• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

On December 13, 2014 we will be laying wreaths at Beaufort National Cemetery to honor our Veterans.  This is done in conjunction with cemeteries throughout this Great Nation of Ours.   The US Military Vets M/C Beaufort is charged with coordinating this event.  We will be doing an escort from Jacksonboro that morning to the cemetery.  We use the slogan, “They fought in it, We ride in it”.  This being said, we ride to honor our fallen no matter what Mother Nature bestows upon us that day.  We meet up with other volunteers from Charleston and surrounding areas, and are given an escort by the Beaufort and Colleton County Sheriff’s Department, into the cemetery.  Once we arrive at the cemetery, we meet and greet everyone that has joined us for this occasion.

The ceremony starts promptly at Noon.  After the ceremony, we join everyone in placing the wreaths on the headstones of our Brothers and Sisters.

Each year we try to raise enough money to cover each headstone in the cemetery, we have over 20,000 to cover.  We take “Wreath Specific” from those who are unable to attend and carry out their request.

We use the slogan of Wreaths Across America, “REMEMBER, HONOR and TEACH” – Remember our fallen heroes, Honor those who serve and  Teach our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedom.

How to help: email waabeaufort@outlook.com for a donation form to sponsor one or more wreath.

It’s hard to believe that I am actually sitting at my desk writing a letter about our five year anniversary! It truly doesn’t feel like it has been this long.

It seems like only a short time ago I was standing on the lawn out at Habersham, anticipating the start of the launch party for Beaufort Lifestyle. I was a nervous wreck….a hot mess as they say! My first publication in Beaufort….would people like our magazine….would anybody show up for the party….what would I say when we unveiled the cover……what would the reaction of the crowd be……those were only a few things going through my mind.

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But, somehow, I survived the evening. And, here I am, five years later, getting ready to send our Anniversary Issue to press. These five years have truly been some of the most rewarding of my life. Being a part of Beaufort and its people has been a tremendous journey. I fell in love with Beaufort the first day my feet hit its soil. The scenery is breathtaking, the people so friendly….and a community that pulls together. Who wouldn’t want to highlight all of this in a community magazine? I certainly did.

Having started three other publications, I was certainly game to give this a whirl. The birth of Beaufort Lifestyle was inevitable. Now, five years later, I am still just like a little kid in a candy store every time one of our issues comes in from the printer. I want to be the first person to put my hands on it.

Five years brings about a lot of change. Take a minute to think about what has happened in your life in the last five years. I am sure many things come to mind. Yes, to mine as well….and to my business. We have made changes to our publication over they years, always trying to make it better and taking suggestions from our readers. But, there is one thing about Beaufort Lifestyle that has not changed. And, that my friends, is the wonderful people that make it happen. I am the most blessed publisher in this industry. To start a magazine five years ago, and still have the same writers and photographers who helped to get the first issues off the ground, is absolutely unheard of. These guys have become my friends, my family….and I love each of them. I want to give a special thanks to the people who have stood beside me, and walked with me along this adventurous path.

Mary Ellen Thompson and Cindy Reid…..I only dream I could write as well as the two of you! You both are amazing. Susan DeLoach, Paul Nurnberg and John Wollwerth….. your photos brighten every page. Your talents are endless. What an amazing team. Lane Gallegos, who has been with the company for over six years, your creativity and finesse with designs are outstanding. You outshine yourself with every issue. Lea Allen, administrative assistant and circulation director, who has been with us for over three years, you play a huge role in bringing Beaufort Lifestyle to our readers. And, the newest member of our team, Peg Beekman, our account executive, has done a great job of satisfying our clients advertising needs. Thanks so much for such a wonderful job you are doing. And, going into our sixth year, we have added three freelance writers to this team…. a big thanks to Kim Poovey, Katherine Lang and Carol Lauvray. Thank you ladies for making this issue happen! You guys are the best, and I appreciate each of you more than words can say.

Thanks Beaufort for our first five years.

Pat Keown

A strong, dedicated woman whose passion and commitment are an inspiration to all who cross her path, Pat Keown is an angel with invisible wings. Raised on James Island, Pat started her career in nursing at Greenville General Hospital, got her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Carolina where she studied philosophy, theology and psychology. After receiving her masters degree in social work at the University of Louisville, Pat spent 25 years in Louisville, KY where she had an individual counseling practice and also worked as a psychiatric nurse.

When Pat’s brother, Harold, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, she decided it was time to come back to the Lowcountry. One of the reasons she chose Beaufort was so her family could come visit, go to the beach, and rekindle their love of this part of the country. “When I came here, it held me in such a way, the people, the land; I felt embraced and so loved here. The energy on Saint Helena Island and Port Royal spoke to me.”

A friend had invited her to interview at Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH) which led to Pat accepting the position of Assistant Director of the Mental Health Unit, and in the fall of 2000 she moved to Beaufort. Although she has now “graduated” from that position, she still covers psychiatric calls one weekend a month in the Emergency Room. “I am very impressed by the hospital’s dedication to the seriousness of mental health issues. BMH has ER on call care 24/7 available for mental health patients – and that’s very unusual. I am proud to have worked for
that hospital, proud of their integrity and compassion. It was a good place to wind down my career.”

One of Pat’s passions is gardening – she finds that working with her plants and her hands in the dirt is a very grounding and balancing time for her. Her gardens are amazingly beautiful – tended to with the same love, understanding, and eye for beauty as is evidenced in the rest of her endeavors. Another passion is photography, which started way back when. Pat recalls, “When you go back and look at your life and see that you always had a camera in your hand, it dawns on you that this is an integral part of who you are, how you see the world. When I was a senior in nursing school, I took a missionary trip to New Mexico and I fell in love with the Navajo, the country, the light. That was when I fell in love with my camera and became part of the way I started seeing life through my lens. Later on, when I worked in the postpartum unit in 1967, at a time when no one came into the rooms to see the moms, the babies were in a nursery behind a glass wall, and children weren’t even allowed in hospitals, I took Polaroid pictures of the moms with their babies – and they loved it. It was the only visual record they had.”

