effingham

RINCON CHEVROLET: Thinkin’ Rincon

Thinkin’ Rincon” is more than a motto, it means Rincon Chevrolet is thinking about
the well-being of the community. So, when customers buy a vehicle it benefits many community initiatives supported by Rincon.
According to Jesse Greathouse, executive manager, giving back to the community is a priority. “We consider Rincon Chevrolet first and foremost a business that is here to serve the residents of Effingham County,” he said. “If there is a project or organization that needs support in our area, we are all in,” added Mr. Greathouse.
This philosophy is why Rincon Chevrolet created their “Partners Program.” This is an initiative dedicated to supporting various community charities and organizations.
“Simply put, we support what is important to our customers. When you buy a new vehicle from us, we take the approach that you have invested in our business, so to reinvest with you, we will contribute $150.00 back to any civic, religious, academic or youth organization of your choice,” said Mr. Greathouse.
This includes supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month with their “Join the Fight” campaign. Throughout October, Rincon Chevrolet donates a portion of every sale to Susan G. Komen Foundation to help support patients and survivors.
Rincon Chevrolet has also taken a fun approach to supporting local school athletics. They will donate $3 to the Athletic Department for every point scored by the high school football teams of South Effingham, Effingham County and New Hampstead. In addition, every time a fan buys a new Chevrolet, Rincon will donate $150 to the department.
Since the inception of their “Partners Program,” Rincon Chevrolet has contributed thousands of dollars to benefit high schools, a variety of civic organizations and youth organizations. These include the Cub Scouts and their Pinewood Derby, gymnastic clubs, FFA and Treutlen House, just to name a few.

 

Thompson Hardware, RooterMan Plumbers, and Thompson & Thompson Service Group

SCOTT THOMPSON
A Man Wearing Many Hats
Thompson Hardware, RooterMan Plumbers, and Thompson & Thompson Service Group all have one thing in common – Scott Thompson. Scott Thompson was born and raised in Pembroke, GA, and moved to Effingham County in 1998 to live with his great-uncle Corey Rahn, of Rahn’s Services. While working with his great-uncle, Scott quickly learned the value of hard work.
In 2004, at the age of 21, Scott started his first business called Scotty’ Pottys, a portable restroom rental company. From there, he went on to start RooterMan Plumbers in 2008. After serving the local communities through his businesses, he realized the continuous need for plumbing and other supplies through his own companies. Scott had purchased an old bank building to house his plumbing company and decided to open a hardware store in the same building to make ordering parts easier and more convenient. Thompson Hardware in downtown Guyton, GA then opened its doors to the community.
What Scott found on the other side of those doors was a need similar to his own from his community – a convenient place that not only offered the products they needed but would also offer a friendly helping hand. A beautiful component of Effingham County is how the people all work together and operate on personal connections. “It is a joy to serve in a community that always comes together in a time of need. No matter what the need is, there are always people willing to help. We band together and get the job done, and we have fun doing it,” says Scott.
At Thompson Hardware, you will find smiling faces, a warm welcome, friends and neighbors. “I love being able to interact with members of our community on a daily basis. The hardware store has allowed me to meet so many great people and build lasting relationships,” explains Scott. In addition to seeing Scott, you may also see his wife, Laura, and their three children as they all love to help out in the hardware store and various businesses.
Scott shared a fun fact about Thompson Hardware that makes them truly unique.
“We are probably the only hardware store that has a bank vault and a chandelier,” jokes Scott. The vault and chandelier aren’t the only things that make Thompson Hardware unique. Their goal was to not only build a local business that provided what people need, but to also contribute to their local community.
They truly believe in getting to know their customers, their families, and getting involved in the local events that impact those families. According to Scott, customers at Thompson Hardware are “friends walking through the door, not just another sale.” They work closely with the Effingham Emergency Management Agency to assist in relief efforts after local disasters. “We try to give back whenever we can,” Scott explains. “We have a true passion for helping others.”
In addition to Thompson Hardware, Scott also owns and operates Thompson & Thompson Service Group and RooterMan Plumbers to provide Effingham County community with plumbing, septic, drain cleaning, and air conditioning services.
“We have numerous customers that come into the hardware store looking for supplies to fix their problem and end up calling one of our service companies to complete the repairs once they realize it’s more than they can handle,” explains Scott. Whatever your need, Scott and his team are here to help!
Visit your friends and neighbors at Thompson Hardware today at 109 West Central Blvd, Guyton, GA. Follow them on Facebook for the latest deals and information at www.Facebook.com/ThompsonHardwareSupply or give Scott and his amazing team a call at 912-772-3028.

