After serving eight years in the United States Navy, Ree Williams started her post-military career working for larger corporations, including one of the nation’s largest defense contractors.
“But I didn’t feel at home there,” she says.
Small business were a better fit for the Indiana native who relocated to Beaufort a little over a year ago. She now owns The Ree Williams Development Group and specializes in providing entrepreneurs with target-specific business development coaching and growth support and resources. Ree also founded her business called In the Pinc, an online hub that helps women entrepreneurs build their businesses.
“With In the Pinc, I help women make sense of all their entrepreneurial thoughts and ideas, helping them start, build and grow successful small businesses,” Ree says. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur myself and I understand how important it is for women to shed the fear of falling short.”
A firm believer that experience is a great teacher, Ree applies her more than 20 years of knowledge acquired through working with small businesses to each client’s specific needs and goals. She loves the risk-taking nature of her clients.
Ree says, “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, thinking I would work in the traditional classroom. But God had different plans for me. While I’m still a teacher, I teach entrepreneurs. Now I know I was born to be a business owner, without a doubt!”
With In The Pinc, Ree’s alliterative mission is to embrace, encourage, educate and empower women entrepreneurs, helping them realize their dreams of becoming successful small business owners. Ree developed a variety of successful events through In the Pinc, including The Black Business Women’s Expo, the Nothing But Small Business Fair and the Beat Black Friday Holiday Bazaar, hosted throughout the U.S. She’s currently working on the 2015 Women Entrepreneurs Expo.
Describing her personal philosophy when it comes to providing support to small businesses, Ree says, “It’s not enough to know you want something; you have to know what you want and get into action to get what you want! And never spend your time battling babble! Let people talk about you, you just keep telling yourself, ‘I can do this!’”
Ree and her husband Mark have three adult children. Ree is a Barbie collector and loves frogs. Live frogs.
Ben Duncan, CenturyLink Market Development Manager for Atlanta, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, recently received the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Civitas Award as outstanding employee of the year. However, when you ask him about his award, he’s quick to praise his co-workers at CenturyLink.
“I work with a ton of good employees who are even better people. Next time you see a CenturyLink employee talk to them, ask them questions. We always have time to talk and get to know our community.”
A Beaufort native, Ben is also a 2014 graduate of Leadership Beaufort. Previously serving as Retail Sales Manager for CenturyLink, Ben says he was looking for a position within the company where he could make the biggest impact. In his current position, he’s responsible for consumer and multi-dwelling unit sales, community events and media relations.
“Right now this role is exactly what I was looking for,” he says. “I’ve been interested in sales since I was a kid selling sea shells I found at the beach at my little storefront I set up by the road in my neighborhood.”
In addition to coordinating CenturyLink’s annual food drive called Backpack Buddies Food Drive which runs between June 1-12th and has raised more than 28 million pounds of food for the needy across the country, Ben has also served as both a Chamber board member and an Alzheimer’s Family Services of Beaufort board member for the last three years.
Ben and his wife Heather are parents to five-year old Dylan and eight-month old Morgan. When he’s not busy with his young family or work, Ben bowls in a weekly league, something he’s done since he was a kid.
Ever the team player, Ben’s believes, “If we all work together, we can achieve great things.” For him, that includes continuing to grow professionally and personally, “by surrounding myself with great people!”
This is a young man that is going places. Maybe not the places we are used to seeing the young people with promise go, but he is going none the less.
Meet Trey Nelson, known by his performing name of Finessé. Remember when we were younger and our parents couldn’t understand what the appeal was in the Rolling Stones or why Dylan only had one name? Well it was kind of like that when I met with Trey on last Friday. I didn’t get it then and honestly, I still don’t, but I do get this. Trey is a remarkable young man who has a dream and he is going to pursue that dream with all of his being. And honestly, what more could you ask from the youngsters today? It sure beats someone tied to their phone and Instagram account with no will to work, try, develop, or dream.
