Page 1

Publisher Tammy Clark Editor Heather Page Office Manager Tiffany Skipper Advertising Executive Mary Kevin Miller Advertising Executive Jordan Pupa

Contributing Photographers Tindall Hutchinson Seth Johnson Tracy Rowell Fred Salley Collin Smith Jeff Smith Contributing Writers Sarah Bennett Mark W. Buyck, III Linda Johnson Natasha Plunkett Jordan Pupa Mike Miller Dr. Rennee Saverance Donna Tracy

Creative Design Tuesday Taylor

Serving Florence, Hartsville, Darlington, Marion, Mullins, Lake City and the surrounding areas 2011-B Second Loop Rd, Florence, SC 29501 FIND US ON FACEBOOK

For advertising rates, call 843-687-4236.

COVER CONCEPT With everyone gearing up for the new school year, we felt it was more than appropriate to dive into the details of one of our favorite FSD1 schools and their agricultural program. Jeff Murrie goes into detail on what all Briggs Elementary offers its students and how they are bringing the farm back into the classroom.


VIP Magazine | August 2018







AUGUST CONTENTS 10 Advocating Healthcare Why Are Immunizations Important?

12 Business Spotlight Ashley Aesthetic, LLC

14 Employee Spotlight Alexis Kelley McDonald

16 All Access U.S. Air Force

18 Business Spotlight Blake Pate with Chic-fil-A

20 Florence Community A Strong Voice for the Business Community

22 Downtown Development

24 In The Head Of 26 Paying It Forward 28 Business Spotlight

Women’s Leadership Symposium

52 Fashion At Work & Play Rivals: A Store Divided

Anderson Brothers Bank

30 Under The Dome

54 Student Spotlight Grayson Jeffords

Supreme Court Justices

33-39 Cover Story

56 Health & Wellness The Backbone of Long-term Health

Fresh Off the Farm with Jeff Murrie

40 Innovate

58 Paying It Forward Heaven’s Hope


42-45 Around Town 46 Happenings

VIP Magazine | August 2018

50 Experience Hartsvile

Traveler’s Pointe

Heller House Inn


48 Time To Toast

Kristen Wilson

60 In Your State Swamp Rabbit Trail

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Why are Immunizations Important? story by Donna Tracy, Communications Coordinator, HopeHealth This year, the newest adaptation of the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women premiered. The coming of age story about three young women has captured the imaginations of generations. Today, however, audiences can no longer truly empathize with the fears and concerns suggested by one plot element – Beth’s contraction of scarlet fever, a form of streptococcal infection. Vaccinations and improved medical care have nearly eliminated parents’ fears of childhood diseases and their debilitating impact. Pertussis (whooping cough) and diphtheria were major causes of illness and death among children as late as 1950. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 120,718 cases of pertussis and 1,118 deaths from the disease in 1950, as well as 5,796 cases of diphtheria resulted in another 410 deaths. Even if individuals recovered (the diseases impact adults as well as children), they often suffered life-long disabilities such as blindness, deafness, and paralysis. The only way to contain outbreaks before vaccinations was by quarantining those infected and their households. According to Journal of American Medical Association articles, these quarantines could last a minimum 42 days causing children to miss weeks of school and parents to miss work. Quarantine placards identified homes and businesses impacted by such diseases and were a familiar sight as recently as the 1950s - especially for polio. The CDC reports 33,300 cases and 1,904 deaths from polio in 1950 alone. With the development of a polio vaccine in 1953, however, these rates dropped dramatically. In 1954 there were 18,308 cases and 1,306, and by 1960, only 988 cases and 90 deaths were reported. Since 1979, not one case of polio has originated in the U.S. and, today, intensive world-wide vaccination programs begun in 1988 have eliminated the disease from all but two countries. Vaccine-preventable diseases now include: chickenpox, diphtheria, flu, hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus (HPV), measles, meningococcal disease, mumps, pneumococcal disease, rubella, shingles, tetanus, and pertussis. Thanks to vaccination programs, the CDC reports that today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles,

a disease which almost every person in the U.S. contracted before vaccinations became prevalent. However, the CDC also reports that outbreaks, especially in communities with low vaccination rates, can and do still occur. Only one disease, smallpox, has been completely eradicated; any other disease can make a comeback if vaccination rates decrease. School enrollment requirements are an important tool for maintaining vaccination rates. In South Carolina, vaccination requirements generally follow the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices guidelines. That means rising seventh graders are required to have received one dose of Tdap which provides protection from bacterial infections such as tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Along with the Tdap vaccine, all children ages 11 and 12 should be vaccinated with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose is recommended at age 16. The HPV vaccination is also recommended beginning at age 11, with a booster dose in 6-12 months to protect against HPV infections that can cause cancer. Teens and young adults (16-23 years) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. For more information on vaccinations and the diseases they prevent, visit the CDC’s vaccines and immunizations page at

HOPEHEALTH 360 North Irby St. Florence 843.667.9414 | 10

VIP Magazine | August 2018

August 2018 | VIP Magazine




story by Jordan Pupa With her creative talent, Ashley LeSage crochets a variety of original handmade pieces. What started as a hobby turned into more with the start of Ashley Aesthetic, LLC. Originally from Storrs, Connecticut, Ashley came to Hartsville to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Dance at Coker College. Ashley loves the small, close knit environment of Coker College and the city of Hartsville. In fact, she even stayed in Hartsville after graduating in 2015, as she had both a full-time and parttime position lined up in dance education. Along with running Ashley Aesthetic LLC, she is a dance teacher at Thornwell School for the Arts and a dance instructor at MOVE Dance Academy in Hartsville.

adjusted it to make it my own, and crocheted them.” After that, Ashley continued to take special requests which have become very popular. With the development of an Etsy shop online, she was sending her creations to places as far as California, Arizona, and Hawaii. “The Christmas season was insane! My hands and wrists would be sore from crocheting, yet I was never sick of it,” says Ashley “Creating something from just yarn and a hook is still fascinating to me.” In January of 2018 she finally turned her hobby into a real business and registered Ashley Aesthetic as a single member LLC. Since then she has attended numerous festivals, farmers markets, and has continued with online sales. 

Ashley taught herself how to crochet the summer going into her junior year of college. “I wanted to find something I could do between classes or in the little free time I had that made money,” shares Ashley. “Both my junior and senior year I sold hats, headbands, and scarves to make a little extra money and to relieve any school related stress.” After leaving it alone for about two years, Ashley suddenly shifted her focus and picked it back up again, this time in full force with the creation of new items. Ashley created crocheted tops, blankets, and even monster slippers, which were a major product that pushed her to start her business. “Last November I had a friend who asked me to make monster slippers for her daughter, so I found a pattern,

In addition to taking special requests, Ashley Aesthetic continues to offer a wide variety of items in stock. Ashley explains, “My favorite thing to do is make new items. Currently some of the more recent items I have added to my collections are baby bibs, baby booties, purses/bags, anklets, rugs, and pillows. I am always adding new items and changing things up.” Ashley’s dream is to own her own store full of all of her work. She hopes to turn her side business into a full-time career in the future.


VIP Magazine | August 2018

To check out Ashley’s work, visit her Etsy shop at or to contact Ashley regarding custom made items,email her at

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



ALEXIS KELLEY MCDONALD Connecting with Students Through Dance Alexis Kelley McDonald is a teacher and choreographer at Kelley’s Fine Arts (KFA) Dance and Gymnastics. Alexis began taking dance with KFA at the age of two and was part of the KFA Company for 14 years. Additionally, she was a member of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts, was under contract with Opryland Productions for four years as a child, and was SAG eligible by the age of 8. She was also a featured singer and Dance Captain in Myrtle Beach’s High Steppin’ Country for three years. She has participated in many Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) events winning both Technical and Entertainment Awards and even directed Kershaw County’s DWTS show. Alexis has choreographed all over the southeast for various schools, theaters and dance teams. She has performed places such as Disney World, Universal Studios, and on Carnival Cruiselines. Alexis holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina with a Music Minor and is a certified member of Dance Masters of America. She served as the director of the National Dance Competition, Dance Troupe, Inc., for three years where she traveled the country teaching master classes and putting on events. In addition, Alexis was named the 2018 Best Mannered Teacher by the Junior Cotillion of Camden and she won the 2018 Lake City Chamber of Commerce’s Patricia McElveen Customer Service Award. While she loves to perform, her greatest joy is found when she has the opportunity to watch a student grow. She also believes in giving back. Alexis was a member of the Camden Junior Welfare League and the University of South Carolina Phi Mu House Corporation. She and her KFA dance family put on a concert every year to benefit various charities and perform all over the state. She is married to Chaz McDonald who is a nurse at McLeod. They live in Camden with their sweet mutt Mina and are members of First Baptist Camden.  14

VIP Magazine | August 2018

Shutter Up Photography When did you begin your role as a dance teacher/choreographer?

ALEXIS: “My choreography and teaching career began as soon as my sisters could listen to me. I would choreograph routines that they would have to perform complete with costumes and cassette tapes! I started assisting my mother (Burnadene KelleyNewman) at her dance studio, KFA, in the sixth grade and doing choreography in the ninth grade. After I graduated high school, I began teaching on my own in Camden, South Carolina while attending school in Columbia. In 2016, I began teaching in Florence as well, and last year I added Lake City to my schedule.” Tell us about your family interaction at work.

ALEXIS: “My mom and sisters and I love to bounce ideas off of each other. We all have different strengths, so some of the best routines come from us all in the same room throwing out ideas and choreography together.” What is it like to have many young faces looking up to you and waiting for instruction?