Jane Hughes : A life of service, success… and strength

story by Katie VandenHouten      photos by Tonya Perry
Jane Hughes has had an interesting life. She has made a name for herself in Effingham County as a successful mortgage broker, business owner and active community member. And even though she is well-known and respected in the community, her life story is far more compelling than most people realize.
Jane’s father worked for Pan American Airways, which meant she traveled a lot in her early years. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and later moved to Panama when she was just six years old. She finally moved to the United States after graduating high school and has lived in the Southeast ever since.
“I received my education at the Panama Canal schools run by the United States Department of Defense,” explains Jane. She was lucky enough to travel throughout her childhood, which was somewhat of a luxury for children in the sixties and seventies. She was also introduced into the Panamanian Debutante Society, which was a rare opportunity for an American resident at that time.
She still looks back fondly on those travels and says growing up in Panama gave her a different perspective. “Those travels are deeply cherished,” she says. “Growing up in a foreign country broadened my outlook on the world.”
Jane moved to the United States to attend college, settling in North Carolina. One of the biggest differences she noticed when she moved to North Carolina was that there were four distinct seasons. Growing up in the tropical Panamanian climate, she was used to warm temperatures year-round. She was a freshman at Montreat-Anderson College when she saw snow for the first time.
She later moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, where she was co-owner of a lumber company. After that, she moved to Georgia in 1988, and worked for Quick Rx as a bookkeeper for seven years.  Jane started International Mortgage Co. Inc. in 1990, and it is now the oldest mortgage company in Effingham County.
“The housing industry has always fascinated me,” says Jane. She considers her proudest accomplishment in business “providing the American Dream” to citizens of Effingham County and the surrounding area. Not only does she have a knack for numbers, but she prides herself on putting customers first, which is one of the reasons her business has lasted almost thirty years.
In a world where most communication happens via cellphone, Jane maintains contact and spends time with clients in person whenever possible. “I try to spend quality time in coaching and counseling prospective buyers, and I have a lot of repeat business,” she explains.
Jane’s business savvy was tested with the mortgage crisis in 2006, but then again, she has never been one to crumble under adversity. When business got slow, she got moving. She obtained her mediation registration and became a mediator for Effingham County Magistrate Court.  And, she didn’t stop there. She also got a job as a greeter at Strickland’s Funeral Home. These additional jobs provided her with a way to serve and meet people in the community.
She has always had a heart for service, and she is very active in her community. She served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for six years, and she was on the board for the Treutlen House for four years as well. She was also a Rotary member, where she had an impressive perfect attendance record for ten years. While in Rotary, Jane received  the Paul Harris Fellow Award, which is the highest award given in Rotary. The award is given to those who have made an outstanding contribution to their community, and Hughes has certainly accomplished that task.
In addition to serving on various boards, she loves supporting fundraisers for a good cause as well as local charities. “I’m a supporter of any charity that might come forth,” she says. Mission on the Move with the Springfield United Methodist Church is one of her favorite causes, and she loves participating in golf tournament fundraisers. Effingham Empty Stocking Fund is also one near and dear to her heart.  She adds, Those people will get a check from me every year at Christmas.”
Effingham has opened its arms to her since she moved here, and Jane loves giving back whenever she can. “I was an outsider when I moved here,” she recalls. “But generations of families that I have met- they’ve welcomed me.”
She encourages new residents of Effingham to join a church and a civic organization of their choice. “Engaging in these memberships helps to meet people and allows one to serve the community,” she says.
Given her heart for service and positive attitude, most people would never guess that she has lived through some of the toughest times imaginable. One of the worst, no doubt, was losing her 17 year old daughter in a car accident.
Unfortunately, tough times hit again last year as well. “I was diagnosed in June of 2017 with stage four colon cancer,” says Jane, “It’s been a real challenge to say the least.”
But even in the hardest of times, she chooses to look at the bright side of things. She could easily complain about the inconvenience of living with the side effects of her chemotherapy. Instead, she is praising the nurses and staff at the Cancer Care Center at Effingham Health System.
Jane has become an advocate for the local cancer center, and she sings its praises for the much-needed service they’re providing for the community. “They have a top-quality nursing staff. It’s very well organized, and they have very good doctors here,” she says. “Having the facility here makes it so much easier for local people to go, and that was half my battle.”
And her battle isn’t over. She is currently undergoing her second round of chemotherapy. She has been battling cancer for over a year, yet she continues to work as much as she can. She also enjoys time with her friends and family and counts her blessings every day.
“I’ve truly been blessed by the Effingham County community with prayers and support through cards, meals and visits,” she says. “My church, Wingard Memorial Lutheran Church, has been a blessing to me in so many ways,” she adds. “The members of Wingard have been so supportive during my illness in the past fifteen months.”
Her biggest cheerleader is her husband of thirty years, Joseph David Hughes. “He has been my greatest support in all my endeavors,” she says. Without a doubt, the support he has given, along with her two sons, William and Wesley Ballard, Wesley’s wife Jennifer, granddaughter Caroline Moore, great grandson Daxton Moore, family, friends, and community members has made a huge difference. She knows she is not alone in this fight.
And she wants others to know that they are not alone either. “As I continue my journey through chemo, I certainly encourage anyone to follow your doctor’s instructions, stay positive, and you might just beat the odds.”
Jane hopes to become more involved in promoting Effingham’s Cancer Care Center in the future. And though she continues to fight bravely, her cancer diagnosis does not define her. Far from it. Her success and service in the community are much more important to her. “I would like to be remembered as a person of honor, integrity and strength,” she says.
Jane Hughes most definitely has those qualities and many more. Her life has been one of success, service and strength. She is more than just a business woman and cancer survivor; she is a lesson in perseverance, positivity and grace.
More than anything else, she is a hard worker and a fighter. She has never been one to give up when obstacles come her way, and she’s not about to start now. She’s the lady who is not afraid to tell cancer, or anyone or anything else in the way of her goals…. ”Not today. I have work to do.”

