Colorado priest to walk from Charleston, S.C. to San Francisco, CA raising money to benefit youth

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[Episcopal News Service – Boulder, Colorado] Has God placed a dream on your heart? For the Rev. Peter Munson, the answer is “yes.” In February, Munson, 61, will resign as rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church here in South Boulder – a church he’s served for more than 17 years – to walk 3,600 miles from Charleston, South Carolina, to San Francisco.

“I believe, if you’re a person of faith, we’re all called,” said Munson, during an interview with Episcopal News Service in a downtown Boulder coffee shop, where he shared his 11-year dream.

His cross-country journey is set to begin on Monday, March 4.

Follow Munson’s journey on Facebook and Instagram.

Along the way, Munson hopes to speak to faith and secular organizations about his dream and his journey and to find hospitality – lodging and meals – while raising money through his nonprofit 6 Million Steps for Kids to benefit four charitable organizations serving youth and young adults: REMAR Children’s Home and School in El Salvador; Street Fraternity, a mentoring program for 14- to 25-year-old males from refugee families living in Denver; Episcopal Relief & Development; and the Episcopal Church in Colorado’s various children’s programs.

On Nov. 20, 2008, Munson was hiking alone in Rocky Mountain National Park – a park he’s hiked in for years and where as a student at the University of Colorado he worked as a guide – and as he descended from Sky Pond in Glacier Gorge, the idea came to him to walk across the country, writing and speaking about his experience and to raise money for disadvantaged children and young adults.

“‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep passion and the world’s deep hunger meet,’” said Munson, paraphrasing Presbyterian theologian and writer Frederick Buechner.

If you or your parish would like to invite the Rev. Peter Munson to speak at your church or offer him hospitality, email

His estimated eight-and-a-half-month, 3,600-mile journey begins in Charleston, where he grew up, and will cross South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and, eventually, California. At least in the Midwest, he expects to average 20 miles a day, six days a week. As he gets out West, the mileage will likely decrease, especially in western Utah and Nevada, where he’ll have a support vehicle following him through the high desert.

Accustomed to adventure, Munson served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Dominica, a small Caribbean island nation located between Guadeloupe and Martinique, teaching biology and math from 1982 to 1985. A law school graduate, Munson never practiced law and instead became an Episcopal priest. In August 2001, he became the rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in South Boulder.

After the vision came to him in Rocky Mountain National Park, an excited Munson returned home to tell his wife, Julia, about his idea. She supported him, he said, but cautioned, “‘Just be aware it may not work out as planned.’”

Four months later, Munson presented his idea to his parish’s leadership. Although Munson has hiked and climbed most of Colorado’s 14ers – peaks exceeding 14,000 feet, of which there are more than 50 – he’d never hiked and backpacked, as one woman pointed out. She suggested he first backpack the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, a distance of 500 miles, and he did so, hiking it over three summers beginning in 2011. The first year, he hiked 250 miles. In 2012, it was 50 miles because of a bad wildfire season, and in 2013, he hiked the remaining 200 miles in 16 days.

While walking the Colorado Trail, he read “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking 1,000 miles of the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail alone, without any training or preparation. When Munson, then in his 50s, started his hike, his backpack weighed between 45 and 50 pounds. His third day on the trail, he met a 22-year-old male who’d hiked the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. The young man offered to go through Munson’s pack with him, discarding nonessential items like bear spray and a bear canister (not necessary in high altitudes) for storing food. By the third year, when Munson finished his hike, his pack weighed 28 pounds.

All the while, Munson’s dream of walking across the country kept returning to him, and he kept talking about it with his parish and then at a clergy conference, which led to pulpit exchanges with Episcopal priests on Colorado’s Front Range. Munson walked from his home in Arvada, a Denver suburb, to his church in Boulder, to Longmont and Frederick, all along state highways to the pulpit exchanges.

Eventually, he and his parish decided together that, rather than make the journey as St. Ambrose’s rector, Munson would resign and make the journey on his own.

He thought about delaying his journey until he’s eligible to retire in four years but decided against it.

“There’s a lot to be said about waiting until 65 … it’s just not what I’m hearing,” he said, with his dream and aging in mind.

For others, he asks:

“Is there something God has put on your heart? Are you going after it? What are you telling yourself about that thing? Is God calling you to do it? Are you going to get to the end of your life and say, ‘I didn’t do that thing I was really supposed to do’?”

– Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at

Healthcare Organization Yields Impressive Fundraising Results Using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT with Grateful Patient Solution

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Independent study shows how a healthcare organization can more efficiently identify patients who want to give back as thanks for exceptional care

CHARLESTON, S.C., Aug. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ —?Blackbaud BLKB, +1.26% today announced the results of a commissioned Total Economic Impact? (TEI) [1] study conducted by Forrester Consulting, which examines the return on investment that a healthcare organization may experience by deploying Blackbaud’s smart cloud fundraising and relationship management solution along with its wealth and asset screening solution. Forrester found that over a three-year period, a healthcare organization can achieve a 90 percent return on investment, increase the volume of grateful patient gifts raised by gift officers by 40 percent and increase the average size of grateful patient donations by 28 percent.

To evaluate the economic impact, Forrester took a comprehensive approach to its study, interviewing Blackbaud subject matter experts, Forrester analysts and a hospital foundation (Inova Health Foundation) currently using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT? and Grateful Patient Solution. Using the data, Forrester analysts constructed a financial model representative of the interview using its TEI methodology to identify the cost, benefit, flexibility and risk factors that affect the investment decision.

“For over 35 years, Blackbaud’s innovation, industry expertise and value-added services have helped healthcare organizations excel in fundraising and constituent relationship management,” said Page Bullington, president and general manager of Blackbaud Healthcare Solutions. “The ROI that Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT and Grateful Patient Solution brings Inova goes further than its financial results. Our innovations allow Inova to learn more about its constituents and leverage the combination of better data and enhanced functionality to focus its fundraising efforts, ultimately increasing its efficiency and effectiveness.”

Inova Health Foundation (“Inova”), based in Falls Church, Va., is part of the Inova Health System, a large nonprofit health organization that employs over 17,000 staff throughout five hospitals, 25 assisted living and long-term care facilities, 26 primary care locations and a variety of other health-related services. Previously struggling to identify and target ideal donor prospects, Inova turned to Blackbaud to enhance the technology powering its research, direct mail and gift officer outreach.

Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT and Grateful Patient Solution helped Inova identify grateful patient prospects with high giving potential. “It would be impossible to identify the right patients to talk to without Blackbaud because of the volume coming into our system every day,” said Paige Moses, associate vice president, Foundation Services at Inova Health Foundation. “We’ve been able to set up a process that can handle the volume of constituents Inova sees every day with a very lean staff. Before, we couldn’t get through this volume of constituents.”

After deploying Raiser’s Edge NXT with the Grateful Patient Solution, Inova experienced:

  • Raised an additional $429,511 from grateful patients. Gift officers leveraged better data and technology to target prospects, increasing the number of gifts from grateful patients by 40 percent and the average gift value by 28 percent.
  • Increased direct mail donations, raising an additional $142,300. Inova built highly-targeted direct mail efforts to grateful patients based on data from daily screenings and quarterly modeling.
  • Saved more than $113,000 per year. By replacing legacy solutions and upgrading to the cloud solution, Inova has also been able to greatly improve its efficiencies and productivity.
  • Recaptured $32,000 of increased foundation employee productivity annually. Foundation staff streamlined regular processes to save over 2,000 hours annually with Blackbaud’s solutions.

“Being able to establish a direct mail program that drove over 800 donors in one year versus a former program that only drove 78 donors in 2015 and 105 donors in 2016 is a huge win,” said Jeff Johnson, senior director of Inova Health Foundation.

Learn how Inova increased patient donations while improving productivity using the Blackbaud solutions by downloading the full study at Hosted by Blackbaud, join Inova Health Foundation and guest Forrester on September 19 at 2 p.m. ET to learn more about this report in webinar form.

Click to tweet : .@InovaHealth increased its volume of grateful patient gifts by 40% with @blackbaud’s help – learn how!

About Blackbaud

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, foundations, companies, education institutions, healthcare organizations and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise, and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing, and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit?

Blackbaud Media Contact
Nicole McGougan
Public Relations Manager

Andrew Pinckney Inn Collects School Supplies for Teachers’ Supply Closet







The Andrew Pinckney Inn is partnering with the Teachers’ Supply Closet (TSC) to help get school supplies to local children for the 2017 school year. Now through Labor Day they will be collecting new or gently used school/office supplies in our lobby at 40 Pinckney Street. As a way to say thank you to our guests for supporting our cause, if you bring in at least three supplies we will offer one free night of valet parking during your stay*.