I met Trey after he emailed me at the Island News with a request to cover his act at the Gullah Festival. Cheeky fellow. But no one else has requested anything from us – no photo coverage, no stories, nothing. Just run the press release and we’ll be fine. Here was a young man who wanted to make things happen and I gave him a lot of credit for taking the initiative. So we started to email.
Trey grew up on St. Helena Island and has a very strong connection with “his people” who make up the cultural fabric of that Island. He is the son of an elementary school principal mother and a salesman father. He graduated from Beaufort High School where he stuck his fingers into lots of pots.
At 18, he has decided to skip college. The “mom” in me came out in our interview and, of course, I pushed the “you need to go to college and get a degree, even as a back-up” theme and what Trey came back with, I couldn’t refute. “If I go to college and get out in four years, what happens to my dream in the meantime? How much of my dream could I have accomplished if I had put my all into it rather than sit in a classroom?” I could tell he meant every word of it.
And work he does. He calls himself a classy hip hop artist. “When you hear the name Finessé, it should give you a mark of quality. It literally is defined by style and skill and that’s definitely me when you listen to me and live my art. I am so glad I went for more than what I saw, what I never knew, because the people that like what I do, and how I do it, learn and improve their lives because of it.” No dirty words, no gratuitous sex or violence, just good music and lyrics delivered in a way to inspire and encourage those around him. That’s Trey Nelson.
Besides furthering his personal career as a hip hop artist, Trey also believes strongly in his fellow artists, whether they are in painting, music, graphic arts, photography, or behind the scenes producing records or videos. He has started a company called Southern Nothings which is helping fellow artists gain exposure in the world for their art. “I want to make artistry a viable living. I want people to be able to make a dollar from whatever they do.” And he feels he can open doors for them and help keep them focused. There is very definitely a marketing mind at work here.
Trey has so many irons in the fire I’m surprised he can keep them all straight. A new recording project called OK, I’m Good. A music video for his single that is available on iTunes. PSA’s for a new movie coming out shortly. And he’s performing at quality venues like the Festival wherever he can find them. And then he has set up Southern Nothings to help others.
Just to round out his personality, Trey told me that he is into “investments, stocks, real estate, fashion, technology, book publishing, plays, movies, jewelry, even car dealerships. If it interests me, that’s my business. And I’m minding my business 24/7. You know, Molly, curiosity doesn’t kill the cat. It just makes him better and more interesting.”
Wow. A young man with a dream. A dream he is going to pursue with all his being and still be able to drag some fellow artists along with him. His quick smile and winning personality is going to open the doors and his talent is going to take him places. Check out his website at www.styleinthaskill.com.
So after chatting with Trey for over an hour, did I understand what classy hip hop was any better than when I started? No. But I did know this guy was destined to be something special and I am proud to call him a friend.
William B. Harvey, III moved to Beaufort with his family shortly after he was born. As an almost-lifelong resident, he now serves the Beaufort community as a partner in Harvey & Battey, P.A. and as the Beaufort city attorney. Recently, Bill (as he is known) was certified as a life member in both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, two of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.
William B. Harvey III
Growing up with a father and grandfather who were attorneys, Bill says that all he ever wanted to do was to become a lawyer himself and join his father’s firm. Soon after graduating cum laude from the University Of South Carolina School Of Law, he did just that.
“I have had the joy and privilege of practicing law with my father for 33 years,” Bill says, “and the honor of continuing the family’s involvement in Harvey & Battey for a third generation.”
It was Henry Chambers, who Bill says was like second father to him when he was growing up, who encouraged him to apply for the open position of Beaufort city attorney in 1987. It’s a position he has held since.
“I have loved helping steer Beaufort City Council and the city administration as they work for the good of our beautiful and historic community.”
Known and appreciated for his dedication to his clients and working to win their cases, Bill says his philosophy is to provide aggressive, but compassionate, legal representation to those who seek his services. Bill remembers a time early in his career when a judge wasn’t a fan of his courtroom style, though.
