Review Category : Profile

Andy Corriveau: Dedicated to his customers and community

Andy Corriveau and his wife, Nancy

Andy Corriveau and his wife, Nancy

It’s not every day that you meet someone who was directly affected by John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro. Not that Andy Corriveau, president of Corriveau Insurance Agency, Inc., ever met either iconic leader. But his career Navy father was deployed to Guantanamo, Cuba, twice and during the second deployment, Andy and his family were evacuated as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Andy’s life following evacuation from Cuba has been much calmer. He’s nearing his 50th year of working with State Farm Insurance Companies, starting with the company before he graduated from high school.

According to Andy, “I came home from school one day and my father said to me, ‘A lady from State Farm called and wanted to know if you would like a part time job after school and I told her you would be there tomorrow at 2 pm!’ I started working after school and after graduation they made me one of the best employment offers so I stayed with them.”

State Farm moved Andy to Beaufort in 1973 as a claim representative. In 1981 he was appointed as an agent and he has been selling and servicing insurance and financial products since then. Andy also employs State Farm team members to better meet client obligations.

Andy has a bachelor of science in Economics and has completed many years of training sponsored by State Farm, including the prescribed studies by the Insurance Institute of
America. Andy also completed the course of studies by the American College and was awarded the Chartered Life Underwriter designation.

“I wasn’t a great student in school but somehow I developed a knack for Economics and all of the complicated relationships involved in our economy including Insurance,” says Andy. “I was fortunate to have held many positions in operations, but I really enjoyed helping people solve issues involving risk management. So here I am.”

Andy says his competitive nature has driven him to race any other sailboat he sees on the water and he enjoys participating in one design races and off shore races. He was even invited to compete in a National Regatta at Long Beach, Ca.

“But as I got older, fatter and slower,” he says, “I eased into cruising the waterways from the New England coast all the way down to the Bahamas.”

Three of Andy’s four children – Andy Jr., Jennifer and Matt – attended Beaufort County schools. Jennifer and Matt graduated from Hilton Head High School and Andy Jr. from Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach, Florida. Patrick graduated from high school in St. Simmons, Georgia. He says the family is a Clemson family with ties to Georgia Southern and University of Georgia.

As busy with community efforts as he is professionally, Andy was a member of the school improvement councils for Lady’s Island Middle School and Hilton Head High School. He has also served as a Boy Scout leader, member of the Rape Crisis Center board, board member and Fleet Captain of the South Carolina Yacht Club, past Commander of the Beaufort Sail and Power Squadron, member of the Beaufort Little Theater board, United Way fundraising chair for business donations, past president of the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association, past president of the Windmill Harbour Homeowners Association, past chair of the Port Royal Design and Review Board and current chair of the Beaufort County Construction and Appeal Board.

Andy has recently moved operations to a new location and says that Corriveau insurance Agency is here to stay.

“The products and services provided by the insurance industry are a moving target and keeping current is key to meeting the changing needs of our clients,” Andy says. “We are driven by the needs of our clients. We do not feel we have met our responsibility to our clients unless we have thoughtful conversations about the risk they face and the options that are available to them. No hard sell here, just a desire to help our clients make informed decisions.”

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NAMI: Offering the Beaufort community access to needed programs and education about mental illness

By Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer

There are fifteen beds on the mental health floor at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. During any given week, the floor is full with no prejudice given to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, active duty or veteran status. Group sessions hold an audience that defines the word “diverse,” which accentuates the fact that mental illness affects everyone.

Volunteer Laurie Shay

Volunteer Laurie Shay

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, which includes major depression, major anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia.

We are fortunate to have the 2012 National NAMI affiliate of the year right here in Beaufort County, and they are champions at advocating for access to services, treatment, support and research as well as raise awareness to build a community for hope for all those in need.

The local NAMI chapter provides programs of support for people with mental illness and their families, always without charge. Additionally, NAMI provides one-on-one support for anyone in crisis, referrals to community resources including crisis and long-term counseling and apartments in Hilton Head and Beaufort. One of these programs is NAMI’s evidence based Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Saturday, January 10th. Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. It will be held Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. until 12 Noon at Harrington Place, 1211 Harrington Street in Beaufort. The course provides a broad perspective that will help parents, spouses, siblings and adult children better understand and support loved ones living with  mental illness.

