Hurricane Hugo – 31 Years Later (Reflections in Pictures and Video)

Read More

“I’ll wait for you, should I fall behind, wait for me” – Bruce Springsteen

On or about midnight on September 21/22 will mark the 31st anniversary of Hurricane Hugo sending a destructive path through Charleston and its neighboring beaches and towns.? For many, this was the most difficult period of their lives, overcoming life-threatening conditions, losing homes and trying to find ways to start again.? Over the next several months, the area had to find a way to begin again and bring back the Southern warmth and beauty it had known for hundreds of years.

After all was said and done, there were 27 fatalities in South Carolina from the effects of Hurricane Hugo.

Locals and citizens from neighboring towns and districts reached deep within their hearts and helped their fellow friends.? Bringing sand to the beaches, laying a foundation where a home once stood, providing shelter to strangers now without homes and giving food and warmth when needed.

We were and continue to be a resilient and proud area, who has overcome much adversity so the sun may shine each day and we can continue to say how proud we are of our home.

Hugo was an event we should never forget.? It was tragic, but in the end, we found a way to rebuild and become stronger than ever before.

We would like to take you back to those days, weeks and months and provide a pictorial remembrance of Hurricane Hugo, 28 Years Ago.
























Remember our past and find strength in our ability to remain stable.

One of the most symbolic remembrance markers of this event is the Folly Boat.? This boat that remained after the path of destruction is today used to show our sense of community, one message at a time.

The next time you are at at White Point Gardens at The Battery, walk through the gates of the Battery Park Carriage House.? Just on the left you will see the water line damage from Hurricane Hugo and know just how powerful a hit we took and more importantly how we persevered and grew as one single community.



Love at MUSC (Mystery of the Urban Farm rocks)


By Mark A. Leon

The Medical University of South Carolina is one of the most respected medical institutions in the South and throughout the United States. Known for its research, professional and caring staff and one of the top employers in Charleston, MUSC is a permanent fixture in downtown Charleston. Founded in 1824, MUSC provides the citizens of Charleston and surrounding areas with state of mind knowing healthcare and wellness are a foundation of Charleston.

With compassion and understanding, the dedicated doctors, nurses and staff provide patients with a warm and comforting setting as they deal with life threatening, changing and altering events. For some, it is preparation for the inevitable; for others, unknown illness and finally to others, the ability to touch others when they no longer have someone to love them. Creating a consoling environment to help alleviate pain 0is a mission of all members on staff.

In the center of campus, surrounded by buildings with patients suffering from Cancer, disease, tragedy and heartache, there lies an Urban Garden filled with beautiful colors, vegetables, plants and overall, an horticulturist dream. It is a majestic place where patients and staff come for peace and solitude.

With benches, wellness / stretching equipment and shady trees, it provides a haven and escape from the pressures of the healthcare environment.

Several weeks ago, at the entrance of the Urban Farm, two rocks appeared together. A sign of love had appeared. Each day and week, the rocks continued to remain. Even during evenings of wind or rain, when it would seem that the rocks could not sustain their place together, they still were close to each other on top of the entrance pillar in the morning. It appears there is solace in this daily ritual.

For two people, this is a symbol of their bond together. In the pinnacle of spiritual testing, when love is the strongest emotion prevalent, this is a beautiful symbol.

One warm evening, mid week, something changed.

The two rocks separated. One stood on one pillar, while the other laid alone on the top of the second entrance pillar. A division had occurred. What had happened?

  • Did they break up?
  • Did they move away from each other?
  • Did one of them die?

The thought that one person, so deeply in love, believed in the spirit of a higher power and reached to the heavens to ask for help is beyond words


This unity of rocks, known for stability and eternal foundation and strength, could be the visual prayer needed for two people looking for sign. When the rocks appeared apart, the thought of death winning over came into play until one day later, the two rocks found their way back.

Each day, hundreds of individuals enter into the corridors of the medical facilities. Some stay a short while; some never leave and some find a new lease on life. Footsteps fade, tests conducted, comfort applied, but at the end, it is the love and prayers that provide the glue that keeps us all believing.

I don’t know where this spirited couple is, but I know if you walk through the courtyard to the Urban Farm, you will see two rocks close together. These rocks serve as a symbol of the power of love.

