BSH Blog

Synergistically Complementary

Friday, July 02, 2021

“Synergistically Complementary”

I’ve been searching for words or a statement to describe and articulate the recent merger between The Literacy Center (TLC) and Bluffton Self Help (BSH). I’ve had many long-time volunteers, donors and supporters ask what led to the decision to come together as one organization. Here’s what I’ve landed on; we are “Synergistically Complementary.” Ok, I know it’s not a real term but bear with me for a moment.

As adjectives, the difference between “synergistic” and “complementary” is that synergistic is “of or pertaining to synergy or synergism; co-operative, working together, interacting, mutually stimulating” while complementary is “acting as a complement.” For me, “Synergistically Complementary” perfectly describes our recent union. At the end of the day, we are stronger and better working together and our missions, visions and passions perfectly “complement” one another. It’s just that simple. More on this later.

For the past three years, I’ve had the great privilege to lead TLC and to help transform and reposition the organization for today’s rapidly changing workforce needs and educational environment. In three short years, we have become the third largest ESL (English as a Second Language) program for the State of South Carolina Adult Education and the fifth highest rated program based on student testing and results. I credit and thank our hero tutors, our donors and grantors, the dedicated staff and our board of directors for helping us build our award-winning program.

Recently, we’ve seen a huge pivot from the adult educational services – literacy skills, civics and GED preparation – that TLC has historically provided to residents of Beaufort and Jasper Counties for almost half a decade. While these components will continue to be important services, there has been a major shift to workplace literacy, career readiness certificates and Integrated Educational Training (IET) programs. Through partnerships and alliances, we are now working with local employers and workforce boards to help define and provide the job skills required for our students to get positions and opportunities that pay a livable wage. Providing a pathway for workplace opportunities and success is now a large part of our adult education program.

For nearly 35 years, Bluffton Self Help has been known primarily as a food pantry and emergency financial assistance organization. They are best-in-class at delivering these services with excellence, respect and integrity. What you may not be aware of– is that BSH also expanded about three years ago and started delivering Educational and Career Development programs through their Education Resource Center (ERC). The ERC was the first center of its kind in the area and has provided hundreds of adult learners with literacy skills, career mentoring, GED’s, workplace certifications and a whole lot more.  So, you see, our merger did bring two “Synergistically Complementary” legacy organizations together.  And together, we are committed to building a new legacy, one that helps lifts our students and clients out of the generational cycles of illiteracy and poverty.

There are no longer two organizations, the two have become one. It’s not us and them anymore, we are team, wholly focused at changing the lives of those we serve. I strongly believe that the latter years will exceed the former years.

We look forward to sharing more in the coming days.


Brad Steele


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