Sea Island Habitat for Humanity

It is a warm November day as I pull onto the sandy drive packed with cars. The jobsite buzzes with volunteers in hard hats. Today the trusses are going up and the team is shouting, hoisting, hammering—a cacophony of coordination. The mood is nothing short of festive. 

Sea Island Habitat for Humanity (HFH) was established in 1978, the third oldest chapter of the now global nonprofit housing organization. Over the last forty-two years, Sea Island HFH has built over three hundred and fifty houses in the region, primarily on Johns Island but also on James Island, Wadmalaw Island, and even south to Hollywood and Ravenel. Today, the team is working on a four bedroom, two bath home off of Highway 162 on Johns Island. In a few short months, a family of five will move into their new home. 

Housing in the greater Charleston area isn’t cheap, especially of late. According to John Rhoden, Sea Island HFH’s executive director, you can buy two houses in Sumter, South Carolina, for the price of one house on Johns Island. “People are driving in from Ravenel because there is no significant source of affordable housing on Johns Island or even James Island.

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Countdown to the 2021 PGA Championship

The 2012 PGA Championship represented the first time one of golf’s four major championships had been played in the state of South Carolina. And while The Ocean Course has welcomed The Ryder Cup and other championship-level events to its sun-soaked fairways and greens, playing host to one of the most renowned golf tournaments has initiated a new chapter of excellence for one of the world’s great courses.

As Kiawah Island eagerly awaits the return of the PGA Championship in 2021, it’s worth noting the sequel will have a distinctly different feel. As part of an overhaul of the FedEx Cup Playoff schedule, the PGA TOUR shuffled its broader tournament slate. That meant moving the PGA Championship, which traditionally had been played in August, to May. The thunderstorms common in the Lowcountry summer won’t be as much of a factor, but that does mean players will have to contend with a level of unpredictability they didn’t face in 2012. 

As spring transitions to summer, a series of fronts tend to sweep across the region, bringing with them fluctuations in temperature and wind gusts coming from a variety of directions. Stephen Youngner, head professional at The Ocean Course,

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Remembering Pete Dye

Earlier this year, Kiawah Island lost one of the architects of its story.

Pete Dye, perhaps golf’s most revered course designer, passed away peacefully in January after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Often working side-by-side with his beloved wife Alice, another master of design, he fashioned some of the most beautiful courses around world  and played a vital role in shaping the path of this place, crafting a seaside jewel beloved by countless fans of the game.

To understand the artistry behind Dye’s transformation of rolling hills and open fields into grand cathedrals of golf, think of William Faulkner exploring Southern Gothic storytelling or Bob Dylan using folk music to weave tales of justice and hope. He was a maestro, his mind and hands tasked with gently molding the earth into some of the most renowned courses in the world.

Crooked Stick in Indiana. The Stadium Course in Florida. Austin Country Club in Texas.

And, yes, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. 

It was perhaps this narrow stretch of sand and marsh that presented him with his greatest challenge. Not only did Dye have a mere fifty-five acres to work with,

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Friends of the Muni

It’s a chilly fall day in the Lowcountry and just about perfect conditions on the Cassique Golf Course. The mood feels festive and relaxed as foursomes gather in the midmorning sun for the Friends of the Muni charity golf tournament. Bert Atkinson moves from group to group, shaking hands and chatting. As the chairman of Friends of the Muni, Atkinson is helping to marshal support for the restoration of a Lowcountry jewel, the Charleston Municipal Golf Course, affectionately known as the Muni to locals. And today’s inaugural tournament marks another important step toward the realization of a dream.

Atkinson, a former assistant professional at Kiawah Island, is more than familiar with the beloved golf course. A member of the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame, he’s captured seven Charleston City Amateur crowns as well as four Senior City titles, and many of those victories have come at the Muni. Yet his love for the course goes far beyond the success he’s experienced there. 

“The Muni is truly a melting pot of golf in Charleston, and you can meet people from A to Z over there. I just learned to love it over the years and want to give something back to golf and to the golf course,” he says.

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Gibbes Museum of Art

In Charleston, we believe art is the difference between merely existing and being truly alive. 

In 1888 Charleston James Gibbes bequeathed funds for the founding an art museum in the city of Charleston. His vision for what would become the Gibbes Museum of Art was to create a cultural touchstone for the war-ravaged city. In the late 1800s, when Charleston was reeling from the Civil War and young people were leaving in droves, Gibbes saw a way forward in art and education. The Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905.

Today the Gibbes remains the edifying underpinning of this thriving Southern city. Its mission has expanded to tell the story of American art and to connect Southern artists to the national narrative. Its outreach is vast and multifaceted, with education at its core. Boasting over one hundred programs a year—from panel discussions to film screenings, from lectures to food festivals—the Gibbes is the beating heart at the center of a vibrant and robust artistic community. 

Art is the lifeblood of any society. “Look around the world and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a thriving city without an accredited art museum,” says Angela Mack,

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Charleston Animal Society

Officially formed in 1874 as the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of South Carolina, the original organization focused largely on working animals, namely horses and livestock. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, many such organizations formed as an outcry to mass killings in government animal shelters. 