In the midst of blood and death, the idea of symbolic love at MUSC is refreshing and tranquil. It is also a reminder to each and every one of us to embrace love each and every day.

Revised July 6, 2020

Remembering the Charleston Nine: 13 Years Later…Still Never Forgotten; Forever in our hearts

Read More

By Mark A. Leon

Today, June 18, marks the ninth (12th) anniversary of death of nine courageous firefighters who lost their lives in a devastating furniture store fire.  So often a community is defined by its food, architecture, activities and geography.

For Charleston, SC, its people truly define its legacy and its ability to survive and grow.

Charleston was the setting of the first shots of the American Civil War and a city so rich in early colonial history that we cannot turn a street corner without seeing a cobblestone road, a home where General George Washington slept, the first opera house in the US, a site of slave auctioning and plantations that helped the US economy flourish.

Yet, twelve years ago, on June 18, 2007, nine firefighters sacrificed their lives immortalizing themselves in Charleston’s rich history.  They were gentleman, fisherman, church-going family men, military vets, artists and friends.  One of those brave men often said he would retire from the fire department and replace legendary Summerville high school coach John McKissick.

Today, these brave men continue to rest in our hearts.  As citizens and community members who rest at night knowing hundreds like them protect us from the dangers around, we reflect and remember the unselfish acts of courage of Brad, Mike, Melvin, James, Michael, William, Mark, Louis and Brandon.

To all of you, we honor.

For those that did not know them, here is a little bit about them that will give a little warmth during this somber time:

Bradford “Brad” Baity — Engineer 19
Baity is remembered as a soft-spoken man with a dry sense of humor. An engineer at Station 16, he was quick to help others, friends and strangers. Baity had been with the department for nine years before the fire. His buddies say he was intelligent — very good with computers. In addition to being a firefighter, the 37-year-old also worked as a stagehand at playhouses in the area, including the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium. He left behind a wife, daughter and son.

Mike Benke — Captain 16
Captain Mike Benke, age 49, was a 29-year veteran of the fire service. He was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and liked to take his son fishing. He was a local soccer coach, and his nickname around the firehouse was “Cappy.” Like many firefighters, Benke had a second job. He did inventory for Sears. Benke was a Charleston native, and his friends say he never got mad about anything. He is also described by those who were close to him as a dedicated family man, devoted husband and father.

Melvin Champaign — Firefighter 16
Melvin Champaign was a 46-year-old Army veteran and aspiring pastor. The Tae Kwan Do black belt was still fairly new to the Charleston Fire Department. He was a native of James Island and spent time working on the West Coast before returning to the Charleston area. He was known for his smile and his fashion sense. Coworkers say they will never forget his showing up for training wearing a leather hat with a feather in it. Champaign left behind a teenage daughter and two younger boys in Washington state.

James “Earl” Drayton — Firefighter 19
The 32-year veteran of the Charleston Fire Department was the oldest of the nine firefighters killed in the Sofa Super Store Fire. Drayton was known by generations of firefighters, and many at Station 19 in West Ashley and around the community called the 56-year-old “Old School.” He had a reputation of being well-dressed and meticulously washing his black Chrysler. He retired three times from the CFD, each time, his wife says, they asked him to come back.

Michael French — Engineer 5
French was a 27-year-old engineer with the Charleston Fire Department. At the time of the Sofa Super Store fire, he had been with the department for 1.5 years. An Eadyville native, he began his firefighting career as a volunteer with the Pine Ridge Rural Fire Department outside Summerville. Before coming to the CFD, he worked with the St. Andrews Fire Department. French’s friends say he enjoyed boating and talked a lot about his 5-year-old daughter.

William “Billy” Hutchinson, III — Captain 19
Billy Hutchinson was a captain with 30 years of service. He is described as a man of good nature and sports enthusiast who at age 48 still loved to play golf and shoot hoops. He was known for being a great firefighter, but he was also known as the go-to guy for a haircut. At $2 a pop, he would cut the hair of fellow firefighters — a skill he carried over from his second job at Williams Barber Shop in Goose Creek. Hutchinson was married and had three children.

