MAYOR’S HONORED ISLANDER AWARD

The Mayor publicly recognizes those Hilton Head Island residents who make a significant sacrifice of their time, talents and/or resources, to better the community without compensation or significant public/media attention.

Mayor Bennett Presents Susan Roberts the Honored Islander Award, July 17, 2018

Susan Roberts

I would like to thank Susan Roberts for her volunteer service around our Island.

After retiring from the Beaufort County School System, Susan has jumped into helping our community. She started working at the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island and continues to volunteer today.  She embraces the Boys & Girls Club mission which is to help those children who need us most. There is always something that needs attention and Susan is the one to jump in with whatever is needed; whether it be helping other volunteers, development support or grant writing.   Her self-described strong sense of purpose can been seen through her involvement with other projects, including the Mitchelville Preservation project. Since the inception, she has worked with others on the creation of a video about the project. Other projects include being an active member of the SC Lowcountry Group of the Junior League, where she held several leadership positions over the last decade.

Susan, and her husband Dean, are active members of St. Andrew-by-the-Sea United Methodist Church and have chaired the church’s largest fund raiser, the Fall Festival. Susan is a member of the choir, and has served on the Pastor’s Parish Council.

I thank you Susan, for being someone who is ready and willing to jump in and help with whatever is needed to make our Island a better place for all.

Mayor Bennett Presents Michael Znachko the Honored Islander Award, July 17, 2018

Michael Znachko

It is an honor for me to recognize the work  has done through the Hope Prison Ministry.  A number of years ago, Michael and a friend stopped in Belize where they visited a prison learning about the prison population crimes and residual incarceration rate being close to 80%. It was in this brief encounter that he found his calling. Every quarter Michael returns to the Belize prison to facilitate the integration of a recovery rehabilitation 12 step program. Through the years, he has found promising results. A few years ago, Michael extended the program to the Allendale Correctional Institution in Fairfax, SC. There he conducts weekly 12 Step Meetings. He also initiated a voluntary program with part of the inmate population whereby some prisoners choose to sign a Code of Conduct Agreement. In return for adhering to this code, the group will receive counseling and training with addiction recovery, relationship/ parenting skills, spiritual awareness, and job related skills that can ultimately help them transition into normal life. Michael’s goal has been to expand this program where business are enticed to hire these inmates who completed the program, whereby providing an opportunity to become a productive member of society.

Thank you Michael for your contributions in volunteerism with the Hope Prison Ministries.  Through this program, both in the United States and abroad, you have brought hope and healing to many prisoners who would have been left forgotten. I thank you for helping them find a new way of life.

Mayor Bennett Presents Claudia Kennedy the Honored Islander Award, July 17, 2018

Claudia Kennedy

I want to thank Claudia Kennedy for not only graciously volunteering on the Island but also for her military service.  Claudia is the first woman to reach the rank of a three star general in the United States Army. Thank you for your 31 years of service and blessing our country with your courage and strength!

After retirement from the Army, Claudia became involved in many important projects around the Island.  Nationally, she was appointed to serve as Chairman of a US Department of Defense Committee on Women in Services.  Locally, she held a leadership role in the Hilton Head Island American Legion Post 42. She helped organize fundraising for the Gullah cemeteries restoration.  Claudia also worked on the early development of the Mitchelville Preservation Project. She provided strong leadership in recording and archiving of oral histories for this project.  Claudia has served on the Board of Directors of the Hilton Head Island World Affairs Council.

In the midst of all this, Claudia was the co-founder of All About Cats, which cares for the homeless cats on Hilton Head Island. Affectionately known as the “Cat Lady” she has helped 36 cats in colonies. This feral cat program helps control the wild cat population and contributes to the cats living a healthier life in the wild.

Proof that one woman can make a difference, we are truly a better Island because of your tireless work.

 

Mayor Bennett Presents Dodi Eschenbach the Honored Islander Award, April 17, 2018

Dodi (Doris) Eschenbach

I thank Dodi Eschenbach for graciously giving her time to volunteer on our Island. Dodi has made it her mission to improve the quality of life in our community through her work with the Literacy Center. The Literacy Center has helped almost 10,000 adults reach their goal to equip those in need with the reading, writing, speaking and math skills required to be successful at work, home and in the community. Dodi has been a champion with fundraising by coordinating the Cooks and Books event.  In between the signed cookbooks, delicious food, and auction items, the event brings needed funds and attention to the Literacy Center.

Over the years, Dodi has been passionately involved in projects documenting the Island’s history from Pre-Civil War to modern Resort development. Working with the Heritage Library, she has donated many hours in the publication project, “Local Legends”, and the National Historic designation of the Chapel of Ease. Dodi is also a very active member of a Woman’s group that is dedicated to documenting and promoting education on the people and places on our Island.  The group’s aim is to maintain a record of community engagements that sustains the Island and Low Country community.

Thank you Dodi for volunteering your time that continues to build and strengthen the concept of “One Island – One Community.”