Laurie Shay has volunteered for NAMI since the winter of 2013.  She is a facilitator for two support groups, called Connections, a mentor for the Peer-to-Peer program and a speaker for the In Our Own Voice presentation.  She recently joined the Board of the local affiliation.

“I chose to volunteer for NAMI because I believe in their cause.  Educating people about mental illness is key to the recovery of the mentally ill.  Without a proper support system including, but not limited to caregivers, doctors, therapists, teachers, and clergy, recovery is hopeless.  NAMI ‘s programs help to facilitate the development of the network necessary for the mentally ill to reach and maintain stability in their daily living,” explains Shay.

Shay has suffered with mental illness since she was a teenager. She is now 53.  Her diagnosis is Bipolar Type 2. Although her treatment has been sporadic, through years of perseverance, ongoing counseling and medication, she has obtained stability in her life.

“Traversing the mental health system wasn’t easy, but worth the effort,” says Shay.

“Finding the services necessary for treatment of the mentally ill individual can be a taunting task. It takes a core group of people to overcome the obstacles. Finding a good doctor and therapist, and educating the mentally ill individual along with their caregivers is paramount to treatment.  This process can be expensive, frustrating, and demeaning because of the pervasive stigma toward mental illness, but with persistence, recovery is possible,” she adds.

NAMI has become the nation’s voice on mental illness with NAMI organizations in every state and in over 1,100 local communities across the country who join together to meet the NAMI mission.

“Treatment of mental illness as a disease and not some curse or fictitious ailment requires us to remove the fear around mental illness through educating people.  That is what NAMI is all about,” explains Shay.

For more information or to register for the Family-to-Family Education Program, please contact Sarah Eliasoph, Executive Director, at nami@hargray.com or by calling (843) 681-2200. For more information about NAMI’s mission and programs, please visit www.nami.org.

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Rhett House Inn’s chef, Beverly Mayo, recognized by national magazine

By Lanier Laney

The editors of National Geographic Traveler magazine have lauded Penn Center and Beaufort’s Gullah culture with a spotlight on the Rhett House Inn as one of the ‘Top 20 Best Trips’ in the world to make in 2015. The Rhett House Inn’s Gullah chef Beverly Mayo’s breakfast is detailed in the article online.  Chef Beverly says writers of the magazine found her through rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

“I was shocked and thrilled. It’s an honor to be in there because that’s a nationwide magazine, and a lot of people read that magazine,” Mayo said.

Mayo is well known for her Southern breakfast and famous grits, for which preparation begins the night before.

The Rhett House Inn’s Chef Beverly Mayo with her famous sweet potato pancakes.

The Rhett House Inn’s Chef Beverly Mayo with her famous sweet potato pancakes.

“To us, food is love…you put your love, heart, and soul in it, and that’s what makes the difference; the ingredients follow,” says Chef Beverly who grew up in the local Gullah tradition cooking with her mother and grandmother in Sheldon. She remembers her grandmother making sweet grass baskets by the stove while also turning bread or churning butter.

“At Christmas, we would all cook and give each other presents of beautifully presented food and Christmas cookies,”she adds.

About working at the Rhett House, Chef Beverly says, “The Rhett House has a wonderful spirit, and our guests are our first priority. That’s why I love it so.”

She’s had guests from all over the world tell her ‘they’ve never tasted grits like hers before.’ Her secret? She uses chicken stock instead of plain water with cream and butter and adds Gullah seasoning at the very end. The recipe is online at www.rhetthouseinn.com. For Christmas this year she made cinnamon pancakes in addition to her renowned sweet potato recipe. The complimentary breakfast comes with a nightly stay at the Inn.

The historic Rhett House Inn, built in 1820 is celebrating its 150th anniversary as an Inn in 2015 and has been a AAA Four Diamond Inn for the past 19 years.

Rhett House Inn owners Marianne and Steve Harrison are justly proud of Chef Beverly and the Inn being singled out by a national magazine online. “I am so glad that National Geographic Traveler recognized the wonderful African-American Gullah history and its rich ongoing culture we have in this area; it’s what makes it so special and unique to live and visit here. I also thank them for their kind words about The Rhett House Inn and Chef Beverly’s breakfast. Our staff works very hard to give all our guests the best Southern Hospitality experience possible,” says Marianne.

For more information, please call The Rhett House Inn at 524-9030 or visit 1009 Craven St. in the historic district.