Mark Kelsey — Captain 5
Kelsey was an engineer with 12.5 years of service. Described as a gruff Navy veteran who “told it like it is.” His coworkers say he had a loud voice and describe it as the hardest thing in the Ashley River Fire Department station. The 40-year-old was known for taking rookies under his wing. A native of Indiana, he came to Charleston with the Navy and never left. Kelsey had a custom motorcycle that he rode rain or shine and left behind a teenage son.

Louis Mulkey — Captain 15
Louis Mulkey lived and breathed Green Wave sports. Local firefighters often openly joked Mulkey would one day quit fighting fires and succeed legendary coach John McKissick. Mulkey was a coach for the school’s JV football team and was known for his competitiveness. Family members of the 34-year-old describe him as brave. Mulkey worked as a firefighter for 11.5 years, and according to his family, it was his love. Mulkey left behind a wife.

Brandon Thompson — Firefighter 5
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Thompson was a 4-year veteran of the Charleston Fire Department with 11 years of fire service experience. Those close to him say he was always looking for a grant to purchase a thermal imaging camera for the Pine Ridge Rural Fire Department, where he volunteered for 11 years and was captain. At the time of his death, the 27-year-old was planning to be married. The ceremony was to take place on October 7th on Folly Beach.

*Biographies provided by ABC News 4

34 Years Ago the World Stopped – Memories of The Challenger

Read More

34 years ago, the world stopped as nine dreamers vanished in a cloud of smoke into the atmosphere.  An event so emotionally damaging to a classroom of students that watched in exhilaration as their Teacher-in-space Sharon Christa McAuliffe joined payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist on a journey to the stars.

It was a dream come true, yet one that would end in tragedy just 73 seconds into the flight.  73 seconds into a magical countdown to space exploration, it was all over.  Students around the United States and the world watched as the shuttle vanished and the commentators spoke with uncertainty as to what had just transpired.  I remember the worlds vividly, “I hope they were able to survive.  I just don’t know.”

I recall leaning against the wall of the hallway, standing on line for lunch when Mr. Adams, our sixth grade science teacher walked slowly in the center of the two lines anguished.  He asked for our attention and explained to us what had just happened.

AP8601281739My older brother, whose passion for news and culture led to a six hour VHS tape of continuous news coverage and replay of the explosion until it was permanently branded into our brains.  It a time when our emotions and actions made us do things that were unexplainable.

As a child, becoming an astronaut was as important a dream as becoming a professional baseball player.  The idea of seeing the Earth as a small round object surrounded by darkness and stars was something we could only imagine in our sci-fi comic books.  To be Buck Rogers and maybe even meet an alien was the furthest spectrum of our over-zealous imaginations.  That all ended in seven adventurers in 73 seconds.

I have thought a lot over the last few years about what events truly magnified my senses and left an impression tattooed in my memory for the rest of my life.  For most, 9/11 is that moment.  An event so heinous; so shocking and so absolute that you became numb inside while being overtaken with silent anger.

The tragic event that occurred on January 28, 1986 was my event.  I had never witnessed or understood an event that froze my senses and awakened a level of understanding prior to this.  Like eating the apple in the Garden of Eden, this was the first moment I began to see a world I had never known; a world where people get hurt and good people die.

That was 30 years ago.  Even today, I can visualize all 73 seconds and beyond when that Y shaped stream of smoke appeared and the shuttle was gone.

memoria2I visited the memorial at Kennedy about 15 years ago.  I had goosebumps as I read the names.  I started to think of the students of Christa McAuliffe, and though they have grown up, my mind gravitated to those students watching as their teacher and mentor vanished into the sky in an instant fiery death.

When President Obama announced just before midnight that Bin Laden was killed in May, 2011, I was in a bar.  The crowd cheered, the bartender bought everyone a round of shots and within 3 minutes, everyone was back to their conversations about school, sports or drinking.  I looked around and thought about the Challenger.  In 1986, it was a time when we let out our emotions and tragedy had a moment to settle in.  Not much time has passed in the perspective of human evolution, but an entire world has changed.

Today, I will place extra special attention on remembering those brave members of NASA and their ultimate sacrifice.



20 Things to Do in Charleston Before the End of 2019

Read More

20 Things To Do Before the End of 2017

By Minta Pavliscsak

1. Call an old friend who you haven’t spoken with in a while.
It may take you a few minutes to dial that number. Take your time, just don’t back down. Someone has to open that line of communication; it might as well be you.