ALEXIS: “It is the best feeling in the world! No one loves you like children and no one is as honest with you as children. I am very attached to my students and after they’ve taken one of my classes, I think of them as mine. It is a deep responsibility to make sure that no matter what is going on at home or school, when they come into my studio, I want them to leave feeling loved and worthy.”

Describe your most rewarding moment as a dance instructor?

ALEXIS: “There are so many, it’s hard to pick just one. A student making her college dance team, a shy toddler getting through her first recital, a hardworking high school senior finally winning 1st Place Overall, a parent telling you their child is most happy in the studio, and watching a student work so long for a skill and eventually accomplish it. Those are amazing moments. I also feel an overwhelming sense of pride when I see my dancers cheering each other on and helping others. That’s what we need more of in this world; Dancers rooting for one another even when that person might be their competition. When they understand that winning isn’t always the most important and are grateful for the opportunities, I feel like I’m doing something right.” Tell us about the Acro classes to be offered at KFA.

ALEXIS: “I am so excited about this new opportunity. Acro is a style that combines classical dance technique with acrobatic elements and tumbling. We are getting our certification this summer with Acrobatic Arts in Orlando and will be offering it to our competitive dancers in all of our locations.” Describe your favorite routine, dance style, and music.

ALEXIS: “My favorite dance routine would be impossible to choose, but this past year, I taught a routine that melted my heart every time it was performed. It was a lyrical dance to the song ‘This Little Light of Mine’ by Addison Road. These dancers absolutely reflected the love of Jesus in their faces and movement and I couldn’t help but get emotional. I love to dance to songs that tell a story or communicate an emotion, whether it be joy or sorrow. The best songs and routines are the ones that move the audience to feel something. My favorite type of dance to perform myself is absolutely tap. I love complex rhythms and finding new ways to emphasize the music. Tap is creating music with your feet.”

What does the future hold for KFA? ALEXIS: “God has been so good to us. Honestly, I love exactly where KFA is. Sure, I would love to see some of our smaller studios grow to the size of our bigger locations, but as far as our programs go, I think the focus is continuing what we have going. We have such a strong family atmosphere where we help our students grow as dancers, but even more so as kind and caring members of society. The future is bright!”

KFA has a total of seven locations with studios in Florence, Lake City, Turbeville, Bishopville, Camden, Hartsville, and Cheraw. For more information, visit August 2018 | VIP Magazine







Staff Sergeant Michael Nudo is an Active Duty Air Force Recruiter in Florence. He is originally from Youngwood, PA and joined the Air Force in February 2007. He has a wife, Sabrina, and one daughter, Summer (1). He has been a recruiter for 7 months. Before recruiting, he was a Fuels Technician (POL) for the 43rd Air Base Squadron on Pope Field NC. The 43rd Air Base Squadron supported the Army Golden Knights, Global Response Force on Ft. Bragg. The Global Response Force (GRF) is built for rapid response to unforeseen or, more specifically, unplanned operations.

Staff Sergeant Aaron Cutchins is an Active Duty Air Force Recruiter in Florence. He is originally from Port St. Joe, FL and joined the Air Force in December of 2006. He has a wife, Beth, and two kids Addison (5) and Kyler (4). Prior to his current career he was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic for the 823rd REDHORSE Squadron in Hurlburt Field, FL, which was a special Civil Engineering unit in the Air Force with a mission to construct bases in locations around the world from the ground up. Staff Sergeant Cutchins worked with all branches of the Military to get the mission accomplished. He shares, “Most people don’t realize the Air Force even has these capabilities!”

VIP Magazine | August 2018

AIM HIGH. Tell us about your start with the Air Force. Staff Sergeant Cutchins: “Before I joined the Air Force, I was working at a sewing factory in Florida. I waited until I was 21 years old to join because I wanted to experience the workforce for myself. I chose the Air Force over the other branches because I knew it would be a better fit for my type of personality. We look for the best and brightest of our young men and women because our main mission is to put multi-million-dollar pieces of equipment (jets) in the air!” Staff Sergeant Nudo: “Prior to joining the Air Force I worked at UPS loading trucks. I really wanted to wrestle in college but having no money and poor grades I realized this was not an option. I joined a year after I graduated high school because a friend told me about the Air Force and how it works.”

Explain the impact the Air Force has had on your life. Staff Sergeant Cutchins: “I have had some amazing times in the Air Force! I grew up in a single wide trailer in lower Alabama. My family struggled to say the least. I never realized how much until I actually left and looked back at my childhood. Since joining, the Air Force has sent me to over 10 different countries to include places like Germany, Ireland, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar, and Afghanistan. I have been able to go to college absolutely free, see some of the most awesome places on the planet, and have my family completely taken care of all while making a pretty decent living! I can’t say enough good things about how the Air Force has treated me over the years. I could not imagine doing anything else with my life and I want to share it with everybody I can. The main reason I like being a recruiter is that I get to see how other people’s lives are changed for the better just like mine was and I love being part of that!” Staff Sergeant Nudo: “My time in the Air Force has expanded my idea of the world in many ways. I have been to places I would have never been if not for the Air Force. I have deployed 6 times, traveled to 10+ countries, and went to technical schools all over the United States. My biggest accomplishment would be the education I received while in the Air Force. I currently have 2 associates (Logistics, Human Relations) degrees and am three classes away from my Bachelors in Transportation and Logistics. Without the Air Force none of this would have been possible. I have also received tons of hands on training in leadership, and Fuels operations. The benefits of the United States Air Force are unmatched in my opinion and I would do it all over again if I could.”

How can someone learn more about the Air Force? Staff Sergeant Cutchins: “If someone is considering the Air Force as a career option, the first thing they need to do is give us a call to set up an appointment or go to We will go over the requirements to join and discuss options available to them. We have over 150 careers in the Air Force to include things like Avionics, Fire Protection, Special Forces, Intelligence, Security Forces, Cyber Security, In-Flight Refueling, Nuclear Weapons, Aircraft Crew Chiefs, Tactical Aircraft Maintenance, Missile and Space Facilities, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Careers, and many more. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in, then you’re literally just one phone call away from changing your life forever!”




2600 S Irby St, Florence 843.669.8363 | apply now at August 2018 | VIP Magazine



West Florence Dine-In Restaurant story by Natasha Plunkett Blake Pate is the owner of the newly re-built Chick-fil-A on David H. McLeod Boulevard in Florence, known as the West Florence FSU location. After two years running as a Drive Thru Only location, the restaurant recently shut down for a rebuild in order to open as a dine-in facility to better accommodate the volume of customers. Blake was born and raised in Florence, graduated from Wilson High School and attended the University of South Carolina where he double majored in Marketing and Management. He is happily married to his wife, Annie, who is also a Florence native. Blake has numerous years of experience with the brand. He began working at Chick-fil-A when he turned 15. His first job was at the Chick-fil-A inside Magnolia Mall working for his father, David Pate. David Pate brought Chick-fil-A to Florence in 1979 and was an Operator for 38 years. Blake had the pleasure and opportunity of taking over the Mall store from his father in 2009. After running the Mall Chick-fil-A for 6 years, he moved outside and took over the Magnolia Mall Drive Thru Only Chick-fil-A when his father retired.  Prior to the new building, Chick-fil-A existed on the corner of David H. McLeod Blvd as the Magnolia Mall Drive Thru Only location, which was built in 1994. “We have been trying to expand the Drive Thru for as many as 6 years,” explains Blake. “The DTO (Drive Thru Only) concept did not offer the type of service our customers have come to expect, so we knew we needed to change. A single entrance and exit, coupled with barely enough square



VIP Magazine | August 2018

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit

Blake Pate, owner feet to house our staff prompted our expansion. That and the fact that you couldn’t even get onto the parking lot on a busy day!” Expanding the restaurant was a tedious process, and they shut down for a necessary rebuild. Construction began February of 2018 and ended in May of 2018, with the whole process taking around four months total. For Blake, it seemed like ages! “To the community at large, it seems like it went up in the matter of a few days. However, when you are working right beside it, it seems like it takes forever. The anticipation and buzz it created was worth it, even with having a giant fence right next to us. People had been begging us for a change for so long. It was great to finally be able to show them something was happening.”

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Muffin

Fruit Cup

Waffle Fries

Chick-fil-A Sandwich

Cobb Salad

The restaurant reopened on June 21, 2018 with a facility big enough to handle the volume of customers. “It will take some time for us to become proficient in a brand-new restaurant, but we are confident we built the store big enough this time,” says Blake. “It has been a huge boon to our employees. Not only has the size of the kitchen tripled, but we have brand new canopies outside DAVID MATTH EWS with fans over our order-taking areas that are equipped and heaters which keep our employees at a comfortable temperature no matter the time of the year! That allows us to be outside, serving guests face-to-face, and giving them an experience they can’t get anywhere else.” The restaurant includes a beautiful dining room with a play area attached for out-of-town guests, travelers, and locals to enjoy. Blake truly appreciates his Chick-fil-A team and the positive influence they have on every customer they come in contact with. “I have been blessed to work with some of the most hard-working, dedicated, and gracious people throughout my life. I have employees that have worked at Chick-fil-A for around 35 years! Some of my employees babysat me when I was a kid, if you can believe it!” Blake believes the new store is just as much for them as it is for their customers. “Providing them with the space and tools necessary to do their jobs to the best of their ability has been awesome.  After working in the Drive Thru for the past couple of years, the new building is amazing and the team sure does seem to enjoy it!” 2701 West David McLeod Blvd, Florence (843) 665-1512 | Mon-Sat 6:30 am - 10 pm, Closed Sunday Download the Chick-fil-A App for faster service!