Renamed the Charleston Animal Society (CAS), the organization is nearly 145 years old and is one of the oldest animal rescue organization in the country. The nonprofit is run by eighty-five full-time and fifteen part-time employees as well as an enormous base of eight hundred active volunteers. It is governed by a board of directors with twenty-five members. CAS is a potent and multifaceted organization with an outsized mission. “We have three problems to address,” explains CEO Joe Elmore. “The first is unnecessary euthanasia. The second is overpopulation.” Obviously the two are intrinsically connected: too many animals strain the system, and many agencies resort to euthanasia to deal with the overwhelming population. “The third issue, of course, is other forms of animal cruelty.” 

The scope of CAS’s outreach, programming, initiatives, and leadership astound, and as Elmore so aptly explains, “We’re structured to solve problems. We engage a strategic framework more so than tradition strategic planning.” CAS doesn’t stop at animal intake—Elmore and his robust team not only react but also take strides to eliminate the cruelty and overpopulation problems altogether—humanely and compassionately.

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The First Tee of Greater Charleston

Bucky Dudley has always been passionate about golf. As a kid, his parents would drop him off at the local course day after day with a friend. They were terrible, he says, but it was challenging and something to do during the long afternoons of childhood. In college, Bucky went to the Citadel to play golf and then worked as a golf professional. To him, golf became a metaphor for life, a structure for the practical applications of life lessons and rites of passage. “I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to pay forward all the life skills that golf gave to me, but I’m sure trying!” he says.

In 2006 Bucky was a founding board member of the Charleston Junior Golf Foundation. From the beginning, the Foundation was gunning to be a chapter of The First Tee. “We had to tick a lot of boxes, lay out our plans for fundraising and programming,” says Bucky. “The First Tee Network needs to see that you’re going to continue to make an impact.” It took two years, and in 2008 the organization became a formal chapter of The First Tee. The chapter covers Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties—quite a reach for a team of less than five full-time employees.

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Fisher House Charleston

In late 2012 Trux and Durbin Emerson were at a crossroads. They felt compelled to give back, to contribute to their country, and perhaps more specifically, to veterans. “We were just at a stage where we could take the time and effort to do something,” says Durbin. She sits with Trux in their Kiawah home, their Welsh terrier puppy, Rodie, snoozing at their feet. 

It started as a golf tournament to raise money for veterans, which sounded simple enough. The Emersons enlisted Robbie Crawford, general manager at the River Course Clubhouse, to speak with the Kiawah Partners on their behalf. They hoped to host the tournament at the River Course. “They said yes way faster than we expected,” remembers Durbin. Trux laughs. “And it scared the bejesus out of us!”  

That set things in motion. They enlisted the help of a few passionate Kiawah residents and set to work. In conversations about the upcoming tournament, Crawford suggested the Emersons elect an honorary board member, and he recommended General James Livingston. “Many, many people have now heard the story of our ten-million-dollar sandwich with General Livingston,” laughs Durbin. 

They met in October 2012 at Hominy Grill in downtown Charleston.

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Good Friends of the Lowcountry

Good Friends of the Lowcountry just commenced its second year of giving. On December 1, nearly 280 women gathered for a one-hour luncheon to fundraise, providing the nonprofit with nearly $60,000 for their annual budget. This money is funnelled directly into the Lowcountry community, to fill distinct, one-time needs.

The first Good Friends organization started in Charlotte. The local, female-based group has raised over $3 million, and it just celebrated its thirty-year anniversary this past December. What began as a small group of thirty women has grown to nearly two thousand members in the Charlotte branch alone. From the Charlotte model, several Good Friends organizations have organized in cities throughout the Carolinas.  

The concept is simple. Good Friends donors meet once a year and give as much or as little as they want. Throughout the year, social workers and case managers from My Sister’s House or MUSC—to name a few—connect the organization with specific, individual needs. For example, Good Friends of the Lowcountry will pay garage parking fees for a cancer patient who can’t afford to park for weekly chemotherapy sessions. The organization will pay to repair the car of a working nurse who supports five children.

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Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding

Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding

A nonverbal child is motivated to speak his first words. A wounded military veteran regains strength and lost mobility from a horse’s steady gait. A special education student gets much-needed exercise and acquires new motor skills.

Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding (CATR) is the Lowcountry’s oldest nationally accredited therapeutic horseback riding center. Since 1991 the organization has provided hundreds of riding sessions for children and adults with disabilities. Founded by horsewomen Meta Carter and Eileen McGuffie, CATR has grown from a handful of private students to teaching over 150 students a year. Under the leadership of Executive Director Murray Neale, the organization also partners with six to eight public schools a year, working with countless children with disabilities who would not otherwise have access to this specialized therapy.

Neale, who has spent her career working in therapeutic riding, explains the benefit of a horse’s movement for a physically disabled person. “The horse’s gait moves the pelvis with the same movement as walking and stimulates an upright posture. The four legs provide a rotational component—steady and rhythmic.” Astride the back of a horse, a nonambulatory person can gently and effectively build core strength and develop better control.

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