(SPARTANBURG, SC)—On October 15, 2023, South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond presented Spartanburg County resident Peter Sam Kobes with the National Association of Secretary of States (NASS) John Lewis Youth Leadership Award. Peter Sam, who is an Eagle Scout, was honored for his community service project to restore the Forest Chapel CME Church Cemetery in 2022.
“Peter Sam’s vision, drive, and dedication make him a deserving recipient of the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award,” said Secretary Hammond. “By organizing the restoration of the cemetery, inspiring others to participate, and maintaining the work that has been done, he has demonstrated leadership skills beyond his years.”
As an Eagle Scout, one of Peter Sam’s duties is to complete a community service project. Peter Sam would pass the Forest Chapel CME Church frequently and noticed that it was overgrown with trees, brambles, and kudzu. After he proposed the restoration of the cemetery to the church’s pastor, the church voted in favor of the project. Peter Sam began the restoration project in March of 2022, directing seven formal workdays over the next seven months, and contributing over 200 hours to the project. Since the project was completed, Peter Sam has continued to maintain the cemetery through weed control, mowing, and trimming each month.
As a result of the project, over 300 gravestones were discovered in the cemetery, which dates to the 1700s. The Forest Chapel CME Church Cemetery was also the first integrated cemetery in Spartanburg County.
In recognition of this project, Peter Sam was named Scout of the Year for the Daniel Morgan District. He was also awarded the Glen A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for the Palmetto Council as well as the Norm Schaefer Outstanding Eagle Scout Project Scholarship.
The John Lewis Youth Leadership Award was established by NASS in 2021 to recognize civic-minded young persons who have demonstrated leadership abilities and who are motivated to improve the quality of life in their communities.
Shannon A. Wiley, General Counsel & Public Information Director
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