New Charleston Nonprofit Aims to Change the Way Dyslexic Students are Taught to Read

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — A newly formed nonprofit organization is giving hope to children who struggle with reading, spelling, writing and reading comprehension. The Orton-Gillingham Center of Charleston was established by Mount Pleasant mothers Renee Byrd McCaslin and Lindsey Propes Ballenger, both of whom were seeking change in the way struggling readers are being identified and taught to read, write and spell.

Orton-Gillingham is a multisensory approach to learning with each lesson personalized and structured for an individual student’s needs and goals. It incorporates phonemic awareness and both reading and spelling are taught together.

This teaching approach was developed by Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948), a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist who was a pioneer in focusing attention on reading failure and related language processing difficulties. Anna Gillingham (1878-1963), a skilled educator and psychologist, worked with Orton to train and publish instructional manuals.

For more than 50 years, the Orton-Gillingham Approach has become the most widely used intervention designed expressly for remediating the language processing problems of children and adults with dyslexia.

Locally, the Orton-Gillingham Center of Charleston is committed to elevating the Orton-Gillingham Approach in the Lowcountry by training more professionals and ensuring completion of the accreditation process. The center is located on the campus of Coastal Christian Preparatory School, 681 McCants Drive in Mount Pleasant, but is an independent entity from Coastal Christian Prep.

The Orton-Gillingham Center of Charleston is working to train more people in the Orton-Gillingham Approach and, with a training fellow on the team, can ensure those who are trained complete a 100-hour practicum through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. The center also provides a space for student instruction and resources for parents.

McCaslin has an extensive background in education while Ballenger has worked in nonprofit fundraising and business administration. Both have been trained in the Orton-Gillingham Approach.

“This is our ministry,” Ballenger said. “This is what we’ve been called to do.”

McCaslin says she is most excited about tying all her professional and personal experiences together, and bringing together educators, experts and families to impact the community.

The organization is awaiting final approval of its federal nonprofit status, so it can begin fundraising to support teacher training in Orton-Gillingham and to provide scholarships for students who may not be able to afford the private instruction.

Parents can get in touch with the Orton-Gillingham Center of Charleston to schedule a parent meeting and informal assessment to see if their child might benefit from the Orton-Gillingham Approach. The center does not provide an official diagnosis; that must be done by an educational psychologist. Learn more at

Educational forums for parents and educators are being planned for early 2019. The center is bringing together professionals from a variety of background to offer families comprehensive support. A parent mentor also will be available to help families navigate resources for their children.

Part of the center’s mission, Ballenger said, is to educate the public about dyslexia. It’s more than just seeing letters backward, as so many people think.

Dyslexia is a neurological, lifelong condition. People don’t outgrow dyslexia, but, with the right instruction, it is possible to minimize the effects. Dyslexia is also hereditary and occurs on a spectrum from mild to profound.

One in five people have some form of dyslexia, meaning the need for early intervention is critical. Ballenger said research shows that offering specialized instruction to children with dyslexia in kindergarten and first grade can close the achievement gap. It’s why she’s so passionate about helping other parents recognize the red flags and signs of dyslexia early.

About Orton Gillingham Center of Charleston

The Orton Gillingham Center of Charleston was established in 2018 by Charleston educational leaders seeking change in the way dyslexic learners are taught to read. The center is committed to elevating the Orton-Gillingham Approach in the Lowcountry by training more professionals and ensuring completion of the accreditation process with The Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. The center offers intervention support by qualified practitioners to students throughout the Charleston area. Learn more at


Lowcountry Blessing Box Feeding the Community One Box at a Time, But Still Need Your Help

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On June 21, 2018, the Lowcountry Blessing Box implemented their 40th location.

They want to thank all those that have supported this incredible project and also ask for your help:

“Thank you for supporting our project. With so many locations, it is difficult to keep them full, especially at the end of the month.I’m getting messages from many of our hosts that the boxes are empty, so please donate if you can. It would be amazing if we could all do FORTY cans in honor our 40th box! I thought we were really cool when we had five boxes, and look at us now!!”

Their Story

Blessing Boxes are stocked with non-perishable food items, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and anything else that might be considered a blessing to someone who finds themselves in need. Items are anonymously donated and anonymously received. A simple rule applies – Leave what you can, take what you need.


