White named inaugural recipient of Carol Singletary Community Impact Award

A United Methodist pastor has been selected as the recipient of a new annual award showcasing community impact.

Called the Carol Singletary Community Impact Award and given by Fact Forward, the award is named in honor of Singletary, a United Methodist individual who has devoted her time and talents to improving the lives of young people, families and communities for more than 40 years. Fact Forward, formerly the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, has led an effort to advocate for teen reproductive health since 1994.

The Rev. Ellis White Jr. is the recipient of the inaugural award, presented to him during the organization’s Summer Institute.

White pastors Edisto Fork United Methodist Church, Orangeburg.

In the presentation of White’s award, Fact Forward noted his long and worthy service to help others. They called him “a champion for all youth; an organizer who strives for cross-sector collaboration to address the social determinants of health that impacts the well-being of youth, families, and communities; a devotion to teaching youth the importance of making a difference through social action; and a person who remains steadfast in the pursuit of justice and equality for all people.”

They cited a number of examples of his commitment, including how for seven years his congregation, in collaboration with Kershaw Department of Juvenile Justice, worked to ensure first-time offenders stayed out of the penal system. He has worked in the field of primary and secondary teen pregnancy prevention for nine years, and through his work and ministry, he has been a voice for young people who encounter racism and discrimination of any form. He works closely with the local NAACP branch to address injustices in the community, and he also is instrumental in encouraging voter registration, providing voter education and lending a hand in ensuring that transportation is available for those needing a way to the polls.

Through his work as an organizer, he encouraged his congregation to collaborate with their community to sponsor fundraisers for the organization. For four years, White’s congregation sponsored a total of four walk-a-thons and two bowl-a-thons. He participated in several faith leaders’ meetings and served as Fact Forward’s facilitator for the Tier 2 Faith Listening session.

His community of faith became a strategic partner for Fact Forward because of its willingness to serve the young people and families of their area on a consistent basis.

Another example of organizing and collaboration resulted in the establishment of a medical clinic within their church to provide medical assistance to those not insured and the underinsured of the rural community of Orangeburg County.

His congregation reliably provides 150 food baskets for families at Thanksgiving, and during the pandemic, more than 1,000 food boxes were distributed to local families.

Fact Forward called him a leader who “has a faith that is strong, a loyal and loving family and a supportive congregation.”

About Carol Singletary

Throughout Singletary’s nearly five decades of service to this state, one constant burns bright: her commitment to helping young people and families improve their lives through education and access to programs and services. Her career in social services began within three months of earning a Bachelor of Arts at Claflin University. She worked the next seven years as a case manager for the Florence County Department of Social Services. The Richland County department was another seven-year commitment to children and families. Singletary supervised the seven-member staff of the Sexual Abuse Unit, who investigated and provided treatment. They also educated the community on recognizing and preventing abuse.

Moving on to the South Carolina State Department of Social Services in November 1987, Singletary was the state director for Youth Programs.  She developed the Teen Companion program to address the high teen birth rates in South Carolina and she worked with each of the 46 local Department of Social Services county directors to implement teen pregnancy prevention programs in each county.

She retired from the department in June 2003, and since August 2003, has played a prominent role in Fact Forward’s successful work promoting science-based approaches and programs. She continues to organize and participate in awareness and educational events across the state to engage communities about the importance of adolescent sexual health. 

She is a life member of the Columbia Branch of the NAACP and has served in numerous NAACP leadership roles throughout her life. She has been on the Board of Visitors for Claflin University, a mentor for Richland County School District One and served on SCDSS’s Independent Living Advisory Committee.

She is also a member of the Advocacy Committee for the Columbia District of the UMC, and volunteers as executive director for Freedom School at Francis Burns UMC, Columbia. The Freedom School was recognized in May of this year by Columbia College with the Caroline Whitson Corporate Leadership Award.

The Carol Singletary Community Impact Award recognizes an individual or group who has demonstrated a commitment to mobilizing their community to improve the lives of young people in South Carolina. 

To qualify for the award, nominees must be residents of South Carolina and must be recognized and known for exhibiting characteristics exemplified by Singletary. These include being a champion for all youth, especially those marginalized by racism and other forms of discrimination; an organizer who strives for cross-sector collaboration to address the social determinants of health that impact the well-being of youth, families, and communities; a devotion to teaching youth the importance of making a difference in their community through social action; and remaining steadfast in the pursuit of justice and equality for all people. 

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