Featured Women


A Woman You Want to Meet – Rose Ann O’Reilly- April 12

By Peggy New

  It’s not every day you meet someone who was active in the creation and growth of an organization over 30 years old. Rose Ann O’Reilly was and remembers the day she was told that some local builders and construction supplies were going to form a homebuilders association.  The official “birth” was October 10, 1969 when 16 homebuilders came together and formed the Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association. Today there are over 500 members who represent all facets of the building industry. And Rose Ann is still in the middle of it all; organizing, contacting, writing and promoting this organization.

  One of her biggest projects each year has been the annual Home Show; this year is no different. It will be May 21-23 and take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Special guests, Ed Brantley and his wife, Heba Salama, will be talking about how they lost nearly 300 pounds.  Ed and Heba shot to fame as weight loss winners on TV's "The Biggest Loser" by losing a combined total of 277 pounds. On the show, Heba became the first woman to win the "at home" prize of $100,000 for the highest percentage of weight lost overall. Her husband, Ed, finished the season in second place. Since then, the couple has been busy writing a book of healthy recipes, working with non-profit organizations to prevent childhood obesity and maintaining a busy speaking schedule.

  In addition to lining up great guests, Rose Ann is busy coordinating the House of Cans and this year, a dog house “House of Cans!” The Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association partners with United Way in collecting cans which are then distributed to local food banks (yes, even the items from the pet house project). There will also be a dog house available – with a “green/beachy” theme. Last year’s winner, Buddy, still enjoys his home builders dog house that came complete with heating and air conditioning!  If you wish to donate any items to the dog house or can houses, please contact any local builder or the office located at 728 Hwy 501E in Conway across from Bob’s Restaurant and hotel.

  Of course, if you go to look for Bob’s Restaurant you may have trouble finding it; it has been closed for some time. However, for long time residents of Horry County, like Rose Ann, it remains the best landmark in giving directions. The H-G Home Builders Association office began as a simple farm house with minor remodeling taking place as the association grew and the need for larger rooms and more space was needed. Several years ago, however, a new structure was built encompassing the old home and adding a wonderful lobby and office space to the front of the house.  Rose Ann reminisces about how so many things have changed in her years working for the Association. The biggest change, she notes, is the availability of materials locally; in earlier days it was difficult to get all the latest “bells and whistles” in building and construction materials. There is also a stronger desire for energy efficient homes now and of course a growing want to “go green.”

  Growing up in Conway, Rose Ann knew and was known by most of the 8,000 or so residents. It was a small town with lots of character (and characters!).  There were only 3 restaurants – The Meeting House, Donzelle’s and, of course, Bob’s. If you took a walk south of the pavilion in Myrtle Beach it wasn’t long before you’d come across trees

 growing down to the water’s edge. She’s not altogether convinced all changes and growth have been for the best, but recognizes the inevitability of it continuing to happen. Rose Ann keeps busy when not working, taking care of her 16 dogs and 20 cats; most of whom are seniors with special needs. It’s not really a coincidence that the office mascot is a cat named “Bob the Builder.” He thinks he is the boss; could be!

  These days she is spending a lot of time at her “partner’s desk” in the office, carefully reviewing the convention floor blueprints for the Home Show and plans for the New Home Parade which will take place for 2 weeks beginning April 9th. The Home Show is a natural continuation as it will give home buyers and homebuilders an opportunity to check out the latest in green products, landscaping, gardening, hot tubs, and so much more. Bring the family – there will be something for everyone. Special seminars and speakers will be available on a variety of subjects and all free. For more information please call Rose Ann O’Reilly, Executive Vice President of the Horry-Georgetown Home Builders Association at 843-347-7311 to attend and/or be a vendor. Their website is www.hbahorrygeorgetown.com. It’s a nice experience to learn how something big grew from small roots; with the help of a lady you will want to meet – Rose Ann O’Reilly.


Meet Cora, Babs and Emi- August 10

  By Peggy New

  There are some new gals in town who have been around for a long time but recently joined forces to begin a new type of radio show to entertain, enlighten and empower women. Called “Here Women Talk” this is a place for women to talk, connect and belong. The idea came together during a Deepak Chopra SynchroDestiny empowerment workshop in Carlsbad, CA where Cora, Babs and Emi learned they all shared the same dream of creating an organization for women to make friends, learn things and have fun without mandatory meetings, dues or fundraisers. Together with Kay Van Hoesen, they harnessed the creative power of coincidence, played off each other’s strengths and passions and birthed what is known today as “Here Women Talk.”

  Kay Van Hoesen is the senior appraiser and owner of Certifax Appraisals. She is a state certified residential real estate appraiser in South Carolina and also in North Carolina. She is also an FHA-approved appraiser. Kay has been appraising in the Myrtle Beach area since 1986. Kay is also proud of the fact that Certifax is a certified woman-owned business through Women Business Enterprise. She had always wanted to open a women’s center where she could entertain, enlighten and empower women. Having been single much of her life, she recognizes the important role girlfriends play in her life and the lives of other women. On June 14, 2010 Kay opened a virtual “women’s center via

Zeus Radio Network, internet radio, called Here Women Talk.

  Cora, Babs and Emi are with Kay all the way. As founding members they are real people, but their identities have been altered to protect their anonymity. Cora is a black female gynecologist living in the South; as a single parent she knows the meaning of struggle. Babs will never admit to being older than 29, although she has a passel of grandkids and chases younger men! Emi is a talented 20ish artist who scrapes by, one painting at a time, as she enjoys every moment of life. You can read about them at www.herewomentalk.com.

  Throughout the day you can tune into Zeus Radio Network via your computer or telephone and listen to a variety of women talking, laughing, crying, answering listener questions and sharing their lives with us. You can listen to Annette Martin, a world-renowned psychic detective and medical intuitive who “talks with authors, paranormal practitioners, scientists, gives readings and helps you expand your intuitive powers during this live broadcast.” You may want to call into the Gabriella Maria Theresa (and Scott) Show which is about “nothing” – and ranges from comic to thought-provoking. Every week Martini Meetings with Gina Trimarco and Eileen Soisson bring an hour of advice, fun and laughter on breaking the mold, tapping into your girlfriend power and starting/running your own business. Not sure what movie to catch this weekend – listen to 2 Chicks and a Flick as Diana Benjamin and Alyssa Katz give you the scoop. Donna Tyson will begin a show in July on “Rivers of Faith.” For specific times and the many other shows, check the website at www.herewomentalk.com.