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A Rewarding Ride: Little Red Dog Foundation President Deb Libaire keeps focused on helping others

Although Deb Libaire, president and operations manager of Little Red Dog Foundation, says she likes the direct nature of her organization (“It does one thing and does it well.”), Deb herself wears many hats at LDRF. In her more than four years with LDRF she’s handled clerical responsibilities, grant writing and fundraising in addition to her leadership duties.

“I work with therapists, teachers, parents and caregivers on applications for specialized trikes,” says Deb. “I order the trikes after the recipient is assessed and measured and coordinate with the Beaufort Kiwanis Club volunteers who assemble them for us. Then we deliver them either to the therapist to fit the recipient or the school or directly to the new owner.”

Deb Libaire, left, and her husband Jack, with their three sons and their families. Deb is president of the Little Red Dog Foundation in Beaufort.

Deb Libaire, left, and her husband Jack, with their three sons and their families. Deb is president of the Little Red Dog Foundation in Beaufort.

Although it might seem that she’s a one-woman show, Deb is quick to praise LDRF volunteers.

“The Beaufort Kiwanis Club has a group of about 10 to 15 volunteers who put together more than 50 cycles each year. Some are very complicated and all are customized so it can be very time consuming, but they never say no,” she says. “Our treasurer, Nancy Hansen, handles all the finances, tax filings, bill paying, etc.; and our presidents emeriti, Anne Guthrie and Harriett Hilton, are always available for advice and input.”

Deb is also grateful to the many Lowcountry private donors and foundations that help raise the funds for the cycles.

“We have never said no to a qualified applicant to date and 100 percent of donations go to purchasing cycles.”

The Little Red Dog Foundation was started with a mission to create mobility and independence for the disabled. The organization provides specially equipped three-wheeled cycles for people who are mobility challenged. Use of the cycles can improve circulation, increase body strength, expand range of motion and improve endurance, all of which can lead to increased self-esteem and feelings of independence and accomplishment.

“The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing and hearing about the results of people using these trikes,” says Deb. “It affects their physical health and mental health. For example, children who are mobility impaired don’t have to be sidelined during gym. They can ride cycles, indoors or out, with or without assistance, depending on their limitations. Adults who are mobility impaired are able to regain some active freedom.”

Following an accident last summer when Deb was unable to walk for a few months, she had firsthand experience of the many issues that people who are mobility challenged face every minute of every day.

“It also reminded me of the enormous effort involved in caring for anyone with these limitations,” she says. “I hope that what LDRF does for children and adults who are mobility impaired also helps their caregivers.”

Born on Long Island, New York, Deb worked as an interior designer for more than 30 years in New York while also collecting and selling vintage costume jewelry. Her experience serving on Long Island boards for Planned Parenthood, Suffolk Hearing and Speech Center and The Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area prepared Deb for her work with LDRF.

Deb and Jack, her husband of 44 years, started dating right after college. Jack is a sales agent for Wise Batten Inc. in Estill, SC. The couple moved to Beaufort eight years ago from New York.

“We love the Lowcountry,” Deb says. “It feels like the old Long Island where we grew up on the water hunting, fishing and sailing. We also enjoy being around so many people with similar interests.”

They are parents to three grown children — Jardine Libaire, 41, lives in Austin, Texas, and is an author and works in public relations; Julien Libaire, 38, lives in Charleston, SC, and is an international stock trader; and Jake Libaire, 36, and wife Erin live in Charleston. Jake is a Development Manager and Erin teaches at Ashley Hall.

Deb’s future goals are as focused as she says LDRF is. She wants to continue to meet the needs of children and adults in the Lowcountry who have mobility challenges.

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It’s not easy being Greene: For Beaufort native Stephanie Greene, it’s hard not to step out and get involved

Stephanie Greene spends her work days with 55 grandparents. She is the Business Office Manager and Community Marketer for River Oaks Assisted Living, and she says she and the rest of the staff members “are a family with 55 grandparents.”

At River Oaks, Stephanie says she does a little bit of everything. “I market our facility throughout the community and I take care of all the business office needs such as payroll, insurance, and human resources-related issues. I also oversee activities and social programs that enable our residents to be part of the greater community.”

Stephanie Greene is seen at the seawall in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Stephanie Greene is seen at the seawall in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Except for the time spent in Columbia attending the University of South Carolina, Stephanie has lived her entire life in Beaufort. Her father, Robert “Bobby” Greene, is a loan officer at Palmetto Finance on Lady’s Island and her mother, Patsye Greene, is the Register of Deeds for Jasper County.

