Passion, action required to protect our waterways

info@islandpacket.comOctober 24, 2011 

Have you ever been passionate about a cause? I'm not talking about some selfish pleasure, but rather a cause that benefits someone or some place in a way that changes everything?

If you have never experienced this passion, then you are missing out on one of the greatest feelings any human could ever hope for.

Luckily, I have been in this place a number of times in my life. The first time occurred right after Hurricane Hugo blasted through South Carolina. I borrowed a large truck from a local lumber company, filled it with everyday necessities like batteries, diapers, ice and food and headed up to the areas that were devastated by the hurricane. Just north of Charleston in a community called Hamlin Beach, I couldn't believe what I encountered. Everything was gone, and the people who lived in the area were basically walking around in a daze. There was one woman who captured my heart. Her name was Mary Jane Mannigault, a 76-year-old sweetgrass basketweaver, and when I found her, what was left of her possessions all fit into an old orange crate. I was so touched by her situation that I told her this: "If you make me a sweetgrass basket, I'll build you a home."

It just popped out of my mouth, but within two months, she was in her new two-story home. It was this passion that I am talking about that inspired me to drop everything in my own life and work to fulfill my promise to this woman I had just met. That same passion helped me build four more homes for people who had lost everything and though you might think they were the lucky ones, I disagree. I was the lucky one.

It would be impossible to describe the feelings these deeds invoked. It was beyond euphoria, and I would give anything to have that feeling back, even if for just one day.

So why have I told you this story? Hopefully, it will inspire a handful of you to skip a golf game or a day of fishing and find that same passion for a cause that is vital to our community -- the Waddell Mariculture Center.

Even if you have never fished a day in your life, the people at the Waddell Center have helped you. They have done more to keep our waters some of the cleanest and healthiest on the East coast than you'll ever know. Located on the exact site where BASF, one of the world's largest chemical companies, had planned to build a massive complex, public pressure was the key to stopping what would have been the death of our waters and in its place, Waddell was born. And for all these years since, Al Stokes and his crew have been champions for the cause, researching, restocking and advising to the future health of our waters, especially now with urban sprawl threatening our pristine way of life.

You would think with everything they have done, they would be well-funded by our state government -- but they aren't. Funding has been slashed over and over again, and now their survival is up to us.

So what am I asking from you? I know money is tight, but there is something you can do that is probably as easy as a phone call.

To raise money at this year's "A Taste of Waddell" on Nov. 13, we need high-ticket items that will be auctioned off to raise money for Waddell. Many of you have contacts with elite golf clubs, hunting preserves and travel destinations, and these are the type of items we need.

I'll take whatever you are willing to give and yes, all contributions are tax deductible.

As much as I would love to get a ton of items that can be auctioned, I want your passion for this cause just as badly. Email me or call me at 843-816-6608, and I will give you all the details on this worthy event.

From now on it is up to us, and not the government, to make sure Waddell Mariculture Center thrives.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service