2. Go for a sunrise walk on Folly Beach.
We have some of the most beautiful sunrises you will ever experience, and if you haven’t yet you are missing out! So drag a friend out of bed, or just go spend some time by yourself and enjoy the majesty of the morning. (Roasted is a coffee shop inside of Tides that opens at 6am. I like to stop by there first and take my coffee on the beach. Plus, on these chilly mornings it will help to keep your warm!)

3. Send Christmas cards.
Everybody loves getting mail! …as long as it’s not a bill. Sure you could just send an email or a text, but doesn’t your loved ones deserve a personalized, handwritten card that they can treasure for years to come?

4. Forgive that person who may not deserve it, but needs it most.
This ain’t easy, but believe me when I say you need this too! We all make mistakes, we all forget things, and it honestly might not have even been on purpose. The past is the past and as long as it’s not habitual or destructive to the relationship, forgiveness may be the only thing keeping you from having that amazing relationship.

5. Hug your parents.
Do we really do this enough? I feel like hugs are things we tend to take for granted. Humans need touch, and sometimes this is the only way we know how to communicate our emotions towards each other. A simple hug can go a long way.

6. Visit at least one touristy attraction.
This is the best time of year to do it! Places aren’t as crowded, it’s not blazing hot, and some places will even have discounts on admission.

7. Pour a glass of wine or pop open a beer, crank up the music, and dance around the house in your underwear.
Yes, this is just as fun as it sounds! Don’t worry about how you look, you’ll be alone so who cares. Just move your body in a way that feels good. You might just find yourself carrying this tradition over to the New Year!

8. Make the decision to Let It Go!
We carry so much with us from one day to the next. Most of it we cannot control, or is not our burden to carry in the first place. Stop worrying so much, things have a way of working themselves out without any input from you. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, just let it go.

9. Do one random act of kindness.
This can be something so simple like paying for the next person in line’s coffee, or putting $10 on a pump of gas. There are also many opportunities around the community, such as donating to Toys-for-Tots, volunteering at The Lowcountry Food Bank, The Ronald McDonald House, or at an animal shelter, and many area businesses are collecting canned food for the local food bank.

10. Watch Love Actually.
This film is about an eclectic group of characters who all seem to be connected in London during Christmas time. It is charming, funny, and will pull on your heart strings all at the same time. Trust me on this one when I say it is a must see, and even better when you watch it with a good friend or loved one. Doesn’t sound like you? Then make sure you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special instead!

11. Take a “me” day.
Although they do not happen very often, I absolutely love having my “me” days. You can do anything, or nothing for that matter, that you want to, as long as it is stress free and makes you happy. I prefer to get a nice massage, then take a stroll down King Street or the Market to find something, no matter how small, for myself. My favorite “me” day trinket is a small ceramic dragon with a silly smile on his face. Enjoying a nice light lunch outside somewhere and people watching is also a great idea.

12. Change the batteries in your smoke detector.
This is your friendly service reminder courtesy of Charleston Daily. Come on, when is the last time you checked those batteries?

13. Get outside of your comfort zone.
Do something you wouldn’t typically do. Go somewhere you wouldn’t typically go. Sing karaoke with friends, climb the ropes at Wild Blue Ropes, put on that sexy dress you never wear and have a night on the town!

14. Finish that project.
We all have some project, big or small, that is sitting somewhere waiting for us to complete it. Slow down, make the time, and finish that project.

15. Choose to be happy.
This can be tougher for some than others, and that’s OK! Surround yourself with things, and people, that make you happy. When those negative thoughts come up, replace them with positive ones. Practice self-love, such as telling yourself that you are enough, reminding yourself how beautiful you are, and say daily affirmations. Don’t forget about the simplest thing you can do…smile.

16. Re-evaluate your priorities
Life has a tendency of taking over and we tend to get off our course from time to time. It is important that you bring your priorities to your conscious and see if where you are is where you want to be. This is how we stay connected to ourselves and move forward in life and in love.

17. Eat at a great Charleston area restaurant.
We are so lucky here in Charleston to have so many amazing restaurants. How many have you been to? No more excuses not to go to that one you have always wanted to go, but have never made it.