Mayor Bennett Presents Benjamin Green and Annie Mae Miller the Honored Islander Award, April 17, 2018

Benjamin Green and Annie Mae Miller

I want to thank Benjamin Green and Annie Mae Miller for graciously dedicating countless hours to the preservation and restoration of our Island cemeteries.  After Hurricane Matthew, Ben and Annie Mae looked to meet the immediate needs of their community neighborhood.  When the dust had settled, it was clear that the hurricane caused considerable damage to a local cemetery. Annie Mae and Ben combined forces and put their leadership and spirit into rebuilding the Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church’s Talbird Cemetery, located in Hilton Head Plantation along Skull Creek.  It’s one of our Island’s Gullah community cemeteries that date as far back as the 1700s.  With generous fundraising success, they were able to restore the cemetery and create new relationships between Gullah families and the Hilton Head Plantation and Cypress Club communities.  Building upon that success, Ben and Annie Mae want to continue to meet the need to upkeep, preserve and protect other Island cemeteries.

Thank you both for your efforts to preserve and protect countless numbers of our Gullah ancestor remains with respect. You have given our community a tranquil place to walk, reflect, and remember countless numbers of the buried Gullah ancestors and the incredible legacies they leave behind.

Elizabeth “Amanda” O’Nan

It is a pleasure to honor Amanda O’Nan as a leader in our educational community. Amanda currently is at the helm of the Hilton Head Island High School, serving as Principal of our Island’s largest school.  She is dedicated to our high school students, helping them to grow in knowledge, confidence and maturity.  Amanda respects their individuality, and cares about their needs by inviting parents and students to call her cell phone any time of day or night with concerns or information that could help. Most recently, she worked with students to plan a “Walk In” at the school in solidarity with students from Stoneman High School in Texas to highlight students’ concerns about gun control.  Amanda is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, exemplifying the Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”  Seldom does she come to a weekly Rotary Club meeting without inviting one of her students or staff members to join; bringing the community into the school and taking the school into the community.  She is dynamic and pro-active in asking community leaders to come into the school to share information about professions and life; giving students navigational tools on how others have followed various paths to obtain goals. Amanda eagerly hosts community events, such as the Rotary Club’s Safety Town event, and the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Program.  It is truly amazing how she balances the job and her responsibilities of being the mother of three children, who are currently in the elementary and middle school.  Thank you Amanda for continuing to go above and beyond, mentoring our younger generation to make the community a better place for all of us.

Mayor Bennett Presents Berry and Ruthie Edwards the Honored Islander Award, January 16, 2018

Mayor Bennett Presents Berry and Ruthie Edwards the Honored Islander Award, January 16, 2018

Berry and Ruthie Edwards

Berry and Ruthie are true pioneers of our community, having moved to Hilton Head Island in the early 1970’s where they built a family-owned landscaping business. The Greenery now employs over 500 people and is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan company allowing the employees to become the owners.  Berry has shared his talents through service on a number of boards including, the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry which is an organization that looks to partner with those in the community, making positive and beneficial outcomes. Other volunteer areas are Volunteers in Medicine, and most recently the Coastal Conservation League which looks to work with communities, businesses and citizen groups to protect the resources of the South Carolina Coastal plain with a focus on the balance between nature and community. Ruthie has focused her time on chairing the Hilton Head Preparatory School’s 50th anniversary fundraising event, which was very successful.  She is a current board member at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and has served several intermittent terms adding up to 15+ years of service. She was named the Arts Center’s Volunteer of the Year in 2009 and served as the chair of the Arts Now! Capital Campaign. Berry and Ruthie have supported many other non-profits in our community, such as United Way, and Lions Club.  I thank them both for their loyalty and mission to improve the quality of life in our community, while preserving and protecting our exquisite coastal area.

January 16, 2018 Mayor's Honored Islander Award Recipients

Mayor Bennett Presents Kathy Cramer the Honored Islander Award, January 16, 2018

Kathy Cramer

I thank Kathy Cramer for being a fierce advocate in improving the lives of special education athletes in Beaufort and Jasper County.  Kathy’s nurturing heart, as a retired special education teacher in our local school system for over 33 years, is now being shared with these young people.  She exemplifies her generous spirit with volunteering her time with the Children’s Relief Fund Organization and the Special Olympics of the Low County- SOAR. The mission of SOAR (Special Olympics sports and recreation) is to level the playing field for the special needs people in our community. The commitment is to support people with disabilities in their pursuit to live, play and participate in the community.  Kathy makes the distinction that it’s not just about participation in activities but participating together.  The program, in partnership with the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association, provides year-round training with activities such as equestrian, bowling, tennis, cheerleading and swimming. Being part of the SOAR team also means that Kathy provides all administrative duties, and coordinates the logistics for the activities and events. Her love for these children is infectious as Kathy leads fundraising events for the needs of these organizations. I thank you, Kathy, for your continued efforts to change the lives for many special athletes in our community, giving them a chance to engage in a healthy, active lifestyle with the opportunity to play together.