Merle Norman

There’s a new Merle Girl in town…..

Merle Norman in Rincon has been around for a long time. The store had been owned for many years by Mary Jane Brinson. But, in April of this year, ownership changed.  There’s a new Merle girl running the show now.
Tiffany Long Writch is the new owner. “My mom introduced me to Merle Norman skincare products at the age of 13. That lead me to use their makeup products as I got older. Coincidently, we are close family friends with Mrs. Mary Jane. Having a relationship with her and loving all Merle Norman products, I was dying to work for her,” she shares.
After Tiffany’s senior year of high school, that dream came true. She also had the opportunity to work at two other Merle Norman Studios.  She realized she wanted to own her own store one day.
In February of this year, that started to become a reality. Mary Jane was ready to sell her studio. “I knew my heart was in the Rincon store. But, I also knew I had big shoes to fill. Mrs. MaryJane ran an immaculate business After many thoughts and prayers, I decided it was my time to own a Merle Norman,” says Tiffany.
Tiffany is not a stranger to the business world. Her mother Stephanie Long, owned New Life Flowers and Gifts for many years and she was always a huge help to her mom.  She also started an online boutique about three years ago, Lulu’s Closet.
Now, Lulu’s Closet is inside Tiffany’s Merle Norman studio.  “A lot of people assume that Merle Norman products are meant for the older generation, this is far from true. These products are for every skin type, color and age. One of my biggest challenges has been introducing these products to the younger generation. Having Lulu’s Closet inside the studio has helped bring in these younger women which in turn, helps us educate them about our products,” she adds.
When asked what sets her apart from other Merle Norman studios, Tiffany does not hesitate to answer, “First and foremost, our staff. I have a great group of ladies that can meet all of our clients wants and needs. Secondly, we carry jewelry and accessories for all ages as well boutique clothing for all sizes. Lastly, I feel that we have the best location in town being surrounded by other successful businesses.”
Tiffany is married to Zach Writh.  They have two beautiful daughters, Lucy (6) and Charlee (3). She enjoys spending time with her family, shopping and making people beautiful by doing their makeup.
Merle Norman in Rincon offers FREE Express Facials, so come in today to enjoy a facial, check out Lulu’s Closet and learn all about the amazing products they offer.

