Packet Sea Foam: Make A Difference project brightens day for Hilton Head woman

October 18, 2010 

Thanks to Tibbie Strock of Hilton Head Island for sharing a story about Make A Difference Day.

This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of Make A Difference Day, when volunteers nationwide do service projects to help others. It is called the nation's largest celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Last year, 3 million people volunteered in their communities on the fourth Saturday in October.

Tibbie got involved by soliciting several local businesses to help an elderly islander.

"Ms. Bess (Hull) is 90 years old, and we decided to clean up her yard, trim some trees and bushes and repaint her front door," Tibbie wrote. "This is a combined effort with participation from Jones Brothers Tree Surgeons, JB Painting and Ocean Woods Landscaping."

They all volunteered their services free. They got a jump on Make A Difference Day by doing the work Oct. 5 so they wouldn't have to bring paid crews in on a Saturday.

Juan Brantley of JB Painting ended up painting two doors and power washing the sidewalk. Sherwin-Williams on Arrow Road provided the pressure washer and bleach.

Tibbie talked to Matt Thomas at Ocean Woods Landscaping, which quickly decided some tree trimming was needed. Al Jones of Jones Brothers came to take a look and agreed to do it for Make A Difference Day.

Tibbie saw the need while working with Bess four days a week as a professional companion.

Bess, like so many others her age, has seen her ability to do chores and get around town diminish.

"You feel very helpless, that's for sure," she said. "Losing control, that's hard. If you can't do it, you can't do it."

She also has seen her island neighborhood change over the past 20 years to include fewer young families with children, more renters and less interaction between neighbors.

The elderly need helping hands, even for simple things, beyond what families can offer.

"I always try to pay forward," Tibbie said. "Too often, we say, 'Oh, I'll give Sue a call tomorrow' but we don't take time to do it. More of us need to make time."

She volunteers with Camp Leo, sponsored by the Hilton Head Lions Club for sight-impaired children of South Carolina. And she mentors a sixth-grader. It started when the child was a kindergartner.

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