  Life is too short to miss out on all the fun, knowledge, silliness; information and caring women have. Men are welcome to tune in as well (and there are some male hosts!). Kay is seeing her dream of a way to entertain, enlighten and empower women come to life. You won’t want to miss any of these great shows. Go to www.herewomentalk.com to find out how you can listen, talk, and share your life with other women who are walking the same journey.



A Woman You Want to Meet – Eileen Soisson-August 11

By Peggy New

  “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided” [Tony Robbins]

  Eileen Soisson loved her job working for the American Hospitality Academy. She had interned with the Academy following graduation. An audition with Disney on Ice was derailed by an ankle accident making a career in figure skating un-feasible. Eileen knew she had to be around people, preferable outside running pool games and the like for resorts; tennis, skating, golf, whatever! While on vacation with her mother, Eileen realized that working for a resort would be more fun than work.

  After completing her internship Eileen was offered a job with AHA and was sent to several cities across the United States. She met her husband, Steve, while working in the Florida Keys; they were married in 2000. He was she recalls smiling, “a long-haired hippy man who worked in a bar.” Both are community minded and met while working on a fundraiser for a local charity. While it was not “love at first sight, second sight or even third sight” as they became friends, learned to appreciate their difference and discover their similarities, love followed. It did help that they were both from PA and Steelers’ fans. Steve is currently operations manager of Bluegreen Resort in Myrtle Beach and they have a son, Casey who will begin kindergarten in July at the Academy of Hope Charter School located in Conway.

  Transferred to Myrtle Beach, Eileen continued to enjoy her work, meeting new people, making friends, and learning new things.  She had been promoted to Director of Training and Development; life was good. Due to major changes following September 11, 2001 and ensuing changes in the company, Eileen found herself in a position of being asked to do and approve of things that her internal moral compass found difficult. She began searching for something else. Calling it “Operation Go” she placed an envelope in her desk drawer and every time something happened to cause her doubt or unease, she’d stick some money in the envelope. More unhappy at AHA, Eileen continued to search for a new direction. Asked by one of her mentors, “what would you do for free?” Eileen’s answer was “train people, encourage people to do better, serve others.”

  The Meeting Institute was born. The start up money came from the envelope in the desk and Eileen launched a venue “to successfully implement effective training and development programs that support and contribute to our clients’ goals of maximizing personal and organizational performance.” Her professional training program, consulting services and personal development coaching are geared to motivating staff, energizing teams, improving performance and increasing customer satisfaction. The past five years have seen her son born, her client base grow, her confidence expand and her dreams come true.

  She also is at peace because she no longer has to worry about right and wrong; at least not in the business. Invited by her mother-in-law to go to church on Mother’s Day, they attended Christ United Methodist Church in Myrtle Beach. Both agreed it was a little strange with a stage and band; people raising their hands and strangers giving her a hug. But it was also compelling and she returned … again and again. Her relationship with God was formalized; she gets excited telling others about her new life and what it means to be a Christ-follower. It isn’t always easy, but she knows she’s never alone because God, and Steve, are with her on this journey.

  Eileen Soisson is constantly working to improve her work by attending trainings herself. She will be attending the Willowcreek Leadership Conference in August. She reads incessantly and enjoys collaborating with other trainers in the area such as Gina Trimarco of Carolina Improv. Eileen firmly believes that if she sees something that needs to be done, she should get involved and help it happen! She invites others to travel the same road; her laughter and enjoyment in serving is contagious. Her future plans include a “brick & mortar” office, perhaps a MA in management and leadership, continued relationships with clients, a happy son and husband. Starting a new business, being a new mother, working for yourself; Eileen has learned that with good mentors, powerful referrals and a solid faith that God will provide, it is possible to not work but just have fun!  For more information on The Meeting Institute go to www.themeetinginstitute.com or call Eileen Soisson at 843-236-9626. In the words of Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Eileen has a great habit of excellence – you will want to meet her.



A Woman You Want To Meet – Donnis Kinder

By Peggy New 

  Donnis Kinder grew up on a farm in Aynor. She worked hard, went to school and graduated from college with a degree in Physical Education. A graduate of Whittemore High School, Conway, SC in 1960; Kinder then attended and graduated from Benedict College, Columbia, SC. If you are native to Horry County you will immediately know that Donnis Vereen Kinder is a black woman. When working on local farms, she and other black people were only fed after the whites had eaten and then on the back porch; being taught to “stay in their place,” says Kinder. She remembers moving off the sidewalk to allow white folk to pass; segregated water fountains and restrooms. For elementary and middle school she was able to attend “black” schools in Aynor, but to attend high school she had to bus in to Conway.

  Benedict College was, and still is, distinguished by its continued commitment to facilitate the empowerment, enhancement, and full participation of African Americans in a global society. While a student, Kinder was part of a march on McCrory’s Five and Dime store. She remembers being scared but marched anyway. The store lunch counter had menus on each of the seats in an effort to keep African Americans from sitting and being served.

  After graduation, Kinder was hired to teach at Chestnut High School, the black high school in North Myrtle Beach. It was renamed NMB High School and subsequently segregated; the first time Kinder had taught with white teachers and had both black and white students. She later transferred to Myrtle Beach Middle School to be closer to her mother. She left teaching after 12 years to work for the City of Myrtle Beach, using her physical education skills in the Recreation Department. She loved her job; working with children as well as senior adults. She organized and started the Myrtle Beach Senior Games and was active in the Boys and Girls Club.

  Kinder is divorced and has one child; a daughter who is a lawyer in Baltimore. She laughs when she remembers a recent conversation with her daughter who said she was becoming more like Kinder all the time. Kinder loved to crochet; her daughter is learning to knit. Perhaps closest to her mother’s heart, she is also beginning to work with the Boys and Girls Club in her area. “We are alike, but do things differently,” says Kinder.

  Nine years ago life changed dramatically for Donnis Kinder. A stroke took away her ability to walk and she now spends her time attached to a wheelchair. Her cousin lived with her until two years ago when she died of cancer. Kinder sadly said, “It’s not always a leaning tree that falls.” She has a lovely lady from Jamaica who lives with her now. A member of Joseph B. Bethea United Methodist Church, it took two years before she could return to services. And then she was the first person to use the wheelchair ramp! It took that long before she could “feel totally normal” and not self-conscious of her circumstances. The worse thing about having a stroke – is not being able to play golf anymore.

  While she may not play golf these days, Kinder stays busy serving on the Administrative Council at church. She led the canned goods drive to help Street Reach and coats for the homeless. In her words, she has become a “news junkie and reads a lot.” She is convinced that “God hasn’t finished with me yet.” Twice a week Ms. Donnis tutors a four-year-old foster child; keeping her connected to children and improving their future.