Kids Chick-N-Strips Meal

Grilled Chicken Wrap August 2018 | VIP Magazine



A Strong Voice for the Business Community story by Mike Miller

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce is about to begin its new fiscal year. During the coming months, many important programs will be implemented to support and promote our communities and area businesses. Now might be a good time to share some of the signature programs the Chamber is responsible for managing. In total, the Florence Chamber will have planned more than 60 different community events or programs that are either community-based or business-centered efforts. The Chamber’s Business Plan contains a list of many of the key program sessions covering everything from the PRISM initiatives to governmental updates.   The Chamber’s Education and Leadership Division will bring the Pee Dee solid opportunities to cultivate and grow future leaders. Our list of programs and partnerships include the Leadership Florence, Junior Leadership Florence County, the Emerging Leaders Summer Institute and the Fellows-in-Education program. Our Government Affairs Division will conduct a Fall Education and Workforce Update with area educators, a Winter Legislative Breakfast with local and state representatives, the City/Chamber Business of the Quarter recognition, and a Washington DC Delegation Trip initiative. We also participate in the State Legislative Day in Columbia in the spring. Our Community and Business Development Division will be managing new minority and small businessinitiatives through PRISM (Promoting the Inclusion of Small and Minority Business). We will be hosting the 4th annual Kick’in Chicken Wing and Chili Festival in Downtown Florence in the fall, holding the Quarterly CEO Roundtable Discussions and implementing Shop Local programs.

The Chamber’s Member Services Division will hold the Annual Membership Luncheon this fall and the regional Outlook Luncheon in the Spring. We expect to conduct more than a dozen Business-After-Hours events, organize two Chamber Member Golf Classic outings and will present the area’s annual Administrative Day Luncheon. We will also be announcing the Business Person of the Year and the Small Business Person of the Year our Luncheons. These are just a few of the program the Chamber is responsible for, while reaching thousands of people and hundreds of local businesses. It’s important to remember that the Chamber of Commerce is made up of a group of dedicated individuals that not only live here, but also work together to promote the efforts of local businesses through leadership for economic, social and community development. The Chamber is a strong voice for the business community and serves as a tie that binds everyone from entrepreneurs and small business owners to major distributors and manufacturers. The goal is simple - to encourage the growth of the local business community and economy in the place that we all call home.

Michael J. Miller

President, Florence Chamber

Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, 100 W Evans St, Florence | 843.665.0515 | 20

VIP Magazine | August 2018

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



A Bed and Breakfast Centered in the Heart of Kingstree Darren and Pam Tisdale, own ers

Heller House Inn story by Jordan Pupa

Heller House Inn is a home built in 1845 and is currently a Bed and Breakfast owned and operated by Darren and Pam Tisdale. Darren and Pam both grew up in Kingstree, where they have raised a family and worked all their lives. Darren is currently the owner and operator of Williamsburg Lawn Care Services and also serves as the Mayor of Kingstree. After retiring from the family trucking business after 25 years, Pam opened up the bed and breakfast in 2017 as not only a place for lodging, but a place for guests to feel at home where they can rest and find peace. The beautifully decorated inn includes a reading room, sitting room, front porch, multiple guest rooms, plus more, and is within walking distance to Main Street. Darren and Pam first overlooked the house as an option. “We had been looking for a larger house for a while when our realtor suggested the Heller House, but when we first looked at it, it was too much property and too much house for us, so we marked it off our list,” shares Pam. As time went on, their realtor suggested the property a second time. Pam and Darren then met with the current owners. 22

VIP Magazine | August 2018

“We sat down with them and listened to them tell us about how special this house was to them,” explains Pam. “Mr. and Mrs. Arnett told us that it really wasn’t the money that was important, but that someone take this place, love it back to life and esteem it as it should be.” The house seemed to be the right fit at the time, and with much prayer, the Tisdales purchased the home in October of 2010. “It was like buying a piece of history,” says Pam. The house is on the National Registry of Historic places. The Heller House is named after the owners, Mr. and Mrs. MF Heller, who bought the property in 1890. After their purchase of the house, they started an extensive renovation which included adding an upstairs, pressed tin ceilings, and gas overhead lighting, which was the first of its kind in Kingstree. In 1910 the Baptist Church located across the street was replacing its original wooden structured sanctuary. It is said that Mr. Heller instructed the builders to bring the sanctuary across the street and he had it attached as a dining room. It still serves as a beautiful formal dining room today. The house was the first in the town to have overhead lighting, and it still

View more photos of the Heller House Inn at

obtains four of its original fixtures. At present, the main house is 4,800 sq. ft. and is the oldest home in town on its original foundation. After many years of opening their doors to entertain and host friends and family, Pam and Darren decided to share their beautiful historic home with friends they had not met yet. “We have always entertained and had friends and family stay with us, but in 2016 the Lord started laying it in my heart that it was time to retire and open this home to the community and allow its history and its special story’s to be told,” shares Pam. In June of 2017 Pam left her job of 25 years and began the journey to open the Heller House as a Bed and Breakfast. The doors officially opened in November of 2017. The Tisdales have been overwhelmed at the great response from the community and how business has been thus far. “We have met so many wonderful people who were coming to Kingstree and needed a place to stay either for family or business purposes. It has truly been a delight to meet so many wonderful people and to be able to share the beautiful history of this old Lady and the history of our town,” explains Pam. “The town of Kingstree is such a special place with so much rich history that so many know little about. But as many as will listen, I will tell about the beauty of our little sleepy town and the piece of history they are sure to enjoy in the Heller House Inn.”

Heller House Inn 405 N. Academy Street, Kingstree For reservations, call 1-843-355-6198. August 2018 | VIP Magazine




story by Jordan Pupa | Ivana Reay-Jones Photography


Kristen Wilson’s medical struggles opened the door to her newfound love for yoga. After being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, she is currently recovered and enjoying her new adventures of life with a whole new outlook. Today she shares her passion of yoga with others as an instructor at Flow Town Yoga in Florence.

Kristen grew up in Washington, Indiana, for about 13 years before moving to Florence for her stepfather’s job with OTIS Elevator. She attended West Florence High School and graduated in the top of her class with the honor of the board of trustees. In August of 2016, at the beginning of her senior year, Kristen developed a severe cough which could not be suppressed with any medications. After going to the doctor multiple times, they finally advised her to get an x-ray to see if she had pneumonia. “I would cough all day long, disrupting class. I was so embarrassed,” says Kristen. “Around November I began to notice my ribs and how much weight I had lost. I looked so unhealthy.” On Thanksgiving Day, at a table full of great food and company, Kristen recalls that the room started to spin, leaving her nauseous. After an x-ray, her lungs looked abnormal. A CAT scan showed a tumor that was bigger than a softball in her upper middle chest, which was pressing her esophagus to the far right and pushing her lungs to the far walls of her ribs, pushing onto her heart. “It was no wonder I could not breathe properly,” explains Kristen. A surgical biopsy was performed at MUSC. Kristen shares, “They couldn’t seem to get the strands they needed for a diagnosis. We were in a panic 24

VIP Magazine | August 2018

because the pressure from the tumor caused a plural and cardial effusion, fluid in the lining of the lungs and heart. This was life-threatening due to the fact that the pressure from the fluid could suppress my heart from beating.” Another surgical biopsy was completed, and after much time living in the hospital, they finally found an answer. Eight days after Kristen’s 18th birthday, on December 12, 2016, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called 2B Bulky Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She started treatment immediately with 5 rounds of chemotherapy, 21 days per round, followed by 14 rounds of radiation. After much pain and trauma, Kristen finished treatment in June of 2017. Kristen decided to take a year off to focus on recovering before attending college. She was exhausted, weak, and bald. Veronica, the owner of Flow Town Yoga, heard about Kristen and her story and reached out to Kristen’s mother via Facebook. Veronica wanted to see if Kristen would be interested in free one-on-one private yoga sessions to help her rehabilitate. “I had never done yoga before, but I desperately wanted to feel normal again, so I hopped on the opportunity to go,” says Kristen. Little did Kristen know, Veronica and yoga would end up changing her life. After about six private sessions, Veronica believed Kristen was ready to take on public classes. “She saw hope in me. She saw the warrior within me and the light I have,” shares Kristen. “She helped me in more ways than physical. Veronica welcomed me with open arms

and an open heart, to her family and her life. She is like a mother to me. She is a huge reason that I am still here today, fighting.” Eventually, a yoga training was offered at Flow Town but Kristen did not even consider it until Veronica and her family encouraged her to attend. Veronica sponsored Kristen so she could complete a 200 hour Expand Your Power Baptiste Yoga training. After many hard and long weekends, Kristen graduated with ten other trainees. Kristen shares, “Aside from beating cancer once, this is to date one of my proudest accomplishments. Cancer has opened my mind and has given me a new perspective on life. It has taught me so much and how much I can do.” Kristen is about a year out of her treatment and is waiting to see if she will relapse. If so, she will have to undergo more treatment. However, her life is heading in a positive direction. She is currently a yoga instructor at Flow Town Yoga and is also enrolled in Francis Marion University’s Pre-Vet program. “I am strong, brave and new,” says Kristen. “I believe everything happens for a reason, and cancer has made me a better human.” Kristen has truly fallen in love with yoga and enjoys the relationships she has made as an instructor. “It has shaped me mentally, physically and emotionally. I love that I can have an impact on others through my words and sharing my heart. So many things in life are out of my control, but just from the time I step on my mat, I can let everything go and just be. I can breathe and flow and feel the energy within myself. I see my inner beauty. Yoga is a lifestyle.” A Note from Kristen: “I would like to give a special thank you to my mother, Mindy Lengacher, and step-father, Jay Lengacher, for never leaving my side and taking care of me, even when it was unbearable. Without you two, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank to my amazing boyfriend, Conner Smith, and his family. My love for you is infinite. Thanks to Sarah Locklair and all the Locklair’s, you always made me smile. Thank you to Caitlyn and the Riester’s, my second family, and my mother’s amazing friends for traveling miles from Indiana many times to see me. Thank you to my friends and family that made the effort to see me. Thank you to Veronica Robertson, Flow Town Yoga, and all the yogis for helping me find my way in my new life. I thank God for blessing my life and seeing me through my storms. I love you all.”