– 1919 Bolton St (N Chas Rec Center)
– 1125 E Montague Ave (N Chas United Methodist Church)
– The Bend, 3775 Azalea Drive
– 2704 Saratoga Rd (Dorchester Waylyn)
– 7610 Dorchester Rd (Second Chance Auto Club)
– 1517 Greenbay Drive (Charleston Farms)
– 1633 Sumner Ave (Charleston Farms Community Center)
– 4852 Foxwood Drive (Forest Hills)
– 5300 Dorchester Rd (Adams African Methodist Episcopal Church)
– Trident Technical College Grocery Vault (on campus, for students & TTC staff only)

– 1622 Mulberry St (Ardmore)
– 1601 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. (Grace UMC Charleston SC)
– 1336 Fifth Avenue, West Ashley

– 302 Ashley Ave
– Laundry Matters, 51 Reid Street, Eastside
#CommunityCabinet for clothing donations is on America Street near the playground by the old Fraser Elementary school.
– Trident Technical College Grocery Vault (on campus, for students & TTC staff only)

– 1389 N Highway 52, Moncks Corner (Living Tees)
– 1616 S. Live Oak Drive, Moncks Corner (Ebenezer UMC)
– 102 Marilyn Street, Goose Creek (Law Offices of DeLuca Maucher)
– 27 Westfield Ave, Goose Creek
– 1127 Dorothy Street, Devon Forest Elementary school, Goose Creek

– 5605 Katy Hill Rd, Wadmalaw Island (Community /Senior Center)
– 828 Folly Rd, James Island (Hair duJour)
– Martello Drive, James Island (Martin Luther Lutheran Church by Firestone off of Harborview Rd.)
– 2812 Maybank Hwy, Johns Island (Southern Brews Coffee)

– 690 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant (Hibben UMC)
– 822 Pinckney St, McClellanville (MCVL Realty)

– 610 N Cedar St (behind Oscar’s of Summerville)
– 888 Central Ave. (Cornerstone Baptist Church)
– Sangaree Library, 595 Sangaree Parkway
– 102 Sangaree Park Ct
– 209 Mikel Drive (Quail Arbor)
– 106 E. Doty St (Little Cottage Community Café)
– 183 Apache Drive (Indian Springs)

– 3357 Fairview Drive, Ladson
– 1202 Dickson Ave, Hanahan

– 1615 Charity Church Rd, Huger (Merritt’s Blessing Box)
– 1527 Clements Ferry Rd. (St Paul Baptist Church)
– Philip Simmons Elementary, 2095 Seven Sticks Road, Wando

– 1120 Mail Route Road (Victory Baptist Church)

– Muddy Creek Farmer’s Market (by Hardee’s at 165)

– Smith’s Gas Station, 9039 SC-6, Santee, SC
– 10 S Duke Street, Summerton, SC

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.

