The challenges that our neighbors on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands face every day are made even more difficult when there isn’t enough food for themselves or their family. Seabrooker Mary Hill, the 2020 Exchange Club of Kiawah-Seabrook Angel Oak Award honoree states that “hunger is real in our community” and she’s working hard to do something about it. After a successful career as a quality and regulatory compliance professional, Mrs. Hill has chosen to devote her life to improving the lives of others on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands.
With a degree in microbiology from Clemson and an MBA from the University of South Carolina, Mrs. Hill is driven by data, and the data on poverty on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands is stunning. According to Mrs. Hill, 80.7 percent of the students at St. Johns High School, four out of five students, live in poverty.
When she retired in 2014, Mrs. Hill returned home to South Carolina and immediately began to look for ways to serve. In 2015 the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church on Johns Island had a vision for a program to help the hungry on the islands and Mary got involved, helping to raise funds in order to launch a feeding ministry. She then worked on a program to provide food for the homeless living in Charleston’s homeless encampment under Interstate 26. Her interest in feeding the hungry led her to get involved in the Sea Islands Hunger Awareness Foundation and in 2016, she became a member of their Board of Directors, and Board Chairman in 2018.
Feeding the hungry is only one part of the solution to helping the poor and homeless in our community; many of our neighbors lack decent shelter and drinkable water. Recognizing this need Mrs. Hill also became active with Habitat for Humanity and is now a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. She also got involved in the Water Wellness mission and has helped that organization install 197 water wells and filtration systems. At an average cost of $6500 per installation, the need for community support for this effort is critical.
As if her efforts to help in the community during ‘normal’ times weren’t enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed even greater demands on her time and involvement. Mary helped to start the Johns Island Parish Pantry to provide food for the many people on the islands who lost their jobs in the past year.
Mary Hill’s commitment to helping her fellow citizens has made a real difference to the people who live on Johns and Wadmalaw Islands and the Exchange Club of Kiawah-Seabrook is privileged to present her with the Angel Oak Award.
Few could be more deserving.
The Angel Oak Award banquet honoring Mrs. Hill will be on May 12, 2021 at 5:30 pm at Wingate Place (off River Road about 8 miles from Freshfields). Registration is available on the Exchange Club’s website, www.ks-exchangeclub.com. Dress is business casual and will feature an open bar starting at 5:30 pm, a barbecue dinner starting at 6:30 pm and music provided by the Joy Project. Information about Wingate Place can be found at www.wingateplace.com. Tickets to the event are limited due to the need for social distancing, so it would best to reserve early.
-Submitted by Thad Peterson, Kiawah-Seabrook Exchange Club
(Image credit: William Nelson)