February Volunteer Spotlight

February Volunteer Spotlight

Family Promise of Beaufort County Shines the Spotlight on Tonya Neeley

As a volunteer driven organization, we are shining the spotlight each month on one of our dedicated volunteers who are the heart of Family Promise. They work tirelessly and greatly deserve our thanks and recognition!

In February, we shine the Volunteer Spotlight on Tonya Neeley, a long-time member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Bluffton. Tonya’s congregation was one of the first to partner with Family Promise, enabling the organization to begin serving homeless families in Beaufort County almost ten years ago. Since that time, Lord of Life Lutheran has continued as one of 13 host congregations, all of which provide safe overnight accommodations and meals to Family Promise guests.

When asked about her years of work with Family Promise, Tonya smiles. She interacts closely with her Co-Coordinator, Carolyn Cherwon. Caroline, who Tonya calls her “partner in crime,” recruits volunteers from the congregation to serve meals, spend time with guest families in the evening, and stay overnight. Tonya then executes the schedule by letting volunteers know the guests’ names and in which room they are staying. She and Carolyn tag-team, leading the volunteers who set up and breakdown, paying attention to even the smallest of details. “The teams try to create spaces as homey as possible,” says Tonya.

Tonya and her husband, Vic, both attended the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and are Gamecock fans. They moved full time to the Low Country almost 13 years ago from North Carolina. The Neeley family owns three restaurants on Hilton Head and one in Savannah. Grown sons Darrell and Will work closely with their father in these family-owned businesses which include Plantation Café & Deli, Plantation Café North, and Callahan’s, all on the island.

Tonya serves on the Family Promise Congregation Recruitment and Retention Committee. In addition, she chairs the Service Ministry Team at Lord of Life. In that role, Tonya and others from the congregation organize the School Uniform Drive each fall and the Thanksgiving Food Drive. They also coordinate with Family Promise the gifts collected for the Christmas “Angel Tree.” Last year 96 children received teddy bears, clothes, and a toy as a result of that generous program. Tonya is among those currently planning the Charity Brunch and Fashion Show to be held in April. This year the proceeds will benefit both Hopeful Horizons and Family Promise.

When she’s not focused on activities with Lord of Life or Family Promise, Tonya enjoys walking the beach in Windy Hill (near North Myrtle Beach) with both her mother-in-law and her new daughter-in-law, Meredith. The Neeleys were happy to welcome Meredith to the family when she and Darrell married last September.

We are so thankful for dedicated volunteers like Tonya who enable Family Promise to continue to meet the needs of homeless children and their families.