“One day,” Pat explains, “I had an epiphany about my photography: if you don’t give your gifts now, when are you going to give them?” Her photograph, “Fallen Trees on Hunting Island” was chosen by the Beaufort City Council for inclusion in the Open Land Trust 2006 calendar; another was chosen for a subsequent calendar. One was included in the 2010 Beaufort County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Other
exhibits include “Vanishing Landscapes of South Carolina”, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, MOJA Festival, the Masur Museum in Louisiana, yearly inclusion in the BMH art show, Beaufort Art Association’s Spring Shows and satellite galleries, the Beaufort Photography Club and The Red Piano Art Gallery. Remember she just does this for fun, which only serves to prove that she gives everything in which she is involved, her all. Her all, these days, is focused on the Threshold Singers, which is a chapter of the larger organization, the Threshold Choir International. Kate Munger started the Threshold Choir in California in 2000. In a recent interview with Liz Matsushita of sevenponds.com, Kate explains “The Threshold Choir … sing at the bedsides of people who are dying, people who are in a coma, newborns, children in hospitals, the grieving and incarcerated women.”

Kate Munger further explains the name, Threshold Choir. “The threshold of a building is the place that separates out from in. Also, the act of threshing separates the edible part of wheat or grain from the covering. So to me, this word ‘threshold’ gives special significance to transformation.” Having chosen healing as her life’s profession, Pat’s compassion and empathy are evident, as is the fact that she just cares, so much. “A piece inside of me is trying to make a difference and always has been; I once wrote, ‘If nobody believed they could make a difference, no difference would be made.’ I want to be in that place where I can be at the core of me, I believe we are one; I even have that on my license plate.  We are only limited by our own vision in reflection to what we can  create.” Clearly, Pat’s vision is not at all limited.

“In June of 2013, I went to Colorado to help with a fundraiser for some friends who were putting together a documentary about grief and I met the Colorado Springs Threshold Choir. I was inspired by them and felt that we had the talent and spirit to have Threshold Singers in Beaufort. I then felt Spirit ask me to do it and I thought, ‘How can I do it?’ Then I just said, ‘Yes.’ It will happen and unfold the way it happens and unfolds. Part ofwhat seems amazing to me, at my age, is our mortality and our legacy. What does it mean to say yes, not out of obligation, butout of spirit?

“I went to the Southeast Regional Gathering of the Threshold Choir in North Carolina in November of 2013. I went with no choir. I immersed myself in a weekend of listening and learning the songs and when I came back I started talking to people about it. “Our intention in going bedside is to go with an open heart, to be present, to use song as prayer. We can go anytime; all someone has to do is call me and I will find two, three or four
people to go wherever we are wanted. We will sit around the person and sing sacred lullabies for fifteen to twenty minutes. It can be any reason – a time of transition, a diagnosis, whatever and whenever it will bring comfort. There will be no more than four of us to share the sacred space of song and presence. If people have certain songs that are important to them, we will sing those. And people do have certain songs, our mother, for
instance, used to wake us up in the morning by singing. Our choir is open to anyone who would like to join us, inclusive of race and gender; right now we have eleven members.” An adjunct to this project is bringing nationally acclaimed singer, Heather Houston, to Beaufort on April 18, 2015 which is the Saturday before Earth Day. Pat has a vision, and is in the process of creating a concept for how Earth Day could debut in Beaufort.

Hand in hand with the caring Pat has for people, she is also involved with Compassionate Beaufort Communities, and hosted one of the events for Prosper Ndabishuriye, from Burundi Central Africa, when he was on a speaking tour here in May.  Their own description reads: “The purpose of the Compassionate Beaufort Communities project is to invite all sectors of greater Beaufort to recognize the importance of compassion in all we do and to find every way possible to become a more compassionate people and community.”

Tireless, gracious, and ever present, Pat has the spirit and insight integral in forming the collective of Beaufort. “What an interesting process to reflect on one’s life…those things that matter, those dreams untouched, that breath of passion that leads you to the next step.”

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON • Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

John Dortch

This is not a story of good triumphing over evil, or saints vs. sinners. This is a story of a rise, and then a fall from grace, hard work, introspection, and some very deep rooted faith that would finally take hold, again, and walk a limping man to his own recovery. It’s not as simple as finding the road to redemption; it’s not an easy task to look in the mirror every morning and know that people have been hurt as a result of your actions. It’s not that easy to forgive yourself; far less easy than to forgive someone else.

This is the kind of journey where people can hold out their hand to you along the way, they can give you a hug, but they can’t walk by your
side; you got into it on your own and you’ve got to get out of it the same way. Plenty of people held out their hands to this man; although
there were dissenters, there were believers in his essential goodness, his willingness and dedication to finding his way back home, and into the arms of his God.

John Dortch’s story is not a glib tale of the prodigal son getting caught up in the wrong crowd, making a mistake and making amends. This is a man whose actions ultimately led, inadvertently and indirectly, to the death of another human being. 1Let’s start at the beginning. The son of a Baptist minister, John was born in Beaufort and had three siblings. John enjoyed a unique childhood; he started school when he was just three years old, when he was four he went to work shining shoes in his father’s shop. “By the time I went to grade school, I had saved $300; I could pay for my own books and those of my siblings.” It turns out that he was a gifted musician, and the summer between seventh and eighth grades, he played the trumpet in the all state band. During those school summers, he worked shining shoes over on Parris Island where he might make $100 a day. In his senior year at Robert Smalls, he was captain of both the football and basketball teams.