  Donnis Kinder’s life hasn’t always been easy; she’s seen her share of human ugliness and discrimination. She refuses, however, to let hatred or bitterness take root in her heart, mind or soul. A staunch supporter of President Obama, she shakes her head at the rude way people speak of and treat him and his efforts as President. She believes in cooperation; and has proven she can work with anybody and everybody. She is warm and funny; interesting to talk with and listen to. A strong woman, Donnis Kinder has taken adversity and pain and turned it into living courage, choosing to remember and celebrate the best of the past and present; unafraid of the future.  Find a way to meet this lady; she loves company! 



Women in Business- Barbara Streeter


Tell me about your business


Conway Glass is an art gallery and glass blowing studio where Eddie (my husband and business partner) and I teach classes, feature glass blowing demonstrations and art exhibits and create and sell colorful hand blown glass ornaments, bowls and vases. The gallery also features the work of some of the areas most popular local and regional artists. Conway Glass also offers shower doors, storefronts, tabletops, mirrors, insulated glass, textured glass and stained glass windows to homeowners and contractors.


How did you get started in your business?


We married in 1986 and a few months later opened our first store, a small stained glass shop in downtown Conway. Ed’s father (Pop’s) worked in the store while we worked full time in our “real jobs.”  Later after Hurricane Hugo, Ed left his job in commercial glazing, I left my job in marketing, and we borrowed $1500.00 and went in business together full time. With the construction business boom after Hugo, the commercial window segment of our glass business took off.


What do you like best about your profession or business?


It offers me the opportunity to do what I really love; blow glass and work with color, design, and pattern. Creating ideas and then transforming those ideas from a sketch to a glass vase made from molten glass provides immediate gratification. I love being able to work with my husband on these projects.  He is very creative and is a skilled glass blower. Ed has a great sense of humor and visualizes projects the same way I do. We collaborate on most all the glass art in the gallery. This year we are working on two projects, our Eco-Art Series, vases and bowls made from recycled glass and the “Great Pop’s Roll-Up”, a new technique that will allow us to blow glass throughout the year. The Roll-Up will also enable us to incorporate intricate patterns into our glass vessels.


What is the most important lesson you have learned from having your own business?


You must have a business plan and you must be flexible. I also learned that communication and cash flow are the two most important aspects of any business. It is very important to communicate to your employees, vendors and customers your mission, goals and ideals. Cash flow is a tough one, especially in this recession. You might show a profit on paper and still not have the cash to pay your bills. This has been the hardest lesson I have learned and I am still working on it.


What hobbies or activities do you like to do when you’re off?


I love photography, history, writing and architecture. I hope to put all those things together in a book some day. I also love gardening, reading and spending time at home with my family and pets.



Do you have a philosophy or mission statement with your business?


At Conway Glass we strive to raise the awareness of the arts and glass blowing in Conway, Horry County and South Carolina. We do this by teaching classes, holding public demonstrations and art exhibits and sponsoring visiting glass artists. We also feel it is very important to have a strong presence on the internet. We do this through our web site, YouTube videos and several social networks.


What advice can you give to women starting their own business?


Start your business while still employed. Ease in to your new endeavor. Work nights and weekends on your new venture until you can safely make the move. If the business is going to be successful, you will know when the time is right. Build up a cash reserve with your profits to sustain you through the challenges you will face.


What do you think has made you the woman that you are today? Did someone influence you?


I remember when my dad would come home from work and talk about the women’s wear he was designing and creating. I remember him sketching and figuring working on “the numbers.” I remember how proud he was when his designs would be popular and sell out at the stores. My dad had an eye for color and pattern and that is where I believe my talent comes from. Energized by the work he loved, he worked hard and was very successful. For many years we talked daily on the phone about profit margins, inventory turnover, product quality, the economy and shared jokes about President Clinton. We shared a passion for our work and I believe that is the key to being successful in business.


Barbara Streeter


Conway Glass, Inc.

2416 Main Street

Conway, SC



A Woman You Want to Meet – Nancy Cave

By Peggy New

  Her education and experience were not in environmental advocacy, yet today Nancy Cave is the Director of the North Coast Office of the Coastal Conservation League. CCL is a grassroots non-profit conservation organization, founded in 1989 and backed by over 4,000 members. Its mission is “to protect the natural environment of the South Carolina coastal plain and to enhance the quality of life of our communities by working with individuals, businesses and government to ensure balanced solutions.”  Nancy Cave’s background in international and domestic marketing with organizations such as Citicorp, NationsBank and Dun & Bradstreet give her an expertise and ease of working through political, social and cultural situations.

  Her career began in Chicago in the radio and television market; meeting her husband, Billy Cave 16 years ago. They owned a vacation home in Georgetown County and came to retire here. Her interview with the League took place on that infamous 9-11 and she began working December 8, 2001. Her corporate marketing and communication skills were strong reasons to hire her; she would learn the issues as time went on.

  Today Nancy Cave is passionate about making a difference and being an advocate. She works hard to help people become aware of what certain changes will mean and it can/will change their community forever. Currently that means opposing Santee Cooper’s proposed coal-fired electric generation plant on the Pee Dee River. As well, she’s worked hard to keep out of state trash from being dumped in Williamsburg County. Her experience in communication and writing enables her to effectively let people know how they can access information, process both short and long-term effects and successfully change decisions made by organizations and government. She is an advocate for those who have “lived in this land, fished in these rivers and hunted in the woods.” 

  One of Nancy’s goals is to educate citizens to make smarter decisions that can protect both urban and rural communities and the transition between them. So much short term thinking has long term impact on our health and lifestyles. The town of Georgetown was laid out on a grid in the 1700’s; today it sprawls over many acres and requires motorized vehicles to get around it. Communities no longer allow for walking to and from home, school, church, shopping; less natural exercise requiring gymnasiums, work out centers and spas to try and achieve the same benefits just “living” used to offer.

  Nancy has learned over the years that “people do make a difference; even just one.” She’s made a difference in the lives of her two dogs – a “rescued” Dalmatian and a “side-of-the road spaniel/collie. Together the three of them walk 2 miles every day. Nancy serves on the board of the St. Francis Animal Shelter, the Litchfield Ballet Foundation and Board of Visitors. They are members of Prince George Episcopal Church and Billy is an active volunteer and past board member of Tidelands Community Hospice. Nancy Cave is making a difference in her community and state.



A Woman You Want to Meet – Joy Hanner

By Peggy New

  “Have you experienced loss?” she asked, “Because unless you have, it may be difficult for you to empathize with those who come to Street Reach for help.”

