanking him for his many years of service to the citizens of South Carolina, particularly in Greenwood County.
“Tom (Bryson) did so much to improve the quality of life here in Greenwood,” Nicholson said prior to the evening’s ceremony. “He did it through his work with Clemson Extension, with habitat and in a number of different areas.”
Bryson was instrumental in establishing the Greenwood Farmer’s Market and the Greenwood Soup Kitchen in addition to helping establish the Laurens County Habitat for Humanity shortly after he got GAHFH off the ground.
“Mr. Bryson has been the biggest part of Habitat in Greenwood since he founded it in 1988,” Charles said of the elder statesman. “Without him, we would not have been able to serve 72 families in our area the last 25 years. He touched so many lives in so many different ways. I remember growing up in Greenwood, it was impossible not to know Mr. Bryson.”
Bryson said he felt like GAHFH would be well taken care of in his absence.
“After all these years, (GAHFH) has remained true to its mission,” Bryson said. “It is a hand up, not a hand out. I have no doubt that mission will continue long after I’m gone.”