“In the course of a jury trial, former (now deceased) Circuit Judge Clyde Eltzroth threatened, in front of the jury, to throw me in jail for contempt for zealously representing my client at the trial,” says Bill. “I won the case, and surmise that the jury must have felt sorry for a young lawyer being ‘beaten up’ by such an experienced judge.”
Bill with wife, Martha
In his recent appointment to the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forums, Bill joins an elite group of approximately 4,000 attorneys in the United States who have served as lead counsel and have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Less than 1 percent of U.S. lawyers are members of these groups.
Additionally, Bill is a member of the bar in South Carolina, and can practice in the 4th and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeals. He’s also a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court and a Certified South Carolina Mediator.
Bill has served on the Board of Trustees for the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation for nine years and he’s currently the chairman of the Hospital Foundation. He’s also a member of the Board of the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail and an elder at First Presbyterian Church. In his free time, Bill is a member of the Sea Island Chamber Singers, an auditioned choral group, and a member of the First Presbyterian Church choir. He enjoys playing the guitar, hunting, fishing and road cycling.
Bill and his wife Martha are the parents of William Brantley Harvey, IV, Laura W. Harvey and Stuart C. Harvey.
Bill says he is proud that Harvey & Battey has been, and continues to be, a stable force in the legal community of Beaufort and Lowcountry South Carolina, providing continuous services for over 93 years.
“I am especially proud of my ability to work for over 33 years with my father, Colden Battey, and the other attorneys in our firm. One of my professional goals is to remain in the leadership of Harvey & Battey until it reaches its 100th anniversary in 2022.”
On April 15, 2013 bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and inextricably altered the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. The entire country felt the loss and “Boston Strong” became the catch-phrase of the day.
Denice Davis running in the 2015 Boston Marathon on April 20.
“There was no mistaking it was an explosion,” recalls Denice Davis who completed the marathon for the first time that year just minutes before devastation hit.
In 2013, Denise had just finished the race and was closing the taxi door when the first bomb exploded. “The street we were on was immediately shut down. Then there was the second explosion. Panicked people were running everywhere – it was total chaos,” she added.
Somehow her cab driver managed to get them out of the area and was able to make his way to the bus station where Denice traveled back to the ferry and then to her anxious family on Martha’s Vineyard.
The tragedy of three bystanders losing their lives, dozens of others seriously injured and the stress of being in the middle of what later was determined to be a terrorist attack had an impact on Denice. “In 2014, I had a very strong desire to change all those negative feelings from the year before and turn them back into positive feelings. The overall atmosphere at the 2014 race was conducive to that and more – it was triumphant, almost victorious. The 2014 Boston Marathon was so positive and I got back my ‘runner’s high’ for the event. There was no question that I would go back again this year,” she remarked.
Denice also feels a strong connection to the northeast and Boston, having grown up in northern New Jersey and then living on Martha’s Vineyard for 11 years prior to moving to Beaufort. She started running 13 years ago and while she considers herself an athlete overall, her first love is running. “I started running way back then as a way to reduce stress, lose some weight and just be healthier. Then something clicked, my competitive spirit kicked in and I started running in races. That was it – I am hooked on running!”
Denice has competed in several marathons including the NY City Marathon (twice), the Marine Corps Marathon (twice), and many local half marathons and 10k events. At the Savannah Bridge Run Double Pump in December she placed in the top 3 in her age group and placed first in the female master division.
Commenting on her Boston race time this year, Denice shared that conditions were not ideal. “It was rainy with a constant head wind and about 40 degrees. I finished at 3:28 which is about 3 minutes slower than in 2014 – that was my fastest time at 3:25. Considering that I was soaking wet the entire race and almost hypothermic, I am satisfied with that time.”