After graduation, John attended Howard University in Washington DC. There he pledged two fraternities and set his sights on becoming an attorney. However, he delayed that objective when he joined the ROTC, went to summer camp, and out of 3000 students, placed in the top ten. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Howard University and at 22, volunteered to go to Vietnam.

Long story short – he was injured while saving someone’s life on a search and destroy mission when the landing craft he was on came under heavy fire. John got a medical retirement and went back to the States. At the time, he did not realize that his experiences in Vietnam had occasioned him to suffer from PTSD, which would probably last for the rest of his life.Back in DC, John went to work for New York Life Insurance Co. and quickly became their top salesman. A rising star in all that he had accomplished so far, John was the golden boy. This is when his trajectory changed.

After five years of selling life insurance, John decided to start a business. He hired several employees and planned to train them to generate income to invest back into the community. One thing led to another and the income wasn’t as forthcoming as he had projected, so John chose an aberrational course in the opposite direction. He trained five men to rob banks.

A tremendous amount of planning went into this endeavor, and when asked why he thought he could get away with it, he responded, “I rebelled against the system. I didn’t think we were getting a fair shake. This operation was well planned and thought out, we had an inside person, the combination to the vault, we knew the security system, and it was planned like a precise military operation. We spent six weeks planning it, we knew when the armored truck was arriving with the money and we thought we could get $1.5 million.”

The robbery was interrupted long before anyone even got to the door of the bank, because, unbeknownst to them, the police had been tipped off. Dortch and his accomplice John Bryant, were just exiting their car when two police officers arrived on the scene to question them. Dortch escaped and Bryant fled into an underground parking lot where he was detained by a young black female police officer. Bryant shot the police officer in the arm while she was on the radio calling for help; the bullet passed through her arm and lodged in her chest, killing her. Dortch turned himself into the police the next morning. When asked if he remembered feeling remorse for this series of events, he answered, “Remorse set in the minute I first heard about her death.”

John Dortch was sentenced to fifteen years to life and incarcerated in federal prison facilities from 1975 to 1990. According to a document from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, “‘By all accounts,” as the Committee on Admissions states in its report, “Dortch was a model prisoner during his fifteen years of incarceration.’ He received training in accounting and earned money working in the Federal Prison Industries program. Dortch also participated in educational and churchrelated activities, tutored and assisted other inmates, and directed a prison chapter of NAACP. Prison officials commended him for his excellent institutional adjustment. Dortch was paroled by the United States Parole Commission at his first eligibility date and he returned to Washington DC in the spring of 1990.”

In March of 1990, John Dortch applied to be the business manager of Covenant Baptist Church in DC and got involved in the ministry. But after a year and a half there, his dream of studying law resurfaced and he resigned his position to attend the David A. Clark School of Law. After graduation, he passed the bar examinations in the District of Columbia, West Virginia and Maryland. But thereafter, he says, “I knew I was being called to the ministry. So I left a six figure job to come back here and write my
memoirs.”

“After completing my book, first I became a deacon, then an ordained and licensed minister. I served as pastor of Central Baptist Church, and I fell in love with the congregation. But after two years, I was moved in my spirit to pursue a vision that God gave me thirty-five years ago. My
calling is to be a doer of the Word: feed the hungered, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, minister to the sick and visit the prisoners. “That vision was manifested in the establishment of the Circle of Hope Ministries, a 401(c)(3) faith-faith, based charitable organization, a church without
walls. We are all volunteers. There is no higher calling than being a servant. At night, when I take an inventory of my day, the last question I ask myself is ‘Did you help someone today?’ If I can respond ‘Yes,’ then I have had a successful day.”

Again, this is not the story of the son of a preacher who goes astray, reconnects with his faith, and comes back home to serve his
people and God, because that would be too pat. Pastor John Dortch is to be commended for his bravery in stepping up to the plate and telling his story because it exposes his underbelly as well as his accomplishments. He was determined when he was released from prison to speak frankly and
unabashedly about his experience because “I was determined to not build the rest of my life on a lie.” When asked if he could pick just one, what the defining moment was in his life so far. His response was “The prison experience. From my center, everything I’ve done has brought me to where I am now. I’ve been on both sides so I can relate and bridge both worlds. Out of the bad came the good.”

What was his motivating factor in writing Memoirs Of The Prodigal Son: The Road To Redemption? “I have a testimony to share; my memoir is about the unconditional love of God and his redeeming grace. I wanted to be an inspiration to people, to let them know they can overcome anything in life and there is always hope.”

Redemption, full circle, restitution; they are all just words. “I was told by my mother as a child that she and I were dreamers, that
we had the gift.” They both had an identical vision of a sphere of light entering their bodies at a crucial time – she when she was in
with him, he was he was experiencing one of his darkest moments in prison – the light saved them both. The biggest light that shines out of Pastor John Dortch is hope, and the circle of love that surrounds him: Circle of Hope Ministries.

 

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON • Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

Martha Lynn Webb

Martha Lynn’s early memories of Lady’s Island include having backyard ponies and riding them up and down Sams Point Road when there was next to no traffic. Her family spent weekends and summer times out at the fish camp on Pritchard’s Island where multiple families gathered to fish and play on the beach and socialize in the relaxed atmosphere of island living. “I remember ‘Zoo’ Van Harten and ‘Buddy’ Lubkin tending the cooking fire while smoking cigars, and wading out into the water to fish in their long khaki pants. I can still see them out there in the water, fishing, in those long pants.” As a girl who grew up on, and loved the water, The Water Festival was one of her favorite events as a child. “I was born at the same time as the Beaufort Water Festival, as I am reminded every time a new t-shirt comes out! So many dedicated volunteers work year round to make this such a great community event.”

A native daughter of Buck and Martha Morris, Martha Lynn Morris Webb was born at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and raised on Lady’s Island where she and husband, Charles, now reside. She has three brothers, Milledge, David and Robert, also in Beaufort. “Obviously we’ve been very happy here.”