  Joy Hanner is the Executive Director of Street Reach, a 90-bed facility that provides emergency shelter and supportive services to men and women across the Grand Strand. Her roots are deep in caring for the homeless and “forgotten few.” She started a grassroots homeless shelter in Pennsylvania and has also worked for the Red Cross. As well, she has been on the “inside” of a shelter; escaping from domestic violence took her to several shelters and facilities.  She understands that it is often due to poor choices that people arrive at Street Reach; it can also be due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control. In one case, a child was kept locked in a closet and fed by food pushed under a door; who grew up with mental health issues that didn’t allow him a “normal” life. Another gentleman in his 70’s had quadruple by-pass surgery, was discharged to a hotel and when the days ran out there he slept under a bridge; a good Samaritan gave him a ride to Street Reach where he is being cared for.

  Joy’s personal story shows that while one can lose everything – it can be restored. She lived with her parents for several years as she put the pieces back together in her life. Remarried, she and her husband share 5 children and several grandchildren. He is retired from a rod mill in Pennsylvania and works part-time on a golf course – rejoicing daily at being outside in beautiful SC!  Joy would like to see everyone experience this same restoration.

  There are three “levels” of Street Reach – the first being EOS or Emergency Overnight Services. A man or woman is welcomed after 4 pm and given a bedmat, opportunity for a shower and a meal. Street and woods people primarily take advantage of this. The second level is OTS or Off Street Programs; again a bedmat, shower, meal but also the opportunity for off-premise meetings for addictive behavior. This is longer term stay for men and women who want to try and turn their lives around. The third level is Life Recovery Solutions where intensive help is given to transition someone back into “normal” life. This level can take anywhere from 6 to 9 months. Joy has a vision of the 4th level being transitional living where an individual would pay to live at Street Reach while stabilizing and reentry.

  Joy Hanner is convinced that just giving a man or woman shelter and food isn’t enough. Her vision is for Street Reach to be a facility for change; real change in a life, one step at a time. She believes that collaboration between agencies is critical in helping someone. No children are allowed to stay at Street Reach, so women with children and families are referred to Haven House or the domestic violence shelter. Food is never wasted; too much and it is given to the Community Soup Kitchen; too little and Helping Hand is contacted.  Joy’s parents were officers in the Salvation Army and she learned from them the true meaning of sharing and giving. She recounts several Thanksgivings when their family’s turkey traveled to someone else’s house for dinner; her Christmas doll that was given to a little girl who had no other presents.

  But the most important lesson she learned from her parents and that she firmly believes is that without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the healing He alone brings, real change is impossible. There are many wonderful tools and programs; but Jesus is the key to unlocking them and making them effective in a man or woman’s life. She sees firsthand what happens when people choose to harm themselves, isolate themselves and/or anesthetize themselves with drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. When there is no “safety net” of family, church, or friends, a person may see no way out of their despair. Joy wants to help change their lives with help from both Jesus and the programs at Street Reach!

  Street Reach is a not for profit 501 (c) (3) organization that depends on individual donations, church donations, other federal and state agencies such as the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, LowCountry Food Bank, as well as in-kind donations (see wish list attached). Joy is an experienced grant writer and hopes to see some results from those efforts. There is a 2nd floor to their building that is not being utilized as much as it could be; she has visions and goals for that space as well! In 2009 651 men and 122 women were sheltered and 74,825 emergency meals were served to the homeless. This year will see an increase in both people helped and meals served.

  Very few of us reach maturity without experiencing some sort of loss. Loss comes in many packages – death, divorce, loss of a job, friend, or home. Most of us have a safety net that keeps tabs on us so we don’t spiral too far down. But for those who have experienced devastation in their lives and their safety net has failed, Street Reach is here to help; to help transition tragedy into triumph, loss into love and failure into a future.

  For more information about Street Reach please visit their website at www.helpstreetreach.com or call 843-626-3643.  Joy Hanner is available to speak to groups, churches and individuals about Street Reach.



100 Plastic Totes to store resident personal items

Paper Towels

Toilet Paper



Lysol Wipes/Spray

Laundry Detergent/Rinse

Garbage Bags

Tool Box

Dish Detergent

Liquid Hand Soap


First-aide Items

Copy Paper

Spiral Notebooks




Women’s Personal Items

Socks & Undergarments for Men & Women (new only)




A Woman You Want to Meet – Mary Eaddy

By Peggy New

  At age nine, Mary Eaddy hid in her mother’s pantry to write about life in a small southern town. June 2010 saw her first published book – a story of a grandmother and granddaughter in a small southern town! For Mary, this is a dream come true; 98% of all books written are never published. The seeds of her book, The Oaks of McCord, come from memories of shelling butter beans on her grandmother’s front porch on Main Street Hemingway, SC. There was a attempt to remove the oak trees on that street and a community “save the trees.” Mary’s mother was a teacher and social activist and taught her daughter the importance of getting involved and standing up for what is right.

  Mary Eaddy grew up and attended Queens University in Charlotte and the University of South Carolina, where she studied with poet-in-residence James Dickey. She went on to earn a Master’s degree in journalism. One of her first jobs was to work for The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The State newspapers before teaching at USC Upstate and becoming director of public information for the SC Technical College system. She owns a public relations practice, The Wordsmith, Inc. Having mentioned one day to Rod Gragg, Coastal Carolina University’s first public relations person, that she’d really like his job if he ever left, she received an invitation in 2007 to serve as special assistant to the President of Coastal Carolina University. Currently she is the Interim Vice President for University Communications at CCU. She continues to be a staunch supporter of technical schools, as well as universities and is spearheading the first statewide marketing incentive for Coastal.

  Mary Eaddy has always loved the written word; a librarian friend would “test” books on Mary before ordering copies for the library. She published a poem in a small regional magazine before entering first grade. Thinking she would like to write for golf magazines Eaddy attended a SC Writers Workshop and met Gwen Hunter, a SC author. Hunter became not only a mentor to Mary but also is a now a close friend. It took her nearly nine years to craft The Oaks of McCord. She laughs as she recalls how the characters took on lives of their own and she would find herself arguing, “No Laney, do you really want to do/say that?” Saturdays from early morning to late evening is when she does most of her writing. She relates that occasionally her husband will dash across the hall to her home office to see what is wrong, because the “discussions” between author and character can, at times, become loud and frustrating.

  Life is not just about work; Mary also serves in her church, First Presbyterian MB and it was in Sunday School she met her husband, Mike Petrakis. Of Greek descent and usually attending the Greek Orthodox Church, Mary wanted to be sure Mike felt welcome at First Pres. They were married in 2000!