152 S Dargan St, Florence (843) 790-3569 August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Traveler’s Pointe Promoting Conservation Through Design

story by Jordan Pupa

Landon White was born and raised in Hartsville, SC. He grew up connecting with the outdoors, participating in any activity from hunting and fishing to camping, hiking, and surfing. Landon attended The Citadel where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. His passion for the outdoors and experiences at The Citadel motivated him to create a unique brand, Traveler’s Pointe, which is dedicated to creating designs that promote conservation and artistically portray the life and mind of a traveler. While attending the Citadel, a study abroad trip to Ecuador presented Landon with a new outlook on life and inspired him to make a difference. He shares, “I rode horses on mountains, swam in the Amazon River, and found a beach with wild monkeys playing in the trees. That is when I fell in love with traveling because it allowed me to explore new places, experience other cultures, and meet new people. I decided that it was not only important to travel the world, but to leave these places better than I found them.” At that point, Landon was inspired to create a clothing brand that promoted conservation and influenced others to experience the outdoors and explore their own passions. Landon created Traveler’s Pointe, a brand with products such as hats, t-shirts, flannels, stickers, and other merchandise with unique designs that reflect the beauty of nature and the importance of conservation. The brand motto is “Find Your Wild Side,” which simply encourages people to find what they love about the outdoors and to find ways to protect the wilderness around them for others who enjoy the same passion. For instance, for those who love to hike, it is encouraged they keep trails clean using the “leave no trace” policy and pick up trash and debris that can affect other’s experiences in the wild. The designs are meant to serve as a reminder on travels to not only embrace and experience adventure, but to also give


VIP Magazine | August 2018

back during a journey. “My father and grandfather were big influences on the importance of conservation, respecting wildlife, and preserving it for future generations. My mother and grandmother taught me the importance of community and helping others in need,” explains Landon. “Together we can all make the outdoors greater for everyone through simple changes in our daily lives, and we hope to express our passions and the wilderness in a positive way through our clothing designs.” As a grass-root company, they plan on creating educational community events where people can meet new friends with similar passions and participate in wilderness cleanups and other activities. Traveler’s Pointe believes that community support should come first. Currently, products are sold in locally owned stores and online. Naturally Outdoors in Florence, a local wilderness outfitter, carries the products and has similar beliefs in conservation and community. Seersucker Gypsy in Hartsville, an artistically crafted boutique owned by Roxie Gardner, carries the brand. You can also find Traveler’s Pointe products at Young Plantations Pecan Outlet in Florence. The brand is seeking other local vendors who may be interested in carrying their products in their stores. Traveler’s Pointe will continue to educate others about the wilderness through artwork, social media, volunteer work, donating to conservation efforts, and community service. As the company grows they plan to expand in all those areas, but they also plan on making larger conservation efforts across the state and country. “Conservation and traveling is the root of our cause, so through community support we can create more designs that promote conservation and also help our wilderness areas grow as well,” explains Landon. For more information, visit or find Traveler’s Pointe on Facebook and Instagram, @travelerspointe.


Get Outdoors.

Find Your Wild Side. The above items and more can be purchased at

2519 W Palmetto St, Florence | (843) 665-1551 August 2018 | VIP Magazine



ANDERSON BROTHERS BANK Opening More Locations to Better Serve Our Customers Anderson Brothers Bank is a full-service community bank offering a complete range of competitive loan services and deposit products. Founded in 1933, the family-owned bank blends the elements of traditional personal service, local market awareness, and advanced technology to meet the financial needs of its customers. Anderson Brothers Bank has a total of 23 branches in 16 communities throughout the Pee Dee, Coastal, and Low Country regions of South Carolina. Their Main office is located at 101 North Main Street in Mullins. Anderson Brothers Bank has continued to strengthen its presence by opening new branches in the area. The ground breaking at the Grissom Parkway location in Myrtle Beach was held on June 29 with hopes to have the office open by fall of 2019. The new office will replace the small temporary that is located on Oleander in Myrtle Beach. They currently have four locations along the Grand Strand. Additionally, there are now two offices in Dillon County. The Latta Office was opened over a year ago and most recently, the Dillon Office. Johnny Floyd, VP Marion County Executive, shares, “The citizens of Dillon County expressed an interest in having a community bank, and we listened. We felt there was a need for a community bank in Dillon County and are looking forward to being a big part of the Dillon County community. The citizens response to both locations has been phenomenal and we appreciate the warm reception. The opening of the SC Inland Port in Dillon County will create numerous opportunities for the citizens as well as business community in Dillon County. The county will be transformed in the coming years, and we’re excited about the opportunity to be a part of that transformation.”

Grissom Parkway location to open by fall of 2019

New Dillon County location - 1006 Hwy 301 N

Services Provided by ABB: Personal Banking Checking, Savings, CDs and IRAs, Auto Loans, Personal Loans, Home Mortgages, Debit Cards, Credit Cards, and more Business Banking Checking, Savings, CDs and IRAs, Loans, Remote Deposit Capture, Business Debit Cards, Business Credit Cards, Dealer Services, Merchant Card Services, and more Banking Online

Treating You Like Family Since 1933 28

VIP Magazine | August 2018

Personal Online Banking, Business Online Banking, eStatements, Bill Pay, Mobile Banking, Apple Pay

August 2018 | VIP Magazine




Court Justices

story by

Mark W. Buyck, III

Mark W. Buyck, III

Concentrating in Banking, Business, Civil and Business Litigation and Appeals, Contracts, Employment, Government, Real Estate

“The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” This quote is from the first sentence of Article III Section 1 of the United States Constitution, establishing the Judicial branch of our government. Article II of the Constitution establishes and delineates the Executive power of the President of the United States of America. Article II Section 2 contains the Appointments Clause: [the President] “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…, Judges of the supreme Court.” There have been 113 Justices of the United States Supreme Court since the Constitution was adopted in 1789, three of those from South Carolina. Congress initially set the number of Justices at 6. The number of Justices varied from 6 to 7 to 9 to 10, until Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1869 stipulating that the Supreme Court would consist of the Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices. The number of seats of the Court has remained constant since 1869. The only serious challenge to maintaining 9 Justices was Franklin Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack the Court” in 1937. Roosevelt was frustrated that the Supreme Court had declared several of his New Deal programs as unconstitutional. Despite intense lobbying by President Roosevelt, his proposed bill was seen as political maneuvering and was soundly defeated in the United States Senate. The United States Constitution is silent on qualifications for Supreme Court Justices. There are no age requirements, or limits, nor is there a requirement that the candidates have law degrees. Many of the early Justices, as was common at the time, received their legal training working for a practicing lawyer and “reading the law.” After a period of apprenticeship, aspiring lawyers would

sit for the bar exam. The last Justice of the United States Supreme Court who did not receive a law school degree was South Carolinian James F. Byrnes. Byrnes was an adept politician. He served in the United States House of Representatives and as a United States Senator from 1911 until 1941. He was close allies with Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt appointed Byrnes to the Court in 1941. Within months of Byrnes’s appointment, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Roosevelt convinced Byrnes to leave his lifetime appointment on the Court to join the Executive branches’ efforts to mobilize the country for the war effort. Byrnes is credited with the second shortest tenure of any justice on the Court. There have only been 17 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. John Rutledge, a Charlestonian, served as an Associate Justice from 1790 to 1791. President Washington later appointed Rutledge as the second Chief Justice which he served for 5 months in 1795. Rutledge was appointed under a temporary commission as the Senate was not in session. When the Senate reconvened, Rutledge’s nomination was rejected. Rutledge has the distinction of having served the shortest tenure as an Associate Justice as well as serving the shortest term as the Chief Justice. The other South Carolinian who served on the Court had one of the longest tenures. William Johnson, another Charlestonian, was only 32 years old when he was confirmed in 1804. He was one of three Justices appointed by President Thomas Jefferson. Johnson had been an avid political supporter of Jefferson while serving as Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1798 to 1800. He was the first non-Federalist to serve on the Court. He died while still in office in 1834 having served over 30 years as an Associate Justice.

Serving Businesses and Individuals from Florence to Myrtle Beach: the Business Law, Litigation, Real Estate, and Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys of Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A.


VIP Magazine | August 2018

248 West Evans Street | Florence, SC | 843.662.3258 2050 Corporate Centre’ Drive, Suite 230 | Myrtle Beach, SC | 843.650.6777

August 2018 | VIP Magazine


photography by Betsy Dorton

story by Heather Page

FRESH OFF THE FARM Educators possess a quality unlike others. Their passion to provide a cheerful and loving, yet controlled space for children not born to them is something we aren’t all capable of doing. Their talents may allow them to teach an array of subjects, while some are better focusing on specific areas - like English, math, science, or history. For Jeff Murrie, a 26-year educator and current Briggs Elementary teacher, his craft happens to be in the art of agriculture. It’s a subject rarely offered in today’s classrooms, but has quickly become a favorite amongst Briggs’ students. In 2015, a group of Briggs’ faculty members applied and were awarded a grant from the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a farm at Briggs, part of the National Farm to School Network. Shortly after, Jeff transferred to the school and, in addition to his regular duties as a Social Studies teacher, gained the responsibilities of fulfilling the grant. He immediately became the student, submerging himself in educational practices involving agriculture. Since taking on this new role, Jeff is now a graduate of the South Carolina Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom Institute, he holds a certificate in Good Agricultural Practices from Clemson University and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, he is a graduate of the School Gardening for South Carolina Educators from Clemson Extension, and he recently returned from Shelburne Farm in Vermont where he completed the course Cultivating Joy and Wonder for Early Learners.

