Community visionary Tracy Hardaway is the 2018 recipient of the Ruth Nicholson Award, the Community Foundation of Greenville’s highest honor to a volunteer who has made significant contributions to the Greenville community. Her introductions to countless community members to the foundation have made an impact. One referral in particular left a generous bequest, which has helped to support major initiatives, including OnTrack Greenville and the Greenville Free Medical Clinic.
As a co-founder of the Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA), Hardaway has been instrumental in the arts and economic revitalization of the Village of West Greenville, helping to raise more than $1 million for this purpose. The Community Foundation was a part of this effort with a signature grant.
Cherington Shucker, executive director of the GCCA, says, “Tracy’s dedication to the original concept of the GCCA is central to our success. For our staff, she’s been a cheerleader and strategic problem solver. Her passion as a founder has paved the way to see the vision coalesce into a vibrant arts anchor where multiple generations can interact and explore the visual arts in the community.”
Tell us a bit about yourself. Are you from Greenville? >> I was born and raised in Greenville. One of eight children with a twin sister, I had a great childhood. My parents, Bill and Connie Timmons, were energetic and generous supporters of the community. My husband, Charles, is also a Greenville native, and we have known each other since we were 14 at Greenville High School. We have been married 47 years and have four sons and nine grandchildren. I have always been a dreamer. Art and being creative makes me happy. There is a great pleasure in self-expression. Being encouraged to be creative gave me confidence as a child. I believe that art is essential for living. Everyone should have access to art.
Tell us about your volunteer experience. >> I have always been a volunteer and have been on numerous boards over the years. I have been on the finance committee of the Community Foundation for at least 20 years. I served two terms on the board. I am a founder and board member of the GCCA and former board member of the Upcountry History Museum, the Greenville Little Theatre, the USC Alumni Association, and many others.
How has your professional experience parlayed into your volunteer work with the Community Foundation? >> Helping clients plan for their future as well as their charitable wishes was a big part of my work at UBS Financial Services. The Community Foundation is a natural resource for charitable gifts and has an extraordinary president in Bob Morris and talented staff as well as a board of community volunteer leaders. They ensure that gifts are used wisely and strategically to improve the lives of all in Greenville.
Tell me about the founding of the GCCA and your role in that. What vision originally inspired you to embark on this project? >> My good friend, Randy Armstrong, told me about a group of artists, former art teachers, and community leaders who were looking to form an arts center for visual arts. We met as a kitchen-table cabinet to begin our dream. I had taken art in high school and college and at the art museum, and looked forward to taking art classes when I retired, but the art school closed. A community the size of Greenville needed a visual arts center, and our efforts have proven that to be the case.
“Tracy was recruited to serve on our finance and investment committee in 1999. She was a trailblazer as a woman stock broker, and her expertise has been important to us. In addition, Tracy was an excellent board member.”—Bob Morris, president, The Community Foundation of Greenville
I understand you are an artist yourself. >> I am an aspiring artist and have loved taking classes at the GCCA. Currently, I am co-chairman of the fundraising effort with my husband, and Cliff and Jane Roy. We are about to launch a campaign to raise money to renovate the cotton warehouse, an adjacent building to the cloth building that currently houses the center. It has over 30,000 square feet and will house class spaces for ceramics, jewelry, metals, and woodworking. This has taken some of my “art creative time,” but it is a worthy cause, and I look forward to adding other class choices.
What inspires you, personally, to work so hard for this community? >> My parents and their love for Greenville and the “can do” attitude that the leadership of our great town has shown over the years have inspired me to volunteer and work to improve the lives of all in Greenville.
What does the role of the volunteer play in the community and how does volunteerism benefit the individual who chooses to do so? >> I volunteer because I believe helping others is what we are meant to do. Volunteers help to engage those in the community who otherwise would not have the opportunities. This is a huge benefit to the volunteer as well as those served.