January 16, 2018 Mayor's Honored Islander Award Recipients

Mayor Bennett Presents Margie Smith the Honored Islander Award, January 16, 2018

Margie Smith

Margie Smith is known for graciously giving her time to transforming children’s lives in our community. She is an extraordinary volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club on Hilton Head Island.  You can count on Margie’s smiling face and willing attitude to mentor and tutor the Club children after school.  Whether it be through their books, or games or just everyday conversations, for 27 years these children have known her as Miss Margie, someone who knows them and is there for them, always.  In addition to her hands-on volunteer work, Margie chairs the “Gala”, considered the longest-running, high profile fundraiser on Hilton Head Island. It features an auction with superior items such as excusive vacations and hard to find memorabilia.  As a champion for this fundraising event, Margie keeps a hand on all details. It pays off in the end as this event is the source of one quarter of the annual budget for the Boys & Girls Club.

Margie is also an Honorary Board Member for the Hilton Head Heroes, a non-profit organization that helps very ill children and their entire family enjoy a vacation that would not ordinarily be possible. The organization comes together with the vision to make a difference in a family’s life; offering them a moment to be a typical family experiencing our Island’s natural beauty, fun activities, fabulous food and a lifetime of memories. This is yet another example of how Margie is making positive changes in other people’s lives. Thank you Margie for enriching those around you and inspiring others to do the same.

January 16, 2018 Mayor's Honored Islander Award Recipients

Mayor Bennett Presents Carlton Dallas the Honored Islander Award, January 16, 2018

Carlton Dallas

It is an honor to recognize the work Carlton Dallas has done through various committees and organizations within our community.  Having led a very successful career in the petroleum industry, Carlton has not let retirement slow him down. He quickly jumped in and began to concentrate on the cross cultural, developmental and educational needs of our area.  Carlton is a member of the Heritage Tourism Taskforce, which has a two-fold mission to help preserve the heritage and character of the Island while addressing the re-development needed to keep moving forward with professionals, retirees and tourists. He is a Member of the Board of Directors for the local World Affairs Council and its Academic World Quest, a youth education program designed to help our younger generation learn about critical challenges facing the US and the world. He is an active member of the Greater Island Council which discusses various topics as safety, education, transportation, workforce development and cultural and social diversity. Carlton serves as a Board member with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, the Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation and the Hilton Head Institute. Thank you Carlton, for your expertise and fresh perspective that is impacting our Island to a fuller cross-cultural understanding benefiting our community in meaningful ways for many years to come.

 

Mayor Bennett Presents Rudy Milton the Honored Islander Award, October 17, 2017.

Mayor Bennett Presents Rudy Milton the Honored Islander Award, October 17, 2017.

Rudy Milton

Rudy Milton is an inspiration, channeling her pain from a horrific tragedy into helping others achieve their dreams.  Rudy started Dominique’s Musician Corner Scholarship Fund as a way to commemorate her son Dominque’s memory while helping others to realize their dreams in the arts at a post-secondary institute.

Three days after his 17th birthday, Rudy’s son, Dominique Williams, left this world due to gun violence.  It was an agonizing time of pain and grief realizing her son’s life was cut short at the hands of another.  There is an added sense of guilt as any parent would wonder what they could have done differently to let this happen to their pride and joy?  But Rudy has taken this pain and channeled it into helping her community.

By creating Dominique’s Musician Corner Scholarship Fund, Dominique will be remembered and help other teens to achieve their dreams.  By using her tenacity and the generosity, Rudy is helping others in the community. She established a one-mile fund raising walk known as “Walk For Dom.“  This yearly event remembers Dominique, raises money for the scholarship fund and promotes awareness about the devastating effects of gun violence. Rudy is an active member in Moms Demand Action, a group that believes common-sense solutions can help decrease the escalating epidemic of gun violence that kills too many of our children and loved ones. Coupling with this group and creating Dominique’s Musician Corner Scholarship Fund, Rudy has found her calling to help others.  Thank you Rudy for helping our youth have a brighter and safer tomorrow.

Mayor Bennett Presents Michael Cooke the Honored Islander Award, October 17, 2017.

Mayor Bennett Presents Pamela Cooper the Honored Islander Award, October 17, 2017.

