60 Years of Compassionate Caring
February 2021 Issue
By Jane Kendall
Photos provided by Women's Association of Hilton Head Island
2021 is a very special year. It marks the 60th anniversary of WAHHI, the Women’s Association of Hilton Head Island. It was first organized in January 1961 as the Hilton Head Garden Club by 23 forward-thinking women with a mission to beautify the island. Their first projects were planting azaleas around Coligny Circle, followed by a cleanup of the historic Zion Cemetery on Route 278. As the projects grew, more women joined, and in 1965, the name was changed to WAHHI.
Since then, the membership and boundaries have expanded to include greater Bluffton and Daufuskie Island. The organization has grown into a community of almost 600 multi-generational women with diverse backgrounds and talents. WAHHI’s goals are to promote the natural and cultural beauty of the Lowcountry, to encourage projects which benefit the community and to facili-tate communication among the women of the island.
In addition, WAHHI is considered by many to be the welcoming organization for newcomers to make new friends, learn about the community, its resources and enjoy participating in 40+ interest small groups, events and outings. Small group offerings include arts and entertainment, book clubs, cooking, dining out, wine tasting, happy hours, games, gardening, sports, technology and nature exploration. Joining WAHHI gives women the opportunity to meet other members with similar interests.
WAHHI’s commitment to enriching the community is powerful. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved throughout the year. The “Difference Makers” group provides a plethora of activities that can be done in a day. Some projects include collecting toys for children for the holidays, providing coats to children at the Children’s Center, collecting books for local little free libraries, and providing welcome-home bags for the military. The group occasionally holds food drives for local pantries and clothing and toiletry drives for the women’s shelter. They also help care for the beautiful Camellia Garden at the Coastal Discovery Museum, which was planted and donated in 2009, by Donna Manske, beloved former WAHHI President and her husband, Fred.
Large member gatherings in previous years have always been a highlight, with fancy luncheons at resort ballrooms and entertainment from best-selling authors, TV celebrities, performers from the Arts Center, renowned musicians and much more. The year 2020 challenged the group to innovate and utilize technology to maintain connections. In September, a socially-distanced, in-person Zoom event at Coastal Discovery Museum with guest speaker Stan Smith, internationally renowned tennis pro, was a hit. In December, a Shop and Dine About Luncheon at Shelter Cove Towne Center was held, where 440 gifts for The Children’s Center and Bluffton Self Help were collected. Partnering with Shelter Cove local businesses, members celebrated the local arts community and were entertained by musicians from Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.
This year will be peppered with inspirational virtual events, as members look forward to a monthly bestselling author series, a tasty chef series and an engaging environmental and cultural speaker series, which will include “Great White Sharks” with Chip Michalove.
A celebration to honor the 60 year anniversary will be held with WAHHI members on February 17, 2021 via Zoom. Three featured speakers will share insight about WAHHI's history and their experiences with the Lowcountry community and heritage. Barbara Catenaci, Executive Director of the Heritage Library, will speak about “The Island’s History is WAHHI’s History.” Dr. Carolyn Grant, co-author of Gullah Days, Hilton Head Island Before the Bridge, will speak about “Grow-ing Up Local.” Joni Vanderslice, former WAHHI president and founder of the award-winning interior design firm, J. Banks Design Group, will speak about “Growing a Business.” Grant recipients of the WAHHI Charitable Fund will also be announced. This fund, held in trust by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, was established in 2017 and assists non-profit organizations with projects that promote the cultural and natural beauty of the Lowcountry.
The Sea Turtle Patrol has been a grant recipient for the last three years. In 2020, WAHHI funded the sculpture “Myrtle the Turtle” by local artist Mira Scott, which was installed on South Forest Beach at the Tiki Hut. “Lights Out Myrtle,” a previous sculpture by the same artist, resides at the Sandbox Children’s Museum on Pope Avenue.
For the grand finale of this year, the organization is planning a Zoom and in-person, socially-distanced luncheon April 8 at the Coastal Discovery Museum Pavilion at Honey Horn. At this event, several seniors from local high schools will be honored for their outstanding community service and awarded cash stipends. (The Community Service Awards program was initiated in 1980 and has given thousands of dollars to hundreds of deserving youths.)
Collectively, WAHHI members consider it a sacred trust to care for our community and precious environment, and invite you to join in the fun. The group is always happy to welcome new members to be a part of this women’s community to help make a difference for 60 more years.
For More Information:
Prospective new members are cordially invited to attend a ZOOM informational event on Monday, February 8, and/or Friday, March 5, both at 10:00 a.m. To learn more about WAHHI and sign up for the event, go to www.wahhi.com.
WAHHI Website: wahhi.com Facebook: @wahhi.fun