Stephanie says that after college she wanted a career that would allow her to make a difference in people’s lives. Her passion for the elderly and love of the Beaufort community were also elements that made the position at River Oaks a good fit for her.

“I never know if I am going to be the last smile someone sees or the last laugh they hear or the last person to tell them good morning or I love you. I come to work every day knowing I can make someone’s day better,” she says.

Even though she refers to River Oaks residents as her grandparents, Stephanie says she didn’t expect to get so attached to them and their families.

“I love the fact that I am able to maintain a personal relationship with all of them. No one day is ever the same. It is surprising how much fun Bingo can be at 3:00 in the afternoon with a room full of seniors. One of my favorite times of the day is listening to them reminisce over a bottle of wine at happy hour. The life lessons I learn from their experiences are amazing.”

Stephanie’s philosophy behind not only her work, but also every activity and challenge she faces is Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And her activities and challenges are quite impressive. Although she has a fear of heights and bridges, she bungee jumped and ran the Cooper River Bridge and the Savannah Bridge. She’s also an avid runner, completing three half marathons in the past year and training for a full marathon.

Stephanie is an ambassador for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.  She is a member of the Sea Island Rotary, where she serves as the Social Chair. She is one of the redefining founders of the Lowcountry Jaycees and serves as the marketing and membership coordinator for the organization. She is a member of the Leadership Beaufort class of 2015 and she is a member of the Beaufort Republican Women’s Club.  She is also a member of the sponsorship staff for the 60th Beaufort Water Festival and she is an activist for Alzheimer’s Family Services of Greater Beaufort.  She attends Cornerstone Christian Church where she is a member of the prayer team.

She recently was awarded the 2014-2015 Lowcountry Young Professional of the Year Civitis award.  In September, she received the Rookie of the Year award for the Sea Island Rotary Club.

One of her most recent accomplishments is becoming the president of the University of South Carolina Alumni group for Beaufort County.

Stephanie says she plans to continue to step up and stand out in the community.

“God knew what he was doing when he opened this door at River Oaks for me because after working with so many active seniors and hearing their life stories, I know I want to leave behind a legacy of service above self. More young people need to step up and help bridge the gap between where Beaufort has been and where we want to see Beaufort go.”

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Raising the bar: Jean and Harvey McCormick know about the law, and love

By Pamela Brownstein

On a beautiful Beaufort evening in early October, a crowd of family and friends gathered on Lady’s Island at the lovely home of Jean and Harvey McCormick. A live band played on the deck as guests danced and laughed, enjoying the company and the slight breeze off the waterway beyond.

Jean and Harvey McCormick

Jean and Harvey McCormick

When the band paused between songs, Harvey got on the microphone and gave a toast to his wife, Jean, of 25 years in celebration of her 50th birthday. He told a sweet story about her and how much she means to him, and even got a little choked up, before he led the guests in singing “Happy Birthday.” Then he joined the band on the drums during their rocking rendition of “Mustang Sally.”

Harvey said, “We met 26 years ago in Charleston one night that I was out with her brother.  Have been inseparable since. I fell in love with her because she makes me laugh, among other things.”

“I met my husband the summer after my first year of law school when I went home to the Isle of Palms. My brother introduced us and we discovered that during college our fathers lived on the same hall at Clemson and worked as nuclear engineers in the same division at The Charleston Naval Shipyard,” Jean said. “That night Harvey told my brother he was going to marry me. Six months later we were engaged and six months later we were married.”

She said one of the things she loves best about Harvey is his zest for life.

It doesn’t take long to be in the presence of this couple to feel the genuine love and respect that they have for each other. They are friendly and warm and good-natured — traits perhaps that don’t always come to mind when describing members of the legal profession. But Jean is an attorney with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Harvey is the sole practitioner at McCormick Law Firm.

The two were born and raised in Charleston and both said they knew from an early age that they wanted to be lawyers and to try to help people.

Harvey attended the College of Charleston for his undergraduate, with a double major in Business and Economics, while Jean attended Winthrop College and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Public Service. They both graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and came to Beaufort shortly after.

Jean said, “Although from Charleston, I never visited Beaufort until I received a job offer. I accepted the offer. The initial plan was to eventually return to Charleston, but once we moved to Beaufort we never wanted to leave.”