  In her book, The Oaks of McCord, Eaddy shows how important women leaders are. She feels strongly that girls need to be prepared to be leaders and so, change the world. The goals and dreams that a young woman has are important to nurture and encourage. The book also shows that “lessons of friendship are lessons of living.” Mary Eaddy has finished two other books and currently has 2 more “under construction.” Writing more than one book at a time could confuse lesser authors, but Mary keeps the plots and characters in their proper places … unless they disagree with her, of course.

  Bella Rosa Books is the publisher of Eaddy’s book and it will be available in bookstores and online in June 2010. To order a copy you may visit www.bellarosabooks.come/The_Oaks_Of_MCord.htm or the author’s website www.maryeaddy.com. You can also find out more information about the author and her career history.

  The sum of a person, however, is not complete with just the activities, honors and education experienced. And while it is true that Mary Eaddy is a successful business woman, and now a published author, she is far more than just what she does. She values what is in the heart; and seeks to share her own with others. She listens and remembers, not just to use in future writing but because she knows the value of the person speaking and recognizes that intangible connection that exists between people. You will want to meet Mary Eaddy – in person and through her book(s). She’s a fine lady.



A Woman You Need To Meet – Cindy Graham Howe

By Peggy New

  Cindy Graham Howe has the distinction of being the first (and currently only) Master in Equity in the state of South Carolina. In Horry County, the Office of Master-in-Equity (or Equity Court) is a division of the South Carolina State Circuit Court. As such, Cindy Howe decides issues involving real estate such as foreclosures, partitions and contracts. She may not hear any criminal cases. Given the economy today, however, she is very busy with foreclosures on both personal and business properties.

  Still not sure what her office does? Historically and under the English system of jurisprudence, courts which would administer justice according to equity were termed “Courts of Chancery.” These courts were distinct from the common law and empowered to decree equity or fairness between the parties. Our master-in-equity courts are an outgrowth of the English system.

  Cindy Howe began her working career teaching school but the paperwork involved became overwhelming and discouraging; taking so much time away from actual teaching. She decided to apply to law school, took the LSAT’s and became her families first generation to not only go to college but continue her education. Accepted into SC University Law School, she struggled her first semester. Classes were very large, the teaching method was very different from her undergraduate experience and the only exam was the Final upon which her entire grade was based. As well, she had to learn a new language and vocabulary – Latin; Black’s Law Dictionary was her constant companion those days and still sits on a shelf in her office.

  Persevering, during her third year she clerked for Supreme Court Judge David Harwell. After graduating from Law School in 1981 and about to get married (she met her husband in an elevator in Florence!), Cindy applied for and received a position with a Myrtle Beach Law firm where she stayed for the next 20 years.

  Former Master in Equity, Stan Cross approached Cindy Howe about running for the position when he decided to retire for health reasons. She was currently with the law firm Battle, Vaught & Howe specializing in real estate litigation (not closings). After consulting with some peers and friends Cindy says, “It was something I aspired to do, and plan on working hard and being fair.” The application process was long and complicated but she was excited about the challenge of this office. It has not disappointed her since being sworn in on March 27, 2009.  Her first day of work, she remembers with a laugh, was the first of April; better known as April Fools Day. Her office is in the new County Office Building in Conway on the third floor.

  Cindy Graham Howe has two children; a son in college at USC and a daughter at MBHS. As well, the family has 2 dogs and a cat! They attend church at First Presbyterian in Myrtle Beach. Cindy is also a member of the MB Women’s Club. She feels it is a privilege to be serving her community in this office; she remembers when women were not even allowed to serve on juries, much less be a judge. Master in Equity Cindy Howe exemplifies why women have come such a long way – hard work, high intelligence and tenacious perseverance. This is a lady you will want to meet – preferably not due to a property dispute or foreclosure but because she is fun to talk with, enjoys people and life, has a deep faith; but best of all – recognizes that Mama Mia really was a great movie!  



A Woman You Need to Meet: Gina Trimarco

By Peggy New

  Her father wanted her to become an accountant; really he wanted her get married and have lots of babies but if she was going to be educated it should be in something that would always give her a job; like accounting! Gina Trimarco, on the other hand, wanted to grow up and be an actress. As a good daughter of Italian and German parents, she went to college and took accounting. It just didn’t lend itself, however, to being creative!

  At the suggestion of a friend, she took an Improv class at Second City in Chicago, IL. It was enough to cause her to change her major to journalism with an emphasis in communications media (radio, tv and film). Considered “too ethnic” to be in front of the cameras, Gina realized that what she really enjoyed was the behind scenes activities – writing, producing and direction. By the “ripe ole age of 25” Gina had her own business producing commercials and other free-lance media work. Marketing became her career; Improv a hobby.

  Recruited to manage Imax Theatre at Navy Pier, Gina turned it into the top Imax in the country. She also learned “real-life” accounting and financial analysis. Not only did she hone her marketing, sales and PR skills, she also learned how to manage people, and customer service. A lateral move brought her and her fiancée to Myrtle Beach to be the General Manager of Imax at Broadway at the Beach. It was brutal. Her work ethic, modeled and instilled in her by her father and mother, brought her to the very edge of burn-out. She began to look for an Improv class to “readjust her attitude.” The area, however, did not have such a class and she traveled to Carrboro, NC to the DSI Comedy Theater for a much needed week of “getting out of her head and onto her feet.” It also encouraged her to evaluate and remember where and when she was the happiest.

  The Carolina Improv Company was born! Gina is the “founder, facilitator and executive producer of entertaining training.” Work is no longer a job, but a passion that energizes her and brings all her skills, talents and abilities together. Since those first months beginning in November 2008, of moving from venue to venue, searching for a “home,” Carolina Improv has now taken residency at a new performance venue called UPTOWN, located at the Myrtle Beach (formerly Colonial) Mall. Seating between 50 and 70 with a mere 8” high stage the Improv performers have the means to create audience-interactive comedy shows that have the intimacy and synergy of a Chicago club.

  Why Improv? As Gina and other members of the team say, “we don’t teach funny, but funny often happens!” Anyone can learn to improvise (although some do have a gift!). Practicing improvisation can help expand and change you both personally and professionally. It helps in problem solving and thinking on your feet – all skills needed in both life and work. Gina relates that it is those “AH HA” moments that encourage and affirm her belief in what Improv offers. There was the young girl who tried out for cheerleading because of her experience at a Kids Improv & Acting Workshop. Or the woman who became “addicted” to improv after seeing just one show as she realized she could do this!