18. Disengage from the opinion of others.
You are you, and you are wonderful. Who cares what others think about you?! Here’s a little secret…if they make you feel bad when you are around them, then they probably shouldn’t be in your life. Once you learn to separate who you are from who you think everyone else thinks you should be, you will be amazed at how much happier and stress-free you will be.

19. Go play.
We have easy access to tennis courts, basketball courts, Frisbee golf, putt-putt, laser tag, paintball fields, trampoline parks, and open fields where you can play a pick-up game of whatever middle school/high school sports that you can think of.

20. Tell somebody you love them.
We don’t say this anywhere near enough. You never know what tomorrow may hold. Today is the day to tell your friends and family how much they mean to you. And keep it up; personally I have never gotten tired of hearing someone say they love me, nor do I tire of expressing it. Both make my heart smile every time!

Happy National Fried Chicken Day: Fried Chicken – Original Poem

By Mark A. Leon

By Mark A. Leon

Good Southern fried food is so often taken for granted in the South that it lacks the well deserved recognition it has earned.

It is the smell, the taste, the lingering warmth in our stomach that makes us yearn for this delicacy.? Fried chicken is a way of life and we would never give it up.? As a tribute to the beautiful gift of fried chicken, we have written an Ode.? We hope you enjoy this poetic tribute.

It is timely as July 6 is National Fried Chicken Day.

Fried Chicken – Original Poem

I love your thighs
I love your wings

I wanna dip you in oil
And all of those pretty things

I want your white meat and your dark too
I wanna peel off your skin and bite into you

You are the one that whets my appetite
As you crunch down my palate tonight

I wanna swallow you whole, bones and all
With a side of fries, dressed up in slaw

I can smell you from a mile away
Tasting your southern deliciousness is all I can say

Licking my lips, and fingertips too
I eat you up, nothing you can do

Now I am done, full and complete
My how I have adored your mouth watering meat

Volunteer Opportunities in the Lowcountry – Get Involved

Read More

There are organizations all around the Lowcountry whose success is based on volunteers that generously give their time and resources to helping others. Here are a few of the organizations that could use a few good people like you!!!

A great resource for short term volunteer opportunities is There are currently 183 locals matches in the Charleston, SC area.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The South Carolina Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation organizes events to raise money for “CF” research. We host many events throughout the year as well as raise awareness in the community.

Address? 215 East Bay Street, Suite 205B, Charleston, SC 29401
Contact? Erin Healy

Phone? (843) 722-6460


National MS Society

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society funds more MS research, offers more services to people with MS, provides more professional education programs and advances more MS advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world. Through its home office and fifty-state network of chapters, the National MS Society provides assistance to over a million people annually in its continuing mission to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.

Address? 9801 Southern Pine Blvd. Suite I, Charlotte, NC 28273

Contact? Linda Vanderbosch

Phone? 800-344-4867, option 2

Fax? 704-527-0406


Seacoast Dream Center

The Dream Center, part of Seacoast Church’s North Charleston campus, is modeled after the Los Angeles Dream Center, which has proven to reduce crime in the community by 70%. To give significance to this percentage here are some disturbing statistics regarding North Charleston.

Address? 5505 North Rhett Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29406

Contact? Amie Heath

Phone? 843-375-1099


Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities

Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A) is a resource where individuals in South Carolina obtain quality information and referral about disability rights, enabling people with disabilities to be effective self-advocates.

Address ?3710 Landmark Drive, Suite 208, Columbia, SC 29204
Contact? Kimberly Tissot

Phone? 803-217-6728

Fax? 803-790-1946



Respite Care Ministries

Respite Care Ministries is a groupd of respite programs designed specifically for people with memory loss and their caregivers.

Address 405 King St, Charleston, SC 29401

Contact ?Allison Menick

Phone ?843-478-2796

Muscular Dystrophy Association

MDA combats neuromuscular diseases through programs of worldwide research, comprehensive medical and community services, and far-reaching professional and public health education.

Address? 29 Leinbach Drive Suite D-5, Charleston, SC 29407

Contact? Jolie Pegg

Phone? 843-556-3654

Fax? 843-556-7826


Lowcountry Earth Force

Now is the time to foster a scientifically capable and civically engaged populace. Through Earth Force young people get hands-on, real-world opportunities to practice civic skills, acquire and understand environmental knowledge, and develop the skills and motivation to become life-long leaders in addressing environmental issues.