Jeff has since vacated his former position of teaching Social Studies to fully implement agriculture into the Briggs lesson plan. In three short years, Jeff along with the help of so many in the community have taken a small grant and transformed it into multiple spaces where children are able to learn agriculture. The original grant helped to furnish the materials for a raised garden. Since then, a number of private donors and non-profits have donated time and money to fund an additional garden, a chicken coop, and a satellite garden at Lucas Park. In addition, Briggs is home to the only classroom observation beehive in the Pee Dee region. “I have never witnessed students become as excited and engaged in a subject as I have seen in Farm to School,” says Jeff. He points out how students are capable of fully engaging all five senses while they explore and learn about agriculture - they can taste the home-grown produce, hear the bees buzzing, touch the soft new growth in the garden, see eggs the chicken lay, and smell freshly picked fruit. It is Jeff’s goal to influence children to engage with the environment around them. Over the next few pages, Jeff will teach us about each aspect of the Farm to School program, along with Briggs’ Leader in Me focus, and the Bee Cause Project. As the Farm to School slogan goes, it’s “A win for kids, farmers, and communities!” Briggs Farm: Fresh Off the Farm - Story continues on Page 34

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Jeff Smith Photography

story by Jordan Pupa

The National Farm to School Network is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips which empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Farm to school implementation differs by location. At Briggs Elementary, there are two gardens - the north garden located on Briggs Road and the south garden located near the bus loading area. “It’s great for students that are waiting to load the bus,” explains Jeff. “They can grab some fresh food to take home.” Each year, with the help of the community, new additions are added. The City donated all the lumber for the raised beds in the north garden, a Boy Scout constructed the beds for his Eagle project, parents built the fences and added sprinklers, and Florence Flourish installed the south garden last year. In 2016, the chicken coop was funded through ArborOne, Pee Dee Land Trust, and private donations. The farm shed storage building was funded through a gift from HopeHealth. 

“A win for kids, farmers and the community!”

Clemson Extension’s 4-H Club helps maintain the gardens, chickens, and helps with the bees. The 4-H Club is an organized group of youths, led by an adult, with a planned program that is carried on throughout all or most of the year. The club provides important opportunities for youth to learn subject matter and life skills. In June, a group of 4-H kids that attend Briggs raised tomato plants and basil from seeds, took them to the Pee Dee State Farmers Market, and gave them away to patrons while informing them on the importance of growing their own produce. The 4-H Club, along with the community, takes full responsibility of the additional garden at Lucas Park. Jeff is excited about future opportunities. Duke Energy installed a fruit orchard with peaches, plums, and blueberries in which they want to continue to add to. They also hope to add a new farm piece or livestock in the coming year and install a 30’ by 10’ raised bed that will be used to grow South Carolina cash crops such as cotton, indigo, corn, and peanuts. “Fifty years ago, most everyone had a family member involved in agriculture. Now it’s really hard to find that connection. The Ag classroom gets the students involved and they get to know where their food comes from,” explains Jeff. They also hope to add a four-station compost taking the food waste from the cafeteria. The classroom is most recently in the process of adding information kiosks. Gilbert and Fields Construction donated the materials, a Boy Scout completed the construction, and Dr. Christine Masters, a Francis Marion University English Professor, had her students create graphics for the kiosk for a class project. 


VIP Magazine | August 2018

photography by Jeff Smith

“My family lives in the neighborhood. It’s nice having the farm so close by. We like it when Mr. Murrie brings eggs over!” - Drew Arthur Drew Arthur, Drew Anderson, and Mac Malambri, former Briggs’ students and rising eighth graders at Williams Middle

“The farm is great for students that are waiting to load the bus, they can grab some fresh food to take home.”

photography by Betsy Dorton

Briggs Farm is located at Briggs Elementary at 1012 Congaree Drive in Florence. Jeff can be reached by calling the school at 843.664.8169. August 2018 | VIP Magazine


CHICKENS By far a student and neighborhood favorite are the chickens located in the north garden. The chicken coop provides educational opportunities for the students in the areas of math, science, and biology. Each year students participate in 4H Chicken Embryology in their Related Arts class. The eggs produced are a variety of colors and sizes. Briggs follows safety guidelines in caring for the chickens and students are not allowed to eat the eggs due to health regulations. Even when the students are not at school they can watch the chickens through The Chicken Cam, a live feed that is also open to the community to view. The live feed link is available on the school’s website under School News. photography by Jeff Smith

“We come out a lot to see the chickens. Mr. Murrie is really nice and fun!” - Alyssa Willard Alyssa Willard, rising sixth grader and Ansley Willard, rising second grader


VIP Magazine | August 2018

photography by Jeff Smith

LEADER IN ME PROGRAM Briggs Elementary also participates in The Leader in Me Program, which is a whole-school transformation model that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Jeff shares, “The kids have really stepped up with caring for the garden, chickens and bees. There are seven habits in The Leader in Me that they follow, and the garden has allowed the students to become leaders by taking care of the farm and raising the chickens.”  The students also cook in the classroom what is raised at the farm. “We have made kale chips, eggplant chips, tomato sauce and smoothies,” says Jeff. “The kids love the food and their parents are shocked when they say they like kale chips!” One Saturday a month they have a ‘clean the garden day’ where kids, along with their parents, can come help with the garden upkeep. 

“I like to come visit the chickens as often as I can. It’s fun getting to take “I like getting the eggs because the care of them.” chickens peck at you!” – Anders Brewer – Allison Brewer The leader In Me Program Includes The 7 Habits of Happy Kids: Allison Brewer, former Briggs’ student and rising eighth grader at Williams Middle, and Anders Brewer, rising fifth grader at Briggs

For more info, visit August 2018 | VIP Magazine


BEE CAUSE PROJECT In 2018, Briggs Elementary added an observation beehive through the The Bee Cause Project. The organization provides youth with opportunities to understand, engage, and learn from honey bees in order to connect with the natural environment while developing STEAM skills. Briggs Elementary is the only school in the entire Pee Dee and Myrtle Beach area to have an observation beehive. Florence County Farm Bureau paid for half of the beehive and private donors covered the remaining costs. Jeff completed Ag to Institute, sponsored by the Farm Bureau, where he was able to immerse himself in everything agricultural for the state. The class also sells honey, provided to them from Savannah Bee Company, which helps them to pay it forward for other schools to have the opportunity to get beehives. Overall, the program is committed to educating children about the important role honeybees play in the ecosystems they inhabit.

photography by Jeff Smith

There is also a pollinator garden right outside the classroom that was funded by Five Star Chevrolet in Florence. In addition, Moore Botanical Garden in Lake City has made a huge impact through educating the students on what to grow and donating many of the plants.

Livi Peed, rising first grader at Briggs 38

VIP Magazine | August 2018

“My dad (Robby Peed) and I come over all of the time. We have to come say ‘hey’ to the chickens. Mr. Murrie is awesome and the bees are even better!” - Livi Peed

Each year Briggs Elementary School hosts the “Taste of Briggs” in April where the proceeds help fund much needed programs at the school. They have been able to combine the family-friendly event with the farm by creating the theme “Farm to School.” Various foods for sampling made from produce from South Carolina farmers are offered. Additionally, each grade level prepares a sample dish that focuses around a South Carolina product - strawberries, soybeans, Carolina Plantation rice, pork products, chicken bog, and more. The event features interactive booths, chicken poop bingo, dance and chorus performances, plus more. They even fill up big bins of whole kernel corn with buried toys for the small kids and have a potting station, so kids can plant a seed to take home. 

photography by Jeff Smith

Annagray Malambri and Anna Claire Epps, both rising fifth graders

“The farm has truly benefited the entire school and neighborhood. It has been great for the students – caring for the animals, learning where food comes from, and tending to the gardens. It’s a treat to be out here.” - Sally Malambri, Annagray’s mother and Briggs’ second grade teacher. August 2018 | VIP Magazine



The Startup Of A Healthy Storage Bag Alternative story by Linda Johnson Dinesh and Anusha Chebrolu have always been passionate about starting something on their own. They have always looked for problems that surround them, then spent quality time together discussing solutions. As huge fans of the ABC show Shark Tank, they were able to gain knowledge about retailers and markets across the nation and to learn how to create a product without having much money to do so. They have been inspired to create a product of their own unlike any other with the production of what is known as Vigor Storage Bags. Dinesh came to the United States to pursue his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Gannon University. He has since worked as an Integration Specialist at Kforce Staffing Solutions located in Tampa, FL, a Sr. Database Developer at Blackbaud in Charleston, SC, and most recently as a Sr. Client Data Analyst at ADP in Florence. His job involves handling critical datarelated issues on a day-to-day basis. Anusha completed her MBA in 2012 in India at JNT University. She works at JPMC Delaware as a Sr. Security Tester and enjoys finding security issues in network systems. Dinesh and Anusha moved to Florence after getting married in 2013. After researching how present normal plastic bags are harmful when storing leftover food due to direct contact with plastic, chemicals, and toxins, Dinesh and Anusha decided to create a solution to the problem. They invented Vigor Storage Bags which are made with plastic (PET) and non-woven fabric which enables bag reuse and prevents food items from coming in contact with plastic materials. Vigor is a healthy alternative to food storage that keeps food fresh longer. Vigor bags can be used to safely carry both hot and cold food items, are reusable, and are 100% dishwasher and microwave safe. The material used can absorb any oil or any moisture on food. The bags come in triangular and rectangular shapes. 40

VIP Magazine | August 2018

Vigor is currently in the patent pending stages with hopes to be approved by next year with full ownership rights. They are currently working with retail distributors across the nation and trying to offer licensing partnership to the current key players in the market such as Ziploc, Hefty and Glad. Dinesh and Anusha also have a golden sample ready and plan to have it on display at The Startup Expo’s (SUP-X) happening in Florida in coming months. Dinesh and Anusha are currently the only key people who work for Vigor and they do so after their regular job hours in the evenings. Anusha’s role with Vigor is as a Product Specialist. She works with manufacturers on a daily basis and tries to improve quality and negotiations. An Ohio based company has partnered with Vigor to take care of all their marketing materials. They are helping to generate sales for Vigor bags. In order to continue to improve and grow, Dinesh and Anusha continuously try to attend webinars about startup companies, retail sales, and launching new products. They hope to learn as much as they can about the market in order to take Vigor bags to the next level.