Pamela Cooper

I am pleased to recognize Pam Cooper and her passion to help serve our community in a variety of different areas.  Pam tirelessly helps those on our Island with her talents, time and skills.  Pam is actively involved in many organizations including, Volunteers in Medicine where she is a translator two times a week.  On a weekly basis, she serves as a tutor for students at the neighborhood Outreach Connection. Pam also serves as the treasurer for the International Women’s Group.  As a “community builder,” Pam is known to participate in fund raisers, including the Mother Emmanuel AME Charleston Church. Pam also arranges lunches and dinners for the elderly who are unable to attend events.  Her support with the All Saints Episcopal Church seems endless as well.  She works with the ministry of the church that is involved in Garden Tours which raises money for community organizations. Pam has also participated in 2 mission trips including a medical mission and a Vacation Bible School mission trip, both to the Dominican Republic.  Pam also uses her talents as she sings and provides flute music in the All Saints Episcopal Church choir.  Her love of music doesn’t stop there for she has been a flutist for the Lowcountry Community Band for several years now. The band operates under the sponsorships of OLLI and USCB where they have a concert several times a year.  They also perform in a group called Lowcountry Flutes where they perform at the library, the Alzheimer’s center, and assisted living communities. We thank Pam for continuing to find ways to help our community become a better place to live.

Micheal Cooke

Mayor Bennett Presents Michael Cooke the Honored Islander Award, October 17, 2017.

Michael Cooke

Michael Cooke is the consummate volunteer for Memory Matters, investing his time, energy and talents to this great organization. Retiring 12 years ago to our Island has not slowed Michael down, who now volunteers in an inexhaustible manner over 5 days a week. His attitude and desire are to improve the quality of life and help those with dementia through respect and compassion. The list of activities that he helps with seems endless as no job is too small or large.  Michael is known to help with little things like cleaning out a closet to counselling the caregivers. He has also created and continues the upkeep of a blog on the Memory Matters website. This blog showcases from a volunteer’s perspective what happens at the center and is read by thousands every week.  Michael’s commitment to help doesn’t stop there, as he eagerly joined the Development Committee inspiring ideas to flow.  Michael answered the call to join the Golf Committee for Memory Matters, a key fund raising event and lifted the bar in all areas.  Other committees on Michael’s list are the Finance Committee, and Buildings and Grounds Committee where he is known as an instant guiding force.  Retaining all previous committee commitments, Michael accepted Chairmanship of the biggest Memory Matters event, the Annual Gala, where they broke all fund raising records. His commitment and desire to help Memory Matters is inspirational.  We thank you Michael, for your “bring it on” attitude that continues to help those around you.

Berry & Ruth Edwards

Berry and Ruth are true pioneers of our community, having moved to Hilton Head Island in the early 1970’s where they built a family-owned landscaping business that now employs over 500 as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan company allowing the employees to become the owners.  While Berry has shared his talents through service on the boards of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, Volunteers in Medicine, and most recently the Coastal Conservation League, Ruth has been an active board member of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina for many years.  She also recently chaired Hilton Head Prep’s 50th anniversary event, a fundraiser which was very successful.  Berry and Ruth have supported many non-profits in our community, such as United Way, Volunteers in Medicine, and Lions Club.  Their loyalty and mission to improve the quality of life in our community, while preserving and protecting our unique coastal area, is a legacy to all our citizens and visitors.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Herbert Ford

Mayor Bennett Presents Herbert Ford the Honored Islander Award, May 16, 2017.

Herbert Ford

A native Islander, Herbert was raised on a small farm in the Chaplin community, and has many fond memories of early island life.  He graduated as valedictorian from the first graduating class in the newly integrated H.E. McCracken High School in Bluffton, and then left the Island to attend college and a distinguished 29-year service career in the CIA.  We are fortunate that Herbert returned to his home upon retirement and enthusiastically resumed his involvement in community service, as a member of the Coastal Discovery Museum for several years, connecting the Gullah community with the Museum, and as a leader in presenting the island’s annual Gullah Celebration.  Herbert was instrumental in the successful door-to-door campaign obtaining signatures of residents seeking sewer service for low income Islanders.  His many contributions exemplify his commitment to help make our Island community more livable for all, and we are blessed that this Native Son has returned to Hilton Head Island.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Heather Quinn

Mayor Bennett Presents Heather Quinn the Honored Islander Award, May 16, 2017.

Heather Quinn

From our deepest pain, life and love can grow and help us find our highest self.  This was the beginning for The Harper Project, started by Heather Quinn.  During her 35th week of pregnancy, Heather had to have an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter Harper.  The doctors determined that baby Harper needed to be air lifted to MUSC in Charleston.  Soon after Heather was transported via ambulance to MUSC because they learned she was not thriving. Heather and Brian were able to spend 12 hours with their daughter before she passed. A rare maternal-fetal hemorrhage would take the life of their beautiful baby girl.  Their daughter’s death brought on a deep depression. It took time to get to a point where they could start to breathe again.  And in that journey, Heather found her calling to help others. Heather’s love for their daughter led her to establish The Harper Project, a South Carolina Chapter sponsored by the Zoe Foundation.  This non-profit organization is dedicated to supporting the bereaved families who have lost infants by providing free support groups.  It is also the only one in the state that offers financial assistance to help families pay for their children’s funerals. Since the founding, Heather has merged The Harper Project and the Zoe Foundation with the South Carolina Chapter of the National Tears Foundation.  It is a beautiful tribute to Harper and proof that compassion and kindness can come from tears.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Peaches Peterson

Mayor Bennett Presents Shirley Peterson the Honored Islander Award, April 18, 2017.

