SMC’s founder, Methodist minister Rev. Dr. David English Camak, had a vision to improve the lives of the men and women living and working in the Mill Villages of Spartanburg. His goal was to provide an education that would enlighten textile workers and enable them to overcome the social forces that threatened their lives and future generations. Camak believed that these young men and women were ambitious and, with the right training and encouragement, had the potential to become influential leaders in their community and industry.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is appropriate, therefore, to pause and recall both Camak’s vision and pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.
Spartanburg Methodist College continues to believe in the same vision and values, which served as guiding principles and the foundation for the college over 103 years ago. For the SMC community, the yearly national labor day tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, is an ongoing observance and celebration and is echoed in their motto, To Be & To Do.
As part of the UM connection, SMC strives to develop a values-oriented atmosphere where students can develop a sensitivity to the needs of others. Each year, on the first full day that freshman are on the SMC campus, they are sent out into the Spartanburg community to help churches, schools, and non-profit agencies with landscaping, cleaning and organizing, feeding the hungry, working with the elderly, and easing the plight of the homeless. Kappa Sigma Alpha, SMC’s only fraternity, is dedicated to community service and participate in bimonthly service opportunities. SMC students are also invited to participate in Alternative Fall and Spring Breaks, led by the Dean of Students and the Chaplain, in which they are exposed to the multitude of needs found in a community. Students might work to improve the housing of low-income elderly residents, assist on a farm for recovering and retired horses, sort linens for a ministry that provides beds for children who would otherwise be sleeping on the floor, tutor children, work with nursing home residents, etc.
Students like Kaitlyn Pless, a 2014 graduate of SMC, who graduated Valedictorian of her high school class, report that SMC gives “access to knowledge beyond the walls of home and school. Volunteering my labor led me educationally towards a career and provided a gateway into the knowledge of theology, philosophy, and the history of Faith.”
Kaitlyn, who is actively involved in youth leadership at Sharon UM Greer, is currently enrolled in the University of South Carolina Upstate’s Mary Black School of Nursing for her BSN. She hopes to specialize in Hospice Care.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted to have said “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” During the 2013-2014 academic year, Candice Y. Sloan, SMC Chaplin, proudly reported that SMC students, faculty and staff provided over 6,008 hours of volunteer labor to the community. SMC…doing all the good they can, by all the means they can, in all the ways they can, in all the places they can, at all the times they can, to all the people they can.