COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Over the last five years, our Community Builder series in partnership with Mungo Homes has put a spotlight on nearly 100 unsung heroes across the Midlands proving that age is just a number and that anyone can truly make a difference.
As nominations continue to roll in, we wanted to take a look back on the growth of the series that started with two sons who simply wanted to honor their dad.
"It was our father’s legacy that he spent the latter years of his life doing for others, and when he died we thought it would be a terrible shame if that discontinued,” said Steven Mungo, CEO of Mungo Homes, when we first launched the series back in May of 2014.
But Michael J. Mungo’s legacy has not only continued, it has been magnified.
Our very first Community Builder to be nominated and selected was Dr. Todd Crump, the volunteer medical director at the Free Medical Clinic in Columbia. At the time, the Lexington Medical Center ER doctor had been giving his free time to the clinic for 17 years. Now, almost five years later, we learned he’s still there.
“I went into medicine to help people and there’s no better way to do that then helping people that have no insurance or Medicaid or Medicare,” said Dr. Crump in our most recent follow up interview.
Dr. Crump would be just the first of many faces we’d come to know and love. From teacher and police officers to coaches and musicians, we’d quickly learn every stretch of our community is covered with those looking to lift others up.
Just a year after its launch, Community Builder would take on a new meaning when our area literally had to rebuild after our historic floods. Pastors, neighbors and friends became heroes we all needed in that time.
Our first honoree post flood was Tanya Rodriquez Hodges who used her non-profit Latino Communications CDC to get much needed funds and supplies to neighbors who needed them most.
“Tanya gets on her knees and prays that God provides her the resources to help other people,” said Stephany Snowden back in November of 2015 when she nominated Hodges.
Another honoree was Pastor Bob Morgan of Rosewood Baptist Church who converted the church’s gym into a shelter and then donation hub to get supplies to those in need.
“It was not me, it’s these people that volunteered they came and gave of their time and effort,” said Pastor Morgan as he acknowledged other people who had come for the big surprise announcement. “God just provided everything we needed during this time.”
After we honored several heroes of the flood, we continued our Community Builder segment into 2016.
From those who have faced their own struggles and turned them into a victory for others, to the furriest of friends whose owners are conduits of good.
“Hopefully, if we can make a difference with one person, then we’ve done something,” said Anne Marie Christley who was honored with her husband for the work she and her husband do in local schools with a therapy dog.
But it’s certainly more than something, in many cases these honorees have given everything to help those who need it most. While it would be impossible to recount the stories of the nearly 100 honorees, there’s one thing many have in common. They insist their efforts are bigger than themselves.
“It wasn’t about me donating my time,” said Eddie Dunning, who was honored for his work through Harvest Hope Food Bank in 2017. “The Lord had everything mapped out.”
“I don’t think it’s about me, it’s really about all the people within the foundation,” said Paula Hite, who was honored for her dedication the the Lexington-Richland District 5 Foundation.
“I really think and believe it’s a calling on my life to help others,” said Gloria Thomas, when we surprised her for efforts to serve in local schools to mentor students through Junior Achievement of Greater SC.
Honorees have been as young as 5-years-old, like Lexington girl Rabun Coppock who has raised thousands of dollars for sick children through the non-profit Happy Wheels.
“I just say, could you give me money for a Happy Wheels for donation?” explained Rabun when we interviewed her about her efforts.
Our honorees have also been as young-at-heart as 90 year-old Dorothy Dickert who makes thousands of calls to veterans at the Dorn VA to remind them about their doctors appointments.
Each honoree has continued his or her efforts without even realizing that their desire to give back continues to inspire others, including the two brothers who simply had this hope:
“Recognizing the good that people do, helps to encourage other people to put back to their community, together we can make a real difference,” said Stewart Mungo, Mungo Homes CEO when he first shared his vision for Community Builder in 2014.
Our Community Builders continue to bring that vision to life today.
In addition, every Community Builder honoree receives a 1,000 donation to the charity of his or her choice from the Michael J. Mungo foundation. To date, nearly $100,000 dollars have been given away to our community’s honorees.
If you know someone you’d like to see honored as a Community Builder in the coming year, nominate that person now at this link.