We have been redefining ability in the Greenville area for more than 60 years. While our name has changed over the years, our mission has remained consistent: creating services and opportunities for those with intellectual disabilities.
Through the great advocacy of Barbara Stone, a mother to a child with special needs, this organization has grown from a small group of concerned parents to serving more than 2,200 individuals across the Upstate of South Carolina. In 1953, a time when special education was not yet mandated and specialty residences were beyond capacity, this group of parents identified several issues they wanted to address. Over the next several decades, the group began to grow through the addition of a full-time director and dedicated service locations. The government became involved and created a county Board that would oversee programs and services. State funds also became available during this time.
As the programs and services grew, more space was needed. Ruth Patrick, aunt to Barbara Stone, donated ten acres on Ridge Rd. This opened in February 1980 as the Patrick Center and is still a very important location for us today. In the years that followed, additional space was acquired and utilized throughout Greenville County to accommodate for the growing population.
Also during this time, the organization began to create residential facilities that would allow individuals to live in a more community-focused setting. While the organization did encounter significant opposition during this process, Barbara Stone and the leadership remained dedicated to providing independent living opportunities for those with special needs. Today, we have more than 80 different residential locations throughout the area where men and women can live with varying levels of independence.
We are tremendously grateful to the advocacy of Barbara Stone and others who provided the groundwork for the mission of our organization today. After years of being known for a long and institutional name, we changed our name from the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board to Thrive Upstate in 2016. We look forward to carrying on the work of Barbara Stone and her colleagues in the years to come.