Shirley Peterson

More affectionately known to her many friends as “Peaches” – she was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, and has a long career in both education and human resource consulting. Since moving here form Arkansas when her husband retired from Walmart, Peaches has invested her time and talents into our community with her love of teaching, her commitment to helping women in need, and her passion for the arts. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, an active member of Women in Philanthropy, a member of the Board of Directors for Coastal Discovery Museum, and Chair of the Board for the Mitchelville Preservation Project. Peaches also serves as an excellent mentor for young women, and exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism that makes our Island stronger and more vibrant.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Charles Sampson

Mayor Bennett Presents Charles Sampson the Honored Islander Award, April 18, 2017.

Charles Sampson

For over four decades, Charles has graciously served in many leadership roles – at First Presbyterian Church, on the Board of Directors of Coastal Discovery Museum, Experience Green, and the Hilton Head Symphony. He has also served as Chairman of the Lowcountry Community Development Corporation and the Beaufort County Consortium on Affordable Housing. In times of need, Charles has always been willing to give of himself, as shown most recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, taking photos of homes to send to residents to re-assure them about the status of their houses, and putting his chain saw to use where needed. As a former recipient of the Chamber of Commerce’s Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award in 2006, I am pleased to add to Charles’ accolades with the Honored Islander Award. Thank you for your continuing efforts to make Hilton Head Island a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Paul Walter

Mayor Bennett Presents Paul Walter the Honored Islander Award, April 18, 2017.

Paul Walter

Paul’s energy and willingness to share his time and expertise are evidenced by the many roles he has assumed. As the youngest President of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island, he promoted a number of initiatives, including the creation of Early Act Clubs at Hilton Head IB Elementary School and Hilton Head Prep. Under the auspices of Rotary, these clubs foster “service above self” to the youth in our community. You will find Paul ringing bells for Salvation Army, setting up for Happy Feed to provide shoes for children, and assisting with Safety Town and other community service events staffed by Rotary Club. Paul has a passion for history and genealogy and is actively involved in a group providing re-enactments of historical battles. I applaud his enthusiasm and contributions in making Hilton Head Island a better place for all of us to live!

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Jan Cole

Mayor Bennett Presents Jan Cole the Honored Islander Award, August 16, 2016.

Jan Cale

Jan has been described as the consummate volunteer, sharing her talents with both young and old. While raising her children, she was an active parent volunteer in the public schools and the athletic booster club, and she continues to volunteer as a mentor for elementary school students and their entire families, exposing them to varied cultural experiences such as plays and symphonies. At the other end of the age spectrum, Jan and Deacon, her trained therapy dog, are welcome visitors to local nursing home residents and to Memory Matters, brightening the day for many of our elderly citizens. Jan is also actively involved in the Children’s Ministry at First Presbyterian Church, and has served in leadership positions as both a Deacon and Elder. As a member of Women in Philanthropy and a former member of its Grant Committee, she promotes the power of collective giving, inspires other women along the philanthropic path, and supports new approaches to address our community’s needs. Jan is truly an asset to all the citizens of Hilton Head Island.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Terry Herron

Mayor Bennett Presents Terry Herron the Honored Islander Award, August 16, 2016.

Terry Herron

Terry’s list of accomplishments, activities and interests is a long one. He has been a driving force behind the development of the Santa Elena Foundation, documenting the first European settlement and capital in the continental United States, a site that is now under excavation on Parris Island Marine Base. Terry has also been active in The Eco Initiative, the Gullah Consortium of Beaufort County to preserve the unique Gullah culture, Island Entryway Beautification Project, Arts Council of Beaufort County, and Heritage Library History Day. In addition to his many community activities, Terry is a professional musician, and is sharing his knowledge of the entertainment industry, financial analysis, marketing, and operations as a member of the Town’s Venue Committee. You can also find Terry playing tennis, running, and organizing bike rides along the lowcountry and for US cyclists overseas. We welcome Terry’s fresh perspectives based on his actual experiences to help keep Hilton Head Island a vital community for everyone to enjoy.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Blaine Lotz

Mayor Bennett Presents Blaine Lotz the Honored Islander Award, August 16, 2016.