Address P.O. Box 22583, Charleston, SC 29413

Contact Kelli Beltran

Phone 843-720-8525

Fax 843-720-1432


Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries is the primary community resource for training and employment of people seeking economic independence and improved quality of life.

Address? 2150 Eagle Drive, Building 100, North Charleston, SC 29406
Contact Erin Burneyko

Phone (843) 566-0072

Fax (843) 566-0062


SC Maritime Heritage Foundation

To offer a unique educational platform for students in the Palmetto state, encouraging responsibility, teamwork, and other attributes necessary to become future leaders, while unearthing South Carolina’s maritime past.

Address 10 Wharfside Street, PO Box 22405, Charleston, SC 29401

Contact Christine Haigh

Phone 843/722-1030


Charleston County GAL Program

According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, there were 548 Charleston County children living in foster care on June 30, 2007 . Our volunteers work with these vulnerable children to help them find safe, permanent, nurturing homes as quickly as possible. We work one-on-one with children to learn as much as we can about them, and help them find safety and security by providing advocacy and support.

Address P.O. Box 296, Charleston, SC 29402

Contact Charlene Gadsden

Phone (843) 958-4350

Fax (843) 958-4357


Hospice Care of America

Provides one on one care to patients and their families in the home setting. Some volunteer activities may include: running errands; reading to patient; singing to patient; doing crafts with patient; listening to patient and caregiver; providing companionship.

Address 9217 University Blvd, Suite C1D, North Charleston, SC 29406

Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross

Nonprofit organization utilizing volunteers in Armed Forces Emergency Services, International Services, Disaster Services, Health & Safety, Volunteer & Youth Services, Blood Services, & RSVP.

Address 8085 Rivers Avenue, Suite F, North Charleston, SC 29406

Contact Lisa Wills

Phone 843-764-2323 Ext 364

Fax 843-764-2318


Charleston Habitat for Humanity

Charleston Habitat for Humanity provides affordable homeownership opportunities for working families of moderate income in the cities of Charleston and North Charleston. Families can qualify for either new homes or home repair programs.

Address 731 Meeting Street, PO Box 21479, Charleston, SC 29403
Contact Laurel Prichard

Phone (843)722-7145

Fax (843)722-7142


Carolina Lowcountry RSVP

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) provides opportunities for people 55 and over to make a difference in their community through volunteer service. RSVP volunteers contribute anywhere from a few to over forty hours a week, serving through schools, day care centers, police departments, hospitals and other nonprofit and public organizations to help meet critical community needs.


8085 Rivers Avenue., Suite F, North Charleston, SC 29406

Contact Pam Dillon

Phone (843) 764-2323 ext. 381

Fax (843) 764-2318


Senior Companions

Senior Companions receive not only a tax free stipend and gas allowance but get paid during pre-training and in-service training as well as ten paid holidays. This income does not affect any of your social security or other pensions. In addition, you are providing a vital service to your community that you yourself might need someday. Senior Companions are doing extraordinary things and their service to the elderly gives back more heartfelt love that we can spread around.

Address 259 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

Contact Thelma Gaillard

Phone (843) 722-4127

Fax (843) 722-3675


Charleston Area Children’s Garden Project

The Charleston Area Children’s Garden Project works to provide kids with a community-based outdoor learning experience. Most of our gardens are planted in neighborhoods where problems such as crime, poor health, or financial hardship are part of everyday life for many youngsters.

Address P.O Box 13302, Charleston, SC 29412

Contact Darlena Goodwin

Phone 843-478-3748


The Sustainability Institute

The Sustainability Institute is a nonprofit environmental organization with a focus on energy conservationadn the built environment. We pursue our mission by offering a variety of services and programs. Our programs include workshops, trainings, and community outreach dedicated to teaching homeowners, building professionals, and community leaders the benefits of sustainability and environmentally conscious practices.

Address 1441 East Montague Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405
Contact Renee Patey

Phone 843-529-3421


SCMF final logo copyPeople Against Rape

PAR provides free intervention and advocacy services for adult and child victims of sexual assault, adult survivors of childhood sexual assault, and victims of domestic violence. PAR also helps families and friends learn how to provide support to victims.