Teachers’ Supply Closet eliminates the need for teachers to pay for the products. They are a nonprofit affiliate of the national Kids In Need Foundation that provides free school supplies to teachers in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties who work at schools where at least 81% of the students are on the free or reduced meals program. In 2016 they provided 27,550 children with free school supplies.

Top 5 Needs: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
-Composition Notebooks
-Copy Paper
-Hand Sanitizer ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?.
-Glue Sticks

Other Wish List Needs:
-Pink Erasers
-Washable Markers
-Pocket Folders

Drop Off Location:
Andrew Pinckney Inn
40 Pinckney Street, Charleston, SC

*Free valet parking is to be used during your current visit only and it is nontransferable. Good for one night only of parking, in exchange for a minimum of three separate school supplies.

Teacher Supplies Closet Mission: To serve children in the Tri-County area in meeting their educational and creative needs by providing free supplies donated by businesses and individuals.

Local Celebrities Put on Their Dancing Shoes to Raise Funds for The ARK in Annual Event (Summerville, SC)

Local Celebrities Put on Their Dancing Shoes?to Raise Funds for The ARK in Annual Event?

Photos from 2016 event – Photo Credits to Jamie Lucarelli, Garden Hill Photography

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. – An orthodontist, cosmetologist, fire department captain and a state trooper are just some of the local celebrities trading their day jobs for dancing shoes to raise money for The ARK, Alzheimer’s Family Support Services, in Summerville.

The seventh annual Dancing With The ARK’s Stars pairs local celebrities with professional dancers in a competition that has become a must-attend fundraiser. This year’s event is at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 11 at Eidson Gym at Pinewood Preparatory School, 1114 Orangeburg Road in Summerville.

The 2017 celebrity dancers are:?

  • Katie Arrington, ?vice president of operations, Dispersive Technologies
  • Roland Fulcher, ?orthodontist/ owner at Lowcountry Orthodontics
  • Rebecca Holtzclaw, ?cosmetologist/owner, Signori Mani Salon & Day Spa
  • Skipper Kress, ?beverage director, Red’s Ice House
  • Dana Madanski, ??director of marketing, McAlister-Smith Funeral & Cremation
  • Billy Penn, ?captain, Summerville Fire & Rescue Department
  • Thomas Taylor, chiropractor, Alignment Specific Chiropractic Clinic
  • Hannah Wimberly, ?state trooper, South Carolina Highway Patrol

Each dancer is paired with a professional dance partner from Elite Dance International Studio in Mount Pleasant. Couples will perform at the event for a chance to win one of two titles: the Judge’s Award or the People’s Choice Award voted on by the audience.

Similar to the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars,” four couples will dance in each round, with the two couples receiving the most judges’ votes competing in a “dance off” to win the Mirror Ball trophy. The couple receiving the most votes by dollars wins the People’s Choice trophy. Votes are $10 each, and can be cast in advance at or at the event.

“We are so grateful to the dancers who take time away from their jobs, families and personal time to help raise funds for The ARK,” said Peg Lahmeyer, executive director of The ARK. “This event is integral to our fundraising success and allows us to help even more families as they care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia.”

This year’s judges are Greer Reagin, winner of the 2016 Judge’s Award; Nancy Deitch, winner of the 2016 People’s Choice Award; and professional performers Brad and Jennifer Moranz of Moranz Entertainment.

Tickets are $60 in advance and $65 at the door. Purchase tickets online at or call 843-832-2357 for information.

Proceeds from this premier fundraiser support the many programs of The ARK as it provides essential services for families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. Serving five counties, The ARK offers respite care, support groups, caregiver consultation, education, resource referrals, community learning programs and rural services development.

The 2016 Dancing with The ARK’s Stars raised more than $80,000 – its largest year to date. Nearly 500 people came out to watch local celebrities pair with professional dancers for an evening of dancing, dining and a silent auction.


Based in Summerville, The ARK is a local nonsectarian nonprofit outreach program providing comprehensive support services to families living with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. For more information, call 832-2357 or visit

From Vision to Reality: It Girls of Charleston – A Community of Acceptance and Friendship

By Mark A. Leon

Charleston is changing before our eyes. We are a melting pot of
locals and transplants sharing diverse ideas and lifestyles. Finding true
and life-long connections is a challenge we all face. The It Girls of
Charleston has created a solution for the women of the Charleston
area. By creating a safe environment built on relationships,
community partnership and social engagement, they offer women in the
Charleston area a place to connect and find personal and emotional connections.
We had a chance to sit down with the founder/organizer Jamie
Sprenger to learn a little bit more about the driving forces that led to this
energetic community that will be hosting a Brunch and Bachelorette
auction to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation [1] later this

CD:? What is the catalyst and driving force behind creating this networking community??