As the sole practitioner at his own private law firm, Harvey is in charge of general litigation practice, primarily personal injury, criminal, worker’s compensation and construction. He is also a certified mediator in civil court.

“I feel that hard work, full communication with our clients and ethical integrity are the three most important traits of an attorney,” Harvey explains.

Jean has worked as a public defender and also as the general attorney with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah. She worked alongside her husband at the McCormick Law Firm from 1998 to 2006 before joining the Office of the Solicitor, 14th Judicial Circuit, and the team behind Duffie Stone in 2007. She is currently an assistant solicitor and the Minister of Justice who is in charge of the Beaufort County Juvenile Division.

“I advocate for the safety of the citizens of Beaufort County while insuring that individuals charged with criminal offenses are accorded procedural justice,” said Jean, describing her job. “I prosecute cases by trial or plea, handle appeals and juvenile matters.”

“I work with very dedicated people who have an extremely difficult and stressful job,” she said.

Although practicing law can be hectic and involve long hours — especially while raising three boys ages 22, 18 and 13 — the McCormicks believe the rewarding aspects of their jobs make all the hard work worth it.

Harvey said it’s important “really just helping people who are unable to help themselves.”

Jean said the most rewarding aspect of her job is “the opportunity to make a decision that has the potential to change the course of one’s life.”

She has received numerous honors throughout her career, and was recognized as one the Top Lawyers of the Lowcountry in 2013.

When it comes to community service, Harvey was a past member on the board of directors for the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, a graduate of Leadership Beaufort, and a member of Sea Island Rotary for about 20 years. Jean has participated in the Beaufort County Choices Program for the past five years.

As for the future, Jean and Harvey said they plan to continue working in the legal profession while remaining active and trying to make a difference in the community.

Harvey said, “I love the fact that Beaufort is a small and close knit community.  I like walking down the street and knowing almost everyone that we pass.”

“To name a few of the many things I like best about Beaufort,” adds Jean, “the smell of pluff mud, the history, the beauty, the community looking out for your children, the beach, the river, the farmers market, the excellent restaurants, shops, and seeing a friendly face wherever you go.”

The philosophy behind her work — “to treat all with respect, understanding and compassion” — shines through in all facets of Jean’s life and explains why the McCormicks serve as such an inspiring example of what makes this community great.

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Lifetime community spirit award: LIBPA recognizes Fred and Doti Wilson

Each year the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association (LIBPA) presents a Community Spirit Award to  a individual or business that has made a significant contribution to the community in the past year. On very special occasions the contributions to the community of a husband and wife performed over a lifetime are of such merit that together the couple is recognized with a Lifetime Community Spirit Award. Such is the case with Lady’s Island residents and long-time LIBPA members Fred and Doti Wilson.

Fred and Doti Wilson

Fred and Doti Wilson

Fred, who is an ordained minister in the United Lutheran Church, completed 30 years of service in the Air Force as a military chaplain during which time he and his wife Doti raised their two daughters and moved 15 times. Upon retirement in 1985, after three decades of service to our country, they chose Lady’s Island as their home and, once settled, began contributing to the community.  Fred served as an interim pastor at six churches while Doti volunteered to help the Beaufort Friends of the Library.  Soon the Friends of the Library volunteer effort became a family team effort and together, in various capacities, they have each given more than 20 years of service in support of the Beaufort library. For many years Fred was one of the driving forces behind the collection, organizing and display of books for the annual Friends of the Library book sales.

While Fred was on active duty, Doti began serving as a as a member of the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and upon arrival in Beaufort, along with several others, established a VITA site which she has supported each tax season for the past 20 years. Her other volunteer activities have included service as a Literacy Volunteer of the Lowcountry at Beaufort Elementary, support of the annual Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA) fundraiser, participation in the American Red Cross blood drives and charity gift wrapping at Belk.

In addition to their many contributions to the community, they are very active in their support of St. John’s Lutheran Church where Fred has served as the supply pastor for Lowcountry churches, initiated the use of the Labyrinth (a form of Christian prayer and devotion), conducted the prayer program during Holy Week while Doti cuts, sews and stuffs cloth animals for the emergency room at Beaufort Memorial. Each Easter they erect and decorate a 14-foot Chrismon Cross with hand-made symbols of Christ.