Blaine Lotz

After a distinguished 26-year military career and 13 years of civilian service in government, we are fortunate that Blaine chose a “tour of duty” here in Hilton Head Island. He continues to hold military veterans dear to his heart, having served as President of the Military Officers Association of America Hilton Head Area Chapter. But his interests and involvement in the public and political life of our community has led to his roles as Chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, Past-President of the World Affairs Council, and Elder and Chair of the First Presbyterian Church Outreach Ministry, Refugee Task Force, and organizer for Community Prayer Vigils. He has also been a champion for fundraising efforts for the rural SC school districts along the infamous “Corridor of Shame,” and a staunch advocate for local missions and Deep Well. Our community can truly count on Blaine to “watch our back” as he continues his tour of duty here.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Bill & Phyllis Neville

Mayor Bennett Presents Bill & Phyllis Neville the Honored Islander Award, May 3, 2016

Bill & Phyllis Neville

Bill and Phyllis make a dynamic pair who have contributed countless hours and their many talents to support the youth of our community. While Bill applies his financial skills as Treasurer of the Seahawk Theatre Guild and quietly builds and move sets, and does whatever else is needed, Phyllis serves as Secretary of the Guild, and together they have acted as the “glue” that has held the Guild together. But it is not just making youth theater available for them – Phyllis has also served as Junior Achievement Program Coordinator, PTA President, and Girl Scout Leader and Program Coordinator for the Council of Eastern South Carolina, and shop manager for The Church Mouse, the fundraising ministry of St. Luke’s of Hilton Head Island. She facilitated the development of the LowCountry Alliance for Healthy Youth to address substance use and abuse by teens and promote healthy development and positive choices. Together, the Nevilles are ensuring a safer and happier environment for our young adults.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Ryan Wilkie

Mayor Bennett Presents Ryan Wilkie the Honored Islander Award, May 3, 2016

Ryan Wilkie

Ryan is an enthusiastic advocate and supporter of many different causes and organizations, volunteering countless hours to help others in need. Among those benefitting from his efforts are Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation where Ryan goes bald to raise awareness for pediatric cancer, the Hilton Head Island Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinners, Children’s Relief Fund and Fishing with Friends, as well as Lawton Stables, Low Country Riding Academy, and Wish Upon a Horse, where he shares his love of everything equine. You can count on seeing Ryan’s smiling face wherever an extra hand is needed. He truly exemplifies his favorite quote – “To volunteer is to contribute your goodness and works to humanity unselfishly, without seeking any rewards.” Today, I am honored to bestow the Honored Islander Award on this remarkable young man, who has touched so many people in our community, and I am sure he will continue to do so.

Photo of Mayor Bennett with Reverend Ben Williams

Mayor Bennett Presents Reverend Ben Williams the Honored Islander Award, May 3, 2016

Reverend Ben Williams

Reverend Williams has truly been a “force” in this community since his arrival on the Island in 1973, not only bringing people closer to Jesus Christ through his ministry, but also fostering understanding between people from different races, faiths and economic backgrounds. Reverend Williams was influential in the founding of Volunteers in Medicine, and started the Mt. Calvary Baptist Achievement School to provide preschool opportunities for children who would not otherwise have access to quality day care. Reverend Williams led a march on Hilton Head Island to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1986, one of the first nationwide observances, and that tradition has continued and grown. Many lives have been changed for the better on Hilton Head Island as a result of Reverend Williams’ leadership, and we hope his voice will continue to be heard for many years to come.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Dylan Jacy Brown

Mayor Bennett Presents Dylan Jacy Brown the Honored Islander Award, March 15, 2016

Dylan Jacy Brown

In 2015 Dylan received the Mayor’s Call to Service Award as a 9th grade student at Hilton Head Island High School for volunteering over 440 hours in one year. She also plays on the Lady Seahawks Basketball Team, the unified basketball team at USCB, helps young gymnastic students afterschool at Island Rec, and pursues her own interests in modeling, dancing, singing, and photography. This year she was selected as an applicant for the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. Dylan has been described as extremely personable, outgoing, kind, thoughtful, charming, and truly amazing. She has unselfishly shared those attributes with Special Olympics, SOAR, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Rotary Interact Club, and Project Unify – even charming her way into an invite to the prom for special education students, to the delight of all. I expect we will hear much more about Dylan in the future as she serves as an excellent ambassador and role model to her peers, our community, and to everyone she touches.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Trish Elliot

Mayor Bennett Presents Trish Elliot the Honored Islander Award, March 15, 2016

Trish Elliot

Trish has been described as a consummate volunteer and giver of self who always adds “Love” to everything she does. She shares her musical talents on the violin with residents in nursing homes and with the Hilton Head Choral Society. Trish prepares food for the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Musicales and cookies for the Beach Patrol. Whenever anyone is sick or needs help, she is there – whether it is organizing dinners, preparing them, or simply listening. If there is an event, Trish is first in the kitchen to prepare and serve and the last to leave after the final dish is cleaned and put away. While Trish would much prefer to remain unsung, I am pleased to recognize the love she has shared that makes our community special and sets her apart as an Honored Islander.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Cinda Seamon

Mayor Bennett Presents Cinda Seamon the Honored Islander Award, March 15, 2016

Cinda Seamon

Cinda spends her week days helping keep all our citizens, both young and old, safe through her role as Fire and Life Safety Educator with Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue. Her passion to help others, however, extends much further. After arriving on the Island over 25 years ago, she completed rigorous training to become a rape crisis intervention volunteer. That beginning has evolved into coordinator for the Hope Haven volunteers who respond to Hilton Head Hospital. Cinda’s love of ballroom dancing and involvement with Programs for Exceptional People (PEP) led her to help develop and organize ballroom dancing at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio for special needs students to give them the opportunity to discover and experience the joy of dancing and performing. Her advocacy on behalf of others in need has made a significant difference in many lives, and we are blessed to have Cinda in our community.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Tim Drake

