The local stars who work to help children and families and to make their community a better place shone brightly Saturday night at the Hollywood-themed Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Ball.
The event, held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa in Port Royal Plantation, recognized excellence in a variety of community services.
J. Dudley King Jr., owner of Plantation Interiors, won the Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award. Before King's name was announced, friend David Ames said the winner was "unassuming, but has a presence."
That presence was obvious as King slowly made his way to the stage, stopping to shake hands with or hug about a dozen people.
Never miss a local story.
"I'm truly surprised," he said of the award. "It's great to work and see the effects of what you do."
The chamber called his efforts "selfless community service leadership," according to a news release. King is known for his role in the development of The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and The Children's Center and for his work with charity organizations.
"This is not an individual who's content to simply write a check," said Tom Upshaw, chamber board president. "He dives into whatever he's working on. Whether it's moving furniture, working with architects or managing finances, he is committed and involved from beginning to end."
The Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award was first presented in 1971 and is dedicated by her family to the memory of Doughtie, who died at 22 after a short life in service to others.
Other award winners were:
Organization of the Year Award: University of South Carolina Beaufort and Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Foundation
Serving the community and enriching the quality of life for area residents, the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Foundation were lauded for their contributions throughout the Lowcountry.
While honoring its commitment to providing a liberal arts education, USCB continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of higher education. The college's enrollment has more than doubled since it began offering four-year degrees a decade ago, serving nearly 2,000 students at its two campuses and providing an economic impact of $74 million in the region.
"USCB is our beacon for the future," said Paula Harper Bethea, executive director, S.C. Education Lottery. "This organization unites us as a people and it brings us together as a region."
Serving the community since 1979, the Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Foundation has spent the past 33 years with one goal in mind: raising money for the children of the Lowcountry. Since its inception, it has raised more than $3.9M for area children's charities.
"They have been serving the community for a very long time and their contributions have impacted so many," said Sissy Jarrell, director, First Presbyterian Day School. "Without this event, the children of the community and their parents would have a big void, it's so important to what we do and who we serve."
Zonta Woman of the Year: Cindy Taulbee
Cindy Taulbee, vice president of finance for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, is a compassionate champion of community causes. For the past 28 years she has served in many capacities: past president of Zonta on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, a board member of the Island Recreation Center, a founding member of The Sandbox Children's Museum and currently as board member of Bluffton Self Help.
"Cindy definitely embodies that woman who takes her skills and talents and not only uses them professionally, but gives them as gifts to the members of the community who need it most," said Jennifer Stupica, president of the Zonta Club of Bluffton.
The Sue West Educator of the Year: John Abbott
John Abbott brings math to life for his upper grade students at Hilton Head Christian Academy, the chamber said. Far beyond lessons learned in algebra, geometry and statistics, he teaches his students to be leaders who can impact the world.
"John always has students in his room seeking him out for extra help," according to Hilton Head Christian Academy Principal Larry Green. "He is sought out because of his love for students, his desire to see them be successful and his personal determination to make HHCA a better place and his students better people."
Bluffton Regional Business Council Member of the Year: The Bluffton Oyster Company
The Bluffton Oyster Company is one of Bluffton's longstanding family businesses. Owners Tina and Larry Toomers' family history is connected to the shores of the May River. Theirs is a legacy of fishing in the local waters that goes back well over 100 years.
The Bluffton Oyster Co. has occupied its site longer than most other oyster-shucking houses in the state. Their restaurant, Bluffton Oyster Co.'s Family Seafood House, specializes in fresh, local seafood. They also work closely with regulatory agencies on water quality and return thousands of oyster shells to the river each year to seed future harvesting.
"The Toomers are a very thick thread in the fabric of our community," said Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka. "They are givers who give back to our community in every way."