When she attended Beaufort Elementary School, Martha Lynn recalls that all of the children from first through twelfth grades rode on one bus. The elementary students were dropped off first, then the junior high students, then the high school students, including her brothers, who drove the bus! “Our dad, who was affectionately called ‘Humble Buck,’ owned an Esso station where Beaufort Town Center now sits, and my brothers and I all had to work there. He taught us by example to work hard, play harder, and never meet a stranger.” In sixth grade, Martha Lynn transferred
to Beaufort Academy where she met her future husband Charles. She was working at Humble Buck’s Esso when he called her for their first date. “The rest is history,” she says. Martha Lynn and Charles both graduated from Clemson, where she was a cheerleader and majored in accounting.
They married shortly after graduation at St. Helena’s Parish Church in August 1975.

“We came back to Beaufort because we wanted to raise our children around family. My family was here, Charles’ family was here and that was important to us.” Upon their return, Martha Lynn was an accountant for Bill Robinson at Robinson, Grant & Co., P.A., working part time for the next 30 years.  Martha Lynn and Charles have four children, all of whom also graduated from Beaufort Academy. Now, son Milledge is manager of the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club; Charley is a teacher at Full Sail University in Florida; daughter Caroline Wreden is a veterinarian with Animal Medical Center of the Lowcountry on Lady’s Island, and their youngest daughter, Charmain is studying to be a physician’s assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina.

As Martha Lynn considers all the organizations with which she’s been involved, she surmises their common denominator. “I would guess that most all of our local charitable organizations were born of the dedication and selfless efforts of some one (or two) who saw a need and was passionate about finding a solution. When you become involved as a volunteer or board member, you are privileged to have a glimpse of that ‘passion’ and become a part of its ongoing success.”

“I seem to land in the treasurer’s spot. You gotta love those numbers! Even charities have to operate like a business or they won’t be around for long. I’ve served as treasurer for The Beaufort Academy, Friends of Nemours Wildlife Foundation, Episcopal Church Women of St. Helena, Friends of Caroline Hospice, Preservation Trust for Historic St. Helena’s Church, and have just recently agreed to serve as treasurer for Holy Trinity Classical Christian School.”

Although Martha Lynn demurs when asked if she has a favorite among her various volunteer activities, “How can you have a favorite when there are so many worthwhile organizations?” One that is dear to her heart is Friends of Caroline Hospice, an organization that finds her contributions invaluable as is evidenced by what Cheryl Comes, Co-Director, has to say. “Martha Lynn is the kind of volunteer that every organization would love to have. She is committed, passionate, smart and a hard worker. She is a wonderful volunteer manager but she never asks a volunteer to do a task that she wouldn’t do herself. Friends of Caroline Hospice is blessed with her talents, time and treasures.”

Martha Lynn became involved with Friends of Caroline Hospice when “Beverly Porter was serving as its second executive director. Beverly was only one generation away from that initial ‘passion’ that saw and met a need in our Beaufort community. I have to admit, I knew very little about hospice care seven years ago, but I’m a willing student. I’ve received a real education about hospice since I became involved. This past year we successfully applied to become a Medicare certified hospice which has allowed us to expand services. The first hospice in Beaufort, Friends of Caroline Hospice, is here today because of the dedicated passionate volunteers and support of our Beaufort community.”

Another organization that receives the benefit of the Webbs generosity is the Beaufort Memorial HospitalFoundation which provides a nice full circle since they were both born in that hospital, as were all of their children. Martha Lynn and Charles have hosted many dinner parties for the annual Valentine’s Ball fundraiser, as well as being an integral part of the Duke Symphony Orchestra concerts that also benefit the Foundation.

With an extensive list of volunteer activities to her credit, Martha Lynn acknowledges her contributions with practicality and grace. “We love Beaufort and I enjoy being involved with the community. One of the wonderful things about Beaufort is the number of people who volunteer. We
are fortunate to have people come here who are retired and have skills that they are willing to share. Everyone feels so blessed to be here, that’s what makes it so easy.”

With a sparkle in her eye and clearly boundless energy, Martha Lynn reflects on their life at this stage of the game. “Now that Charles and I are retired and empty-nesters, living in Beaufort affords us the opportunity to volunteer with various organizations as well as enjoy our beloved
hobbies such as exercise classes at the YMCA, boating, Temple of Sport, going out to the fish camp at Pritchard’s Island, and Bible study.

We love to spend time with our friends, family, and grandchildren; and I also enjoy gardening and trying to eat healthy. My two horses, Pee Wee and Markie, are inherited from my daughter and I still love riding as much as I did as a child.”  Martha Lynn is clearly a product of her Lowcountry environment, who has flourished where she was planted, and whose generosity nourishes the next generation.

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON • Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

Clint Campbell Karen Peluso

The river sparkled like a thousand diamonds beneath a late afternoon sun, while egrets perched on a nearby dock as Karen Peluso and Clint Campbell shared their story. Married for more than twenty years with five shared children, nine grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren, Karen and Clint lead a fulfilling and peaceful existence. After meeting in a writing class at a local community college in New Jersey, their friendship progressed from writing poetry to sharing lunch, to courtship, and eventually marriage.

Karen studied Fine Arts Education at Montclair State College. Following graduation she taught for a year before switching career paths to Office Management in the medical field. Clint transitioned from a family restaurant business to a career in finance. Both are now retired and spend their time volunteering at Beaufort Memorial Hospital or engaging in their passions; photography for Karen and cooking for Clint.