As a result of their many exceptional acts of generosity over a lifetime of service to both our country and our community, Fred and Doti Wilson will be recognized as recipients of the Lifetime Community Spirit Award at the November 11 meeting of the Lady’s Island Business and Professional Association. In keeping with their request, in lieu of a plaque of recognition, a contribution in their honor will be made by LIBPA to the charity of their choice.

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Stephen Schools stays true to his name as new headmaster at Beaufort Academy

When your last name is Schools, you might guess that Beaufort Academy Headmaster Stephen Schools has experienced his share of joking about education being his destiny. But it wasn’t until he was in 9th grade that he first though of becoming a teacher.

Stephen Schools and his wife, Christy.

Stephen Schools and his wife, Christy.

“I realized one day that my math teacher, who was always animated and often entertaining, really seemed to enjoy what he was doing,” Stephen says.

A Lowcountry native, Stephen was born and raised and spent the first 40 years of his life in Charleston. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a minor in Education from the University of North Carolina, a master’s degree in Mathematics Teaching from The Citadel in Charleston, and a Master’s of Education in Private School Leadership from Columbia University in New York.

Stephen taught math for 19 years and then stepped into a combined administration/teaching role.  He was Head of Upper School at the The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland in Baltimore from 2009-2013 and most recently was the Head of Upper School at Augusta Prep in Augusta, Georgia, from 2013-2014. He also used to coach “a little bit” of basketball and was a track and field coach during his teaching years.

Happy to be back home in the Lowcountry, Stephen is responsible for the day to day operations at Beaufort Academy.  He credits a wonderful faculty and staff who help make his job easier to accomplish.

“I am grateful to be a part of this terrific school community,” says Stephen. “Everyone here at Beaufort Academy and in the Beaufort area has been wonderfully nice and welcoming.  I am lucky to work with the great people at Beaufort Academy and lucky to be here in Beaufort.”

Stephen says his primary goal as headmaster at Beaufort Academy is to provide students with the best possible education and he feels that in a small independent setting much can be accomplished.

“We try to show our students that we truly care about them and that we want to help them make good decisions and be good citizens as they prepare for college and for life.”

Working with students for as long as he has, Stephen knows there is the potential for a surprise every day.

“You never know what to expect,” Stephen says. “We recently had our Golden Gala celebrating the 50th year for the school.  During the program, a video was played of our students answering a few questions including, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’  We had everything from a kindergartner who wants to be a paleontologist to an upper school student who jokingly replied, ‘I want to be a corporate fat cat.’  The point is that you never know what you may hear a student say on any given day, and that is what makes this work fun.  The students are great to work with and can always put a smile on your face.”

Stephen and his wife Christy are parents of Sam and Caroline who are in the first and second grades at Beaufort Academy. And if running a school and parenting wasn’t enough, Stephen recently became of member of Beaufort Rotary.

As Stephen looks to the future with Beaufort Academy, he says he would love to see the school grow in the coming years.

“Beaufort is great place to live with many hidden gems. I believe that Beaufort Academy is one of these gems. I hope that we will be able to expand our offerings and attract more students into our school community in the years ahead.”

Beaufort Academy is located at 240 Sams Point Road on Lady’s Island. For more information, contact 843-524-3393 or visit www.beaufortacademy.org.

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Noel Tillman believes in creating compassionate communities

Noel Tillman has no problem admitting that his wife has already designed his tombstone. But since she says it will be engraved with “forever the teacher,” which is a fitting tribute for a retired educator, Noel doesn’t seem to be bothered by the early planning.

Noel Tillman is one busy retiree.

Noel Tillman is one busy retiree.

Noel may be technically retired, but he has a long list of volunteer activities that keep him as busy as a bee. In fact, he refers to himself as a worker bee.

“I like to get right in and do things,” he says. “Bring about change, improve, create, fix, modify. It is important for me to be moving in a direction.”

And moving is something Noel has done for most of his life. Born in New York City and raised in Massachusetts, Noel and his wife, Cathy, both retired from service with the Department of Defense. They worked with children of military families in the U.S. and overseas.

“We were lucky to retire here in Beaufort, near family, after several years of working with the Laurel Bay schools,” Noel says.

It was Noel’s seven years in the U.S. Air Force as a parachuting/water survival and aviation physiology instructor that turned him on to teaching as a vocation. After six years of night school, he completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Noel has been a classroom teacher, a school level administrator and a district and state education administrator. Noel says that since he married a teacher, he even brought the job home at night.