JS: I moved to Charleston this past February and knew only one
person in town, my best friend. However, she is on call a lot, has a
serious boyfriend and her own group of local friends. I was very lonely and
wanted someone to go explore with, without having to bug my best
friend all the time. I searched online for social groups, but the
ones I found interesting either had no upcoming events, were composed of
members in their 50s-70s, or were co-ed. I was looking for an
all-girls group around my age range that was very active. Since it
did not exist, I decided to create one. In forming this group I’ve
found my true passions – organizing events, being a leader in the
community, and exploring Charleston with a truly amazing group of women.

CD:? What are the challenges your members face and how will this group help to reduce some of the pressures?

JS: 99% of us are not from Charleston, so we didn’t have any
friends when we moved here. It Girls is a place that fosters close
friendships. We also don’t know what venues are good (restaurants, hair
stylists, etc.) and need advice on where to go. Whenever we need advice on
local venues or anything Charleston related, we post in our Facebook group
and several people always respond with their feedback and
recommendations.? Some of us are finding it hard to adjust to life in a new city, away
from family, with a different culture and everyone else in the group
understands each other and supports each other. We are planning a
Friendsgiving dinner for those who cannot travel to their families
for the holiday.? Over half of us are single and are having a hard time dating in this
town. It Girls provides a safe space where no one needs to care how
they look or worry about getting hit on, because every night is Girls
Night. We can vent to each other about dating, get advice, and feel
like we don’t need a significant other because we have such a
great friend group.? A lot of us struggle with eating healthy and exercising. We created
a separate Facebook group for those interested where we hold each
other accountable for our goals and motivate each other. It is a personal
development group to improve physical health, self-esteem,
happiness, and well being.

CD:? What type of community engagement do you plan in the next year?

JS: We plan on organizing at least one large charity
event per year. Our first charity event is October 23rd at 5Church and it
is a date auction and silent auction benefitting the Children’s Tumor
Foundation. My childhood best friend, Alison Garrard, came to me
with the idea and we have enjoyed planning every detail of the
event and knowing we are making a difference in our community. We would
like to make this a yearly event. I also host a monthly book club, a
monthly murder mystery dinner, a monthly canvas painting night,
weekly wine nights, and sporadic dinners, movies, beach trips, girl’s night
out, exercise and dance classes, weekend getaways, Sunday brunches,
local festivals, spa parties, arts and crafts nights, and anything
else members suggest.

CD:? Does this group have a professional networking element, social or both??

JS: The primary focus of our group is the social element. However,
professional networking naturally occurs as well. Members will post
on our Facebook group looking for recommendations for services, etc.
and if a member is in that business, she will comment, or if
a member knows another member in that service, she will recommend that
member. For example, a member was looking for a professional
photographer and we found three within our group. The purpose of the
group is to develop deeper connections than professional contacts,
however, professional contacts are naturally made as people get to
know each other and talk about what they do.

CD: What makes the It Girls of Charleston different from other
female based networking groups?

JS: It Girls fosters close, lasting friendships, not just activity
partners. We are a close-knit group – several smaller groups have
formed based on who clicks with who, of course – but overall the
people who come regularly are good friends with each other. We call
each other when we’ve had a bad day to vent over a glass of wine.
We chipped in to send a member Edible Arrangements when her father
died, and sent another member a spa day when she was stressing about her
sister being diagnosed with cancer. Most meetups and other social
groups (at least in my experience) do not focus on fostering
meaningful friendships, they simply focus on getting people together
to do activities with each other.? We are a lot more active than other groups. We do things multiple
times per week. Not every member comes to every event, of course,
but they have so many options.? I have been told by many members how amazed they are that our group
is not caddy, we don’t gossip behind each other’s backs, and we
are truly supportive of each other. We build each other up instead
of tear each other down. Despite how difficult it is at the beginning
to put ourselves out there with new people, we are all committed to
making genuine and deep connections. We all strongly believe that
having a close-knit group of girlfriends is essential to every
woman’s happiness.


“I’ve worked in predominately female environments all my life.? I’ve never experienced a group atmosphere of women who are so kind, generous, fun and genuine as I have in this group.? Everyone has your back; everyone is so open and you can tell that there is a genuine vibe of wanting to be there for each other.” – Rachel M.

