Ida Martin, founder of Bluffton Self Help, dies at 86

info@islandpacket.comJune 12, 2013 

Ida Martin, the founder of Bluffton Self Help whose service to others has been honored by President Barack Obama, died Wednesday night at Beaufort Memorial Hospital at the age of 86.

Martin passed away peacefully and was surrounded by family, including her husband, Jacob Martin, according to a news release from Bluffton Self Help.

A funeral has been tentatively arranged for June 20 at Campbell Chapel AME Church, according to the Bluffton Self Help website, but a time and other arrangements are pending. Arrangements are being handled by Stiney's Funeral Home.

Martin founded that organization out of her garage in 1987 to help working families, the disabled and the elderly in times of need. Today, it has grown to serve several hundred people each day with food, clothing and financial assistance.

Along the way, Martin earned accolades for her volunteer work at the local, state and national levels. In October 2011, she received the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the nation's highest civilian honors. She is fondly remembered for asking Obama for a hug at the White House ceremony, said Bluffton Self Help executive director Lili Coleman.

"We knew an angel," Coleman said.

In April 2012, Martin became the fifth person inducted to the town of Bluffton's Wall of Honor since Mayor Lisa Sulka created it in 2010. Martin was the first woman selected and the first person to receive the honor while still alive.

The five-person Wall of Honor Commission meets quarterly to choose new inductees. Chairwoman Babbie Guscio said Martin was a unanimous choice in a town with plenty of deserving people.

"We thought it was fitting to nominate Ida for all that she has done for the less fortunate," Guscio said in an Island Packet article announcing her selection. Guscio added Martin has been "a selfless contributor to the welfare of Bluffton for nearly 30 years."

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