New Life Flowers and Gifts

Gifts For The Holidays
With the holidays right around the corner, New Life Flowers and Gifts is getting prepared for a holiday showcase of gift items and holiday decorations.
This will be the first holiday season for the store since the new owner, Dawn Usher, took over the reigns in January of this year. Dawn is super excited about the holiday season. “We have some new items we are carrying now that are sure to be a hit for the holiday shoppers.  We are carrying a couple of new lines of t-shirts, Fripp for the men and Lily Grace for the women. These shirts are great…I think they are going to be one of our most popular items,” exclaims Dawn.
Dawn and her staff are looking forward to this year’s Holiday Open House. This year’s open house is scheduled for November 9-10. On Friday the 9th, the open house will be from 4pm – 8 pm.  On Saturday, the 10th, it will be form 10 am – 4 pm.
“Everything, and I mean everything, in the store will be 20% off. We will have other specials during that time along with door prizes and holiday surprises.  We will even have a small sidewalk sale with items up to 75% off.,” says Dawn.  It is sure to be a great chance to pick up some Christmas gifts at some great prices.
Not only will New Life be sporting many new gifts for the holidays, but the store will also be packed with holiday home décor.  New Life will have everything you need to decorate your home…ornaments, garlands, wreaths, centerpieces…so much to choose from.
New Life Flowers and Gifts is the only store of its kind in the area. And now, as the new owner, Dawn wants to make sure she keeps it that way. “New Life will always remain the place in Effingham to come for all your gift needs.  We will make it a point to continue to carry popular gift lines, as well as expand to new products as consumer demands change,” she says.
And, as always, New Life remains your number one florist in the area. New Life is a full-service florist, offering flowers for every occasion…weddings, birthdays, funerals, anniversaries…or ‘just because’ moments.
One of the many perks about working in the floral business is that you get to celebrate good times with your clients and you get to offer comfort to them in the sad times.
Flowers are meant to provide comfort to people…that’s what funerals are generally the most fulfilling work they do. Dawn shares, “It’s the last thing a family can do for their loved one, so it is something that I am always proud to be a part of.”
Dawn Usher was the very first full-time employee ever hired to work at New Life. She had been a part of the company for 28 years before buying the business.
She started in this industry in May of 1979 at Flowers-n-Things in Rincon. With a total of 39 years in the industry, her talent in floral design has just continued to grow.
“This has been a life-long dream. I have always wanted to own my own flower shop,” Dawn says.
The actual change of ownership happened on January 1 of this year, and the shop is running full steam ahead.  “We have been extremely busy since the change, work has been very steady,” adds Dawn.
Dawn wants all her customers to know that New Life Flowers and Gifts still offers the same great products and services as always. Fresh flowers bring new life and energy to any space. So, always think of them when it’s time for a new arrangement for any occasion.

