Founder and Executive Director, Ray C. Funnye, will always begin the history of The Village Group by saying, “This was a grassroots, community effort,” thus holding firm to the importance of communal commitment to the development of youth in Georgetown County.
As a father, Mr. Funnye spent much of his son’s childhood like many other fathers: playing baseball in the backyard of his home in Plantersville, SC. “As my son grew stronger and learned more skills, I talked to other fathers with sons and we began to come together as a group to allow the boys to develop their social and athletic skills,” as Mr. Funnye often explains The Village Group’s beginnings. This commitment to youth development was founded on the idea that active engagement is a crucial factor in the lives of all children. The group eventually began to branch out as volunteers at the local Plantersville Elementary, and later held Back-to-School supply drives and pep rallies to get students excited about starting the school year off right.
Eventually, these local community events expanded throughout the county to include children and residents from other neighborhoods who also believed in active engagement. Festivals, motivational speakers and, in time, the Plantersville Summer Academy (PSA), became a great success within Georgetown County. PSA enrollment for summer 2015 totaled 236 students.
Going on 10 years strong, The Village Group has no intentions of slowing down. This year’s Summer Academy culminated in several educational field trips to engage student participants about history as they traveled to Selma, Alabama to learn about the history of Voting Rights in the United States, to Tuskegee University to consider college options for their futures, and then on to more fun with a trip to Six Flags Over Georgia.
Ultimately, the success of The Village Group lay not solely in its commitment to education and community development, but also in its belief that active engagement is the underlying factor in ensuring the success of children everywhere. “We believe that, like any other investment, we must invest in our children. The future return will be great,” says the Executive Director of The Village Group, Ray C. Funnye.