Although Karen is an award winning poet, her enthusiasm for photographing the natural beauty of the Lowcountry has taken precedence. “It’s more than a hobby, it’s my art.” Clint’s love of cooking stems from growing up in the family restaurant as well as his time in the Army as a cook. He considers cooking and baking to be his ministry in that “you can always make people happy with goodies.” Fondly known as ‘The Leftover Gourmet,’ Clint takes his cooking very seriously and often treats friends, guests, hospital employees and fellow volunteers to delectable treats such as his “secret family recipe” crumb cake, a favorite of all who taste it.

The couple’s introduction to Beaufort was serendipitous. Visiting friends in Bluffton in 1997, they debated between a day trip to Savannah or to Beaufort. Much to her chagrin, Karen was persuaded by Clint to visit Beaufort. “We took a carriage ride through the historic district and were instantly drawn to the beauty so we decided to return the next day. After spending time photographing the downtown area and the Point we
fell in love with Beaufort.  It would be six more years before they happened upon a beautiful home in need of some work overlooking the grandeur of the Beaufort River. Once the renovations were completed, they moved here permanently.

Saturday morning is a special time for them starting with breakfast at the Red Rooster followed by a stroll through the Port Royal Farmer’s market to shop for local produce and to socialize with friends. When at home, Karen enjoys writing or reading handwritten letters from children and grandchildren or immersing herself in a good book like Recessional by James Michener.  Clint, an avid reader, especially enjoys books by Karen Armstrong as well as listening to classical music and baking.

Karen and Clint are devoted to the community, volunteering for the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation (BMHF). Despite their shared dedication to BMHF, they serve in different areas; Karen in the office while Clint works the front desk. Karen utilizes her former career skills to support hospital office staff. Making copies, filing and hand addressing cards to donors are just some of the duties Karen performs, alleviating some of the workload for those who diligently run the daily operations of the hospital.

Volunteer services such as these save money, which can be allocated for additional medical personnel and state of the art equipment. Karen has helped the office staff for nearly two years. “The employees are so kind. They make me feel like royalty every time I arrive. I am greeted with such love and compassion. Why wouldn’t you want to go there? I actually feel guilty when we go on vacation.” A smile crossed her lips as she spoke with affection and regard for the office staff. “I’m inspired by their hard work. It’s a behind-the scenes job that often goes unnoticed by the general public.” When asked who has inspired her most as a volunteer she quickly replied, “my husband, Clint, for his great dedication.”

Clint’s service at the front desk of the hospital is more discernable. For more than ten years, he has greeted and guided visitors entering the hospital and, on occasion, has driven the golf-cart. He enjoys the people with whom he works as well as those he welcomes. “I meet so many people who then become acquaintances and before you know it, you are running into them around town.” He went on to say that volunteering at
the hospital helps the facility to grow by allotting money for important improvements such as the ER, Life Fit and the DaVinci Robot. “If I can
change a hospital employee’s life through my service, then I have achieved my goal.”

The front desk volunteers are like family, supporting each other and gathering monthly to dine at locally owned Bricks. “Volunteering keeps me active and making connections with people. You share stories about their families and other news in their lives.” When asked who has influenced his service most he replied, “David Milne, a 91-year old WWII Marine Corps veteran. David works every Tuesday morning and is an inspiration to
all who know him.”

Karen and Clint agree that the dedication and commitment of those who work and volunteer for the hospital is far-reaching, inspiring them both to do more. They hope others will heed the call to volunteer in order to make Beaufort and the world a better place. When searching for an opportunity to serve Clint encourages others, “to be passionate about the organization they volunteer for.”

One thing is clear; their love for each other and their dedication to the betterment of Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the local community is as brilliant as the sun sparkling across the Beaufort River.

Story by Kim Poovey | Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

 

Donnie Beer tells a story about her mother, “After mother retired, she did some work for NOW, the National Organization for Women, which was pretty controversial then, in the 1970s,” Donnie says, referring to the organization that works to support female candidates for public office. “One day, we stopped for gas — this was in the days when an attendant pumped it for you. A woman came out, and my mother said, “Do you think she know what she’s doing?” “Why wouldn’t she, Mom?” “Well, she’s a woman!” Donnie laughs. “My mother may have been working for NOW, but she was still a true southern lady.”

Donnie herself can be described as a true southern lady, one who is always impeccable, who stayed home when her children were small, who is infallibly gracious, and who, like her mother before her, is active in her church. But those who grew up in the south know that a southern lady is also likely to have strong convictions and act on them, to do whatever needs to be done in a crisis, to quickly come to the aid of neighbors or strangers in need, and to plow new ground as required. Donnie Beer is the quintessential embodiment of these virtues.

When she was three, Donnie’s family moved to Beaufort, where they lived until she had finished third grade, and they moved to Columbia. They were here long enough, and she was young enough, that for Donnie, Beaufort was home, no matter where else she might be at the time. Her first job, though, was in Columbia, at Fort Jackson, plowing that new ground as the first civilian – and the first woman – to ever work in a military
brigade.

Donnie, along with her husband, Russell, made it back to Beaufort in 1970, and she continued to work with the Military as a Civil Servant on Parris Island, until she left to work in mortgage banking and raise a family. It was not until after her children were in school that she found her true calling, continuing to work but volunteering wherever she found need, as well. To know Donnie is to be in awe – not only of her commitment to and love for Beaufort, but also of her energy. Her long-time colleague, Mayor Billy Keyserling, says, “Donnie never holds back. Give her a challenge and she is all in. Donnie is on the spot. She attends every meeting to which she is invited, has something to say and takes on
assignments to help and makes improvements where warranted. It is said that “all politics is local;” meeting the needs of those in need, Donnie is there.”

