Chris J. Yahnis announces scholarship fund at FMU
FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence businessman Chris J. Yahnis has established the Chris J. Yahnis Scholarship Fund with the Francis Marion University Foundation.
A gift of 6,596 shares of First Financial Holdings Inc. common stock worth $100,000 will fund the endowment, which will provide need-based scholarships to deserving FMU students. First Financial is a multiple thrift holding company with assets of $2.2 billion. Its subsidiaries operate a total of 40 offices in South Carolina, located in the Charleston metropolitan area and Horry, Georgetown, Florence and Beaufort counties.
The criteria for awarding the scholarships include:
• Recipients may be selected from entering freshmen or upperclassmen and the awards may be renewable.
• Scholarships may be awarded in varying amounts, up to full fees.
“This generous gift is very important to Francis Marion University,” said FMU president Fred Carter. “This scholarship represents those things that Chris Yahnis personifies in his own life – dedication, character and achieving success through hard work. The Chris J. Yahnis Scholarship Fund will help students who otherwise may not have had the means to continue their education at FMU.”
Yahnis received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Francis Marion at commencement exercises, May 6.
“I consider FMU one of the crown jewels of the Pee Dee,” he said. “This area has been so good to me and my family that I feel I should give something back. I just want to help kids who otherwise would not be able to go to college.”
Yahnis is one of the Pee Dee’s most successful businessmen, having founded several companies, being an active real estate investor, and a mentor to several small-business entrepreneurs in the area. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, he entered the U.S. Army where he served as special agent counter intelligence, stationed in Columbia.
After his military service, Yahnis was director of security education at the E.I. DuPont Savannah River Plant, and then became regional sales manager of National Brewing Co. and later executive vice president/general sales manager of Schafer Distributing Co.
He co-founded Y&B Distributing, which later became Chris J. Yahnis Corp. He also purchased the Stevens Corp. of Myrtle Beach, which became Chris J. Yahnis Coastal Corp. Still today, Yahnis is an officer of both companies. He founded Home Health Inc. in 1992 to serve Florence, Darlington, Marion, Dillon and Lee counties, and in 1993 added a home-health operation in York County. The Pee Dee agency was sold to McLeod Regional Medical Center in 1995 and, in 1998, Yahnis sold the remaining interest in Home Health.
For more information about scholarships at Francis Marion, contact the Financial Assistance Office at 843-661-1190.
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