Today at the Hilton Head Board of Realtors we’re having our Nonprofit Fair. It’s a great opportunity for agents and people to discover volunteering opportunities which are second to none in this community. This is such a giving community because retirees, we’ve found, do not want to just play golf every day of their lives. They don’t want to eat bonbons by the pool. They feel that they have been blessed and want to give back and this community, which is really second to none with nonprofit opportunities. 

Most of these have become national organizations through grassroots growth. I think of Second Helpings, Volunteers in Medicine to name a couple. So, today we’re going to start with Bluffton Self Help. 

Bluffton Self Help is an education and resource center that is open to all Beaufort County residents and they have workshops, computer rooms, and community partners. Their website is I want to add that Bluffton Self Help also helps with clothing, a food pantry, and financial resources. They are always looking for volunteers and it’s a great place to start. So, if you live in the Bluffton community, here is one to consider.

Next, I went to The Sandbox and got to see lovely Nancy who I grew up with at Sea Pines Academy. The Sandbox is an interactive children’s museum. It’s hands-on and is the only one in the low country. It serves children up through the age of eight. They are going to be close to the new park at Coligny and then, they will serve children up to age 12. They have an imagination hour, a discover, imagine, and grow. They have a summer camp, a parent’s night out, and family fun nights. So, it’s everything for all the children in our community and they also have sensory Saturday’s for autistic children. They really have anything for all children to get them engaged in the community and to know what it’s about. The website is

Next, we have one that is near and dear to my heart, The Children’s Center. They have been in this community for more than 50 years. The way they were started was, they found that the working folks were leaving their elementary school children at home to take care of their smaller babies. So, this children’s center caters to children from six weeks old to preschool age so that the older children don’t have to take care of them and get to go to school. It’s a wonderful center. They also have an after-school program that will pick them up from their elementary school and take them to The Children’s Center. There are scholarships available and it is geared mostly to the working-class families, obviously, but it’s a wonderful grassroots charity that has grown on the island. The website is

Next, we have The Backpack Buddies. It’s a major program which is involved with The Hunger Coalition and addresses the needs of the nutritionally underserved children on Hilton Head. They need funding. They go to three schools. They have a new middle school initiative. They wind up serving 260 kids each weekend and they give them 11 backpack items. They have over 120 volunteers and again, it’s just not letting any child go hungry which is, in our Buford County community, something that just should not happen. Their website is It’s the Hunger Coalition of the Low Country and Backpack Buddies is their program that helps these undernourished children. They are always looking for volunteers even though they have over 120 of them so far. 

Next, we have Operation R&R. They serve military families, first responder families, and, what they call, gold star families. These are the families that have lost a family member, be it a father, a mother, or, obviously, a child in active duty. They, obviously, always have financial needs but the main thing that they’re doing now is allowing them a week to come to Hilton Head to reconnect as a family and just learn how to be a family unit again. They are always looking for volunteers to greet. There is obviously financial need and they may have some board opportunities for new folks that move to the island. The website is

Next, we have Family Promise of Bufford County. They are a charitable organization that provides temporary shelter, family stability, and permanent housing solutions for homeless families with children. They mobilize resources and have them stay in churches overnight. They help take them to jobs and so on. It’s the only homeless shelter in Bufford County. They find that their parents are employed by the time they leave the shelter program. It’s the fastest growing homeless population in the county. So, there is a lot of need there and they have assisted over 400 individuals since 2008. They are always looking for volunteers to help. They obviously have financial needs and probably a board level is also something that they’re looking for. They always can use people’s help to replenish their shelf supplies. So, you can go on their website to see how you can donate. It’s 

It brings tears to my eyes to know how Volunteers in Medicine has grown. They now have a greater Bluffton Jasper County branch of Volunteers in Medicine. Obviously, they are always looking for financial donations. They serve the uninsured in our community. The return on the investment is incredible. They are always looking for physician volunteers, translators, or people who can do admin work for their community. They do great things. They even have monthly volunteer orientations so you can find out more about them. There orientation dates are March 24th, April 11th, May 9th, June 13th, July 11th, August 8th, September 12th, October 10th, November 14th, and no orientation in December. They really do a lot. You can go on their website to learn more. It’s a great grassroots nonprofit and great for physicians. 

