The Yawkey Foundations | Giving millions to support health care, wildlife conservation and more in Georgetown County
Meander around Georgetown County, and it won’t be long before you encounter a place or organization that has received support from the Yawkeys.
AT A GLANCE
Since 1977, the Yawkey Foundations have committed more than $60 million to organizations in Georgetown County, including:
- Boy Scouts of America/Coastal Carolina Council
- Clemson University (for research at the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center)
- Friendship Place
- Healthy Learners
- Helping Hands of Georgetown
- Horry-Georgetown Technical College
- Lowcountry Open Land Trust
- Nature Conservancy of South Carolina
- Smith Medical Clinic
- South Carolina Coastal Conservation League
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources/Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center
- St. Cyprian Church and Outreach Center
- Tara Hall Home for Boys
- Tidelands Health
With connections to the county dating back to the early 1900s, the late Tom and Jean Yawkey – and now their foundations – have donated money to a variety of non-profit organizations across Georgetown County.
Since 1977, the Yawkey Foundations have committed more than $60 million to a long list of organizations in Georgetown County, including Tidelands Health, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, Friendship Place, Smith Medical Clinic, Tara Hall Home for Boys and more.
Tidelands Health wouldn’t be what it is today without the long-time support of the Yawkeys, and later, their foundations.
The Yawkeys, and the foundations they established, have supported Tidelands Health since its beginning 70 years ago, helping fund the area’s first hospital – now known as Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital – and donating millions of dollars through the years for facility expansions to serve the community.
“The Yawkeys were close friends with the late Dr. William Armstrong, the first surgeon at Tidelands Georgetown, and his wife, Ellie, a nurse, who was a longtime member of the Yawkey Foundations board,” said James P. Healey, president and trustee of the Yawkey Foundations. “Together, the Yawkeys and the Armstrongs worked to ensure there would always be a high-quality hospital serving the Georgetown community.”
Tom Yawkey, who was orphaned at a young age, spent much of his childhood visiting Georgetown, where, in 1911, his uncle William Yawkey purchased land along the shoreline. His uncle died when Tom Yawkey was 16, leaving the land in Georgetown County, as well as the family’s considerable lumber, mining and oil fortune to Tom.
“With no real family to speak of, Georgetown County, South Carolina, became Tom’s adopted home, and the people of Georgetown became his adopted family,” Healey said.
Tom and Jean Yawkey got married at a house off Front Street in 1944 and gave back in a variety of ways to the community they loved.
“Together, they played a quiet – but active – role in the community,” Healey said. “There are many stories of Tom and Jean Yawkey quietly paying medical bills, tuition, housing costs and other expenses for the families of their employees and others in Georgetown.”
Support of Tidelands Health
The Yawkeys’ partnership with Tidelands Health began in 1945 when Tom Yawkey donated $100,000 to help build Georgetown’s only hospital. That generous spirit has continued through the years to help fund crucial growth, including expansions on the Tidelands Georgetown campus, the development of Yawkey Medical Park and, most recently, the construction of the Yawkey Surgery Pavilion at Tidelands Georgetown.
In 2018, the Yawkey Foundations donated $10 million to help fund major enhancements to Tidelands Georgetown. The donation is not only the largest in the history of Tidelands Health but is also one of the largest ever awarded to an organization in the region. That’s on top of a $5 million gift in 2003 that helped fund construction of Yawkey Medical Park and the Tidelands Health Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center.
Tidelands Health has honored the Yawkeys for their support by naming several locations after the couple, starting in the 1960s with the Thomas A. Yawkey Wing at Tidelands Georgetown and continuing in 2018 with the opening of the Yawkey Surgery Pavilion.
“There’s no question the gracious support of the Yawkey Foundations over the decades has helped Tidelands Health become the largest health care provider in the region,” said Bruce Bailey, the health system’s president and CEO. “The support has had an undeniable impact on our community by helping ensure residents and visitors have access to high-quality, compassionate health care. We could not be more grateful for all the Yawkey Foundations have done – and continue to do – in our community.”
Tom and Jean Yawkey earned a reputation for their philanthropic efforts supporting the communities they called home - Georgetown County and New England. The Yawkey Foundations, based in Massachusetts, have continued the couple’s legacy of supporting organizations that help improve health care, enhance human services programs, improve access for youth and amateur athletics and encourage educational opportunities.
When he died in 1976, Tom Yawkey – an avid outdoorsman - left more than 24,000 acres to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for what has become the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center. The area boasts marshes, forests and beaches that play host to hundreds of species of coastal wildlife. Eagles, alligators and many endangered species are found there. As provided by Mr. Yawkey, the Yawkey Foundations provide annual funding for conservation and wildlife management at the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center.
The Yawkey Foundations aim to carry on the couple’s giving spirit by supporting the areas they did: health care, education, human services, youth and amateur athletics, arts and culture and conservation and wildlife. The sale of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 added nearly $400 million in proceeds to the Yawkey Foundations, transforming the couple’s philanthropic legacy.
Since 1977, the foundations have awarded more than $500 million in grants to organizations in Georgetown County and New England.
“The Georgetown community remains vitally important to the Yawkey Foundations, as it was to Tom and Jean Yawkey,” Healey said. “Our work in Georgetown continues a relationship that has existed for decades. We look forward to continuing our work in this special community.”