Review Category : Profile

Meet the Commodore for the 61st Water Festival

It takes dozens of volunteers with a variety of titles to put together the Beaufort Water Festival every year. Chris Canaday spent time as assistant treasurer, treasurer, sponsors coordinator, sales and admissions coordinator, parks coordinator and sports coordinator before taking on the role of program coordinator in this, his 11th year of volunteering.

“My wife, Stacey, actually volunteered for two years as the chairperson for Children’s Day before I became involved,” Chris explains. “I attended a Water Festival crew picnic with her and when Jack Little, who was the event treasurer at the time, said he was looking for an assistant, I said I would do it. I’ve been a Beaufort Water Festival volunteer ever since that day.”

As program coordinator, Chris oversees the other nine coordinators on staff. His experience in many of the positions comes in handy as he offers assistance and guidance as they each work toward meeting the individual requirement of their respective positions.

Born and raised in Beaufort, Chris says he can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s possible, though, that Port Royal comes in a close second to Beaufort. Chris spends his days as the finance manager for the town of Port Royal. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Management from Clemson University, a Master of Science degree in Sports Administration from Florida State University and he’s a Certified Government Finance Officer through the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina.

In addition to his wife Stacey’s involvement with Water Festival (this year she’s serving as the productions coordinator), Chris’s dad was a Water Festival volunteer when Chris was young. But it was under Chris’s watch as sports coordinator last year that the family’s most interesting Water Festival story occurred.

As Chris tells is, “The last Friday of Festival is the day of the Bed Race where one person sits on a hospital bed/gurney and four runners push the bed down Bay Street for about a quarter mile hoping for the fastest time. Last year a big storm rolled in just as the Bed Race was finishing. In the downpour/water spout that ensued, someone actually made off with two of the beds! Don’t know how or why, but they did.”

Chris and Stacey are parents to Hayden, age 11, and Rowan, age 7. Both boys attend Riverview Charter School. The family enjoys boating and spending time at the beach.

With his heart in Water Festival, Chris encourages others to get involved with the Beaufort community. “Have fun. Volunteer for the right reasons. Remember that what we do is about the community and not us as individuals. If you aren’t having fun and you are just looking to pad your resume, get out. Water Festival volunteers are like one big family. We are there for each other through thick and thin. We have the best volunteer crew ever! And I cannot wait for next year!”

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Transplanted Buckeye rounds out his year as the Beaufort Water Festival Commodore

He’s a graduate of The Ohio State University who has been Beaufort High School’s head wrestling coach for 26 years. Now Bill Damude teaches history during the school year, but he stays mighty busy over the summers as well by volunteering for the Beaufort Water Festival. This year Bill served as Commodore of the Festival.

“The Water Festival has a great group of volunteers that not only put on the best Festival each year, but who also contribute to many other festivals and events around Beaufort,” Bill says. “Our volunteers can be found in many other volunteer groups and helping with numerous events. I think our motto should be ‘we’ll help’ because we always seem to and that’s another thing that makes it so much fun.”

Over the last year, Bill learned that staying flexible and having a good time is the best way to enjoy the year as Commodore.

DSC_9380_cmykBill’s career choice combined three loves: teaching, history and the sport of wrestling. He still helps with the wrestling team, which means he is truly doing what he loves. With “a year or two of teaching left” to add to his current 32 years as a teacher, Bill considers education something of a family business.

“I come from a family of teachers,” he says. “My mom, two sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews all teach.”

He says the great thing about teaching is that every day brings new experiences. His goal is to inspire kids to be productive and lead happy, successful lives as well as to enjoy learning and know that school doesn’t equate to misery.

“I’m fortunate to have worked with some great teachers over the years,” Bill says, “and have students who make teaching enjoyable.”

Bill and his wife, Marcia, are parents to son Taylor, age 23, and daughter Jylian, age 21. He also volunteers with Waters Edge United Methodist Church. One of Bill’s claims to fame is that he’s the world record holder for the John Boy and Billy Big Show’s Wordy Word game.

When asked about his post-teaching plans, Bill says he doesn’t know what will come next. He plans to take things as they come and enjoy the beautiful small town atmosphere that makes Beaufort so special. We want to thank Bill for all his hard work this year and for making the 60th Water Festival extra special. The Buckeyes might want you back but you are a Beaufortonian now!

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Local artist never stopped dreaming of Bay Street gallery

Mary Thibault knows how to turn a vision into reality. As a self-taught artist, Mary starts with a passion for the work and, literally, a prayer, and, as she says, “Then the paintings flow.”

And even before Thibault Gallery, the Bay Street space where Mary shows her own and other artist’s work, was a reality, she was committed to the idea of it.