Mayor Bennett Presents Tim Drake the Honored Islander Award , September 15, 2015

Tim Drake
For over 15 years Tim has used his skills as a landscape architect to design and showcase the beauty of Hilton Head Island for residents and visitors. He reaches out with his positive energy and caring spirit to all segments of our community as he seeks to serve anyone in need and quietly offers his talents in places such as the Children’s Memorial Garden at Hilton Head Hospital and the re-designed Columbarium at St. Luke’s Church. Recognizing the needs and contributions of the Hispanic community and being fluent in Spanish, he devotes time with Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry helping to bridge the language barrier and teaching valuable social skills that will build and strengthen the concept of “One Island – One Community.” Tim’s impact on the citizens and landscape of Hilton Head Island will be a lasting legacy that will enrich many lives.

Photo of Mayor Bennett Presenting Logan Fettes the Honored Island Award

Mayor Bennett Presents Logan Fettes the Honored Islander Award , October 12, 2015

Logan Fettes
Logan is the youngest recipient of the Honored Islander Award, but he has already accomplished a great deal, and I expect that we will hear much more from him in the future. Watching his brother bravely fight a chronic illness, Logan was inspired to serve others. In 2011, he founded “Operation Sunshine,” a service project to help spread “rays of comfort, joy, happiness and hope.” Involving family and friends, he has demonstrated his caring for those in need by distributing stuffed animals to hospitalized children and tornado victims, sending suitcases filled with toys and books for children in third world countries, and providing sleeping bags and blankets to the homeless. It is my honor to recognize Logan not only as a representative of the best of America’s youth, but as a role model to his peers and community.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Marv Lich

Mayor Bennett Presents Marv Lich the Honored Islander Award , September 15, 2015

Marv Lich
Marv has been referred to as a “Champion for Kids.” Since moving here 13 years ago, he has assisted with the leadership of the Island’s “Hooked on Golf” mentor program in partnership with the Harbour Town Golf Club, which still continues each summer, and now includes The Golden Bear Golf Club. He has served in many capacities at the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island, including President, helping with funding raising, as an advocate for The First Tee program which will teach life skills and core values using golf as the motivation, and in encouraging more Hispanic families to become part of the Club’s family. In addition, Marv serves the community though his participation in Family Promise overnight stays at his church, St. Andrews by the Sea. Countless children and citizens have benefitted from Marv’s dedication and motivation, as will generations to come.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and John Shkor

Mayor Bennett Presents John Shkor the Honored Islander Award July 21, 2015

John Shkor
After a distinguished career in the Coast Guard, followed by service as Chief Operating Officer for the Transportation Security Administration after 9/11, we are fortunate that John chose Hilton Head Island as his next “assignment.” As a representative to the Military Veterans Coalition, he helped establish the Veterans Memorial in Shelter Cove, and has been a speaker for Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day Ceremonies held there. He has shared his military knowledge as a presenter for the Lifelong Learning and World Affairs Council, and is currently volunteering as a mentor in the Veterans’ Treatment Court through the Solicitor’s Office to assist returning veterans with legal issues. John has also applied his extensive leadership and organizational skills as a founding board member and early advocate for the Hilton Head Island Institute, and has served as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Greater Island Council of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, helping to advance their goals to preserve and enhance Hilton Head Island’s reputation as a premier resort destination providing exceptional residential, retirement and business opportunities. Thank you for not only your military service and continued commitment to assist others who have served our country, but for your tireless efforts to improve the quality of life for our citizens and visitors.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Luther Strayer, III

Mayor Bennett Presents Luther Strayer, III the Honored Islander Award July 21, 2015

Luther Strayer, III
Dr. Lu, as he is affectionately known at Volunteers in Medicine, has arrived early at the clinic every Wednesday for the past 20 years to provide needed medical care to the uninsured working poor of Hilton Head Island. Many of his patients are unaware that he has been a rower since childhood and was an accomplished college rower for Princeton. He was later recruited as team doctor for the US National Junior World Rowing Championship Team and the US National Rowing Team, also serving as chairman of the Sports Medicine Committee, and traveling with the team for 17 years. Sharing lessons from his 60-plus years of rowing experience, he donates the remainder of his free time to coaching youth, working on boats, planning competitive strategies and logistics, and driving children to and from regattas. Together with Dave Erdman, he was a driving force behind the new Community Rowing and Sailing Center, and he continues to push for diversity among the youth served by the rowing programs. Lu has been, and continues to be, a generous and caring physician and a rigorous but kind coach to young rowing athletes, transforming many lives in our community.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Loretta Warden

