Jenny Butler

My name is Jenny Butler, and I’m very happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to share my experience from the GED program at Foothills Family Resources!
To give you a little background information about me, I was born in Greenville, SC, but I grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico. My parents moved there to become missionaries when I was less than a year old. I was homeschooled, but my parents were both very busy with their work, so it was rare that they would have time to help me. Lacking the discipline I needed to do the work on my own, I quickly fell behind. The last grade I completed was 5th grade, and that became my biggest insecurity.
When I was almost 13 years old, my family received a serious threat from a drug cartel and we were forced to move back to SC overnight. I attempted to continue homeschooling, but my parents were busier than ever, scrambling to find new jobs and a house for us.
By the time I was around 16 years old, I had finally given up on school. My parents had skipped me through to 9th grade, but I never even made it halfway through. I was humiliated. I remember having a lot of ambition in the past, but then I found myself working in a restaurant 7 days a week with very little to show for it, and in my mind that was as good as it was going to get for me. Any job better than that felt like such a distant reality. It was almost exhausting just trying to imagine it.
When I turned 19, I tried going to two different GED schools, but neither of them helped me move forward. I needed something with structure and someone to guide me every step of the way, but those places didn’t offer that.
A year later, my dad suggested I go to the Foothills Family Resources (FFR) GED class. I already felt like I was at the lowest point in my life at that time and the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the embarrassment of another failure. It took days of convincing before I actually gave in and agreed to go just to humor my dad. I had been out of school so long, the possibility of actually passing the tests didn’t even cross my mind.
I walked in the classroom reluctantly and spoke with the teachers, Karen and Jeff. I could instantly see that they genuinely cared about helping us students. Throughout each class, I was amazed at how they gave each individual the attention we needed. They really encouraged us to ask questions when we had them and they pushed us to do our best. I found myself passing one test after the other until I only had one left before I would officially graduate! After being weighed down by this for so long, I actually felt completely capable of achieving this goal for the first time in years!
In between tests, I was also going through the Center for Working Families program that FFR provides, where my counselor, Paula, was helping me prepare for life after I graduated. She helped me with things like building a resume, practicing for job interviews, and setting a budget, among other things.
A few days prior to taking my last test, the Center for Working Families program Coordinator, Kristen, and Executive Director, David, called me into the office before class. I was nervous, thinking they were about to tell me that I was in trouble for something. Much to my surprise, I was offered a job instead! I was so happy, I agreed to it before they even told me what the job was!
My life has changed drastically since I walked into the GED class that first day. I’ve been working here for over a year now and I’m still just as thrilled being the Intake Coordinator for FFR as I was the day after I passed my final GED test. I’m eternally grateful to every single person at Foothills Family Resources for helping me along the way!

Manufacturing Certifications were offered by Greenville Technical College at FFR



In 2016, through a collaboration with Greenville Technical College, free scholarships for manufacturing and production workforce training were available at Foothills Family Resources.

The program offered technician certifications that opened career opportunities in fields like mechatronics, welding and CNC machining, according to David Bolton, Foothills Family Resources executive director.

“Partnering with Greenville Tech to bring job training to this region is not only exciting, but fits perfectly into our Center for Working Families program as it’s goal is not only to help people find work, but start rewarding careers,” Bolton said. “Greenville County is a national leader in manufacturing and the perfect opportunity for someone interested in starting a career that leads to financial security.”


Re-branding our Facility

Northern Greenville County nonprofit Foothills Family Resources recently announced a capital campaign to raise money for a facility improvement and rebranding project.

First opened in 1986, the nonprofit predominantly serves residents in Travelers Rest, Cleveland, and Slater-Marietta. Historically, the agency is devoted to helping area residents in times of crisis, providing food, rent/utility assistance, mental health counseling, SNAP and Medicaid application assistance, holiday assistance, and more.

In 2013, the nonprofit added additional services to help those in need move from their crisis to self-sufficiency. Utilizing the Center for Working Families model developed by the Anney E. Casey Foundation, Foothills provides for services like financial coaching, professional skills and job training, and resume development.

The campaign to improve the building and offices hub, located on Main Street in Slater is the first in nearly two decades. The estimated cost of the project is $250,000, and includes a complete interior overhaul/upfit as well as exterior facade improvements and technology upgrades. (Click to enlarge/navigate images below.)

“After almost 20 years of little facility improvements, this effort will move Foothills past the well-earned reputation of an organization that can help clients work through any crisis, to one that begins its work with crisis, but has the tools and expertise to prevent future ones,” Bolton said.

Foothills Family Resources Executive Director Named Inaugural ‘Platforms for Prosperity’ Fellow

SLATER-MARIETTA, S.C. – Foothills Family Resources Executive Director David Bolton was recently selected as one of six nonprofit leaders from across the country chosen to participate in the inaugural Platforms for Prosperity Integration Fellowship.