  Gina offers training to groups and organizations that need team building, customer service and sales training. By taking some of the basics of Improv she helps individuals improve their confidence, eliminate their fear of public speaking, improve presentation and sales skills, and relieve stress and have FUN! Improv asks the question “Yes and?” It also is storytelling – who, what, where – becomes the foundation of a story. Life, whether we acknowledge it or not, is risky; by practicing Improv we can learn to embrace those risks!

  How does one find Improv classes or UPTOWN? Gina’s younger brother is a professional bartender at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. He has a stack of Carolina Improv business cards on the bar and anyone traveling to Myrtle Beach is encouraged to stop in! Gina is also active on Twitter and Facebook. For locals, she makes sure that all events are listed on community calendars and websites. You can go to www.carolinaimprov.com or visit www.UptownMB.com or call 843-597-6393 for more information on upcoming classes (for all ages) and shows (for all ages). Need a laugh? Cheap therapy? Stress-reliever? Improv Your Life … and you’ll laugh more!



Walk to Beat the Clock Summerville

By Yolanda McCutchen


While growing up in Summerville, SC Tamika Felder loved going to Azalea Park with her mother Mary Ann Felder.   This month Felder’s organization Tamika and Friends will bring Walk to Beat the Clock Summerville to her hometown on Saturday, January 16th.   Walk to Beat the Clock (WBC) is a 5K walkathon organized to raise awareness about cervical cancer and its link to the human papillomavirus (HPV).


Tamika and Friends is a national advocacy organization that was founded in 2005 by Felder after she recovered from cervical cancer, “This disease is preventable and no woman should experience what I have.”    She was diagnosed at age 25 and underwent a radical hysterectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.   During her battle with cervical cancer her mother Mary Ann temporarily relocated to Maryland, where Felder resides, to care for her. Tamika has now been cancer free for eight years.  Walk to Beat the Clock Summerville is dedicated to Mary Ann who died in 2008.

    “Summerville is the perfect place to kick-off Tamika and Friends activities for 2010,” said Felder.  January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.   Cervical Cancer is caused by HPV.  The Pap test and HPV tests can detect the virus.  HPV is preventable by vaccination.    According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 5,000 will die.  WBC originated in Washington, DC in 2007.  It has become an annual event in Washington, DC as well as New York City and will take place in each of these cities later this year.   Felder visits her hometown several times a year where most of her family continues to live.  She said through WBC Summerville she wants to bring the information and message about cervical cancer which she speaks about globally to the people of Summerville that have supported her throughout her life; while paying homage to her mother.   Mary Ann was an avid walker and residents expected to see her every morning walking in Azalea Park and throughout the town.   She participated in all of the WBC walks since its inception and completed the Cooper River Bridge Run annually.      

    Felder plans to make Walk to Beat the Clock Summerville an annual event.  The opening ceremony for this year’s walk will begin at 10am with a salute to cancer survivors and their caregivers.   “A nurturing caregiver is as important to recovery as medicine and the sacrifices of these caregivers must be recognized,” said Felder.  Participants will be provided with entertainment and information on preventative measures that can be taken to prevent the disease.  

    Registration for the walk is open and can be accessed at TamikaandFriends.org.  The cost to register is $10 with proceeds to be used for further education and support of women battling the disease.    


Walk to Beat the Clock Summerville

·         Azalea Park, S. Main St & W. 5th South, Summerville, SC

·         Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10am

·         Cost:  $10

·         Register at   www.TamikaandFriends.org



 A Woman You Want to Meet - Esther Murphy
By Peggy New

  Esther Murphy is the Director of Recycling & Corporate Affairs at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. She drives to her office on Hwy 90 every morning from Cool Spring, just outside Aynor. Her home is surrounded by the homes of her mother, three of her 4 sisters and an aunt. Esther moved to Cool Spring from Newark, New Jersey in 1989 (the year of Hugo and 18" of snow on Christmas Eve!). It wasn't as much a culture shock as it could have been since her mother is originally from Horry and her father was from Marion County; in raising their family they simply brought the south up north.
  Prior to moving, Esther graduated from Roberts Walsh Business School with a degree in Medical Office Technology and went to work for a workman's comp clinic where she took x-rays, drew blood and maintained patient charts. She was also a hospice caregiver for several years but when her patient, a 12-year old with leukemia, died, Esther knew it was time to change direction and try something new. She became a toll booth collector for the NY and NJ Port Authority. "Attitude" became something Esther learned to deal with very quickly; it was always the toll booth person's fault when an accident occurred and traffic backed up over the bridge! After a year or so of collecting money, tokens, and learning patience, Esther was offered a different job with the Port Authority in the Office of Management and Budget, working on the 48th floor of one of the World Trade Center Towers. She maintains to this day that the towers did sway enough to rearrange pictures on the wall and create occasional sensations of seasickness. Esther is also thankful that she "forced" her mother to tour New York and the World Trade Center before moving to Horry County and before they were destroyed.
  Remember Hugo and the snow? Her first job in Horry County involved selling time-shares; which everyone should try once and then never have to again. She started working for the County in January 1990 and has continued to be a loyal and enthusiastic employee ever since. In 1993 she moved to the Solid Waste Authority because of the people; there were only 14 at the time and they were a "family." Staying with the SWA, Esther is proud of the difference it makes to the citizens of Horry County; how garbage is handled affects our lives not only today but tomorrow and beyond. Recycling is important and she is proud of the many programs offered to encourage and reward recycling from 4th graders "Talkin' Trash" to HS Senior Scholarship opportunity to office paper recycling partners program. Having pride in your job makes it easier and happier to come in every day and Esther enjoys her work; especially the regular visits to the landfill to see the engineering masterpiece that it is. It changes daily so if you have visited it in the past, Esther encourages you to come again and again and again! From 14 employees the SWA has grown to 110 with 24 of them running the 24 recycling centers located across Horry County. Retirement, if deemed necessary, may involve running one of those recycle centers; that's how proud Esther Murphy is of her company and what it does.
Described by her husband as one who "plans beyond belief" Esther enjoys the paperwork and record keeping so important to a business. She looks to hire people who excel at what they do; hiring the best to do the best job. Her goal is to make her organization the very best it can be and she sees herself doing this for the next 5 to 10 years.
 Esther is the proud mother of two daughters - the oldest a 1st year graduate student in NC and her youngest a freshman at Aynor High School. She also sits on the Aynor Advisory Council and is a strong supporter of the schools and staff. Her husband works at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in the OR and they all attend the Come As You Are Bible Fellowship Church.
  The stars are a little clearer in Cool Spring than in Newark and she enjoys being close to her family and friends. Esther Murphy believes, as does our new President, that it is important to do a little more than the next person; to look for a way to improve not only your own life, but the lives of those around you. These aren't just words to Esther; they are a way of life and Horry County is privileged to have her as a resident and employee. For more information on the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and Esther's role there, or to arrange for a tour, contact her at 843-347-1651. You'll want to meet this lady!