That Dress

Wedding or Prom… We Have THAT  DRESS!
No day is as special as your wedding day. All your family and friends are gathered around to celebrate this day with you, the day you start the next chapter in your life. Every bride wants this day to be perfect….and that starts with the perfect wedding dress.
That Dress in Rincon is the best place to shop for your special day.  They understand how important your wedding day is to you and your family and they make your shopping experience their highest priority.
“If you have an idea of what you are searching for, I promise we have something to suit your imagination.  If you have no ideas, we will guide you in the right direction,” says Mia Areford, owner of That Dress.
“We are a family owned boutique,” adds Mia. She and her daughter, Jess Grimes, are determined to help you look and feel your best! “We are personal, caring, compassionate and professional. We want to give you a shopping experience that you deserve. We offer a relaxed atmosphere, with one on one service,” says Jess.
“And don’t forget, prom will be here before you know it,” says Mia, “Start shopping now to get the best selections.” Dresses and gowns are hand-selected from designers nationwide to provide customers with extensive selections. That Dress takes pride in having something that fits every personality and price point.
That Dress will be celebrating their five-year anniversary in November. They are having a special sale on November 13-17, where everything in the store will be discounted.  It will be a great time to shop.
Appointments are available outside of normal business hours for those customers looking for a more personal shopping experience when shopping for a bridal dress or prom dress. Please contact the store for more information.
That Dress is a full-service boutique located in Rincon, specializing in formal dresses and wedding gowns in sizes from 0-30. They offer gowns for the entire bridal party including the mothers of the bride dresses, grandmothers, bridesmaids and flower girls. We also have formal wear, evening wear and tuxedo rentals.    Visit us at the boutique to experience our exceptional customer service and gorgeous selection of gowns.
Mia, Jess and their friendly staff would love the opportunity to meet and assist you with That Dress of your dreams

Attachments area

Kristin Brown

Experience and Passion
That’s What You Get With Kristin Brown, Realtor
Kristin Brown has done a lot in her life to be proud of.  But, to her, her biggest accomplishment is her five beautiful children, ranging in ages from 11 to 25 years of age.  She is an incredibly proud mom. Kristin found real estate while looking for a profession that would offer a flexible schedule, allowing time with her family, but would also serve as an outlet for her passion of helping people. It was immediately obvious that real estate was indeed her calling.  And, 17 years ago, she became a licensed Realtor®. She currently is an agent for Century 21 Fox Properties, and is now licensed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Her passion for both real estate and helping her neighbors is demonstrated through the numerous awards she has accumulated throughout her 17-year career. Kristin has won Top Producer for Century 21 and has been a six consecutive year recipient of Century 21’s most prestigious award – the CENTURION® Award. She has also won the Quality Service Pinnacle Producer award which is awarded to those with the highest client rated satisfaction.
When speaking with Kristin, one can quickly see that she doesn’t really enjoy talking about her awards and accomplishments. She said, “Of course they mean a great deal to me, but what matters most to me is helping my clients. I truly believe being a Realtor is one of the most rewarding jobs because you have the opportunity to help people fulfill their dreams,” she said.
Kristin is dedicated to her clients and is available to them whenever they need her! She even answers her phone on Sundays, just in case a client is needing a hand or calling with a question. “I’m just a real, down to earth person who simply wants to make sure my clients are happy,” she explained. Customer service and client satisfaction are clearly what drive Kristin the most, and she is dedicated to making each experience as stress-free and smooth as possible for her clients.
Kristin is a native of Savannah and loves helping clients around the greater Savannah area find their ideal properties. “I love seeing the excitement on a client’s face when they find the house of their dreams,” explained Kristin.
Whether you are an experienced seller, or this is your first time listing a property, you can rest easy with Kristin and her team. They handle everything for selling your home from scheduling professional photographers, and staging the homes, to promoting your listing on over 600 websites, social media and various printed publications.
“From cozy cottages to deep water delights, I get them SOLD,” states Kristin. She knows the local market and regulations well, which translates to seamless closings for her clients, and she has an extended network of lenders, contractors, Realtors and home builders. “No stone ever goes unturned with me,” she added.
Whether you are looking to buy or sell, are new to this or experienced, Kristin wants you to know that you have a friend in the business that is here to represent your best interests! Call Kristin Brown and her team today at 912-844-2579.