Address 2154 N. Center Street Suite 302, N. Charleston, SC 29406

Contact Volunteer Coordinator

Phone 843-745-0144

Fax 843-745-0119


Communities in Schools

Communities In Schools works within the schools to help at-risk youth stay in school and be successful.

Address MSC 1201, 701 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29403

Contact Courtney Winders

Phone (843) 720-2346

Fax (843) 720-2338


East Cooper Community Outreach

ECCO provides food, clothing, dental, medical, education and financial help to assist our clients out of generational and situational poverty.

Address 1145 Six Mile Rd, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466
Contact Paul Suchy

Phone 843-849-9220

Fax 843-849-0943


Noble Ones Bully Breed Rescue

We are a rescue dedicated to the rehabilitation and re-homing of abandoned, stray, and neglected bully breed dogs. Noble Ones Bully Breed Rescue hopes to transform the undeserved negative image that society has of these animals through education.

Address Ladson, SC 29456

Contact Jennifer Lopez

Phone 843-771-3997


Crisis Ministries

Each year 2,000-3,000 volunteers help Crisis Ministries provide the basic human needs of food, shelter and hope to the hungry and homeless in the Charleston community.

Address 573 Meeting Street Charleston, SC 29413-0038

Contact Brad Cashman

Phone 843-723-9477


Trident United Way

Trident United Way invested more than $1 million on programs that measurably help children succeed in school.

Address 6296 Rivers Avenue North Charleston, SC 29406

Phone (843) 740-9000


American Cancer Society Hope Lodge – Carol Grotnes Belk Campus

The Hope Lodge offers room and board to cancer patients and families of cancer patients with extended hospital stay in downtown Charleston.? It is run and operated by volunteers that offer time and resources to maintain the facility.

Address 269 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401

Phone (843) 958-0930


Additional Volunteer Opportunities

Not Just Awareness: What Charleston’s Jeff Fitzharris is doing for Autism

Read More

Everyone in their lives has been struck with a brilliant idea: an app that would make them millions (if they ever got around to patenting it), some food combination they’d be slinging in trendy restaurant for years (if they ever got around to making it), or by golly, the next great American Novel (if they ever got around to writing it.)

Ideas are plentiful; what is not is the courage, ambition, and drive to act on them. Jeff Fitzharris, Charleston local, has displayed those less common traits in his t-shirt company, There’s No Place Like Charleston, and his silk screening company, In Gratitude Always. The two work well together, as one would imagine, but how and why they came together are the beautiful thing.

The idea for There’s No Place Like Charleston came three years ago while Jeff was painting a mural for Prohibition, a trendy bar on King. The owner asked him to, “write something nice about the city,” in the mural. Jeff was immediately struck with an idea, but, in his words “There was something that stopped me and said, hey that’s for you, that’s not for the mural.” So, like any good businessman, he went to social media platforms, different businesses and began advertising for t-shirts.

The idea for silk screening came a little later, though an interesting avenue. Jeff has a niece and goddaughter named Victoria with autism living in Pittsburgh, and he was just talking to his brother about different jobs she could do to gain some independence. Silk screening would be great for those with autism due to the repetitive nature of the work, something that drives those who are not autistic up the wall. Most people need variety, but for those with autism, it is a great comfort and necessity to count on doing the same routine day in and day out.

Realizing that this idea could be applicable beyond his own family–there are people with autism everywhere–he decided pursue silk screening in Charleston. After getting the ball rolling with getting his brand set up and ready to roll out at the much loved King Dusko in 2014, Jeff reached out to Charleston Autism Academy with the intention of giving them 10% of the profits from the brand. He spoke with Laura Misenhelter of Charleston Autism Academy, who realized how brilliant his idea was because her 17 year old son, Aaron, has autism–and needed a job.

As it turns out, Laura also had a space Jeff could use for his silk screening shop–now it was just time to get the equipment. Miraculously, five thousand dollars-worth of equipment was donated by a man that neither spoke to directly; he was an owner of a national screen printing equipment company. To top it all off, Laura also became his business partner.

That is how Jeff sees his business: a series of fortunate events, miracles and something that is affirming what he calls his “conscious vocational project.” It is quite a project and wonderful business model helping his cause in several ways that all feed into each other: hire those with autism, donate profits from merchandise to Charleston Autism Academy and all while raising awareness.