Dinesh and Anusha Chebrolu

August 2018 | VIP Magazine




VIP Magazine | August 2018

From June 16th to June 24th area churches, businesses, non-profits and individuals came together to serve areas of need in Florence. A list of projects was worked on and completed by teams throughout the two week time frame but most of the work was done on one main service day. Thank you to all that came out and helped with the projects. If you are interested in helping in the future or know of a specific project, please visit

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Leadership hartsville Class Improves Exterior of Boys & Girls Club Leadership Hartsville is an innovative program presented by the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce that is designed to develop leadership skills in participants and provide essential information about the community in order to enhance emerging and existing leaders’ knowledge and vision for Hartsville. During the 9-month program, the Class of 2018 completed a project of their choice at the Hartsville Boys and Girls Club in which they named Elevation Renovation. The project began months ago with fundraising and promotion which included creating awareness by visiting civic clubs, spreading the word at community events, and creating an angel wing donation photo opportunity at the Hartsville Farmer’s Market. With numerous weekend work days, the class was able to improve the exterior of the Boys and Girls Club in order to make it a more appealing place for the kids to play and learn. The class was able to replace an old fence, repair the roof, complete yard work, power wash, paint, buy new picnic tables, add hop scotch and a door awning, and install a new sign and murals on the outside of the building depicting the history and legacy of Butler High School. 44

VIP Magazine | August 2018

lip sync battle The Lip Sync Battle, Novel Event 2018 was held at the SiMT building on June 14th to benefit the Florence Area Literacy Council. In Florence County, one out of every three adults are functionally illiterate. You can help us reduce that number through your support of our mission.

August 2018 | VIP Magazine




August 30, 2018

Come watch the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Teams make their way through cheering fans from the FLORENCE CENTER to the DARLINGTON SQUARE and into the track that’s “Too Tough to Tame.” The fun begins at the Florence Center with entertainment and live music. Kids play FREE on the KidsZone inflatable ride and games sponsored by SC Blue. The GameTruck will bring a wide selection of games for Xbox360, Wii and PS3. Fans will enjoy the exciting silent auction full of great NASCAR items and race memorabilia. Proceeds benefit local charities. The main attraction, however, is the plentiful NASCAR transporters. Fans can make their way through a sea of transporters and take pictures with their favorite team’s hauler and driver. At 7pm the parade of NASCAR haulers leave the Florence Center and make the 12-mile trek to RaceFest on the Darlington Square where there will be more entertainment, food, a car show and an awesome fireworks display. The transports will continue through Darlington until they reach the track “Too Tough to Tame” where they can park, unload and begin preparation for the Bojangles Southern 500 race.

There is plenty of FUN for the whole family! 46 VIP Magazine | August 2018

FLORENCE 2........................................................................................................................................ Thursday Night Out Downtown, Downtown Florence, 5pm 3........................................................................................................................................ Florence Redwolves game, 7pm Painted Man, Victors 7........................................................................................................................................ SHRM Certification Information Session, SiMT, 6pm 12....................................................................................................................................... WWE, Florence Center, 7pm 14-15................................................................................................................................. Paw Patrol Live, Florence Center 16...................................................................................................................................... Business After Hours-Raldex, 780 Woody Jones Blvd, 5:30pm Brother Oliver, Local Motive, 6:30pm 17-25................................................................................................................................ ECA Fair 17....................................................................................................................................... McLeod Rock for Kids Concert, Downtown, 5:30pm 21....................................................................................................................................... Arthritis Pain & Joint Replacement Seminar, Floyd Center, 11:30am 23...................................................................................................................................... Florence Area Coker Social, Seminar Brewing, 5:30pm 25...................................................................................................................................... Strength & Honor M.C Memorial Ride, Black Jack Harley-Davidson, 9am 29..................................................................................................................................... Shell-Penzoil Performance Display, Walmart, 10am 30..................................................................................................................................... 2018 Darlington Car Hauler Parade & Festival, Florence Center, 4pm Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, FMU PAC, 7:30pm 31....................................................................................................................................... Friday After 5: Blackwater Rhythm & Blues Band, Downtown, 5:30p WEEKLY EVENTS Wednesdays.......................................................................................................................... Wine Down Wednesday | Dolce Vita 4pm Thursdays............................................................................................................................... Ovis Hill Farmer’s Market | Naturally Outdoors 3pm-7pm Trivia Night | Southern Hops 7pm Live Music | The Dispensary Saturdays................................................................................................................................ City Center Farmer’s Market | Downtown 9am-1pm Live Music, The Dispensary

MARION/MULLINS 1-3..................................................Summer Camp Finale, Swamp Fox Farms 11........Caregivers Support Group, Carolinas Hospital System, 11:30am 17................. Little Rusty Acoustic, Foxhole Swamp Fox Complex, 8pm

AUGUST 2018 HARTSVILLE 1............................................................................................................................ Eat Your Way Around the World, Black Creek Arts, 9:30am 2........................................................................................................................... Bridge for Beginners, Prestwood Country Club, 6:30pm Lip Sync Battle Return of the Six, Center Theater, 7pm 4........................................................................................................................... Coffee & Community $5 Yoga, Black Creek Arts, 9am Leadership Workshop & Book Signing with Toyinda Smith, Burry Bookstore, 11:30am 10......................................................................................................................... Live Music w/ Brother Oliver, Retrofit Sip-n-Seat, 8pm 11.......................................................................................................................... Farmer’s Market, Main Street Hartsville, 9am Screen on the Green: Guardians of the Galaxy, Burry Park, 8:30pm 21......................................................................................................................... Foreign Language Night, Retrofit Sip-n-Seat, 6pm 25........................................................................................................................ Debra Snips & The Angels in Concert, Center Theater, 5pm 31......................................................................................................................... Shell-Pennzoil Performance Display, Walmart, 10am Live Music w/ Vegas’ Toney Rocks, Retrofit Sip-n-Seat, 8pm WEEKLY EVENTS Thursdays......................................................................................................... Centennial Farmers Market | 5th & Carolina 3pm-6pm

DARLINGTON 7........................................................................................................................... Outshine Crime National Night Out, Liberty Lane, 4pm 9........................................................................................................................... Bringing Downtown Alive Free Concert, Liberty Lane, 7pm

LAKE CITY 2........................................................................................................................... Bean Market Thursdays, 12pm 4........................................................................................................................... Pizza Party & Planters, Moore Farms, 10:30am 5........................................................................................................................... Southeast Wedding & Event Expo, 245 S. Church St., 2pm 11.......................................................................................................................... Garden Open: Back to School, Moore Farms, 8:30am Desert Gardens, Moore Farms Botanical Garden, 9:30am 18......................................................................................................................... Home-brewing 101 Class, Moore Farms, 1:30am 25........................................................................................................................ ColorBlast, Moore Farms Botanical Garden, 9:30am 27......................................................................................................................... Yoga in the Garden, Moore Farms Botanical Garden, 6pm


TAX FREE WEEKEND August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Elevation Renovation Unveiled The 2018 Leadership Hartsville Class, in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club, will unveil its Elevation Renovation Project on July 12, 2018 at 11:30am at the Boys & Girls Club of Hartsville which is located at 1103 S 6th Street. The Elevation Renovation Project was the service project of the 2018 Leadership Hartsville class to not only improve the Boys & Girls Club of Hartsville but to be able to give back to a deserving community of rich and important heritage to Hartsville. The project consisted of replacing an old fence, roof repair, cleaning, painting and the installation of murals to depict the history and legacy of Butler High School. The 2018 Leadership Hartsville Class is honored and overjoyed to celebrate the heritage of the school and celebrate the new seeds of leadership that are growing with the Boys & Girls Club. It has been a rewarding process that included generous contributions from various organizations and donors to make this goal a reality. The event will include a brief presentation to the Boys & Girls Club, official unveiling and ribbon cutting, and lunch with the students of the Boys & Girls Club. We hope to see you there.

McLeod Health Welcomes Gastroenterologist


McLeod Health welcomes Terri L. Jaggers, MD to the medical staff of McLeod Regional Medical Center. Dr. Jaggers joins fellow GI physicians Dr. Deepak Chowdhary, Dr. Veeral Oza, Dr. Davinderbir Pannu, Dr. Timothy Spurling, and Dr. John Wolford in practice at the McLeod Digestive Health Center.

Dr. Jaggers has more than 25 years of experience providing care to patients with conditions affecting the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Prior to joining McLeod, Dr. Jaggers served on the medical staffs of multiple medical centers in Kentucky, Florida, and North Carolina. Most recent appointments include Iredell Memorial Hospital and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville, North Carolina, as well as Caldwell Memorial Hospital and the George M. Hancock Surgical Center of Lenoir, North Carolina. A native of Kentucky, Dr. Jaggers received her medical training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. She received her Doctor of Medicine in 1987, followed by completion of residency training in Pathology in 1990 and Internal Medicine in 1992, and Fellowship training in Gastroenterology in 1994.