Denice’s favorite saying is ‘no excuses’ and this determined single mother of 3 boys has extended her philosophy and love of running to her sons, to the members of the YMCA of Beaufort County where she is the Wellness Director, and out into the Beaufort community. Last year she became the cross country coach at Bridges Preparatory School, where she coaches kids age 7-13. “It’s a thrill to see the kids put themselves out there and train hard for a goal. Plus it’s just fun to run with kids!”
Since many people may be curious about what it takes to compete in marathons, Denice is happy to share her regime and training tips. She said, “My training is based on the ‘run less, run faster’ method so I do cross-training 3 times a week by teaching classes at the “Y” and I run a max of 30 miles per week. 16 weeks out before a race I stick to this schedule. Kevin Green from Carolina Sportscare has also helped me get race ready by putting together track workouts.” Additionally, Denice incorporates healthy eating, gets plenty of regular sleep and stays hydrated. “Just don’t over-do anything,” she warns. Running with a friend or training partner is also a plus, and Denice calls on her friend Heather Bruner, YMCA Swim Team Coach and triathlete, to accompany her. “But Heather’s on her bike!” Denice remarks with a laugh.
So what is up next for this busy lady? Besides instituting health and wellness programs at the YMCA and keeping up with those 3 boys, she look forwards to the Bluffton Duathlon series on May 30th and her third NY City Marathon in November.
And then there is Boston 2016. Denice adds, “As long as I qualify, I will return every year. It’s a privilege.”
About the Boston Marathon
Begun in 1897, inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics • It is one of six World Marathon ‘Majors’ • Attracts an average of about 30,000 registered participants and 500,000 spectators each year • Held on Patriot’s Day since 1969 which is the third Monday in April • Boston Red Sox also play on that day. When the game ends, the crowd empties into Kenmore Square to cheer as the runners enter the final mile • Wellesley College students cheer on the runners in what is referred to as the Scream Tunnel. It is so loud runners claim it can be heard from a mile away • To qualify for the race, a runner must complete a sanctioned qualifier race and finish within a qualifying time determined by age and sex • This year’s men’s winner, Lelisa Desisa, finished in a time of 2:09:17 and the women’s winner, Caroline Rotich, finished in 2:24:55 • There were 30,251 race entrants this year • Denice finished 2,230th out of 13,751 female entrants and placed 266th in her age division, which had a total of 2,272 female runners this year
It all started in a land far, far away…In this case, that would be Tennessee where Tina Lamb Gentry was born a mere 45 years ago. But Tennessee was a short stop on her journey to the Lowcountry. Tina came to Beaufort with her parents when she was 10 and graduated from Beaufort High before heading to college at USC. There, she collected multiple degrees and also collected her high school sweetheart, Kevin, as husband.
Tina Gentry, President & CEO of United Way of the Lowcountry
While starting a family of their own, Tina made a career move into the field of hospice palliative care. This move was due in part to Tina’s compassion related to her godmother spending her last days in a hospice facility back in Tennessee. But beyond that, Tina decided she wanted to make a positive impact not just on a few people, but also on an entire community. She wanted to become involved in a non-profit organization serving an overall community need.
In 2011, while living in Asheville, NC the Gentry’s suffered two devastating losses of Kevin’s mother and father in rapid succession. Tina said, “It was then that the memories of all that we had gained by living in the Lowcountry became crystal clear and although tricky from an employment perspective, we both agreed, it was time to go home. It was time to go to Beaufort.”
Soon after, Tina became aware of an opening for the position of President and CEO of United Way of the Lowcountry. This was a chance to fulfill a dream, or need, to work in the non-profit sector and to raise their family in the place that held so many wonderful memories for both she and her husband.
When Tina started in her new position at United Way, she recalled her first impression, “The needs here are incredible and sometimes more than overwhelming.” She found that “You don’t really know what an agency does until you work or volunteer for them.” Tina quickly learned that “United Way of the Lowcountry, which serves two large counties, has both the wealthiest and some of the poorest people economically in the State. Further, I found that there are needs in all areas of the community, regardless of economic status.”
