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2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winner: South Carolina

Best Practice: Voorhees-Denmark Community Center

Voorhees-Denmark Community Center Provides Assistance and Support for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Denmark, South Carolina. A model for one-stop service centers in a tri-county area of South Carolina, the Voorhees-Denmark Community Development Center (VDCDC) provides resources to more than 1,200 low- and moderate-income residents each year, including students, female heads of household, at-risk youth and senior adults. The center is a joint project, pooling resources and efforts from HUD, Voorhees College, the City of Denmark, Lower Savannah Council of Governments and the Counties of Allendale, Bamberg and Barnwell. The center’s mission is to provide facilities and resources to enhance the

Photo of Mayor Eilma Davis receiving Best of the Best award
Mayor Eilma Davis (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

social and economic opportunities of all area residents.

The community center offers a range of services, including seminars, workshops, affordable housing counseling, fair housing services, employment and job referral services, computer literacy classes and Internet access. By providing these services in one location, the Voorhees-Denmark Community Development Center has simplified and streamlined access to information and services for South Carolinians working to become self-sufficient.

The center also developed a state-of-the-art Entrepreneur Training Program, which offers counseling and assistance for small business development. After just two years in existence, the center now provides space for the operation of a small business incubator, which comprises four micro-enterprises, a Welfare-to-Work/Workforce Development program and a Tri-County Workforce Center funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. These programs provide technical assistance to individuals classified as hardest to employ. Yet another venture of the center is a housing rehabilitation program. Thus far, two substandard housing units have been renovated and conveyed to qualified low- or moderate-income homebuyers.

VDCDC was started in 1997 when Voorhees College received a $40,000 HBCU grant from HUD. The grant funds were used to renovate the building that now houses the Voorhees-Denmark Community Development Corporation. Grant funds also support the provision of services offered through the center. After demonstrating comprehensive community-wide impact, the center has received endorsement and support from the mayor of Denmark, Lower Savannah Council of Governments, Voorhees College, the governments of Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell counties, Clemson University Cooperative Extension Services and First National Bank of Denmark.

The project succeeds because of its partnerships and extensive community outreach. Badly needed public services and housing opportunities that were either nonexistent or extremely limited have now been made available to all residents in one centralized location, and the center has become a model for one-stop shopping service centers in South Carolina.

Contact: Dr. Leonard E. Dawson, Phone: (803)793-3351
Tracking Number: 1676
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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