Ashley Boyette

Like A Good Neighbor…
Ashley Boyette Is Here!
Ashley Boyette graduated from Georgia Southern University, receiving her degree in Anthropology, and had plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation. She always knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and felt working with the Peace Corps around the world may be her calling. Plans took a new and exciting path, however, when she met and married the love of her life, Thomas Boyette. At that time when it became quite clear that her calling was to serve the people closer to home and closer to her heart, right here in Effingham County.
Ashley and Thomas are now in their 8th year of marriage and have two sons, Jackson (8) and Liam (3). They both wanted to raise their beautiful family in Effingham County where they believe true community exists. “We have so many people in our community that are willing to help each other, which really speaks to my heart and my love for Jesus,” says Ashley. “We glorify Him through loving God and one another!”
Even though plans to join the Peace Corps may have changed, her desire to make a difference in people’s lives never did. While working in the finance industry she was introduced to the world of insurance. She soon discovered that she could make the most impact and help people the most through the insurance industry and specifically through State Farm Insurance. “My personality has always been one of a caretaker,” explains Ashley. “I love solving problems for people and helping others. State Farm is the number one insurance company in the nation and that stems from being customer focused. They listen to what the customers want and go above and beyond to make that happen,” explains Ashley. She added, “the needs of my clients always come before everything else that is happening in my office.”
State Farm’s mission is to “help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams,” and Ashley and her team are dedicated to that mission. “We have 25 years of professional experience on our team,“ explains Ashley. “We want our current and future clients to know that to us, you are part of our family. We are grateful to be your partner, and we will always be your advocate during some the hardest times in your life.”
Ashley and her team are proud to be a part of Effingham County and collectively support many different causes in and around Effingham County. Ashley is the co-chair of the PTO at Blandford Elementary, member of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Rotary Club, and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. In addition, she is also an active member of Compassion Christian Church and loves to serve coffee to the congregation on Sundays. “Anything I can do to put a smile on the face of someone in our community, I will do it,” says Ashley.
Ashely Boyette and her team are currently located at 5723 Hwy 21 S, Rincon, GA, through the end of October. They are moving to their new location at The Shops at Kroger off of Hwy 21 S on October 31st. Visit them online at www.LetAshleyQuote.com, or give them a call at 912-826-1029. Ashley encourages everyone to “stop by and we what we are all about!”

The Learning Treehouse

the LEARNING TREEHOUSE
Preschool And Daycare
The Learning Treehouse, located at 250 Goshen Road in Rincon, GA, is celebrating their 17th year serving the people of Effingham County.  The Learning Treehouse began as a dream for owner, Ashley Boland, when she realized the desperate need for a quality child care learning center in Effingham County.
The Treehouse later added Jana Fox to their growing team in 2002, and Jana now holds the position of Executive Director with Amy Hudson by her side as the Assistant Director. Jana mentions how thrilled they both are with the growth The Treehouse has experienced, and they look forward to the future.  “We are incredibly proud to serve the youth of Effingham County for over 17 years,” boasts Jana.
She explained the importance of care for both the children and their staff. “Our staff are professional, caring, and loving people,” says Jana. “We take care of them just as we do the children.” Jana continued to say, “one constant remains with The Treehouse, and that is, it is a special place for all who attend.”
The Treehouse offers programs including daycare for infants and toddlers, which are both offered through part-time and full-time options. In addition, they offer a Georgia Lottery Pre-K program that is lead by teacher, Liz Stratford.  Liz works hard to ensure that each Pre-K experience is one that both students and parents will cherish always.
Classrooms at The Treehouse are tailored to the children in each age group, and each participate in Bright from the Start’s Quality Rated programs that focus on continuous quality improvement. They carefully select materials for the children based on developmental needs, and teachers plan daily activities to challenge each child to help them meet individual goals. Lesson plans are created by their lead teachers and are based on the Georgia Early Learning Development Standards.
The Treehouse also utilizes a program called Hi Mama that is designed to help parents communicate directly with teachers. Parents receive updates, daily reports and pictures electronically through this application.
The Treehouse also provides a very popular after-school program that serves South Effingham, Ebenezer and Blandford Elementary schools.  They have recently expanded their program and have rented a building next door from Redeemer Church for additional space due to the popularity of the program.  “We find that our children who have been in school all day need time to play, go outdoors and just be kids,” explains Jana.
If your child still hasn’t had their fill of fun at The Treehouse during the regular school year, they also offer a Summer Camp for children K-5th grades, during which they spend time traveling all over the Coastal Empire to exciting and educational destinations.
In addition to the programs available through The Treehouse, Jana wanted to make readers aware of their focus on Special Needs Children as well. “We are very special needs friendly! Our teachers work closely with therapists to add items and accommodations that include all children in our classrooms,” explains Jana.
Jana also discussed the value of those who attend The Treehouse – some attending from birth through 6th grade. “We get to know these families and they become important to us,” explains Jana. She adds, “it is amazing to see the growth in each child and know that we had a hand in their early education.  It is often a bittersweet experience to love these children and then watch them leave us for the ‘big school’.”
To learn more about The Learning Treehouse and the programs offered, you may visit them online at www.TheLearningTreehouse.net, email them at Info@TheLearningTreehouse.net, or call Jana and her team directly at 912-826-2893.

