Margaret Sands: Local young woman making strides

  • Thursday, March 6, 2014

Margaret Sands


The clichéd expression “folly of youth” has no association to 24-year-old Margaret Sands.

The daughter of John and Geales Sands, Sands attended Waccamaw High for her freshman and sophomore years and headed to USC’s Governor’s School to finish high school.

Then she left South Carolina to study at Loyola University in New Orleans and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in environmental studies (as well as minors in English writing and Latin American studies).

Afterward, she headed west to California and studied at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She wrapped up her formal education there with a master of arts in international environmental policy, focusing in Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

Along the way, student fellowships and other endeavors steered her to join a totally immersive experience on Tobacco Caye, a tiny island off the coast of Belize. The island is roughly five acres in size where less than three dozen Belizeans reside permanently.

Children spend their weeks on a nearby island to study, and come home on weekends to be with their families. There’s an influx of fishermen from nearby islands because of the rich fishing round Tobacco Caye reefs.

Sands was actively involved in studying and educating others about these issues.

In a community that was even suspicious of instructional signs and pamphlets written in English, danger loomed large. Poverty is rampant, and those who seek education and loftier goals generally leave the island – a problem Sands calls “brain drain.”

That issue clicked for her; she saw a connection between that tiny island and her home on the Waccamaw Neck — where geography and communities are subdivided by rivers and creeks and where economic opportunities are not plentiful.

And so, she decided to return and fight the battles she cared about at home.

Sands now works as regional coordinator for The Benefit Bank of SC, a program of SC Thrive.

The Bank seeks to improve the health, finances, household stability, and quality of life of South Carolinians by providing access to training, innovative tools and resources — many resources already available to those who need them but are unaware of them.

With programs including veteran’s education, Medicare and Medicaid, and many others, The Benefit Bank aims to move folks out of crisis into sustainability.

SC Thrive still offers the popular web-based service of The Benefit Bank of SC, but also offers training about the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, mental health first aid, financial wellness, Veterans’ Education and Assets for Education.

CharityTracker is another online tool that partners with technical colleges to enhance lives through education.

Simply put, SC Thrive and The Benefit Bank work hard at simplifying complex processes and giving people more access to life-changing resources.

Sands’ parents are John O. Sands – former vice president of Brookgreen Gardens and current Lowcountry program director of The Donnelly Foundation — and to Geales G. Sands, executive director of the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation.

Sands says her parents taught their children that community service was essential.

For more information, contact The Benefit Bank of SC at www.tbbsc.org or by phone at 843-723-3000.

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