Here is another really cool service that we have on Hilton Head and it would be great for retirees and would provide a way to mentor other small businesses. It’s called SCORE. It’s an expert volunteer organization run through the island rec center that gives advice, knowledge, and resources to small businesses. They have face-to-face mentoring. You can ask a question online. They have templates and online and local workshops. So, it’s basically free advice for our small business community and they are obviously always looking for funding like most of the nonprofits here. They also want to have mentors and mentorees. So, if you want to open a small business, you already have a great support system through SCORE. Their website is 

Next, we have another grassroots organization called Sandalwood Community Food Pantry. It’s another one that just had it’s tenth year anniversary. Obviously, they are a food pantry that is always looking for volunteers. Right now, they are renting space. They are looking for their own space. They are acquiring some land. They have a Run for Hunger that they’ve done for four years. It’s going to be Saturday, March 30th, 2019 at Mitchelleville Freedom Park. It starts at 8:30. They even have a dog run. So, bring your family and friends and come have fun and run for hunger. Again, it’s been around for ten years and they are always looking for food and financial donations. They may even look for some board representation. Their website is

I want to circle back to SCORE real quick. They have a third annual Thrive Women’s Conference that takes place in the Fall in September. It’s absolutely phenomenal and something for folks to consider in September. They have great mentoring and the conference is, again, held by SCORE.

Next, we have Low Country Legal Volunteers. It’s access to justice for folks that can’t afford an attorney and don’t have a way to pay legal fees. They have a lot of sponsors. It is by appointment only. They probably have financial needs and maybe even needs on a board level. So, anyone with any legal experience may want to consider Low Country Legal Volunteers. Their website is

Next we have Neighborhood Outreach Connection. They bring support into the underserved neighborhoods. They offer afterschool training programs, summer school session, pre-k and kindergarten readiness programs, health screenings and workforce development. They really are in the projects of Hilton Head if you want to call it that. They go right into the neighborhoods which are being underfunded and underserved and help take care of these families. It’s obviously another grassroots one that has been here for ten years. Their website is 

Next, we have the Art League of Hilton Head Island. This is a membership-style nonprofit. You can be an individual with $55 all the way up to $1,000 in the silver circle. They do classes of art and so on for local children. They are always looking for volunteers to work in the galleries and, obviously, if you are an artist this is a great community to get involved in since they do a lot of displays in the community. Their website is

Next we have another grassroots nonprofit called the Heritage Library. They do wonderful costume tours, history research, and classes. They even do ancestry research. They own two historic sites in Fort Mitchell and Hilton Head Plantation. They are going to expand to Zion Cemetery and the Baynard Mausoleum on the corner of 278 and Matthews. They are going to be doing a beautiful new area in the corner of Matthews Drive and 278 where the Zion Cemetery is. They are also the historic archives for the town of Hilton Head. So, the Heritage Library is almost like a keeper of the data so to speak and again, they are very instrumental for the historic aspect of our community. Their website is

Here is another that is near and dear to my heart. It’s been here forever. It’s called the Deep Well Project. I remember when it was only them and the Bargain Box. The Deep Well Project is, they basically help provide food, shelter, and medical needs and related necessities for our local community. They actually started by digging wells, but this was back in the day when we did not have water service on Hilton Head. It has grown to be one of the more diverse to really hands-on for the community. They are always looking for volunteers in the office system, to help with the food pantry, or even to deliver meals. And they may even have folks on the board level although they are very established having been on the island almost 50 years. They even help with livable housing by fixing up housing. They even do toy fixes and have a Santa’s Toy Shop. So, again, this is a very grassroots nonprofit. It’s deeply rooted in our community. Their website is

