The South Congaree-Pine Ridge Friends of the Library began as a dream to a few citizens of South Congaree and Pine Ridge with Mark Padgett serving as chair of the planning committee. As the Library was nearing completion in the Spring of 2007, these citizens began meeting bi-weekly to plan for a group that would be the support for events and programs at the SC-PR Branch. From the first planning meeting in April 2007 to the inaugural Friends meeting on June 6, 2007, the dream was realized. Under the leadership and dedicated work of Councilman Bobby Keisler, the dream for a library would be completed and the library opened on July 19, 2007.
The 2007 officer team consisted of Andy Gambrell, president; Brenda Spradley, vice president; Carolyn Shumpert, secretary and Mechelle Mabry, treasurer. The first logo was of an open book with a magnifying glass designed by Evan Lusk.
A second logo of a big oak tree with handprints served until April 2020 when the logo was redesigned to a bookshelf with books and the name of the group.
Funds for a Reading Garden to be built under the big oak tree beside the building were provided as an outdoor reading space. The towns of Pine Ridge and South Congaree provided seed monies so that the group would be viable. Other founding beneficiaries include Hill Top Grocery, Andy & Dolores Gambrell, Dinkins Tile Works, Crystal Kruger and Diane Huggins.
The charter members of South Congaree-Pine Ridge Friends are:
Barbara Madden, Betty Anderson, Brenda Spradley, Crystal Kruger, Diane Huggins, Gene and Gina Henderson and family, H.R. Williams, Helen Siver, Jackie McLendon, James & Tamela Jett and family, Julia Outten, Kristen Mixon, Marie Mosser, Marjorie Valladeres, Mechelle Mabry and family, Ronnie and Maranda Stokes and family, Sharon Moore, Stephanie Jones and family, Valerie Lever, Vicki Logan and family, and Wayne & Hazel Kanipe and family.
Honorariums and memorials were given by Larry Jackson for Dorothy Jackson and H.E. Jackson; memorial for Mary Ella White by Johnny and Judy White; honorarium for Edna M. Shumpert by Jewell Metze; honorarium for May Taylor by Pam Dinkins; honorarium for Floyd and Betty Dinkins by JR Dinkins.
The SC-PR Friends continue to eagerly support the programs and events of the library. The group plans all year for the Summer Reading Kick-off Party normally held annually in June. Other events include semi-annual book and bake sales, author events, supporting branch programs, the Mother’s Day Tea, Christmas visit from Santa, celebration of National Friends of the Library week in October and National Library week in April and our Continuous Never-ending Book Sale. Loads of Literacy provides books to the local laundromat, pharmacy and other outlets.
Membership is solid with eager, enthusiastic members who work to support the events and programs of the Library. SC-PR Friends has seen three (3) presidents: Andy Gambrell who served from 2007 to 2009; Dolores Gambrell who served from 2009 to 2019; and current president, Kitty Spires.
The SC-PR Friends group is known as the hardest working, most engaged, most productive, most inspirational and most giving group within the local library Friends’ groups. As a testament to those accolades, we are proud to announce that Dolores Gambrell received the 2019 Outstanding Individual Award from the Friends of South Carolina Libraries. The award was presented at the 2019 FOSCL state meeting. Also, the SC-PR Friends, along with FOSCL, are proud to announce that Carol Clark, SC-PR branch manager received the 2020 Public Library Employee Excellence Award from the Friends of South Carolina Libraries. Due to the cancellation of the annual state FOSCL meeting, the award will be presented later.
Carol Clark says of the Friends group, “I met what ended up being part of the core group back in 2006, about a year before we opened. I was quite impressed with the group and how they were ready to support their little town library. They were welcoming, friendly, enthusiastic and made me feel more like a family member than a branch manager. This Friends group truly cares about their community and that has been evident from day one and continues to this day. They have dedicated their time, money, and hearts into making this place the hub of the community. They truly are the best friends of this library!”