She remembers, “At first I was surprised that most of the people who came to us for help were employed, hard-working people, where one crisis had completely derailed them and their families. And I saw it happen time and time again.”
Tina with husband, Kevin, and children, Walker and Sophia.
Because the lack of education, specifically reading ability in grades K-3rd, seemed to be at the root of many other issues, United Way has put a focus there. “We are not experts in education, but we are experts at mobilizing resources to solve human problems. Currently the United Way is recruiting, training and deploying tutors in eight elementary schools in Beaufort and Jasper Counties. The program continues to grow and expand and is currently serving 509 students using over 200 active volunteers. Results are encouraging. In the 2013-14 school year, 98% of Beaufort County students and 95% of Jasper County students who worked with our tutors saw improvements in their MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) scores.” That is pretty terrific.
Tina also emphasized that, “United Way is making sure every dollar is leveraged to the maximum toward effecting positive community outcomes.” She said, “Our administrative costs are only 13% of our donations, compared with a national average of 30% for most non-profit entities. We are proud of that.”
But the most telling of what drives Tina is a simple sentence made famous by John F. Kennedy that she believes to the bottom of her heart – “I believe that to whom much is given, much is required.” That defines a standard that she holds for herself, her family, and her team at United Way. “I feel a personal responsibility to the donors and the community to be a good steward of the resources that have been entrusted to UWLC.”
Amazingly enough, Tina does have a few, very few, minutes to do something outside of United Way. She is a regular cheerleader at her son’s BHS football games and is currently on the search committee for a new head of school at Bridges Prep where her daughter is enrolled. But her heart and soul is always with United Way. Beaufort is incredibly lucky to have Tina and Tina is lucky to have us. This big, all-encompassing family is what makes living in the Lowcountry so very special.
Elementary schools have sure changed in the last 40 years. At least they have in Beaufort. And moving them even further ahead is the new Principal at Beaufort Elementary, Melissa Holland.
Melissa is the daughter of a radio executive and growing up had the curse and blessing of living in a lot of different towns. She spent some time in Hilton Head which is where her love of the Lowcountry began, but her love of academics started way earlier. Melissa remembers going to an opera in Pittsburgh as a youngster where she was told by her Principal that she should really consider being a teacher. And she hasn’t wavered off that path ever since.
After getting her BA in Early Childhood Education at Clemson, she added two masters’ degrees – one in Early Childhood Education and one in Educational Administration. She has taught first and second grades in number of local schools and has had a focus in literacy throughout her years of working.
Melissa got her feet wet in administration when she doubled as the Literacy Coach and Assistant Principal at Bluffton Elementary and then at Lady’s Island Elementary. This is also where her determination to push those around her to really “understand it is their responsibility to shape children for the future.” For her, this isn’t just a platitude but a real mission. “Our kids need to feel safe, secure, and empowered to be who they are.”
So how does this manifest itself at Beaufort Elementary? First, the school has just received it’s accreditation as a STEM school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is a fairly new initiative in schools nationwide to encourage students to become involved in these academic areas where our schools have been weak in the past. Overall, the belief is that studies in these disciplines will better prepare out students for college and later for jobs in the real world.
Beaufort Elementary uses a “responsive classroom” method of teaching. This is a research proven way to achieve both higher student achievement and success through greater teacher effectiveness. This then leads to a better school climate. Elementary school isn’t just a place where you hopefully learn to read and write, in Beaufort it is now a place that offers interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful and engaging activities for every student based on their interests. The old days of “you will learn it my way” has been replaced with “how are we going to keep you, the student, engaged in the learning process so you stay engaged and connected?”
Think back and wonder if “emotional safety” and having “students who were secure in taking risks” was ever a discussion at your personal elementary school. At Beaufort Elementary, there is a required morning meeting for all the students and teachers every day. This time is used to build a community feeling among the students. It also allows teachers to share successes, hear about new initiatives and adds a measure of structure to the day.