Here is another one that is near and dear to my heart, the Island Rec Center. Gosh, it has been around since I was in high school. They have memberships with an awesome pool and workout center. They have Kid’s Night Out. They have adult sports. It’s really for the active lifestyle in our community and they have a lot of fundraisers and do so much for our youth and seniors. They always need people on the board level. So, the Island Rec Center is a fabulous community nonprofit. They even have Pilates classes and so on. Their website is

There are so many great nonprofits here. Another one is the Hospice Care of the Low Country. It has also been around as long as I can remember. They, obviously, have needs as far as nurses. This is hospice care and they really provide wonderful care and have been since 1982. They provide comprehensive hospice care to our community regardless of the ability to pay. I can say that my mother was someone that was able to experience this wonderful organization that is so kind and giving to our community. They are also doing a wonderful fundraiser to help furniture and things be repurposed into our community to help all of the thrift stores. It’s called the Thrift Store Flip and it’s going to be November 7th, 2019. It will be sponsored by Local Life which is on Main Street. So, get all your crafters and artisans involved and all you do is you pick up a piece of furniture at one of the local thrift stores, you create it, you make it as transformative as possible. Then, you donate it to the silent auction and all of the proceeds will help the Hospice Care of the Low Country. They are also going to have a flip party. So, save the date: November 7th, 2019. The website is 

Here is another one that is just near and dear to my heart – PEP Programs for Exceptional People. It’s not something that I was able to take advantage of, but I have bought a lot of their pottery because they actually have a pottery out in Bluffton now that is open to the public and it’s made by all their members of the exceptional folks that make this. They used to be on Matthew’s Drive, but they now are out in Bluffton serving the Hilton Head, Bluffton, Jasper County community. It is a mission of promoting independence, social interaction, and employment opportunities for adults who live with intellectual disabilities. It’s a fabulous organization. They have a nice fundraiser with a silent auction in the fall. There’s lots of dancing. Their members come and their hearts are just so full. It’s a great organization. Their website is They are always looking for volunteers to either help with the adults, on a board level, and obviously, on a financial level. So, they provide great services for all of these members and are a great organization.

NAMI of the Low Country (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is another grassroots one that was grown through time here. It deals with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, mental illness and so on. They have a huge walk. They really are dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illness and their families. They reach out in the community. They advocate for mental health and they provide educational support for those that are affected so that they can build better lives. The services are provided free of charge and their website is

Here is another one that is near and dear to my heart, Second Helpings. Peggy Warnke was one of the people that started this one 27 years ago. It’s called Second Helpings and it’s really a food rescue. They provide groceries every Thursday to Palmetto Breeze bus riders. They serve over 450 people that need to travel somewhere. They provide free services and obviously what they do is they repurpose the food. So, if it’s a Starbucks, a Publix, or other grocery stores that have food that has lost its date, they take it and put it in their trucks, and they redistribute it to either food pantries or directly to families and help on the bus also. They have a website which is

The Hilton Head Symphony did not make it today.

Habitat for Humanity is one that a dear friend, Rennie Springborn has been instrumental with growing in this area. They even have a restore thrift shop. They are growing and basically giving homes to folks in need. These folks also have to be building their home since it's not a handout. The entire families come out to pitch in as they receive a brand newly built affordable home. Habitat always need help by either shopping or donating or even volunteering. They have a very established board of directors, but sometimes they might need even more help with that. Their website is

Here is another one that is near and dear to my heart. This is an offshoot of PEP. It’s called Osprey Village. It’s a neighborhood with a purpose. They really want to help these exceptional persons, you know, people with disabilities and emotional disabilities and intellectual disabilities to be able to have a place where they can live. So, they bought a parcel of land and they are wanting to have an inclusive community designed for the potential of adults with disabilities. And again, it’s a very big need in our community and they have a website which is It has come from great need and does good things for our emotionally challenged adults. They also do job training for their clients and respite for the families. Any time you have a mentally challenged family member, it drains the family and that is what makes Osprey Village is so special. They try to help the needs of both the clients and their family members.