Developed by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (website here) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and the Bank of America, the fellowship seeks to further integrate financial capability services into workforce development programs, enhancing both employment and financial outcomes for clients.

Through the Fellowship, which will run through September 2016, participants will receive individualized technical assistance from CFED and will also take part in peer learning through virtual meetings and site visits to successful financial capability integration sites.

“It’s an honor to be selected, and I look forward to learning from some of the leaders in the field,” Bolton said. “The goal is empowering those living in poverty through financial coaching and wealth development via savings, credit repair, capital purchases and investments, moving them to and beyond self-sufficiency.”

Bolton was nominated by United Way of Greenville County.

Center for Working Families Success: Charlene



Charlene, a single mother of three, first came to FFR in need of assistance with her utility bill just as school began in September. Struggling with a lack of education, work history and with food insecurity, FFR first made sure the lights stayed on before educating her on new options available that could change the course of her family’s future forever. She was the first Center for Working Families participant, and the first graduate.

Three months later, Charlene was enrolled at Greenville Tech. While studying to become a Patient Care Technician, CWF provided financial counseling, résumé development and interview skills techniques. Charlene graduated and is currently working in the pulmonary ward at Greenville Hospital. In less than one year, she went from struggling to keep the lights on to a career in healthcare and the ability to support her family. She is now surrounded by professionals that will help to further change her view on what the future holds.

Center for Working Families Success: Shandy



A single mother of one, Shandy came to FFR regularly in need of food and housing assistance. Her barriers to success included a lack of adequate education, poor work history, food insecurity and housing concerns. Beyond this, she has a disability which requires regular blood transfusions, though this is not something she felt should prevent her from providing for her son. After counseling from FFR and Greenville Tech staff, she determined that working in the medical field as a  professional coder would not only be rewarding, but would be a career she could succeed in despite her disability.

Shandy has completed all soft skills work in the CWF, her coursework at Greenville Tech and is now a Certified Professional Coder Apprentice. Her own doctor is so impressed with her that he is also working with her to attain employment, and she has begun the application process. Shandy is an excellent example of a person that, though fighting a disability, found a field that she could succeed in and will provide for her family. Not only is her future bright because of her hard work, but her son’s is as well.


TRTribune: We’re Here for You; August 2013

As fall approaches, Foothills Family Resources is looking forward to the inaugural class of the most empowering service ever offered by this historic organization. The “Center for Working Families” will help move citizens of Northern Greenville County from crisis to self-sufficiency. I’ve talked a great deal about that move in previous columns, but the next two will explain how a small organization, located in a historic mill village, aspires to help our neighbors from Travelers Rest to Cleveland attain financial security and move towards happiness.

Let’s first talk about the word “crisis.”

A crisis is any situation which makes getting through the day a ”to do” item. It may come in the form of an empty cupboard, teenage pregnancy, crippling mental duress, lack of health insurance along with poor health, looming power disconnection, overdue rent or pending foreclosure, loss of employment or disability to name a few.

Most of us have felt at least some of these needs at one point in our lives but handling most or all of the above at one time qualifies as a crisis. This is where Foothills Family Resources meets many of our clients. Urgent services such as food, emergency shelter/utilities and Medicaid enrollment are immediately dealt with through FFR staff with the remainder of services provided by a diverse group of partners on site. These services include SNAP services from DSS, Nutritional Guidance from the Department of Health’s Women Infant and Children’s program, Therapeutic sessions from Greenville Mental Health, Pregnancy Counseling including Ob Ultrasounds from the Piedmont Women’s Center, employment services from Vocational Rehabilitation and educational daycare from SHARE Head Start.


This multi-disciplinary group of partners provides all services at no cost to this community or to FFR.  In return, they are provided all the amenities of a modern office environment rent free. It is this leveraging of resources which allows FFR to provide more opportunities to our neighbors than any organization in Greenville County.


Once the crisis has been dealt with, many families will be afforded the opportunity to improve financial knowledge, gain much needed work skills, attain employment and change the course of their family’s future through the Center for Working Families. But there are no strings attached to crisis services. FFR has always been a place for our neighbors to turn when times are tough.  Asking for food may be the first step to financial security, but it may also just be a means to get through another day.  We respect each person we serve because situations are all unique; each client will get what is best for them simply because it’s the right thing to do.


It’s a pleasure to continue this conversation and I look forward to discussing financial education, job training and employment placement, along with the partners providing those services, in our next conversation. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at

TRTribune: We’re Here for You; September 2013

In this conversation, we’ll cover some services provided by Foothills Family Resources (FFR) that we haven’t touched on in the past as FFR will focus on moving families in crisis to a place of self-sufficiency through the Center for Working Families (CWF) to be launched this fall.  According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the CWF model is “an approach to help low-income families reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder” that specifically helps families “increase their earnings and income,” “reduce financial transaction costs” and “build wealth for themselves and their communities.”