20 Ways to Start Out The New Year Right – Because it’s not too late!

  1. Send out Thank You cards.thank you pen
    We know you got at least one awesome Christmas present! Chances are you got more, maybe even more than you needed. Let your loved ones know just how much their hard thought, time and money is appreciated!
  2. Download a new album. –Or for us old school folks, buy a new CD.
    “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” –Berthold Auerbach ?Crank it up, kick off that dust and live life!
  3. Start setting a little money aside each week for that dream vacation.
    Summertime sneaks up and you are left with a wanderlust accompanied by a low bank account. Avoid this disappointment in 2016 by anticipating your getaway.
  4. Get involved.
    With so many opportunities around Charleston to participate in a worthwhile cause, you have no reason not to get involved. It doesn’t have to be a long term commitment; it can be something as simple as hanging out with the animals at one of the local shelters. Need ideas on how to get involved? Check out our article Volunteer Opportunities in the Lowcountry – Get Involved.
  5. Drop the resolution!
    I’ve never really believed in New Year’s resolutions, for a few different reasons. #1) If you really want to make a change in your life, you should do so now, not wait for the beginning of a new year. #2) Chances are you’ll just end up disappointing yourself. Even if you start off with the best of intentions and things are going great, most of the New Year’s resolutions I hear about simply do not stick. By the end of February, if not earlier, they are forgotten about all together. #3) That’s a lot of stress to put yourself, and your loved ones, under. Usually these resolutions involve some massive change and you tend to think the change can come January 1st. Why do that to yourself? #4) They usually involve something completely unoriginal and something that really didn’t have a lot of thought put into it in the first place. You deserve better for yourself than that.
  6. Wash your car.
    Don’t neglect the thing you rely on most everyday. Add it into your organizational plans.
  7. Pick up a
    Books help open our minds and allow us to escape to anywhere our imaginations can go. Make the time to unwind, relax your mind, and snuggle up with a good story.
  8. Decide to love yourself.
    This doesn’t mean simply saying you love yourself, but just like in your relationships with others, you have to show yourself that you do. This includes eating right, getting enough sleep at night, exercising regularly, taking time for yourself, saying “no” when you can’t do something for someone -and feeling okay about it- and any other special way you can prove to yourself that you matter.
  9. Change your air filter.
    Another friendly service reminder courtesy of Charleston Daily. You’ll thank us later!
  10. Meditate.
    There are so many benefits to meditation! It is a stress relief, it helps with focus, it helps to reduce anxiety, it boosts your creativity, and it can aid in relieving depression, but the list goes on! Just devoting ten minutes a day can make a significant difference in your life.
  11. Go watch a movie by yourself.
    It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Trust us on this one and give it a chance.
  12. Make a plan.
    This can include absolutely anything. You’ve just got to get the ball rolling. Totally different than a resolution!?Really put some though into it, set small goals and work on them at your own pace. You’ll have more success with the results sticking this way.?The best ideas start out with a good plan.20151207_171211-01
  13. Spend a sunset at the Battery.
    There are many beautiful spots to watch the sunset around Charleston. The Battery is one of our favorites. You can spend the afternoon enjoying White Point Garden, have a picnic, walk around, or relax on one of the benches, then take in a spectacular sunset before ending your day.
  14. Spend the night at a fancy hotel or bed and breakfast (preferably one with a big tub).
    Just have a change of scenery?for a moment. It can help give you new insights on what’s really going on in your life. Do it locally so you eliminate the stress of traveling. Our recommendation? The Battery Carriage House Inn?located in beautiful downtown Charleston.
  15. Donate to a local charity.
    Of course charities will always welcome a monetary donation. But you actually don’t have to have any money at all to donate to most charities. Clean out your closet, clean out your pantry, clean out your garage. You will find lots of things to donate to different organizations. You can also pick a charity, visit their website for their Wish List and grab something extra next time you are at the store.
  16. Take a sunrise walk on the beach.
    I realize this was included in our “List of things to do before the end of 2015”. Well, did you do it? There’s never a bad time to take a sunrise walk on the beach. -I might recommend waiting for a day when it’s not raining, but other than that you’re pretty golden!-
  17. Pay off your lowest credit card.
    When working on getting out of debt, experts recommend paying off the card that has the lowest balance first. Don’t neglect other cards you may have, but even if you can put an extra $10/month towards that one card, you will start seeing a difference a lot faster. –It also helps if you don’t add anything else to that card! –
  18. Wake up fresh.
    This idea comes with appreciation?from my best 5 year old friend. When asked what I was writing, and I explained it to him, he took it upon himself to contemplate the subject and this was his first idea. I like it, a lot actually. So get your behind in bed at a decent time, snuggle in for more than your usual few hours, and wake up fresh!
  19. Purchase that perfect outfit.
    Start this year off looking and feeling fabulous! –Hey, everything’s on sale right now anyway! –
  20. Have a dinner party.
    This is a great way to connect or re-connect with friends. Plus throwing a party is just fun anyway. Good food, drinks, music, your closest friends…sounds like a great night to me!

20 Ways to Start Out The New Year Off Right – Checklist


The Palmetto Palace opens their hands in comfort to Charleston


Established in 2006, the Palmetto Palace will not shine on the cover of a magazine or seek out the spotlight, but what their mission defines is the cultural infrastructure of the Charleston community.? Developed as a family care program, Palmetto Palace assists families of hospitalized critical care patients with the basic necessities and financial assistance necessary to focus their time and efforts on caring for their loved ones.

Healthcare crisis is a difficult physical and emotional time for all of us.? Many South Carolina families do not have the financial resources for healthcare and lodging and this is where Palmetto Palace steps in to provide that extra shoulder to lean on.

