53 years of rebuilding lives: Alston Wilkes Society

COLUMBIA—Underscoring Alston Wilkes Society’s mission of rebuilding lives for a safer community, Tory Thalley brought a message of hope to the hundreds gathered Nov. 19 for the nonprofit organization’s annual anniversary luncheon.

Speaking on “From Foster Care to Success,” Thalley shared his personal story of how he overcame the challenges of growing up in the foster care system and transformed his life

into that of a loving husband, youth minister and inspirational speaker.

One of The United Methodist Church’s Advance Special Ministries, Alston Wilkes Society was founded in 1962 as a nonprofit organization led by a group of dedicated volunteers working under the direction of the Rev. Eli Alston Wilkes Jr., a Methodist minister who labored as a tireless and devoted worker in helping those less fortunate. Today, the Alston Wilkes Society is providing direct services in North and South Carolina to not only offenders, but also the homeless, at-risk youth, veterans and families in crisis.

During their 53rd annual meeting and awards luncheon at the Seawell’s Restaurant, the Alston Wilkes Society recognized nearly a dozen advocates with a host of service awards.

The afternoon began with a welcome from W.H. “Billy Nicholson III, president of the society’s board of directors, and blessing by Dr. James Adams, former president.

The award ceremony consisted of 11 awards broken up into two categories: Alston Wilkes Society Awards and Criminal Justice Awards.

Alston Wilkes Society Executive Director S. Anne Walker presented the Alston Wilkes Society Awards. Carol Ribeiro received the Employee of the Year Award, Danita Labrew received the Part-Time Employee of the Year Award,

Joseph L. Heinlein received the Veterans Home Volunteer of the Year Award for his services at Red Curve Investments, Jannie and Tyrone Davis received the Foster Parents of the Year Award and Robert A. Barber Jr. received The Parker Evatt Alston Wilkes Society Volunteer of the Year Award.

In the Criminal Justice Awards category, Kenneth Williams received The Olin Sanders Correctional Officer of the Year Award from the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Ashley Campbell received the James W. Sparks Youth Worker of the Year Award from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. Harry Dean Cook Jr. received the William C. Nau Federal Probation Office of the Year Award from the United States Federal Probation. Stacy McCray received the South Carolina Mark Hart Probation and Parole Agent of the Year Award from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Cpl. Antonio M. Brown received the South Carolina Law Enforcement Trooper of the Year Award from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and Timothy Harrison received the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer’s Association Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.

Thalley then delivered a stirring message, followed by a drawing for door prizes and then the adjournment.

For more on the Alston Wilkes Society, visit

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