Island Philanthropy

For generations, Hilton Head has been a classic family vacation spot. The beaches, marshes, activities, restaurants and events make our Island a great place to visit and an even better place to live. One of the additional benefits of being an Islander is the culture of philanthropy woven into local life. A large percentage of the local community is involved in non-profit and charity events, boards and contributions. Hilton Head Island has an extensive and diverse group of mission-driven organizations, many of which have fascinating local histories.

One of the oldest local non-profits is The Deep Well Project, which was founded in 1973. At that time, many Native Islanders were falling ill due to drinking contaminated water from shallow wells. Deep Well was originally established to address the needs of these Islanders. Over time, shallow wells were no longer a problem, and Deep Well adjusted to the changing needs of the community. Today, this organization provides emergency aid to residents in need with food, clothing, rent payments, jobs, school uniforms and much more.

Volunteers in Medicine is one of the largest free clinics in the United States. Dr. Jack McConnell was the force behind the clinic’s unique concept, which opened on Hilton Head Island in 1993. VIM, as it is locally known, is operated by healthcare volunteers, including doctors, nurses, mental health providers, lab and x-ray technicians and pharmacists. They provide free services to the one in five local residents who do not have health insurance, primarily those employed in the service industry. Fun fact: Dr. McConnell’s son Page is a keyboardist and songwriter in the hugely popular band Phish.

The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head also has an interesting celebrity connection. The local club was opened in 1999, 13 years after the original Beaufort Club and four years after the first Bluffton Club on land donated by the Van Landingham Rotary Club. The 28,000- square-foot Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head building was outfitted through a capital campaign headed by tennis great and Sea Pines Resort touring professional Stan Smith. The six Lowcountry Clubs serve over 700 local children every day with enriching programs promoting responsible citizenship. The organization is supported by a group of dedicated volunteers, including Stan’s wife Margie.

One of the newer organizations to join the Hilton Head non-profit lineup is The Outside Foundation. It was founded with the mission to promote outdoor activities for children and protect the pristine natural environment of the Lowcountry. The Foundation hosts riverway cleanups, educational outdoor experiences for children, sustainable fishery initiatives and recycling programs.

Whether you are a longtime visitor, new to the Island or a salty local, September is a great time to volunteer for one of these, or any of the other, great local charity organizations. Visit the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s website at to learn when, where and how to volunteer. For more information about The Outside Foundation, visit

By Jessie Renew, Outside Hilton Head

For more than 30 years, Outside Hilton Head has provided personalized adventures for all ages, from kayak, fishing, nature and dolphin tours to kids’ camps, history excursions, family outings and stand-up paddleboarding. (843) 686-6996 or