Weird

A Hilton Head ‘foot massage and family portrait’ business has us saying: What?

Non-profit offers free lunch and mentoring to kids living on the North end of Hilton Head Island.mp4

The 12 Jewels of Life non-profit organization is wrapping up their first summertime free lunch program for children living on the North end of Hilton Head Island, but they don't plan to stop there.
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The 12 Jewels of Life non-profit organization is wrapping up their first summertime free lunch program for children living on the North end of Hilton Head Island, but they don't plan to stop there.

It’s a jarring combination: foot massages and family portraits.

Roadside signs advertising such services have circulated in the Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and Savannah areas in recent years.

It leaves drivers wondering ... “what?”

The most recent spotting of the sign is along Bluffton Parkway, where drivers traveling at 45 mph just have to trust they read the black and white sign correctly.

Or maybe they hope they didn’t?

And via the internet, the sign made people giggle as far away as the United Kingdom.

When one woman listed all the possible arrangements of the two services, someone in Scotland commented: “You missed the possible combination of the photographer having his feet massaged by the family he is photographing, a more interactive approach.”

The woman behind the signs is Hilton Head native islander Rochelle Williams, and they’re real.

The combination is not a scam or a joke.

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A sign advertising foot massages and family portraits sits next to Bluffton Parkway in Bluffton May 20, 2019. The sign advertises services provided by Sea Island Massage on Hilton Head Island. Katherine Kokal The Island Packet

Williams, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014 and 2018, has been a massage therapist for 33 years and owns Sea Island Massage on Hilton Head.

Williams also manages a non-profit after-school program on the island called 12 Jewels of Life, and she said the sign’s message is actually the result of a contest with the children who participate in it.

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Rochelle Williams, center, places some anti-bacterial hand gel on the table while local children eat their lunch provided by 12 Jewels of Life on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, under the pavilion at Green Shell Park on Hilton Head Island. The non-profit group, headed by Williams, has been at the park every week day during the summer to offer free lunches and mentoring to children in the area. Delayna Earley dearley@islandpacket.com

“They wanted to take pictures of everyone who comes in here ... and see who has the cutest feet,” Williams explained Monday.

Thus the massage and family portrait sign was born.

When an interested guest makes an appointment, Williams said they can have their photo taken by 16- to 18-year-old teens who participate in the 12 Jewels program.

She said the guest can have a portrait of their toes, face or whole body in an action shot.

After the students practice their photography skills, one of five licensed massage therapists gives the guest a foot massage.

Williams said the $20 service benefits the summer lunch program where Williams helps entertain and feed local kids when school gets out in the summer.

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Rochelle Williams, left, gives Elajah Jones-Waters, 6, a lunch provided by 12 Jewels of Life on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, under the pavilion at Green Shell Park on Hilton Head Island. The non-profit group, headed by Williams, has been at the park every week day during the summer to offer free lunches to children in the area. Delayna Earley dearley@islandpacket.com

The rather unlikely combination has been going on for about two years, and Williams said about 85 people have taken advantage of the offer.

It has certainly hit a funny bone.

One woman shared a photo of the sign online in April 2017, adding:

“I’m interested and I have questions ... Is it $20 for BOTH a foot massage AND a family portrait? Or is it $20 for EITHER a foot massage OR a family portrait? Do I have to pick, or can I have both? Can the foot massage be given DURING the family portrait? Can I substitute the family portrait for extra foot massage time? Can I split it up? $10 worth of foot massage and $10 worth of family portraits? Can I get a portrait taken of my FEET getting massaged?,” she wrote. “Listen, if I’m going to spend $20 on this, I need answers, people.”

A Hilton Head woman also commented on the sign, which was attached to a tree en route to Savannah.

“I couldn’t decide if the goal was to get a foot massage WHILE getting a family portrait taken OR if this company was just trying to save a little money and advertise both services on one placard,” she wrote.

But Williams says, “Foot massage is getting more and more popular. Those are popping up all over the place.”

Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.

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