Holly Springs Center hires new director

By Olivia Fowler
For The Courier

PICKENS — Matt Thomas was appointed as the new director of the Holly Springs Center last month and says he will be working full time to build and expand the center’s services.

The center, the former home of National Blue Ribbon School Holly Springs Elementary, has been transformed into a center offering classes in traditional Appalachian arts and a preschool to serve the community.

“My initial goal is for Holly Springs to continue to preserve mountain arts for all ages using every available resource,” Thomas said.

Located on an idyllic hillside on U.S. Highway 178 north of Pickens, the beautiful scenic site includes a nature trail, greenhouse and creek..The nonprofit organization was the brainchild of Betty McDaniel, founder of the Young Appalachian Musicians (YAMS) and Kenny Blakeney, longtime board member for the Birchwood Center for Arts and Folk Life. Both current Holly Springs board members were instrumental in making the Holly Springs Center a reality and forming a working partnership.

Thomas said he has been impressed by the mission of the center and wants to revisit the vision of the founders.

Thomas, who is the first full-time director for the nonprofit, has previous professional experiences as vice president of family services for the Foothills YMCA and as associate executive director of the YMCA of Greater Montgomery, Ala., where he oversaw outdoor studies at Camp Chandler.

Thomas said he wants the next generation, including his own two children, to learn about and be good stewards of the natural environment, history and the tradition of the Upstate

“The history and tradition is the cornerstone of all of that,” Thomas said.

Thomas shares a passion for history and loves the outdoor world surrounding the center.

One of his goals is to further develop the center’s nature trail and re-equip the existing greenhouse.

He said he’d like to teach young students how to grow fruit and vegetables from seed, and then transplant into a garden at the center. Students could also harvest what they grow.

He also plans to work toward getting the existing cafeteria and kitchen back in working order.

Thomas stresses the importance of establishing professional marketing practices and making the center more visible and easily accessible to the general public.

He said he wants to establish strong working relationships with board members and volunteers.

He said most nonprofits he has been involved with are dependent upon members of the retired community who volunteer both time and expertise.

“Ideas are always welcome,” he said.

Thomas is married to Amanda Thomas, a former third-grade teacher at Dacusville Elementary School and current third-grade teacher at East End Elementary School in Easley. They live in Central and have two children.


Subscribe Today or Login