“Our students are individually challenged by their teachers to achieve at their own levels and be recognized for that achievement. Our current standards for teachers are higher than most but we will be adding some additional new standards this coming year.”
“I believe it possible to weave academic achievement into interesting projects that, on the surface, seem too advanced for the students but in reality, gives them a focus to explore and experiment.” An example of this is a program, created in conjunction with the Ladies Island Garden Club, is to integrate an app for people to download and then be able to learn more about the trees along The Beaufort Tree Walk that many visitors enjoy. The students have identified and photographed all the different trees found along the walk and the app then gives you information and pictures of what you are looking at. You can get the app for free under the name Aurasma and it requires you create an account and then find The Beaufort Tree Walk from their inventory. Then you can focus the “aura” on the appropriate tree in the Garden Club’s Walking Tour Guide, and it takes you to a description and photos produced by Beaufort Elementary students. It’s pretty cool if you happen to want to be more knowledgeable about historic Beaufort.
Students are also working with the Fripp Audubon Society to build an environmentally appropriate home for birds and turtles to live safely in an outside atrium at the school.
And then there are the Lego Labs-engineering and technology through play. What it is possible to build just using Lego’s is awe inspiring and amazing. In this classroom, imagination melds with advanced engineering principles to push students beyond what their age peers are studying in school.
So, what does Melissa do outside of school? With what little time there is when she isn’t finishing up this school year and getting ready for next year, she is running half marathons and being “just mom” to three wonderful daughters, her husband, and family chocolate Lab.
So is Beaufort Elementary in good hands with the new Principal Holland? You bet! With the help of an outstanding and dedicated group of teachers and administrators, these lucky students are destined to start their higher education with a solid background encompassing academic skills along with real self-confidence and a sense of what a real community can be. Welcome aboard Ms. Holland!
Once upon a time, there was a nice young man from New Jersey who ran nursing homes and assisted living facilities for a living. His love of cooking came from his family. Both his parents and grandparents owned restaurants. So, he tried his hand at that and owned a restaurant in Louisville, KY for a while. He moved to Beaufort in 2006 to run Bay View Manor here in town. One day, he had a thought. Was there a way to combine his love of food and restaurants with something that would suit the needs of the elderly? And thus was born Gourmet on Wheels.
Tony Mazar, founder of this wonderful idea, now rents a kitchen usually at a club that is closed on Mondays, solicits help from family and friends, and creates low calorie, low salt, and low sugar gourmet meals for mostly seniors that are delivered on Tuesdays and are ready to heat and eat. The meals are microwavable and freezable and usually are the right size for two people.
Tony found that his audience in the assisted living facilities had many counterparts who were still living in their houses but things like cooking nutritious meals was becoming more and more difficult. Yet nutrition is just as important for seniors as it is for young children.
Many of his customers will buy 4 or 5 meals at a time and use them all week long pretty much alleviating the necessity of both shopping and cooking for themselves.
Mrs. Lee Stevenson, 89, says, “Gourmet on Wheels is one of the best things I have ever found. I need a walker now and I really don’t like to cook so I order all my favorite things from Tony. Plus, my appetite isn’t what it used to be so sometimes there is enough left over for lunch the next day, and sometimes I just eat the whole thing.” She continues, “The food is nutritious and well balanced. You always get vegetables and fruit along with your entrée.”
Gourmet on Wheels is very much a family project. Tony’s mom, Delores, is “100% Italian” as he describes her and many of the dishes they offer are from the old school. Delores comes down from Charleston on Monday to cook and then delivers here in Beaufort as well as on her way home to Charleston on Tuesday. His three children, Tradd (17), Cameron (14) and Lucie (12) all help with the company as well whether it is after school washing dishes or delivering to Hilton Head during the summer. In addition, Tony’s nephew Trey “is a Charleston schooled chef who now works at Saltus as a sous chef and cooks with us on Mondays”. And not to be left out, his wife, Anna is the “admissions coordinator at NHC Bluffton Skilled Nursing Facility” and she helps by serving the leftovers to the family on a regular basis.