Carolinas Hospital System Welcomes New Physicians Carolinas Hospital System is pleased to welcome Interventional Cardiologist, Sam Rahman, M.D., and Gastroenterologist Vera Zaraket, M.D., to the Carolinas Hospital System medical staff.



Sam Rahman, M.D., has joined Carolinas Medical Alliance - Cardiology. He received his medical degree from the University of Damascus and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at The University Hospital, in Damascus, Syria. Dr. Rahman is board certified in Interventional Cardiology, Nuclear Cardiology, Cardiovascular Medicine, Echocardiography and Internal Medicine and certified by the Heart Rhythm Society. He comes to Carolinas from Mercy Health/St. Rita’s Hospital in Lima, Ohio. While there he served as Interventional Cardiologist and was the medical director of the pacemaker and devices clinic and the congestive heart failure clinic. Dr. Rahman completed his Interventional Cardiology fellowship at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona.

Vera Zaraket, M.D. has joined Carolinas Medical Alliance - Gastroenterology. She comes to Carolinas from Staten Island University Hospital, Northwell Health, in Staten Island, New York. While there, she completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She received her medical degree from St. Joseph University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon. Zaraket is also board certified in Internal Medicine.

Congratulations to Lake City Native Veronica Jackson Veronica Graham Jackson is a native of Lake City, S.C. and the daughter of two military parents, Marcia and Eddie Jackson. When she was ten, her grandfather made her promise to accomplish two Jackson things - fall in love with the man she was created from and be a doctor. So far she has one on lock. Veronica has broken the glass ceiling by defying the odds and being a young woman to join the 1%. Veronica has a rather eclectic background. She started her journey as an athletic trainer, next coach, then entrepreneur of a wellness company and now Veronica is graduating with her DrPH with a focus in HIV/AIDS and Nutrition. She plans to continue working with young adults while promoting a wellness lifestyle that incorporates social change alongside Physicians, Practitioners and Educators.

Buterbaugh Graduates from Institute for Organization Management Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is pleased to announce that Quinetta Buterbaugh, IOM, president of the Greater Hartsville Chamber Buterbaugh of Commerce, has graduated from the program and has received the recognition of IOM. Awarded to all graduates of the Institute program, the IOM Graduate Recognition signifies the individual’s completion of 96 hours of course instruction in nonprofit management. In addition, participants can earn credit hours toward the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) or Certified Association Executive (CAE) certifications. Nearly 1,000 individuals attend Institute annually; Buterbaugh graduated with a class of 53 professionals.

Bela Family Dentistry Welcomes New Dentist Bela Family Dentistry of Florence is excited to welcome Dr. John DuRant to the practice. After completing his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University, he then went on to obtain his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple University, followed by his Certificate in Advanced Education in General Dentistry from MUSC. Dr. DuRant is passionate about oral health and views dentistry as a partnership between the provider and patient, working together to optimize and maintain health and comfort. He’s committed to working with each patient to offer the best dental care available that meets his/her specific needs and desires in an environment that is comfortable and trustworthy. As dental materials and techniques are continually expanding, Dr. DuRant is dedicated to lifelong learning so each patient can receive the best that dentistry has to offer.

“Institute graduates are recognized across the country as leaders in their industries and organizations,” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s vice president of Institute for Organization Management. “These individuals have the knowledge, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve professional and organizational success in the dynamic association and chamber industries.”

Born and raised in Clarendon County, Dr. DuRant is excited to be back in the local area. He loves spending time with his wonderful wife, Kendall, and two sweet daughters, Vera (2) and Leslie (5 months) and is excited to explore the area and participate in local events as a family. The DuRants love to be involved with their church and meet new people.  In his spare time, Dr. DuRant enjoys the simple pleasures in life like a relaxing day outside, a good book, good food, and Clemson football.

Since its commencement in 1921, the Institute program has been educating tens of thousands of association, chamber, and other nonprofit leaders on how to build stronger organizations, better serve their members and become strong business advocates.

More information can be found about Dr. DuRant and the Florence team at florence. The office can be reached by phone at 843.662.8413 and by email at

Carolinas Hospital System Receives Chest Pain Center Re-Accreditation Carolinas Hospital System was awarded Chest Pain Center Accreditation with Primary PCI from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), in recognition of the hospital’s commitment to the highest standards in the country for heart failure care. Carolinas Hospital System has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by meeting or exceeding a wide set of stringent criteria and completing on-site evaluations by a SCPC review team. “This is momentous not only for our hospital and patients, but the community as well,” said Vance Reynolds, CEO, at Carolinas Hospital System. “We are committed to providing superior emergency and cardiac care to the residents of Florence and the Pee Dee region.” Chest pain is among the top symptoms of patients who visit Carolinas Hospital System’s Emergency Department (ED). This designation means that any patient who comes to Carolinas Hospital System experiencing chest pain can be confident he or she is receiving care that meets or exceeds the highest national standards of care. Positive patient outcomes depend on timely intervention, diagnosis and treatment. Cardiologists, emergency department physicians and patient care staff at the Carolinas Accredited Chest Pain Center consistently demonstrate expertise in streamlined diagnosis and treatment, integration with paramedics/EMS, community education and other key factors that ensure better outcomes for patients. Carolinas Hospital System was the first hospital in the Pee Dee Region to receive Chest Pain Center Accreditation and is one of just 16 hospitals in South Carolinas that carries Chest Pain Center Accreditation and one of eight hospitals accredited with Primary PCI. To learn more about the services at Carolinas Hospital System, visit


Pamela Lackey, retired SC President of AT&T, to highlight Women’s Leadership Symposium story by Murphy Monk

On Friday, September 21, the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual Women’s Leadership Symposium, presented by Sonoco. The symposium, held at the Harris E. and Louis H. DeLoach Center, will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature exciting breakout sessions, an informative panel discussion, several award presentations and lunch. “Offering a full day of leadership and professional development for women in the Pee Dee is one of the best programs our chamber has launched. Last year’s symposium, attended by more than 175 professionals, focused on self-branding; this year we will be spending the day exploring work and life choices unique to women at all stages of their careers,” remarked Chamber president Quinetta Buterbaugh. Themed “Positive Change on your Professional Path,” the event will highlight professional women who are successfully navigating through their professional journey. The chamber will present newly-retired South Carolina President of AT&T Pamela Lackey with the Chrysalis Award. Lackey will be delivering the keynote speech, explaining how her career began in the public school system and culminated as president of a major South Carolina company. Keeping with tradition, the Annual Woman of Achievement award and Women’s Leadership Symposium scholarships will also be presented.


VIP Magazine | August 2018

A panel discussion will be moderated by Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center’s Chief Operating Officer and Hartsville Chamber board member Sue Shugart. Shugart will lead the panel discussion on “Life Stages: It’s a Journey,” where women in different stages of their careers will discuss their professional and personal paths. Breakout sessions will highlight topics on successful strategies for managing and communicating your brand, professional development-finding creative resources and championing work/life success. Closing out the day will be Jeanne D’Orleans presenting an interactive session titled “Harassment in the Workplace- NO! Managing Conflict- YES!” The day brings together a diverse group of women seeking grow and strengthen their leadership skills in many unique areas. The 2018 Women’s Leadership Symposium is presented by Sonoco and sponsored by Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center, Duke Energy, North Industrial Machine and Raceway Ford Chevrolet. For more information, to nominate a Woman of Achievement, or to purchase tickets for the event, visit or call the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce at (843) 332-6401. 

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



photo by Reflection Images 52

VIP Magazine | August 2018

August 2018 | VIP Magazine




Rising Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School Senior Grayson Jeffords will soon take the role of student body president as she enters into her senior year at Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School (TBCS). Her responsibilities of being a positive influence on those around her, not only in school but also off campus, appears naturally as she discusses her future plans to improve the community through acts of service.

Tell us about your extracurricular activities at TBCS. “I run varsity cross-country and play varsity girls soccer. I am student body president this year which I am really excited about! I also started a community service club this past year. I got a group of students to come out in the community with me to help others. This past year, our main focus was on Help4Kids where we packed food bags for local students. I think community service is important. I am very fortunate to attend Trinity-Byrnes and blessed to have this opportunity, so it is important that I give back as much as I can to others.” What do you do outside of school to help make a difference? “I just got back from South Africa where I was on a mission trip there with my church, Highland Park United Methodist. There’s a local church there and we did vacation bible school in the morning with kids and service work in the afternoon. Interacting with locals helped me to see how truly fortunate I am to not only live in the U.S., but to have all the opportunities that I have.” What plans do you have as the Student Body President for the upcoming year? “I really want to make sure the school is even more inclusive. It already is because we are like a little family, but I really think I want to try and include every little group. I want everyone to feel comfortable in coming to me with ideas. I wrote hand-written welcome cards to the 80 new students this year welcoming them to Trinity-Byrnes. Looking back, when I entered the school I remember being terrified. I hope this way 7th graders can feel more connected to the school and comfortable in their new surroundings. 54

VIP Magazine | August 2018

I also want to try and get the school more involved in community service as a whole. I thought it would be neat if the whole school could do a service day. Currently our middle schoolers do that. I think it would be a good opportunity for everyone to get involved in giving back to our community.” What makes the Trinity-Byrnes experience different than most other schools? “I’ve attended TBCS since the 7th grade. I can come and talk to my teachers about anything and not just about school. It is really cool to have that relationship. I have grown up with most of the students. It is hard to explain, but we feel really close to one another. Something else that is great is the food! We have food catered in everyday from different restaurants and recently added a MicroMarket which works on a honors system.” What are your future plans after high school? “I have been visiting in-state and out-of-state colleges and have seen some really good options. I am looking to stay with a smaller school because I want to carry on what I have at TBCS. I want to continue to feel a sense of community wherever I am and have a personal relationship with teachers who can help me one-on-one. We’ll see what happens!”