Watch Out – She’s Electric!  Women in Construction

By Peggy New


  Her mother’s water broke while operating a crane in Poland and shortly afterwards Renata Arluk Messenger entered the world! Her father emigrated to the United States in 1975 and a year later Renata and her mother followed. She remembers as a child she liked to get dirty and work with her hands. Racing dirt bikes motorcross was a lot of fun too – and she hoped one day to ride the “big toys” in construction. However she followed a more “traditional” role by working in an office for the Labor Department in Connecticut. A friend, knowing how weary she was of that work, told her, “I see you as an electrician.” Renata Messenger began the process of becoming a licensed electrician. In order to be a “Master Electrician” she first had to have 5 years of apprenticeship with a master electrician, take an exam to be licensed, and then an additional 2 years as a journeyman with another state exam. She not only learned about electricity at work, she discovered it with her husband Tim, also a master electrician.

  In May 2006, Renata and Tim, and sons Ryan and Austin, said goodbye to winters of 26 degrees below freezing and 30+ inches of snow and moved to the sunny south!  They were tired of tools freezing to their hands and struggling to stay warm. As well, they had family in the Myrtle Beach area and had vacationed here.  It wasn’t long before more family joined them and currently Renata’s brother, Chris Arluk (who was born in the United States), his wife, Rachel, and her sister Katie Short, have moved in. They formed Arluk Construction and are successfully creating a life and business that revolves around helping others.

  Renata and Tim are teaching Rachel and Katie the art of being an electrician. Together they are able to offer services and experience to individuals, small businesses and anyone who needs work done from the cement to the roof, from the foundation to the finish.  They are members of the Myrtle Beach BNI networking group and have a strong “word of mouth” client base.

  For each member of this family, it isn’t just about the work. It’s about the purpose and calling God has given each one. Rachel talks about how she worked as a bartender, dental assistant and babysitter; until one day she realized that without some education that was all she would ever do. Today she is a student at Horry-Georgetown Technical College working towards her business degree – and learning how to be an electrician. Her sister, Katie, had a similar experience and she too is going to school and working in construction. What Katie really wants, however, is to be a “grease monkey” mechanic and work on cars. Growing up her hero was Fonzie with his leather jacket! 

  Although these ladies aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, they have also discovered a way to look great both on and off the job through Mary Kay Cosmetics. All are distributors and ready to help others look and feel their very best. Renata smiles as she relates that “they are family working together, enjoying paradise and even though they struggle, at least they are doing it where it is nice!” She gives God all the credit for the positive changes she has seen happen in each member of their family.

  For the Messenger’s and Arluk’s, the dream and goal isn’t to just own land and have a big house, they desire these things in order to have room for friends and strangers to come, stay awhile and be renewed. Recently a friend of a friend came for a night and stayed 3 weeks!  It was even closer quarters in their 4 bedroom condo but no one minded as they saw this person have restored hope and peace. Each week the family gathers for Bible Study with a close pastor friend in Massachusetts – via speaker phone. They have worked with Habitat for Humanity, giving back by using their gifts and talents to those in need.

  Construction and cosmetics?  Living together with how many? Where will the next job come from? Renata Messenger, along with her husband, brother and family sisters, isn’t too concerned. Cosmetics make her feel pretty; she knows she’s a good electrician! Living together is love which is more than just feelings and she has an abundance of love to give. As to the next job, she knows it’s out there waiting for her and her band of lady electricians (along with a couple of good men!) to come and do great work, reasonable rates and excellent service. You can reach Renata and Arluk Construction by email arlukconstruction@gmail.com or call 843-685-7253. For the cosmetics, give Renata, Rachel or Katie at call at 843- 685-6686 or email her at renatamessenger@marykay.com. She’s electric – in lots of ways!



Denise Blackburn-Gay

Named President of Advertising Trade Group

In the male-dominated advertising industry, one South Carolina woman has risen to the top. Denise Blackburn-Gay, APR has been elected President of one of the country’s oldest and most respected advertising trade associations: the Marketing and Communications Agency Network, (MCAN).  She is the first female to hold the position in the Association’s 25-year history.
    Blackburn-Gay, President and CEO of Marketing Strategies, Inc. of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and a MCAN member for nearly twelve years, was installed during the group’s spring conference held recently in Daytona Beach, Florida.
    “We’re delighted that Denise has accepted the position,” said Executive Director, Dave Wilson.  “Her ability to lead is demonstrated through the success of her firm, Marketing Strategies, Inc.  She brings a great deal of knowledge to our group and is recognized as one of the most respected marketing and public relations professionals in the Southeast.”
    Blackburn-Gay, one of an elite group of Accredited Public Relations (APR) Professionals, has garnered national attention for her clients through feature articles that have been published in the likes of Forbes, Dupont Registry and trade publications such as Nightclub & Bar, Incentive Magazine, and more.  She is credited with an internship program, PRinciples, that has aligned itself with colleges and universities throughout the southeastern United States and has resulted in 100% placement for students that complete the program. A former marketing professor, and the recipient of the American Marketing Association’s prestigious Pinnacle Award, Blackburn-Gay currently serves on the Advisory Board of Horry Georgetown-Technical College, and was featured in the October, 2008 issue of South Carolina Woman Magazine.
    “I am extremely honored to have been elected President of MCAN,” she said.  “It is a responsibility I take seriously.”   Her goals for the organization include the addition of web-based seminars, an emphasis on education involving the emerging social media, and helping fellow members understand the importance of public relations in the overall marketing mix.
    “Today’s agency must be able to increase their relevance in a fast-changing media and marketing landscape,” she said.  “The best agencies don’t just sell ads, they sell creative thinking beginning with strategy and ending with results.”
    Members of MCAN include principals of advertising agencies and marketing communication firms throughout the United States and Canada whose agencies serve a wide variety of clients including consumer, business-to-business, industrial, direct response, non-profit, and retail.
    The group holds three conferences per year with keynote speakers ranging from noted authors to industry experts including such names as Rance Crain, President and Editor-in-Chief of Advertising Age, and most recently, Blair Enns, whose trademarked program, “Win Without Pitching”, has won national acclaim.
    MCAN may be best known as the host of the annual Manny Awards, an international awards competition recognizing the industry’s top advertising and public relations campaigns.
    MCAN helps agency principals serve their clients more effectively, run their agencies more efficiently, and enjoy the unique camerade that comes from friendships with knowledgeable, spirited, non-competing professionals. Members are bound by their dedication to excellence in advertising and marketing and the common goal of managing and growing their firms to be the best.
    For more information on MCAN, visit www.mcan.com. For more information on Denise Blackburn-Gay, APR or Marketing Strategies, Inc. visit



A Woman Making A Difference!