“Education, to me, is a service industry. It requires you to work closely with people and to help others. So giving back to my community in retirement is just an outcropping of that service experience,” he says.

Noel currently works as a food re-distribution volunteer and a member of the Second Helpings Board of Directors; he’s a co-founder and active board member of Compassionate Beaufort Communities; he serves on the curriculum committee of the USCB/Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI); and he routinely volunteers and is a past board member of CAPA .

“If my name is attached to it, then it has to be the best I can do,” Noel says about his dedication to his volunteer work.  “My family has always valued the dignity of hard work and giving 110% of yourself to what you do.”

And he’s quick to praise his co-workers, too. “I work with very dedicated, altruistic people in each of the programs with which I volunteer. Beaufort is a very compassionate community. So many folks give of themselves, and share their talents, time, and treasure. We are all so lucky to live in an area steeped in history and tradition, yet forward-thinking enough to know the importance of change.”

Noel’s volunteer duties vary with each organization:

At OLLI, he presents classes and helps recruit talented, knowledgeable people to share their careers and life experiences as part of the adult education program co-sponsored by USCB.

At Compassionate Beaufort Communities Noel is on a team that works behind the scenes to support individuals and organizations so they might be more successful. They do this by helping the groups publish exceptional stories and meeting with the organizations to share ideas on improving the communities’ awareness of their efforts.

Noel says his Second Helpings job “requires a little backbreaking work five to six hours a month that results in over one million pounds of surplus donated food being re-distributed in the local Beaufort area each year. That success makes up for a few sore muscles.”

But don’t think sore muscles are enough to slow Noel’s pace. “The more I get involved, the more energized I become,” he says. “It has got to be fulfilling work, not a lot of meetings.  That way I don’t feel guilty about ignoring and procrastinating the lawn mowing and other chores I have waiting for me back home.”

Even with a lawn to mow, Noel has free time that he fills with carpentry, painting and drawing.

“My son-in-law is a builder and he constantly reminds me that my creative carpentry skills, what he calls ‘Noelizing,’ are in need of some polish. I started painting and drawing a couple of years ago. I am self-taught, and it shows, but I have sold about a dozen paintings and hundreds of hand drawn note cards. I know I can’t give up my day job for art, but I love the creative process, and Beaufort is an inspiring place.”

Noel also feels fortunate to stay connected to the people whose lives he’s touched. “Every now and then I’ll bump into a CAPA shelter kid that I worked with who has grown into adulthood. I love the feeling of knowing I am a small part of their lives. Being an educator, you love those moments when a former student or their parents stop you and say, ‘thanks.’”

Noel says his “death wish” days of motorcycles and dirt bikes led to three broken legs, so he gave that up.

Likewise, he says that time has caught up with him, transitioning his downhill skiing and SCUBA diving to snowshoeing, cross country skiing, a walk on Edisto or Hunting Island beaches, a kayak trip out his back door, or snorkeling.

Noel and Cathy have a daughter, Lyn Dennis, who works in the Beaufort schools. Lyn and her husband, Scott (the builder), have two children, Katelyn and Robert, who graduated from Beaufort High School. Katelyn graduated from Clemson and Robert attends Presbyterian College. Noel and Cathy’s son Michael lives near Myrtle Beach, SC, while their other daughter Christian and grandson Allen, a graduate of Stonehill College, live in Massachusetts.

Noel first references “Stayin’ Alive,” the signature Bee Gees song from “Saturday Night Fever” when asked about plans for the future. Then he quickly gets back to the business of helping local organizations.

“Actually there are several projects brewing,” he says. “There’s an April event at Chamber’s Park involving Earth Day, charity recognition, and celebration of youth.  I just finished working on seven courses for OLLI the winter /spring semester on various topics:  art, life of migrant workers, local history, music, global travel, and government.”

Don’t expect any grass to grow under Noel’s feet any time soon. And if it did, he’d probably be too busy to mow it, anyway.

For more information about Compassionate Beaufort Communities, visit cbc-sc.org or call 843-271-6912.

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A Strong Southern Woman: Lowcountry native Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer pursues her dream and presents “SOUTH: What it means to be here in heart or in spirit”

By Kim Harding Newton

Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer hasn’t always been a writer, but she has always been a cheerleader — for her teams, for her friends and family and for her community. Since she was a little girl, she’s looked at the positive in people and in circumstances.