Here is another grassroots that started through our very famous Greg Russell. It’s called Hilton Head Heroes. It brings families with a child suffering from a life-threatening illness to Hilton Head Island for vacations. A lot of the children truly have life-threatening illnesses and they are obviously sent from hospitals and whatnot to just come for a week and be normal without medical appointments and so on. Everything is paid for whether it’s the restaurants or anything else. They get a host family and it just gives them a week of respite for the entire family, especially the siblings of the child that is suffering. It’s a great grassroots organization. Obviously, they are always looking for finance. They are also looking for host families because the house stays busy 52 weeks out of the year. So, they want a host family to be the connector and they are always looking for volunteers on the board level. Their website is

Here is a newer nonprofit that has been in our midst, SOAR. It’s special recreation. It’s very close to PEP and Osprey Village. They enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. They provide Special Olympics sports and recreation and programs that facilitate social interaction. They believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have these special folks engage in our community. It’s a newer nonprofit and their website is There are lots of needs since this is a new, not as established nonprofit. 

The next one is also one that has been newly established. It’s called the Outside Foundation of Hilton Head. Mike started this one to get kids outside and protect our local environment. They want to foster environmental stewardship in the local children through participation and outdoor programs. They have a great fundraiser on Page Island. If you want to get involved with our natural habitat, the Outside Foundation is a great place to start. They teach so much about our local waters and have a great fundraiser, I think, in the Fall. Another cool thing they do is placemats that are very educational about having the lights out for our turtles, not feeding the dolphins, and being smart about the approach to the alligators. The Outside Foundation is just for that naturalist that wants to get involved in our community. It’s very unique and very well-accepted in our community.

Here is a new one that I was trying to start when my boys were in middle school. It’s called the Low Country Alliance for Healthy Youth. They want to prevent the use of drugs, underage drinking, and increase positive parenting to help prevent drug abuse. That has always been an issue on our island and they just want to unite the youth and give them support so that we can become a drug free community. There are lots of ways that you can get involved. You can become a board member or a community partner. You can help in their youth initiative Teens for Healthy Youth and you can create an environment that supports the health, safety and future of the youth. So, again it works to meet a big need for our young community as we want to protect children not only in inner cities, but in places like Hilton Head. Their website is

Here is one that is near and dear to my heart. It’s called Hopeful Horizons. It has actually been the culmination of two nonprofits. We had CODA which was for domestic abuse and the other which I’ve forgotten. But they combined and made Hopeful Horizons. It ends abuse. They want to change lives. It’s a children’s advocacy, domestic violence, and rape crisis center. They want to create a safer community by changing the culture of violence and offering a path to healing. They have full-time psychiatrists and psychologists on board. You know, abuse and sexual abuse is something that victimizes folks as does abuse and violence. They even have a gentlemen’s club that is involved now and the high school getting these peer “popular” children to become mentors to the younger ones and become leaders of positive change. They have breakfast clubs and they do a lot because they understand that the way to help folks is to break the link of abuse by educating these young folks. It’s a great organization and their website is

The two organizations that help the young and support preventative care is Men of Strength and now, they even have one for women called WISE (Women Inspiring Strength and Empowerment). So, working on that preventative aspect but they have 12 counselors for victims. They have a 24-hour crisis intervention, forensic interviews, and they really work with our local law enforcement. Again, this is an insidious part of the Beaufort Jasper community and Hopeful Horizons is a light to all these victims and also to our community by supporting preventative measures. 

If you made it all the way down here, you will come to some conclusions;

1) Many non-Profits in the area are near and dear to my heart. I contribute financially to as many as I am able.

2) There is a FANTASTIC opportunity to not just move into a great island and surrounding area, but LOTS of ways to give back, enrich your lives and feel better about helping your fellow man.

We are sure blessed around here with all these fabulous non-Profits and more. Feel free to reach out to these or any other local worthy one and get involved and watch your life improve.

Thanks for reading! Also, if you or a friend or family member would like to move to the area, don't forget that we have Buyer's Agents on stand by to help find the perfect real estate property! Call or text me today or visit


Susan Ochsner