5001 Hoffmeyer Rd, Darlington, SC | 843.395.9124

August 2018 | VIP Magazine



THE BACKBONE OF LONG-TERM HEALTH Dr. Renee Saverance discusses alignment, balance, and the benefits of chiropractic

Life gets busy. More than ever, today’s professionals struggle to maintain a sense of balance as we juggle careers, family commitments, relationships, hobbies, and more—all while somehow remembering to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home. With so much to do, and limited time to do it, the easiest ball to drop is usually our own health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, those are the very things that allow us to be master multi-taskers in the first place, and when we don’t feel well, all other aspects of our lives tend to suffer. Dr. Renee Saverance, a chiropractor based in Hartsville, S.C., believes in taking a proactive approach to health and wellness. She’s on a mission to help people throughout the Pee Dee region discover how our bodies can function at their best. Although most people immediately think of back pain when it comes to chiropractors, the reality is so much more. Spinal health is a main focus of chiropractic, and its effects go far beyond fixing pain. “The spine has two major functions,” explains Dr. Saverance. “It works to protect the central nervous system, and it serves to keep the body balanced and upright.” That connection to the central nervous system is a key part of our daily lives, as it allows our body and brain to communicate with one another. When vertebrae, the bones that make up the spinal column, become misaligned, our bodies have to work harder to compensate and our central nervous systems become less efficient. “You may not even realize your spine is out of alignment,” says Dr. Saverance, “but you will more than likely notice some of the resulting side effects...headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, joint pain, digestive issues, and chronic fatigue are just some of the many


VIP Magazine | August 2018

ways in which your body may be telling you that you have a vertebra out of alignment.” For many people affected by these conditions, chiropractic offers effective, affordable relief. In fact, chiropractic care is covered by most health insurance providers and can often provide an alternative to prescription medication. “I believe in approaching conditions or pain issues in a non-invasive, non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical way first,” says Dr. Saverance. “I look at the whole body and learn about the many stressors that could cause a misalignment of the spine, whether that’s sitting in a chair all day at work, lifting children with improper technique, or any number of situations that can impact spinal health.”

“A personal wellness plan helps your body work efficiently, which keeps you healthy and active in the long term,” explains Dr. Saverance.

“I believe in educating people about how chiropractic fits into their daily lives. It’s important to know about the variety of ways in which you can keep yourself and your family healthy and happy!”

Everyone, and every body, is different. Dr. Saverance’s first conversations with people interested in chiropractic tend to be a collaborative discussion, as she works with them to create a sustainable wellness plan that fits into their lifestyle and helps them reach their goals. She sees a wide variety of patients at Hartsville’s Advanced Wellness Center, ranging in age from newborns to senior citizens. “A personal wellness plan helps your body work efficiently, which keeps you healthy and active in the long term,” explains Dr. Saverance, “and chiropractic is safe for all ages. There are specific adjustments that you make to accommodate different stages of life— from babies learning to walk to teens playing a sport, moms becoming pregnant to aging adults who want to stay active.” Time is a valuable resource, especially for busy professionals and people with families to take care of. Dr. Saverance sees chiropractic as an opportunity to give her patients some of that time back, to help them reach their goals without being limited by physical issues, and to ensure they are able to maintain their desired lifestyle well into the future. “The first step to a healthier life is learning,” she says. “I believe in educating people about how chiropractic fits into their daily lives. It’s important to know about the variety of ways in which you can keep yourself and your family healthy and happy!”

Interested in learning more about how chiropractic can improve health and wellness for you or your family? Schedule an initial visit with Dr. Renee Saverance by calling 843-332-4672. Dr. Renee Saverance photo by Seth Johnson

Follow Dr. Renee Saverance on Facebook ( or Instagram (@reneesaverance.dc). August 2018 | VIP Magazine



Creating a Warm & Homey Environment story by Jordan Pupa The state of South Carolina is home to a substantial number of medically fragile children. At this time, the state does not have a home for children who are classified as medically fragile. Rachel Lee, founder and Executive Director of Heaven’s Hope Inc., has a vision to create a loving place for these children to call home. Medically fragile children are those with chronic conditions who require continuous medical care, as well as those who are prone to frequent hospitalizations. Many of these children stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), in the hospital, since the families are either unable or unwilling to care for them at home. Some children may go into foster homes that have specialized training to care for them. But these foster families are not medical professionals and there are simply not enough of them. Rachel’s plan is to create a long-term care facility that provides skilled 24-hour nursing care, treatments, and therapies that the children require. They will also host an on-site school that individualizes its curriculum to meet the unique needs and learning abilities of each child. Rachel knew for the greater part of 20 years that one day she would be the director of a children’s home. Rachel was first influenced around 1996 when she was a candystriper at a local hospital and would volunteer in the PICU where her mother worked. It was then that she was able to spend a lot of time playing with a little boy named JJ who lived in the unit. He came into the unit at a few months old and was very ill, due to his medical needs he was unable to go home and simply lived in PICU. Rachel shares, “The nurses who cared for JJ treated him like their own. Under the personal care of these nurses, he was given toys and


VIP Magazine | August 2018

clothes, taught how to walk, and was potty trained. Some of my fondest memories are playing with JJ, his energy, his smile and eating orange Popsicles!” When JJ turned three years old, it was decided that he needed to go to a home that was able to care for his unique needs. A place where he could grow and thrive. However, the type of home did not exist in South Carolina, and still does not today. JJ went to a children’s home in North Carolina. “As a young teen, I was so upset to see him leave the hospital where he was so loved and cared for, to go to a home in another state,” explains Rachel. “My mother and I, along with several of the nurses, traveled to visit him and to make sure he was settled in and happy.” Rachel was impressed with the children’s home where medically fragile children were able to play and have fun despite their physical limitations. JJ was able to eventually live with his mother, go to public school, and attend prom. He was also able to have one of his paintings displayed in the Smithsonian. JJ’s life inspired Rachel, and opening a children’s home became her dream. “JJ’s life is a testament to what a loving, skilled caregiver and a warm home environment can do for a child,” says Rachel. Today, Rachel is working to open Heaven’s Hope Inc. in the Florence area. The organization has a board of eight members of the community from a variety of backgrounds, all with one common cause - caring for children with critical medical needs. Rachel shares, “God brought to me a core group who have a heart and a passion for medically fragile children. There are many things that go into making something of this magnitude work successfully. With God leading the way through this entire process, I have full

confidence that He will continue to lead us to the right people and make every single detail fall into place.” Currently, the needs of Heaven’s Hope are primarily financial due to the fact that they are pioneering the first medically fragile children’s home in the state. At this time, their start-up costs are very large. A facility has to be built, essentially from the ground up. Executive positions as well as staff positions must be created and filled. As a non-profit organization, they are trying to keep costs low, however, start-up costs for the first year (to include equipment, supplies, taxes, insurance, etc.) will total to approximately a minimum of four million dollars. For children living at the PICU, national average cost are about $4,000 per 24 hour period. It is Heaven’s Hope’s plan to be able to care for a medically fragile child at the cost of $600 per 24 hour period. Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made on their website, Heaven’s Hope Inc. will host a fundraising event, the Swamp Fox Highland Games and Celtic Festival, on Saturday, November 17. It will be held at the Columns Plantation in Florence from 9 am to 5 pm. The event will be the first highlands games in this area. Activities will include a kid’s glen, highland athletes competing, as well as authentic Celtic vendors and Scottish food. It will be a fun-filled day that everyone of all abilities can enjoy.

Rachel was born and raised in Darlington. She currently lives with her husband, Joe, two daughters, Kylie (11yr) and Shaelyn (10yr) and two fur babies in Florence. Rachel has been a Registered Nurse for six years and currently works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at McLeod. She is also pursuing a master’s degree at USC-Upstate. August 2018 | VIP Magazine




SWAMP RABBIT TRAIL story by Sarah Bennett

With a combination of nature and urban living, the Greenville, SC area offers a little something for everyone. As a place for vacation or stay, Greenville pulls in a mix of adventurists, outdoorsmen, and even foodies. Unique to the area is the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail, a nearly 20-mile historic rail bed paved trail that is open to the public for biking, walking, or running. The trail links downtown Greenville to Traveler’s Rest, which is a quaint, booming town with a population less than 5,000. The trail originated in 2009 with the help of the Greenville Health System, which generously provided $1 million to help develop and publicize the trail. Multiple bike rental shops are located within the area and there are numerous locations to jump on the trail along the way. In addition, there are many places to stop along the nearly 20-mile trail, including the beautiful Furman University campus, making for a full day of enjoyment. With 500,000 users each year, the trail is busy with locals and visitors making the most of balancing a healthy lifestyle with a fun adventure. While the distance may seem intimidating for someone who isn’t an avid cyclist, the good news is you can go at your own pace for as long as you want. The Swamp Rabbit Trail attracts everyone from those taking a morning stroll, to a biking bachelorette party group looking for a memorable time!

Visit for more information and for an interactive map.

Points of Interest Along The Way The stops along the Swamp Rabbit Trail will offer some of the most unique, scrumptious treats that you can find! From start to finish, there is everything from locally owned restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and more. If you are looking for a day of biking, plus a food and drink crawl all at once, this is the best way to do it! You’ll be burning calories along the way, so you can definitely indulge in some goodies and feel guilt-free! 60

VIP Magazine | August 2018

August 2018  
August 2018