When she was young, her mother, Shirley Nilsen, gave her some advice that she has carried with her for a lifetime. She said, “Always appreciate what the person in front of you is saying. You will grow by listening to their story.”

Wendy Pollitzer, center, with her two daughters Julia, left, and Abbie.

Wendy Pollitzer, center, with her two daughters Julia, left, and Abbie.

Wendy took those words to heart and developed a personality that parallels her career. Her endearing asset, professionally as a writer and personally, is her ability to understand people, all people, no matter the degree of diversity. She can easily blend carefree conversation with sensitivity and depth, while finding similarities between the person with whom she’s speaking and her own experiences.

When she started working for The Island News in 2010 as editor, she gained the attention of readers by writing articles about what mattered most to the Beaufort community. She wrote and compiled stories about all the good, avoiding the negative, and the response was tremendous.

She had already published two books in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series about Isle of Palms and Port Royal. She was working at Hunting Island State Park as a naturalist when she decided that she missed writing, and moreover, realized she really enjoyed packaging words and images together to tell the story of a community.

At The Island News, Wendy was a cheerleader for Beaufort and wrote more than 100 articles about people and places North of the Broad.

About a year and a half ago, she decided she wanted to write and work on another book. So, she started brainstorming ideas.

Wendy is a coastal girl, born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and a resident of Beaufort since 1999. Since her parents are from Anderson and Barnwell counties, she was also bred to be a “Southern” lady, learning from an early age to be respectful of her environment, her elders and her community. She was raised as most children are in the South — to be polite and to be proud.

She loves everything about growing up Southern and living life to its fullest. But Wendy said one day she found herself wondering, “What is it about the South?”

She pondered the question for a while. Is it the climate? Is it the people? Is it the slower pace of life? Is it the food? She realized that, yes, these all defined this special place. But the question, “What is it about the South?” was too profound to be answered with a single voice.

That was it. That was the next book. Wendy, along with her publisher, Lydia Inglett, decided to compile essays from people of note across the South to answer that very question and unite their expressive words with stunning photography descriptive of the Southern region.

The name of the book? “SOUTH: What it means to be here in heart or in spirit.” The title says it all.

Wendy is seen dipping her own Maker’s Mark bottle at the distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, during her book tour.

Wendy is seen dipping her own Maker’s Mark bottle at the distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, during her book tour.

SOUTH was officially launched Tuesday, October 7 at a party hosted by Lowcountry Produce. Wendy, excited about the reality of her dream coming true, was all smiles.

“Besides graduating from Clemson and the birth of my two daughters, this day is the proudest of my life. I realized what I wanted to do professionally, amidst some adversity in recent years, and did it,” she said.

Wendy has two daughters, Abbie in sixth grade and Julia in fourth grade at Lowcountry Montessori School.

“Being a good mom to Abbie and Julia is my first priority, always. Watching them see this book come to fruition is more gratifying to me than the book itself. They asked to bring the book to school to show their teachers and friends the day after I received my first copy. At that moment, I received my greatest reward for all of this hard work,” smiles Wendy.

This project was a labor of love for Wendy. She complied it in her spare time while working as the Marketing and Development Director for Friends of Caroline Hospice.

“I can’t thank Friends of Caroline Hospice enough for accommodating my schedule to give me the opportunity to pursue my dream. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project,” explains Wendy. “They are an organization near and dear to my heart and always will be.”

Last April, Wendy went on a trip she called her “Solo Southern Expedition,” meeting many of the contributors to SOUTH. She wanted to shake the hands of the folks who took the time to write meaningful and heartfelt essays about their hometowns.

“Meeting someone through email just isn’t the Southern way,” says Wendy.

In six days, she was in seven states across the South — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and back home to South Carolina. It was the trip of her lifetime, and she became even more aware about the South’s beauty, simplicity and grace.

She admits, however, that Beaufort is the most special of them all. Yes, because of the people. Yes, because of the landscape; and yes, because of the climate. But most of all, because it’s home.

Meet the Author at City Java for book signings on the mornings of October 15, 22 and 29, from 7 to 9 a.m., for Wednesdays with Wendy. Or, purchase your book for local pick up by emailing booksales@starbooks.biz. Pick up from the Beaufort Regional Chamber Visitor’s Center, located at the Arsenal, 713 Craven Street, with your paid receipt.

SOUTH-Lydia-Inglett-Publishing-Wendy-Nilsen-PollitzerOpen book

 
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