Mayor Bennett Presents Loretta Warden the Honored Islander Award July 21, 2015

Loretta Warden
Using her skills and knowledge gained from an extensive background in education, Loretta has served on the Education and Economic Workforce Development Subcommittee of the Greater Island Committee, as Issues Chair for the Southern Beaufort County Community Association, as a member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Beaufort County School District Facilities 2000 Oversight Committee, as Secretary of the Hilton Head Community Foundation Water Task Force, as a member of the Beaufort County 2000 Steering Committee, and as a member of the Town of Hilton Head Island Planning Commission for 7 years, acting as both Chair and Vice-Chair of that Committee. She currently serves as President of the League of Women Voters, helping to make sure all citizens have a voice through their individual vote by sponsoring voter registration drives, public candidate forums, and educational materials, resulting in better informed voters who will insure a bright future for Hilton Head Island.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Paul Lang

Mayor Bennett Presents Paul Lang the Honored Islander Award
May 5, 2015

Paul Lang
When Paul Lang retired to Hilton Head Island over 15 years ago, fortunately for us, he did not stop working. He re-directed his time, energy, and leadership talents to help local families with hunger and homelessness through a small church group called the “Bulls,” served as Board Member and Chairman for the Coastal Discovery Museum where he contributed to the development and growth of the museum, and currently serves on the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Board as a member of the Finance and Planning Committee. Combining his love for golf with his desire to contribute to our community, Mr. Lang has served as President and Board Member for the Bear Creek Golf Club, and as President and member of the Board of Governors for the Senior Men’s Golf Association. As a member of a volunteer group trained in the rating of golf courses, he has assisted in rating many of the area courses, helping to maintain our excellence in the golf arena and keeping our economy strong.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Dot Law

Mayor Bennett Presents Dot Law the Honored Islander Award
May 5, 2015

Dot Law
Dot Law has proven to be a powerful voice in the Native Island community, providing on-going leadership in organizing Property Owners Associations and currently serving as Chairman of the Chaplin POA, and by actively participating in discussions on the Town’s LMO rewrite and in the resolution of the open burning issue. She has been a valuable advocate in bringing harmony and understanding among citizens of diverse backgrounds through the Bridge the Gap Committee. As one of its most dedicated and consistently active members of the Board of Directors for The Mitchelville Preservation Project, she has shared its vision and history with groups and as an on-site host. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she helps improve the lives of young girls in our community. Dot has established a needed role as a positive force for community improvement and citizen inclusion.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Everett Miles

Mayor Bennett Presents Everett Miles the Honored Islander Award
May 5, 2015

Everett Miles
Since his arrival on the Island over 15 years ago, Everett Miles has been actively involved in community and youth development. During his 5-year tenure as Chairman of the Native Island Business and Community Affairs, he successfully led the reorganization of its mission to focus more resources on preparing younger potential entrepreneurs. The Gullah Celebration has also benefitted from his marketing and training strategies that have increased attendance. To develop the vital social, cultural, and business skills that young, low income male students will need, through the “Gentlemen’s Club” and “Building Bridges to Success” programs, Mr. Miles exposes them to new and formative educational experiences. His presence as a prominent adult male figure in their lives helps ensure successful future entrepreneurs and continued leadership and vision for our Island.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Kaye Black

Mayor Bennett Presents Kaye Black the Honored Islander Award
April 21, 2015

Kaye Black
Kaye Black has been actively involved as a volunteer, officer and board member in organizations such as Zonta Club, Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Lowcountry, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, Art League of Hilton Head Island, Hilton Head Island Institute, Children’s Center, and was a founding member of Women in Philanthropy. Applying her gift for communication, her energy, and expertise to these groups and others, has set her apart as a citizen who has impacted people, programs and projects benefitting our community in meaningful ways and for many years to come.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and David Erdman

Mayor Bennett Presents David Erdman the Honored Islander Award
April 21, 2015

David Erdman
David Erdman, or more affectionately known as “Coach E” to the 35 current high school rowers, has been instrumental in re-igniting the Youth Rowing Club on Hilton Head Island, as well as being one of the main driving forces behind the new Community Rowing and Sailing Center. He gives unconditionally of his free time and talent, using the water around us to create rowing opportunities for the youth of our community, resulting in more successful college and career pursuits. He has provided a significant impact on our youth while leading by example and being a good mentor.

Photo of Mayor Bennett and Emily Starry

Mayor Bennett Presents Emily Starry the Honored Islander Award
April 21, 2015

Emily Starry
Emily Starry has the nurturing heart of a teacher, and has shared her commitment to children through her 27-year teaching career at Christ Lutheran Preschool. But retirement only strengthened her resolve to help children read as evidenced by her volunteer efforts with the United Way’s Early Literacy Program, AmeriCorp, Born to Read, and Neighborhood Outreach Connection. Emily has impacted countless Hilton Head Island children for decades and continues to do so, likely transforming their lives and the lives of generations to come by advancing literacy.

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