The list of all the jobs Donnie has taken on over the years is too long to recount, but some of the most recent or ongoing highlights include her twenty-three years of service as a member of Beaufort City Council, for which she is up for reelection this November. She has also been active with the Red Cross for fifteen years, and as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Response Team, meets the Fire Department at home fires and other emergencies to provide whatever is most needed: a blanket, a meal, a bed, or a shoulder to lean on. During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, Donnie was deployed to help with disaster assistance there, and speaks with gratitude of the opportunity to help, as she describes the scenes of destruction she witnessed. Part of her role was to work with liaisons from other teams, such as the FEMA Coordinator and a representative from the United Way, in order to bring as much relief as possible to the areas hit. Brighton Beach, Coney Island — the names fall
off her tongue. “Coney Island almost disappeared,” Donnie says, shaking her head.

Perhaps because so many of her family and of Russell’s have been in the military and fought in wars, there is a special place in Donnie’s heart for men and women in uniform. As a member of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Donnie was instrumental in creating a Military Appreciation Day, and she has worked with the USO to see that soldiers are hailed at both deployments and homecomings. She feels a kinship with and reverence for others who respond when the country is threatened; Donnie organizes the Annual 9-11 Ceremony at Waterfront Park each year. She also has worked for a long time with Starbase, a program that works with students at risk of failing science or math. “This is the only one of three such programs in South Carolina that is on an active military base,” Donnie says proudly, as she describes the tools they use to capture the students’ imagination, including a 3-D printer.

One of Donnie’s sons was in the Navy, and two of her grandsons joined the military. One, Brandon, was a medic who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His best friend was killed, and Brandon had to put him in the body bag. “You aren’t the same after that,” he told his grandmother. Mindful of his experience, Donnie was actively involved in bringing the Lt. Dan Concert Independence Fund to Beaufort, to create a positive experience and raise money for “Wounded Warriors.” When the program was moved to Charleston, she helped found and is Chair of Healing Heroes of the Lowcountry (HHLF), whose mission is to raise money for treatments for soldiers who are wounded during active duty, with a particular emphasis on PTSD.

The organization’s Treasurer, Dick Rooney, worked with Donnie to get them up and running. He notes, “Without Donnie Beer, the HHLF wouldn’t be half the entity that it has become; her dedication to our military, her tireless drive to establish and accomplish the goals of HHLF, her humility and her reputation in the community are the qualities that make Donnie the lady that she is. We have been  working together for fewer that two years; every day my southern education reaches a new higher level.  When Donnie says, “I just do the best I can, she is truly being humble.”

Story by KATHERINE LANG | Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Steve Curless

A gregarious man with a warm smile and endearing countenance, Steve Curless has spent most of his life serving others. Born on a farm in Hannibal, Missouri, (as Steve boasts, home of famed writer Mark Twain); he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during his senior year of high school. Steve traveled the world for twenty-three years as an artilleryman until his retirement from active duty in 1997.

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Steve stumbled upon an avocation that would lead to his future passion and second career. Introduced to the entertainment business, specifically being a disc jockey, Steve instantly felt at ease with the craft. When first embarking in the field, turntables were the principle means of delivering music. Steve recollects spinning albums on turntables to get the timing correct so the music flowed for
the audience. As time and technology progressed, albums transitioned to cassettes and from there to CD’s. Presently, Steve downloads music onto the computer accessing tunes with the touch of a button. “There is much more to being a DJ than just playing music. You have to interact with your audience, which may mean dancing or socializing with guests. An outgoing personality is definitely important.”  Steve established his own DJ business in 1991 while stationed in Jacksonville, North Carolina. However, in 1997 a close friend moved to Beaufort introducing Steve to his future home. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The welcoming atmosphere of the charming coastal town appealed to him. Not long after, he settled in Beaufort permanently, bringing his DJ enterprise, Ramblin Coastal, with him. But it wasn’t long before Steve would heed the invitation to help those in need. In 2003, he learned that
HELP of Beaufort was requesting clothing donations. Intrigued by the charity, he made arrangements to tour the HELP facility. A petite lady, Ellodie Snyder, greeted him and shared information about the organization. Before he left, she asked if he might take out the trash. He readily agreed and found himself returning each week to repeat the humble task. His frequent visits prompted more involvement and before long he was serving on the Board of Directors.

With a passion in his soul for the organization, and all it had to offer, Steve went on to become President in 2006, a role he currently holds. Friend and associate, Mardi Lambert, shared “Steve doesn’t just volunteer and take out the trash (and yes, he still takes out the trash). He delivers furniture, mentors those in financial crisis, and provides guidance for job training and housing assistance. Whatever the need, Steve is there to lend a helping hand, even using his own vehicle and gas for deliveries.”

One of Steve’s favorite success stories is that of a young woman who requested assistance from HELP to obtain her GED. With approval from the Board, HELP went on to assist her in achieving her goal. Sometime later they received a three-page letter from the woman thanking HELP for their support. She went on to share her successes along with photos of her children. “It was a good feeling knowing that she took the time to thank us and to know we had helped improve her life.” Steve went on to say, “People come to us in a state of despair, facing anything from homelessness with their children or having their electricity turned off because they can’t pay the bill. They’re defeated and hopeless when they enter but they leave with a sense of relief and their heads held high.”

Several years ago Steve noted that local non-profit organizations and churches were duplicating services due to a lack of collaboration. In an effort to bring the groups together, Steve formed the Community Services Organization (CSO) in 2009. The following year CSO began utilizing an online data base known as Charity Tracker. Charity Tracker allows non-profits to share information about services provided and alert them to
those with special needs. CSO is comprised of over 40 charitable organizations and churches as well as 100 individual members.

For those interested in learning more, the group meets on the third Wednesday each month at 12:45 at the Baptist Church of Beaufort. Steve’s dream for HELP of Beaufort is to be housed in a mortgage/rent free facility in order to allocate funds for more training programs. “It’s like the theory ‘give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  “It’s about learning to be self-sufficient and giving people
hope.” One of their successful endeavors is the “Dress for Success” day. This program fits individuals with appropriate attire, free of charge, as well as providing guidance for successful job interviews. Another goal for HELP is to expand educational programs for young people in an effort to
eliminate poverty.