How does the Palmetto Palace assist families?

  • Financial Assistance – Hotel vouchers for families and meal coupons.
  • Care Packages including everyday toiletries which may have been forgotten during a critical situation.
  • Partnerships with local restaurants and hotels to provide cost effective means of lodging and eating for families of patients with extended hospital stays.

This organization relies on countless hours of volunteerism to raise funds, establish partnerships and meet families with compassion, warmth and assistance.

Their unyielding commitment to help those that are struggling to deal with overwhelming adversity is part of what makes them special.? Their staff treats each and every person with the same level of respect and their admiration for each dollar raised is genuine and pure.

During the Spring of 2011 and Spring of 2012, The Palmetto Palace providing financial assistance to pay for 149 hotel nights, 1700 hospital meal vouchers and distribution of 1400 care packages to local ICU waiting rooms.? Their efforts continue today.? This is only the tip of the potential.? Their ability to continue is through the kindness of those that volunteer and donate to the cause.

The strength of this foundation is heavily based on awareness.? We are doing our small part to partner with The Palmetto Palace to help Charleston become aware of this wonderful organization.? In a community driven by warmth, it is refreshing to see an organization that is dedicated to help families in their most desperate time of need.

On Thursday, October 16th, 2014, The Palmetto House will be hosting The Palmetto Palace Hearts for Hospitality Bachelor / Bachelorette Auction at the Charleston Music Hall.? This is their most aggressive fund raiser and one they hope will help this foundation continue to support more and more families.


We invite you to come and support a very worthy local cause.? If you cannot attend and would like to donate time or financial support to this foundation, click here to more information or call or email directly at 843.532.3169 /

Thinking of all the families who deal with health emergencies each and every day, it is truly a blessing to know there is an organization that is there to help.





Charleston Charities / Non-Profit Organizations – Community Pride


Charleston has a rich tradition of community service, volunteerism and charity. Throughout the area, you can see these partnerships everywhere on billboards, businesses, sporting teams and media. It is such a wonder to see this commitment throughout the Lowcountry. Thank you for all that give generously of their time and money. If you want to learn more about ways you can help, here is a full list of charities and non-profits in Charleston County.







  • Family Services, Inc. – North Charleston – services include credit counseling, debt management, homebuyer education, family violence intervention, and bankruptcy counseling
  • Fields to Families – Mount Pleasant – distributing fresh produce to area hunger prevention organizations
  • For the Exceptional – making a difference in the lives of those with disabilities
  • Friends of MUSC Children’s Hospital – raises funds for and enhance community awareness of the exceptional care delivered at MUSC Children’s Hospital






  • KARS Institute – Mt Pleasant – provides training, resources, and opportunities for collaboration for nonprofits, organizations, and individuals





  • Neighbor To Family – North Charleston – places abused and neglected children with their siblings in safe and stable foster homes



  • Palmetto Palace – helps with lodging, transportation, and meals for those in need with a family member in a hospital
  • Pattison’s Academy – Mt. Pleasant – serves children with severe or multiple handicaps
  • People Against Rape – Charleston – assists adult victims of sexual assault in the tri-county area
  • Project Healing Waters – Charleston – dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.


  • Rein & Shine – Awendaw – uses horses to heal children and adults with physical, mental, and emotional limitations
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston – provides a comfortable “home away from home” where families can stay while their child is hospitalized
  • Rotary Club of Charleston – participates in local and global service projects
  • Rural Mission – Johns Island – assists sea-island families, including migrant workers, with health care, crisis intervention, and educational programs



  • Teacher’s Supply Closet – gives teachers in six Title 1 schools supplies for their classrooms and students
  • Tricounty Blue Star Mothers – Goose Creek – supports America’s active troops and veterans
  • Tricounty Family Ministries – North Charleston – provides vital services to the less fortunate in the Tricounty area
  • Trident Literacy Association – North Charleston – increases literacy with instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, English as a Second Language, GED preparation, and basic computer use
  • Trident United Way – programs to address education, financial stability, and health needs in the community


  • US Vet Corps Resources – helps Veterans, first responders, and their families in their transition from active service to civilian life



  • Veterans on Deck – aids Veterans that struggle returning to a civilian society



*Note:? Information provided courtesy of (South Carolina Information Highway)