“I named my business Thibault Gallery long before I actually had a physical gallery,” Mary says. “I had our website so customers could order art through there. I always kept the idea of owning our gallery alive through journaling, too.”

The Beaufort native spent 15 years in the classroom as a special education and art teacher. She also painted props and scenery for her daughters’ dance performances and murals for Beaufort High School. But art was an after hours endeavor for many years.

“I painted at night after my full-time classroom job,” Mary says. “My husband Eric and I did art shows on the weekends.” Time spent showing her artwork at Green Fish Gallery and in a studio space at Atelier on the Bay only reinforced Mary’s desire to own her own gallery on Bay Street. When the Bay Street Outfitters building became available in January 2014, Thibault Gallery found its home.

According to Mary, “I’m blessed to be able to follow my passion and paint full time. Being a gallery owner means I’m in charge of production and customer service. Eric is CFO, the head custodian and shipping clerk. We’re the only employees of the gallery, so it’s a good thing we each get along with our co-worker!”

In addition to Mary’s own work, Thibault Gallery features what she calls the cream-of-the-crop of the Beaufort art community. The welcoming space is filled with her own work as well as the work of 14 other artists who share Mary’s positive spirit. Since opening, the gallery has received a total of three Best Art Gallery awards from Best of Beaufort and Beaufort Gazette Readers Choice.

PROFILE - MARY FISHMary and Eric’s blended family includes seven children (including two Megans!) aged 14 to 30. Family holds great importance for Mary, so even though there isn’t a time when she wouldn’t rather have a brush in hand, she recently agreed to go fishing with Eric and daughter Erin and son-in-law Bryon. Mary had the biggest catch of the day and the achievement was memorialized with a photo.

In addition to growing Thibault Gallery, Mary and Eric want to help develop First Friday After Five, where downtown Beaufort galleries and businesses extend their hours to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. The event features musicians who play near the Bay Street clock and Thibault Gallery serves wine and hors d’oeuvres and customers can meet the artists. Eventually, Mary would like to see Bay Street closed for this “Night on the town” event.

“It never hurts to dream,” she says.

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Connecting to Beaufort in a big way

Get to know a loyal volunteer with the Beaufort Water Festival 

Frank Mueller lived in Beaufort for 10 years before first volunteering with the Beaufort Water Festival, but he hasn’t missed a year since then. And his volunteering doesn’t stop with The Water Festival. You can find Frank working as a volunteer or in a professional capacity as an employee of the city of Beaufort at just about every festival held in Beaufort.

“I love this town,” he says, “and I will do what I can to help make our local events successful.”

Frank’s route to the Lowcountry started in Germany, where he was born. He was raised in Dayton, Ohio, but actually moved across the country from Orange County, California, to Beaufort in 1990. That was also the year he started working for the city’s Public Works Department.

Introduced to The Water Festival in 1988 as a tourist, Frank’s next exposure was as a volunteer with the Beaufort Sail & Power Squadron. He built a booth for them that was used during the festival to promote boating safety. Now he provides electrical expertise at the Waterfront Park, making sure things like lighting and entertainment and vendor electrical needs are handled.

A Technical College of the Lowcountry alum, Frank completed certificates in heating & air and electrical in the mid 1990s. He also speaks fluent German.

But if you want to see Frank light up, ask him about volunteering at The Water Festival.

“The Water Festival family, volunteers and sponsors make the festival a success,” he says. “They are a special group and I am proud to call them friends. I enjoy giving back to the community and all the hard work is worth it to see everyone enjoying themselves and enjoying our city.”

Quick to admit he and his wife, Robin, were naïve tourists, Frank has come a long way since his first visit to Beaufort and The Water Festival.

“I never thought I would be part of putting on the festival years later. At the time, we didn’t know how to peel the shrimp at a Lowcountry supper and we thought The Whistlers were corny. Now I know The Whistlers personally.”

Frank and Robin have a dog named Shadow who, says Frank, thinks she’s their baby, and Frank enjoys darts, cornhole, billiards and the occasional game of golf. As for his plans for the immediate future, it’s all about The Water Festival.

“I expect to put in a lot of hard work this month and eventually collapse when it’s over,” he laughs.

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Navy Veteran coaches women entrepreneurs

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.

R Williams (1 of 13)

Ree Williams

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.

“No, not to eat,” she laughs. “As pets.”

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Meet Ben Duncan: a people person

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!”

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I have a dream…

By Molly Ingram

Trey Nelson

Trey Nelson

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.

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Local attorney William Harvey named to elite legal groups

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

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

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.”

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Denice Davis finishes strong in her 3rd Boston Marathon

By Betsy Hinderliter

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.

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

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The definition of kismet — when the United Way hired Tina Gentry

By Michael McNally

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

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.

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.

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