Outside of volunteering and DJ events, Steve enjoys military movies, such as Full Metal Jacket. His eyes lit up as he spoke of his three children, a daughter and son living in Missouri, and his youngest son serving in the US Marine Corps in Japan. In addition, he has five grandchildren, all of
whom live out of state and that he “would like to see more often.” As a DJ, Steve plays a myriad of music styles but his favorite is old time country-western, particularly the music of George Straight.

Despite all of his activities, he still finds time to serve as an usher at the Baptist Church of Beaufort. Without question Steve’s legacy is one of kindness, compassion, and altruism. “His optimism is contagious,” says friend Mardi Lambert. Whether bringing joy to special events through his outgoing nature and music, ushering churchgoers on Sunday mornings, helping those in need, or taking out the trash, Steve Curless is an inspirational and charismatic soul.

Story by KIM POOVEY | Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

SandyDimke1

Dixie Dimke has over 225 visits under her collar. That’s over 225 times she has brought her own brand of love and comfort to those who need it the most, primarily the elderly at local assisted living residences. A past recipient of the Therapy Dogs International “Active Outstanding Volunteer” award, she is slated to receive her next award by the end of this year, after completing 250 visits. Of course Dixie doesn’t operate alone; her people Sandy and Russ Dimke accompany her on every visit.

What makes Dixie so good at what she does? Just ask Sandy. Sandy, “She’s so calm and she loves attention. Nothing bothers
her, especially with children.” Seven years ago Sandy and Russ Dimke were looking to add an Irish Setter to their family when Sandy came across an ad for English Setter puppies only a few miles from their Bull Point Plantation home. After visiting the puppies and their mom Scout, Sandy says, “It was love at first sight”.

When puppy Dixie was old enough the Dimke’s enrolled her in AKC Obedience classes, where she not only passed, she received her Canine Good Citizen certificate. Sandy‘s first experience with therapy dogs actually came about through her photography art work. She says, “In 2010, I was at
the Alzheimer Day Care photographing for my Hands Across Beaufort exhibit and witnessed how a dog could change a person’s emotions. A woman sat motionless, oblivious to her surroundings. The therapy dog was brought over to her and she was encouraged to pet her. After only a minute or two her body relaxed and a grin appeared on her face. She never spoke a word but it was obvious that for those brief moments, she reconnected with the world. I was hooked. I knew that it was something I needed Dixie, Russ and me to become involved with.”
Therapy Dog International.

When a local chapter of Therapy Dog International was formed in Beaufort, Dixie, Sandy and Russ joined up. Dogs must meet eligibility requirements, such as age (they must be at least a year old), have a good temperament, be friendly and show no aggression or shyness. Owners and dogs both are required to pass a rigorous test before they can be certified. The test includes the basic commands (sit, stay etc) as well as tasks specific to the dog’s therapy role, such as how the dog reacts to wheelchairs and walkers. The owner also, must be comfortable in their role and
most crucially, be able to control their dog at all times.

Sandy says, “Dixie was a natural, she passed the test with flying colors. She is a good height for people in a wheelchair to pet and a good size for children to interact with during our reading sessions. I also think it is good way for Dixie to make her own contribution.” Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from little lap dogs to larger Dobermans and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Tail Waggin’ Tutor

During the school year, Dixie is also active in Therapy Dog International’s Tail Waggin’ Tutor program at the YMCA and, in the summer, with students at Thumbs Up, the after school homework program. The very popular Tail Waggin’ Tutors program brings the dogs into the children’s environment in order to improve their reading skills. As Sandy says, “The children are more comfortable reading out loud to the dogs and we’re there to listen and help them improve.” Different members of the chapter participate in the Tail Waggin’ Tutors programs each week at Beaufort, Coosaw, Riverview Charter and other local elementary schools, as well as the Beaufort County Disability Center.

Art In Focus
A professional architectural photographer for over twenty years, Sandy became very active in the photography arts world in Beaufort after moving here in 2001. Ten years ago she and four other local photographers founded the Photography Club of Beaufort and she served as the club’s President for the first three years. She says, “We currently have almost one hundred members in the club so the whole effort was well worth it.” Sandy says, “One of my goals was to promote photography as an art so I became involved with Beaufort Art Association and have sat on their Board in various positions for the past six years.”

She is currently a Director in the organization. In addition Sandy serves as the chairperson of the Bull Point Plantation Architectural Review Board. She still does some architectural photography for clients and has taught local classes on photography and Photoshop. As an accredited photography judge, she has judged numerous photo competitions throughout New England and North and South Carolina.

Sandy’s book, Hands at work and play in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, grew out of her Hands Across Beaufort photography exhibit for the Beaufort Three Century Project. The book presents over 100 of Sandy’s black and white photographs of hands, hands working and living in the lowcountry, as well as prose and poems she authored.  Now through December Sandy has a photography exhibit, Cuban Retrospective, at USCB (Osher Lifelong Living Institute, Beaufort Campus, Sandstone Bldg #124).

The exhibit grew out of her trip to Cuba with the People to People program. She says, “I went to Cuba eighteen months ago and it was just a
wonderful experience. We worked with Cuban photographers, and photographed everything from boxing rings to ballet. Our Cuban hosts showed us all their favorite photo spots. The people were warm, happy and welcoming. It is a beautiful country and I would go back in a heartbeat.” Sandy also has an on-going exhibit at Great Gardens Café on Trask Parkway called “Wise in Silence.”

Volunteer Photography
Sandy volunteers her time and skills to the Beaufort County Animal Shelter’s cat adoption center, Tabby House, located at Beaufort Town Center, where she photographs their adoptable cats every month. The photos are used in newspapers and on social media to help the cats find “forever homes.” She says, “I take pictures of the cats that have been there for a while, the ones that really need adoption.” When asked if photographing cats was difficult she laughs and says “Of course… but the people at Tabby House are very helpful! Together we manage to get it done, and I enjoy doing it.”  She also contributes the photography for St. Peter’s Catholic Church “Homes for the Holiday” fund raising tour.

