Civitas thanks: 'Each person can make a difference'

Congratulations to Susan F. Cato of Beaufort for winning the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's top honor at its annual Civitas Awards Dinner.

Cato earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for heading the Child Abuse Prevention Association for the past 29 years.

She started days after it opened its Open Arms Shelter for Abused and Neglected Children in 1985. She worked part-time out of her home, raising money for its $52,000 budget, coordinating volunteers and the few programs it offered to stop the cycle of child abuse.

The growth of the organization is a positive reflection on Cato's abilities. The annual operating budget is $1 million, it employs 23 people and has sheltered 2,113 children. It works with 6,000 children and adults annually in a number of programs. It coordinates with numerous agencies, always concentrating on "prevention."

Cato deserves the honor, but so do the countless people who volunteer and give to the nonprofit, which now depends heavily on income from CAPA's Closet thrift shop on Ribaut Road.

"I think that each and every person can make a difference if you just help one person, and then the world would be a better place," Cato said.

Each person and organization honored with Civitas Awards -- including Pat Conroy, W.R. "Skeet" VonHarten, Harris Pillow Supply, Second Helpings, the Heritage Classic Foundation, the Sea Eagle Market and others -- help prove that Cato's comment is true. We thank them all.