“What you have built is amazing and inspiring.? I look at all these girls who have come together every day and know that you have made a place for all of them to become friends and be themselves.” – Alison G.

“Been feeling down lately wondering if I made the right decision moving far from home, but seeing all the different activities coming up is helping.” – Jami M.


From Vision to Reality

With an idea, a passion and a community that thrives on outreach and
relationships, Jamie Sprenger created a place where women in
Charleston can share thoughts, ideas, emotions or just feel a sense
of belonging.? It is that level of passion and innovativeness that has given birth
to the It Girls of Charleston. We expect great thinks from these


The Kickin’ Chicken Raises $18,399 for Teachers’ Supply Closet

The Kickin’ Chicken Raises $18,399 for Teachers’ Supply Closet


Kickin’ Chicken supports TSC for 5th straight year and surpasses donation goal ?


Charleston, SC – This month The Kickin’ Chicken presented the Teachers’ Supply Closet with a check totaling $18,399. Teachers’ Supply Closet (TSC) is a Charleston based, nonprofit organization that provides teachers with free school supplies needed for their classrooms that they would otherwise have to purchase out of pocket.

This donation was the direct result of a fundraising initiative by The Kickin’ Chicken during the month of August. Kickin’ Chicken customers were encouraged to purchase paper “chicken heads” to donate either $1, $5 or $10 to the cause. Within a month, the “chicken head” sales raised over $14k and ownership matched the top selling store at $4,301 — bringing the total to $18k+, about $9k more than last year.

“It has been wonderful opportunity to work with The Kickin’ Chicken over these past few years, “said Lynette Duggins Thomas, Executive Director at Teachers’ Supply Closet. “Their generous donation will allow us to purchase crayons, markers, composition books — all the supplies that we need in order to continue to serve the teachers at the 46 schools that we work with in the Tri-County area.

The Kickin’ Chicken invited their top 10 “Chicken Head” sellers to the TSC Golf Tournament at Stono Ferry on Friday, September 16. The Kickin’ Chicken Food Truck was present, serving lunch to tournament participants. While there, Kickin’ Chicken presented the Teachers’ Supply Closet staff and board with the check for $18,399. This is the 5th year that Kickin’ Chicken has directly supported the Teachers’ Supply Closet and the donations generated have grown significantly larger each year.

To learn more about Teachers’ Supply Closet and the Kickin’ Chicken, visit? find them via Facebook at Kickin’ Chicken.

Charleston Girl Perfume Goes “Wild” This Holiday Season by Helping Animals in Need

charlestongirlFor Immediate Release Contact: Caroline Capozzi/Susan Sonner
Creative Edge Public Relations, Inc.
(516) 655-1916
Createdge1@aol.comCharleston Girl Perfume Goes “Wild” This Holiday Season
by Helping Animals in NeedCharleston, SC – Charleston Girl Perfume, a “scent-sational” fragrance and body collection, created by Charleston native Kelly Gaskins, that captures the essence of “Southern Charm and Style”, is giving back this holiday season by donating a portion of their sales to Keeper of the Wild.

Beginning on Black Friday, November 27, 2015 through New Year’s Day, January 1, 2016, Charleston Girl Perfume will donate 5% of all online sales to Keeper of the Wild. This non-profit organization cares for sick, injured, orphaned or displaced wildlife with the intention of returning them to appropriate habitats in the wild. “I wanted to choose a charity for our holiday promotion whose cause I strongly believe in and this was the perfect fit. Keeper of the Wild has a special place in my heart as they have helped me rescue injured wildlife,” states Gaskins, a true animal and wildlife lover herself.Charleston Girl Perfume is a sultry, enticing fragrance that opens with a burst of sparkling fruity top notes, weaves a delicate and sensuous floral middle and finishes with a soft, amber and sandalwood dry-down. The Charleston Girl fragrance and body collection consists of Eau De Parfum (1.7 oz $46), the newly launched line extensions, Body Lotion (8 oz.$28), Shower Cream (8 oz. $22), Rollerball ($22) and special holiday gift sets Southern Spa Indulgence ($70 ) and Charleston Charm ($66).

To purchase the Charleston Girl Perfume collection or learn more about the Keeper of the Wild holiday promotion visit

Coming Soon:? Learn about Kelly Gaskins, the visionary behind Charleston Girl Perfume in an upcoming profile story.