As you can see, our goal is not just to effect those we serve, but expectations are to see an effect throughout this community over time. This new program will follow our long standing tradition of leveraging resources through partnerships. In fact, we have forged new partnerships with SHARE, Goodwill and Greenville Human Relations to meet the self-sufficiency side of the “crisis to self-sufficiency goal” we have talked about so often in this conversation.

The CWF will welcome fifteen new families each quarter to begin a process of healing, education and empowerment through a program which they will experience as a group. Though each family will come in with different needs, from GED to higher level job training, all will benefit from the support and accountability a group environment provides. Each family will have at least one person involved in the most empowering educational elements of CWF, but the entire unit will benefit from a case manager guiding them through the entire network of services offered by FFR and Greenville County as a whole.

In order to facilitate this program, FFR has had to make improvements to our facility and foster new relationships with organizations viewed as the best in the county at what they do. To begin, FFR has opened previously unused office space to accommodate the needs of CWF. JPS Composites has donated computers allowing for a new computer lab which will provide GED and Workkeys testing along with resume building, online learning and a myriad of courses on computer skills along with tax preparations which will be available to the public as a whole.

Along with this capital improvement, FFR has fostered several new partnerships to facilitate this new programming.  Greenville County Human Relations will provide an education on all facets of money management, from debt reduction to capital investments and wealth building allowing families to attain a wealth of knowledge to better manage their finances moving forward. Lifelong learning has long provided GED education and testing at FFR and will add an increased focus on Workkeys certification, which is a tool many regional employers use to gauge the qualifications of prospective employees. The SHARE LADDER program, which has earned the William “Sonny” Walder Self-sufficiency and Audrey B. Nelson awards along with the 2004 Innovative Program of the Year distinction, will provide job training in a wide range of fields including medical, healthcare, manufacturing and computer technology. Finally, Goodwill JobConnection will add another widely respected element which provides comprehensive services in job training very similar to that of CWF as a whole.

So we’ve come full circle in this conversation. I hope that you’ve come away with a better appreciation for what this little non-profit is doing for our neighbors in need. I hope it’s also clear that we’re thinking big about our community and the ways we can move those in need from crisis to self-sufficiency.

As always, feel free to contact me at with any questions or comments you may have.

TrTribune: We’re Here for You; November 2013

We’re Here for You: Being part of an ‘Abundant Communmity’

In the book “The Abundant Community,” authors Peter Block and John McKnight present the argument that the community is better suited to meet the needs of its neighbors than the systems currently in place to meet those needs. At Foothills Family Resources we are taking this concept of how much a community can do all by itself to heart and we ask you to join us while supporting the Center for Working Families (CWF).

This support of CWF does not necessarily have to be financial as Foothills Family Resources’ goal is to essentially create a database of the skills in our abundant community which we are all proud to live and/or work in. Whether you make a mean lasagna, have serious plumbing skills or would like to serve as a mentor, every skill is welcome to assist those working to move from crisis to self-sufficiency.

Do you want to serve on a board of directors which has a direct impact on your neighbors in need? We always need members dedicated to the cause. Are you good with woodworking? You can donate some time to help a young child learn how to make a birdhouse. Do you make paper-mâché? Let’s gather the CWF families for a crafts session on making piñatas and use them for birthday parties for our students’ children. The beauty of this program is we can think outside the box and effect our students in ways most programs don’t. Remember, we are serving the entire family unit, and I’m sure that you have a talent to share which can have an impact!

When we create programming it’s important to identify goals which will indicate success and, in the case of the Center for Working Families, those goals will revolve around the financial success of the students. This includes improvements in employment status, decrease in debt and an increase in savings. But there’s another angle we will focus on which will revolves around our community that’s a bit more abstract, but just as important. Our goal is to hear graduates speak of missing Ms. Smith’s lasagna at monthly meetings or to hear them tell stories of how Mr. Jones was always there when there was a plumbing issue at their house.

We are just as excited to hear about the times when mentors went above and beyond as we are to learn that a student is working in a job that will change the course of their families’ future.  Helping people find a successful career is a primary goal, but helping them establish positive relationships skills is just as important in the long run for that person and our community. If students graduate, change their lives and talk about lasagna, plumbing, mentors and piñatas we’ll know that it’s the community helping the community. That’s when we’ll know this is a sustainable way to empower those in need. That’s when we’ll know that we have a program that will not only change the lives of its students, but will have an impact on our entire abundant community.

If you would like to be part of this abundant community please contact me at or 864-836-1100. Remember, there’s no skill or talent we don’t want to hear about.