However, awareness is a tricky business, as it comes in stages. There are people who become aware of circumstances, and consider themselves informed, and that’s that. They never move on to the next stage; action. Though Jeff was already acting, he had a moving experience that really made him truly aware.

Like many schools, Charleston Autism Academy has a Christmas pageant, and Laura invited Jeff to come along last year. “I got there, and there are these beautiful children. They were beautiful, and I looked onstage, and to me, things were not normal at all. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but I looked around the room, and everybody else in the room were of course loved ones and parents. So here are all these beautiful smiles of people who are proud of these children, and I guess I was the only one in the room going ‘Wow. This is too much.’ And I had to get up and leave and I told Laura, and she’s like ‘Are you alright?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ And then she said ‘Now you’re aware.’’

This experience cultivated the kind of awareness that has to lead to a much deeper commitment to Jeff’s own actions–and to keep his business going. As of right now, his brand is carried in three different stores in Charleston: Sheila’s Shamrock on Market Street, King Street Cookies on King Street, and Boone Hall Plantation’s gift shop in Mount Pleasant.

Though Jeff would like nothing more than all of his profits to come from There’s No Place Like Charleston t-shirts, he knows opening up his screen printing shop means more money for his cause, which means that In Gratitude Always is open for outside businesses, bands, restaurants, or any group that wants to get t-shirts silk screened. If you are interested in having t-shirts made, simply contact Jeff at with the details–but because he’s a laid back kind of guy, he says good ol’ texting is a fine way to make first contact: (843)-301-1187.

In using the brand name, Jeff often points out other local businesses to highlight how unique Charleston is–and it’s true. One of the reasons There’s No Place Like Charleston has been successful is because there isn’t another place like it. The Dorothy image is fitting: it’s a magical place, where people are kind, supportive of the city, and of course, where everyone is home. Jeff Fitzharris and his business are a prime example There’s No Place Like Charleston. It’s a city positive brand, with amazing altruistic goals, and really attractive merchandise: what’s not to love?

There’s No Place Like Charleston Official Website

Why Become a Gold Pass Member – Charleston County Parks & Recreation

Read More

A Gold Pass Membership with Charleston County Parks & Recreation is $70.00 annually for Charleston county residents and $85.00 for non-residents from the date of purchase.? Why do I need to buy a $70.00/$85.00 pass when I can get into the parks for $2.00 (Oh yes, as of October 1, the rate went from $1.00 a person to $2.00)?? Great question.? We have an even better answer.

What parks are included in the pass (Free Entrance)

  • Folly Beach Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier
  • Ravenel Caw Caw Interpretive Center
  • James Island County Park
  • Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County Park
  • North Charleston Wannamaker County Park
  • Kiawah Beachwalker Park
  • Isle of Palms County Park
  • Folly Beach County Park
  • Laurel Hill County Park
  • Mullet Hall Equestrian Center Walking / Running Trails
  • McLeod Plantation Historic Site (Up to 4 people per vehicle)

As you look at the list, three big things stand out

  • During the summer, it costs $10.00 to park at the Folly Beach Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier parking lot.? Ever try finding street parking at the beach during the summer season?? Exactly.
  • Ever try finding parking at Isle of Palm.? Once again, exactly.
  • McLeod Plantation Historic Site – You save $10.00 each time you go visit this historic plantation site on James Island.

The savings are starting to add up.

There is more…

pierWhat events can I get into for FREE?

  • Bark in the Park – Oktoberfest!
  • Bird walks at Ravenel Caw Caw Interpretive Center Wednesday and Saturday mornings
  • Brewsday
  • Harvest Festival
  • Holiday Festival of Lights (valid for one-time admission)
  • Latin American Festival
  • Lowcountry Cajun Festival
  • Pet Fest
  • Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series
  • Wannamaker Movie Nights

Many of these events are $10.00 entrance fees.? Holiday Festival of Lights alone is $15.00.

As we roll into the holidays and you are thinking about the perfect gift, this is a great idea.

The 12 Days of Christmas – Charleston Style

Read More

By Minta Pavliscsak

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
A Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the second day of Christmas:
my true love sent to me:
Two Parking Tickets and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree


On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

sweetgrass basket 3

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

surfboards 2

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

palmetto rose 1

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve Palmetto Roses
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree