By MARY STARR
Very few people have left a legacy that has had such a far-reaching impact as the one passed on by the late Terrill “Terry” Thomas. Thomas, who retired after working as activities director for Sea Island for many years, passed away when she was 89. Before she retired, however, she made sure that the organizations she supported throughout her life would continue to benefit. One of those organizations was the Boys Club of Glynn, now the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia, with which she began her involvement in 1976. She was recently named to the Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Atlanta.
Each year, the Terry Thomas Foundation distributes grants to area agencies that help people who are less fortunate.
Susan Goodhue, executive director of the Terrill Thomas Foundation, said the foundation will be supporting 21 charities in Glynn County with a total of $538,000 in funding for 2019.
“With this year’s gifts and pledges in place, a total of nearly $4 million will have been provided for the community, since the inception of the foundation in 2004 by Terry Thomas,” Goodhue said. “Prior to that time, she had been an extremely generous philanthropist to numerous charities as well, with many buildings and educational scholarships bearing her name.”
The focus of the foundation is on Glynn County, Goodhue explained, although some of the agencies have satellite efforts in nearby counties.
“She loved this area, and wanted to do all she could to support the citizens that reside here,” she said.
Goodhue said 21 charities received grants this year, and the total number of organizations supported since 2004 is 31.
“Terry had a strong interest in the Boys and Girls Club after her retirement from the Sea Island Co.,” she said. “She was the first female board member, and president of the board, and was very hands-on.”
The first Boys and Girls Club location in Glynn County, on Johnston Street, in Brunswick, recently was completely renovated because of support from the Terrill Thomas Foundation and a matching gift from an anonymous foundation.
Thomas, Goodhue said, also strongly supported the college and what is now the YMCA. Her interests concentrated on youth and education, as well as athletics, because she was an accomplished athlete herself.
“She felt it was important to provide opportunities for youth to reach their full potential as well as adults so that they could be good citizens in the community she loved,” said Goodhue.
Brooke Parmelee, development director at the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia, appreciates the impact of the foundation’s generosity, and said although capital projects have been the organization’s focus of late, previous grants have also supported programming.
The renovation of the original Boys and Girls Club facility on Johnston Street is just one example of the work the foundation makes possible.
“(The) $2 million renovation of the Terry Thomas Boys and Girls Club in 2018 including renovations (and) updating of the existing club, and a new addition of a cafeteria,” Parmelee said.
That particular club, Parmelee said, is the “hub” of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia.
“Each day, 250 city and county youth embark on a variety of formal and informal programs that help mold the whole child,” she said. “Within the Terry Thomas facility, members forge lifelong relationships with caring adult staff who help lay the building blocks for a successful future.”