Andrea Smith is a 9-5 working professional and is another very satisfied customer of Gourmet on Wheels. She says, “If I had to cook for myself, it would be chicken and spinach every night. With Tony, I order a variety of different items and am constantly trying new and different foods. Today I had Rutabaga. Seriously. Totally new for me as a vegetable.” Andrea has serious food allergies and cannot tolerate high levels of sodium in her meals. “I don’t have to worry with Tony’s foods. They are always low in sodium and I simply am able to enjoy the food which I cannot do if I am eating in a restaurant.”
So, when he’s not cooking, Tony caddies (and maybe plays a little golf himself) at many of the fine clubs in our area. But food is always first on this mind. Mother’s Day is coming up. Think about what a great gift a week of meals would be for your Mom – whether she is 94 or 49. Tony has started to fill a niche in the restaurant world that needed filling. As we all age, this idea didn’t come too soon. Check out his menus at beaufortscmealdelivery.com.
Jim Marks and his family moved to Beaufort almost 17 years ago by way of Chicago where he was headmaster of a local school. Jim, and his wife Sally, made their home on Dataw Island and quickly became involved in the greater community – Sally with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry and Jim with Beaufort Academy.
George Stevens, President/CEO of Coastal Community Foundation (left) with Jim Marks (right)
“I grew up in a family who was very community-minded, so volunteering just feels right,” Jim shared. It makes sense that he would settle in a place like Dataw. Jim said, “My neighbors seem to gravitate towards giving time and resources to their community. So, supporting local nonprofits was a natural next step.” In doing so, he continued his lifelong commitment to serving his community that began with his career in education.
Jim continued to share his time, talents, and resources with many organizations. Three years ago, he added Coastal Community Foundation to that list. Jim now serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Community Stewardship Committee, Beaufort Listening Network, and just completed his first cycle on The Beaufort Fund grants review committee. This year, The Beaufort Fund awarded over $650,000 to local nonprofits, which Jim feels is “a huge testimony showing what you give today will help people forever.”
“I’ve gone from being totally clueless about how Coastal Community Foundation and The Beaufort Fund work to being totally committed. On site visits, I see people doing remarkable work on a shoestring of a budget,” Jim shared. “Through the grants process, we help them to carry out their mission and truly make a difference in people’s lives.”
Jim considers his community service a very important part of his life. “All of us have been recipients of gifts or assistance,” says Jim. “To now be able to give back and truly benefit future generations is a wonderful opportunity to be relished.”
Kenneth Szarek is the Field Service Representative for Boeing and he’s in charge of the training and support of Marine Corps customers relative to the operation and maintenance of the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft at the Marine Corps Air Base Beaufort. A former Marine himself, Kenneth says he’s humbled and honored to support the USMC mission through his work.
Ken Szarek with his wife, Fran and daughters, Erinn and Eli.
“What they do every day is amazing and necessary,” he says. “I’ll do whatever it takes to support them.”
Kenneth’s USMC active duty aviation maintenance background, his MBA from Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri, and a lifelong appreciation of the engineering behind military aircraft led him to his current occupation. He’s also worked as an Adjunct Professor at both Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and USC Beaufort.
Father to 20-year old Errin, a Beaufort High School graduate now attending Coastal Carolina University, and 13-month old Elijah, Kenneth says nothing makes him prouder than being a dad.
He enjoys pick-up volleyball and basketball games and has visited five of the seven continents. He’s a writer, an inventor and owns “a 1958 Oldsmobile, a Russian motorcycle and other really cool stuff in my office.”
A true example of the old adage, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”, Ken says, “I have been with Boeing for 20 years. I was with Marine aviation for even longer. I absolutely love going to work every day. For that, I am truly grateful.” So are we, Ken. So are we.