Heather Riggs : Putting People First

story by Katrice Williams     photos by Shelia Scott
How many 21 year olds do you find working in a funeral home?  Not many.  But, that is how old Heather Riggs was when she started working in her family’s business…Riggs Funeral Home.
Heather started helping her Dad, Merrill Riggs, around the funeral home in 2008.  At the time, this young lady had no idea she would eventually be drawn to this profession. Heather was originally going to school to become a teacher.  How does one go from teacher to funeral director?
Heather found this definitive moment in 2011.  She said, “I remember the exact time I knew this was what I wanted to do.  I had always enjoyed working with my father, but there were just some things I didn’t think I could handle.  The biggest thing that stood in my way was my fear of dealing with a child’s death. But in July of 2011, we had three funerals for children. One was a two year old, one was stillborn, and the third one was nine years old. I knew if I could help my Dad through this, I could do this job.”
Heather was already attending college at the time.  She was getting her core curriculum and planning on moving forward to becoming a teacher.  But, she put the brakes on.  She then finished Savannah Technical College with a Business Degree and went on to Ogeechee Technical College, where she received an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences of Funeral Education. She graduated in 2013.
Heather continued to work for the family business where she put in the work and the hours to become a legally licensed Funeral Director in January of 2014, at only 25 years old. What an accomplishment.
Riggs Funeral Home first opened its doors on November 10, 1999. The business was the product of a beautiful dream—the dream of two families. Merrill, and wife Kim, lived in Augusta, Georgia, where Heather was born. Both sets of their parents resided in Effingham at the time, and they wanted Merrill and Kim to move nearby.
RB and Jackie Wages, Kim’s parents, were responsible for the construction of Riggs Funeral Home. JZ Riggs, Merrill’s father, was an instrumental part of the “planning process” of the business prior to his death. Unfortunately, Mr. Riggs never saw the idea come into fruition. However, his wife Miriam was a faithful assistant there before her death. She was so committed that she was “at each visitation at the funeral home.”
Interestingly enough, Merrill had been accustumed to the funeral business since he was about 10 years old. Heather remembers stories her dad told regarding how he helped out one of the funeral directors in Springfield as a boy, often running a couple of local errands for him.
So, the birth of Riggs Funeral Home seemed like the perfect fit for both families, and a way to bring their children home to Effingham County. Merrill took over as the business manager and Funeral Director, while RB and Jackie both devotedly assisted in the operations there prior to retirement.
After RB passed away, Jackie became the sole owner of Riggs Funeral Home.  Jackie was very proud of Heather’s accomplishments and her desire to continue in the family business.  In 2016, Jackie Wages decided to give full ownership of the business to Heather.
Heather Riggs became the owner of Riggs Funeral Home at the age of 27. Here, she was able to run her own business, while having her father by her side.  She and Merrill were quite the team, working hand in hand to carry on this business her family had created.
Unfortunately, Merrill passed away earlier this year. Heather and her family were devastated.  But, Heather then decided she would carry on her father’s legacy.  She is proud to continue the business’ tradition of being “family-owned, family-operated and family-oriented.”  After Merrill’s death, Heather took on all responsibility of the funeral business. “I am proud to be able to continue to do what my father taught me to do.  He was the most generous and compassionate man I have ever known. I hope to be able to fill his shoes.  He always tried to figure out a way to make things work for our customers, who he always affectionately called our family,” she says.
Heather appreciates the examples of kindness that her dad consistently displayed. He had a tremendous work ethic and was a mentor to many. She knows that her mom and dad are the reason for her success today.
