Free Times (South Carolina)
By: Andy Brack
December 15, 2010
A 13-year-old Orangeburg baker. A biofuels dealer in Beaufort who is 17. A young day-spa owner in Marion. A Hamer teen who owns a cookie company.
If you're looking for an inspirational holiday gift filled with South Carolina stories, look no further than a short tome compiled by former state Rep. Jimmy Bailey of Charleston.
The Spirit of Outreach is a collection of 20 stories about students who have started their own small businesses across the state through the YEScarolina program run by Bailey.
YEScarolina, formally known as Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina, has trained more than 500 teachers across the Palmetto State to work with students to launch business ideas. Without the program, Bailey explains, the industriousness of many of the students might never have been tapped.
"This is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done," said Bailey, who represented Charleston in the state legislature from 1988 to 1994. In the 64-page book that was created to help inspire more students, Bailey writes:
"Many of the hundreds that YEScarolina has helped come from humble homes -- and early struggles engender a fortitude that spells business success. Such souls are creative. They are accustomed to stress. They are unafraid of failure ... Over and over, they urge their peers to forge ahead and demand more from life."
In Charleston, Damien Brown has been making and selling roses from palmetto fronds since he was 7. At 13, he got involved with YEScarolina. A year later, he was taking business classes at the College of Charleston. Now 16, he ships his roses across the world. His advice: "Stay in school and don't let anyone tell you that you can't succeed."
Orangeburg 13-year-old Rachael Brown has turned her love of baking into a part-time cookie business. She sees baking, which she started at age 5, as a way to keep her grandmother's spirit alive.
"What I would tell somebody else who wanted to do this is get lots of recipes and let lots of people taste your baking," she writes in the book. "The more people taste, the more customers you can have."
Karen Mok of North Charleston, now 18, became South Carolina's Young Entrepreneur of the Year after getting involved with YEScarolina. A greeting card writer and designer, she writes that the program changed her life. "My advice is simple: Don't hold anything back. This is your chance to turn your vision or dream into a reality. Give it your all. Don't be afraid if you've never done anything like this before. You will find your experiences more rewarding and memorable."
The book, now headed to its second printing of 2,500, is funded in part by the Mark Elliott Motley Foundation, started in 2002 after the tragic death of Motley due to medical complications. Motley's father, prominent trial attorney Ron Motley of Charleston, wrote in the foreword of The Spirit of Outreach that the foundation was proud to help YEScarolina improve the lives of youths.
"As it nurtures entrepreneurs, YEScarolina exemplifies my son's desire to help others. He yearned to better the world for those to whom life had dealt difficulties," Motley writes. "My son's gift was compassion, and the foundation that now bears his name seeks out organizations that likewise show, through their caring for and giving to young people, that they are worthy of our financial support.
"Such is the spirit of YEScarolina as it reaches out and lifts of the youth of South Carolina by teaching them how to prosper in difficult times, even when life has dealt them challenges that can seem insurmountable."
In a time when state government, communities and many families may seem or feel like they are imploding because of the sputtering economy, it's good to know the spirit of entrepreneurship, creativity and giving are alive and well for young South Carolinians today.
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Spirit of Outreach can be ordered at yescarolina.com. Let us know what you think: Email email@example.com or comment online at free-times.com.