Happy Dog Sandy says, “Each week when Dixie puts on her red ‘Therapy Dog International’ bandanna, she gets very excited. She knows she is ‘going to work.’ It is enjoyable for her and for Russ and me too.” She continues, “It’s rewarding to understand that dogs don’t see differences in humans. They are not prejudiced by race, religion, social status, financial security or mental or physical disabilities. Everyone is approached equally without preconceived prejudices.”

Story by CINDY REID | Photos by PAUL NURNBERG

April Redd

April Redd moves through life at a dizzying pace; “I have a special drive and determination that God gives me.” She holds down a full time job in the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office in the accreditation section while being a single mom to her two daughters, Romia Robinson and Jessica Redd. Her volunteer choices include being on the finance committee of Love House Ministries where she’s also involved with their Dollar A Day Afterschool Care program and the recently acquired Community Bowling Center. Add to this list that she is vice-president of the Lady’s Island Middle School Parent Teachers Organization, volunteers at the St. Helena Library, is a member of the Disabled Americans, and her commitment to
Habitat for Humanity.

The only girl, and youngest of four children raised by a single mom in Washington DC, April learned about hard work and dedication at an early age. “My parents divorced when I was seven years old. My father was given up for adoption as an infant and remained in the system until he ran away from the orphanage at the age of sixteen. He dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to never return, but he was a very smart
man and he was talented at whatever he had set his mind to; he died in 1994. My mom dropped out of high school after tenth grade, she started a nursing program but didn’t finish because she began having children. My mom led by example; she lived it as she walked out this walk, so I learned it from her. She worked full-time and part-time jobs as a janitor/custodian for the airport and the federal government and wasn’t afforded the opportunity to receive government assistance from the state.  In my case, that was an act of God because I have that same fire within me. I started working when I was thirteen to aid her with my costs for various activities; I joined the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) and needed things like gowns so I was able to buy them myself and take that cost away from her.”

After she graduated from high school, April joined the Navy.  She spent four years on active duty and fifteen years in total including her time in the Reserves. For six months, she was deployed to the Gulf War in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm, and was activated for six months as part of Operation Enduring Freedom after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. “My position in the Navy was in damage control – I was primarily a firefighter,
but when there were no fires, I was a plumber! I didn’t join the Navy to be a plumber. But I learned how to make my brain work for me so I didn’t have to get dirty any longer. Even now, I don’t like getting dirty – my idea of camping is staying in a hotel!”

Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, April went to boot camp in Orlando FL in July of 1990; she says, “I didn’t even realize the war was going on while I was there. I went straight from boot camp to the ship, USS Puget Sound. I got out of the military in October of 2005. “I believe that people can learn more from watching than we can ever tell them. What I teach my girls is – be moral citizens, stay true to your faith, do more, love more, and it makes a difference. I live my life trying to be morally and spiritually sound before God and man.”

April’s drive and determination spurred her to continue her education. Succinctly, April says, “If I don’t work, my household won’t be provided for.” She achieved her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Management from Northern Virginia Community College in May of 1999. Ten years later, inMay of 2009, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management and Human Resources Management from Park
University. Continuing to strive for excellence, in December of 2012, April attained a dual Master of Arts Degrees in Management/Leadership and Human Resources Development from Webster University, with a 3.7 GPA.

It was in 2006 that April and her daughters moved to Beaufort and shortly after, in January of 2007, she began working for Beaufort County in the building codes. In 2009 she was transferred to emergency management, and in 2013 that department was taken over by the Sheriff’s Office. However, it turned out that April’s neighborhood was neither a safe place to live nor to raise her girls. In addition to her job and all of her volunteer work, April became a recipient of Habitat for Humanity’s housing program in 2011.

Fortunately for April, she had a friend, Mary Weber, who shared with her information about Habitat for Humanity and their program for home ownership. In 2010, April was selected for the program after successfully completing the application process, which is stringent. According to their website: “Applicants must be legal U.S. residents who have lived or worked in Northern Beaufort County for a minimum
of six months prior to application. Applicants must be currently living in substandard housing, which can mean it is overcrowded, in poor repair, in an unsafe neighborhood, or overpriced. Applicants must have a low income, but still be able to afford a Habitat mortgage payment. Applicants
must be willing to partner with Habitat in our mission. All homeowners are required to contribute ‘sweat equity’ volunteer time on their own home, other Habitat homes and at the Re-Store and attend educational workshopsA single-adult family must complete 250 hours of sweat equity; a two-adult family must complete 400 hours.”

In April of 2011, the Redds house was ready in Penn Center Village on Saint Helena Island. April was at first a bit awed by St. Helena. “St. Helena was foreign to me, I hadn’t even been out here when I was living in town; I was used to DC where there were multiple ways to get in and out – here there only are two bridges!” The house that was chosen for the Redd’s is called the “Dataw House” so named because a group of residents at Dataw Island formed the Dataw House Committee and worked in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to raise the money to sponsor the house.

Now happily ensconced in their new home, April, Jessica and Romia, who is currently in Army boot camp at Fort Jackson, continue to make a difference in their community. When April volunteers at the library, Jess reads to younger children. When Jess is in a play or performance, April is back stage. Jess’ next performance, as the head villager in The Rockin’ Tale of Snow White, will be performed November 21 – 23 at USCB and she hopes everyone will come to the play.

April still volunteers at the Re-Store, is the Family Support Coordinator for Habitat, and tries to attend every new home dedication.  Very simply, at the end of the day, April modestly says,  “I love giving back.”

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON | Photography by SUSAN DELOACH