As a young business owner, Heather does not take for granted the help and consideration of several instrumental people in her life—those who helped mentor,  guide and assist her along the way. Some even “worked many hours during the transition as she stepped into her dad’s position as manager.” Some notable individuals include her aunt, Anne Kissinger, her uncle, Kerry Exley, her uncle, Lavern Hodges and her mom, Kim Riggs. While Heather and her mom Kim are members of Riggs’ Board of Directors, she is extremely grateful for James and Liz Carlson, owners of Carlson Premier Events and Joann’s Florist; the two serve as the board’s president and treasurer, respectively. They have “assisted in rebranding after I became the owner and brought Riggs to a new level.”
Heather is also immensely thankful for the help of Tommy Flanders and Audie Powell of Flanders Morrison Funeral Home in Pembroke, Georgia, who were always there for her after her dad passed away. They provided great help and encouragement through all of the concerns and doubts. “They were right there to help me with anything I needed. I could call any time of day. Whenever I needed them, they would be here,” she stated.
Presently, one of Heather’s biggest aspirations is for the business to flourish. She wants to continue to build the business in a way that would have made her father proud. “I hope that our business will grow. It’s what my Dad wanted, and I hope to be able to give that to him,” Heather said.
Her dad understood the importance of being kind, caring and understanding in the very touchy, tender and difficult time that individuals endure with the loss of a loved one. Although his official title may have been funeral director, he was also a warm heart, a kind word and a firm shoulder when needed.
Recently, the Board of Directors for Riggs was instrumental in bringing on another Funeral Director.  The load was a little too much for Heather to handle alone. Luke Sheridan, a licensed funeral director and embalmer, was hired in July of this year. Luke has been in the funeral business for over 10 years.  He moved to the area from Conyers, Georgia some time ago. Luke and his wife Taylor, an Effingham native, love the area; the two have a one-year-old-son named Tate.
“I find that Luke reminds me a lot of my dad. He has my dad’s sense of humor, his deep love of people in their time of loss and an innate way of preparing bodies, an art which very few have. We are very blessed to have him working with us. He has brought a lot of skills, knowledge and a breath of freshness to the business. He’s a wonderful asset,” states Heather.
Heather is very appreciative for the assistance that Luke provides and is happy she has someone to take on some of the load. She even jokes that now she finally has time to go to her dental appointments. “It doesn’t take much to make him happy. I think we make a good team. He has already become family,” she stated. Luke even calls Heather’s mom “Mama Kim.”
Heather and Luke both “understand the magnitude of the circumstances” surrounding their customers. They also understand the necessity of putting people first during such a time. Luke feels that Heather has a beautiful heart for people. “She’s very nice, and she can talk to anybody. She is a good shoulder,” he remarked.
Riggs Funeral Home always provides a “warm and welcoming” atmosphere, where the “door is always open.” Heather says, “I enjoy families coming and visiting even after the services of their loved one are complete. They don’t need to have a reason.”
Heather is proud of the newly renovated facility, which certainly helps with her rebranding efforts. Whether fulfilling painting initiatives, re-carpeting or making beneficial additions, she is sure that the new look will add value to the business and be a great benefit to their families.
Heather likes to be involved in the community. She is a member of the Springfield Merchants Association and is active with the Backpack Buddies Program. She also loves spending time at her church, Guyton United Methodist Church, where she has been the Nursery Coordinator for over a decade.
Heather Riggs believes in putting people first at all times, as she is proud to continue her dad’s legacy. “Family-Owned, Family-Operated and Family-Oriented” is truly what Riggs Funeral Home is all about.