Standing in the GAP – Jessica Durivage

By Peggy New


When we meet people, one of the first questions asked is, “What do you do?”  A better question to ask would be, “Who are you?”
   Jessica Durivage has done many things in her life; she has even traveled to many different places. She is however, like most of us, far more than just what she has done or is doing today. Jessica Durivage lives each moment to the fullest, looking for and finding joy in the people and events that surround her. It comes, perhaps, from the inner core of strength that she finds through yoga, meditation and art. She also believes passionately in being a global citizen, staying connected to her community, and in serving others.

  Through working with several non profit organizations Jessica states, “Carl Kerridge and I recognized that one of their greatest unmet needs is the ability to build community awareness of their missions, activities and accomplishments. Less than 5% of annual budgets [of non profits] are devoted to marketing and promoting awareness of their causes and visions.”

  In an effort to meet this need, an innovative nonprofit agency was created. The Global Awareness Project is designed to “showcase humanitarian, environmental and cultural activities in local communities and worldwide.” GAP, as it is affectionately called, is creating a network of forward thinking, positive individuals who are passionate about their individual art and collective community. Jessica and Carl, along with the Board of Directors of GAP are using multi-media art, photojournalism and documentary work to sponsor creative projects, art shows and global events that are deliberately designed to foster their core values of community connection, awareness and education.

  The 2nd weekend of June, July, August and September has GAP sponsoring the Art Walks at the Market Common Valor Park in Myrtle Beach, SC. Jessica and Carl have mastered the ability to bring artists, vendors, non profits and individuals together for a showcase of original art and community information. Live music, great food and beverages, entertainment (that would be watching Carl get water soaked by lots of little kids) and simple old-fashioned fellowship between friends, old and new, are just a few of the events that occur at the Art Walk. The next ones are August 8 and 9 and September 12 and 13, 2009 from noon to 7 pm at Valor Park, Market Commons.

  It is easy to label people based on what they do – she’s an artist, he’s a photographer, she’s a yoga instructor, he’s a journalist, she’s a waitress, he’s a teacher and so on. And while factually true, to stop there would be to miss who the person is; the dreams, goals, desires and hopes that have created the person named Jessica Durivage or Carl Kerridge. Come to Market Common in August or September, meet Jessica and get a glimpse of someone who is making a positive difference in her own life, the lives of her friends and family, her community, and the world.

  For more information on GAP, visit their website www.theglobalawarenessproject.org or contact Jessica at Jessica.durivage@gmail.com.



Are You the Sandwich?

By Peggy New


Every now and then a book comes along that makes the reader sit up and notice things in life in a new way. Maryann McFadden writes this sort of book. Her first book, The Richest Season, is set primarily in Pawleys Island and is about a woman who one day leaves home. For 25 years, Joanna Harrison moved a dozen times with her husband as he journeyed up the corporate ladder, raised her children to be strong, independent and creative individuals, yet now finds herself taking long solitary walks, watching too much television and wondering what her purpose really is. 

  One day she leaves a message on her husband’s cell phone that she is leaving home and begins a personal journey to find herself. After arriving in Pawleys Island she moves in to help care for an elderly woman, starts waiting tables at a local restaurant and joins a turtle watching group. She also begins writing for the local newspaper, discovering new talents and abilities. Meanwhile her husband returns home from another corporate trip to find his wife still “missing.” His life takes a new turn and he becomes the neighborhood handyman, visits his children by himself and realizes all he’s sacrificed in order to succeed.

  McFadden’s second book is called So Happy Together. Claire has devoted her life to raising her daughter alone, caring for her parents, giving up on dreams that were too impossible to achieve. Finally, she reaches a point where her daughter has been moved out, her parents have been moved into a place where they can get care, and a loving man has entered her life.  She’s also been invited to attend the prestigious summer photography program on Cape Cod. It’s her turn now.  Or is it?

  Her estranged daughter arrives unexpectedly and gives birth within days on the living room floor; her mother hates the assisted living place and goes into a deep depression; her father’s Parkinson’s disease causes him to share a secret he’s kept for fifty years. Maryann McFadden writes seamlessly about three generations of women – Fanny, Claire and Amy. She allows the reader to examine along with these women the emotions and challenges of the mother-daughter bond, the desire to break free of those ties that bind, and the power of forgiveness.  As you read, you find yourself identifying with each generation – as a mother, a daughter, a grandmother – sometimes with all three! 

  McFadden’s first book was self-published. It began as a thesis project for a master’s program and was put on and taken off the closet shelf for several years before Maryann decided the story simply had to be printed. She sold over 3,000 copies of the book on her own, traveling to book clubs and independent booksellers with copies in her car trunk. Her tenacity and perseverance paid off when she signed with an agent and Hyperion published both her books in hardcover. She knows firsthand the challenges of making a major life change, believing in a dream and working towards a goal.

  She is working on her 3rd novel about an aspiring author and a struggling bookseller; about how books can change our lives. Read Maryann’s books, check her website for local book signings and go meet her. Her books will make you laugh a lot, cry a little, think a bit; as you celebrate life!

  For more information go to www.maryannmcfadden.com and to invite Maryann to visit your Book Club or bookstore you may email her at maryann@maryannmcfadden.com.  You’ll be glad you did.


A Woman You Want To Meet

Leading from the Right – Marsha Griffin

By Peggy New


Marsha Griffin ends her recorded message with “Lead from the right; manage from the left.” And most days, she’s doing both. Her primary focus is BE2 Business/Education Expectations whose purpose is to “inspire students to strive for academic excellence because they SEE the connection between what they are learning TODAY, and what they will be doing TOMORROW.”  Marsha was instrumental in establishing in 2006 the Horry County Early College High School. The ongoing success of this program is due in part to the strong partnerships between the Horry County School District and Horry-Georgetown Technical College, Coastal Carolina University, University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Francis Marion University and Clemson University and Lander.

  In talking with Joan Grimmett, the Principal of the Horry County Early College High School, I learned these students are “middle” students. Based on the results of testing in the 8th grade, students are selected to attend the Early College High School where they will not only graduate with a SC HS diploma, but may also have earned enough credits for an Associates Degree from Horry-Georgetown Technical College and move on to attend a 4-year institution. Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend and graduate college.

  Marsha Griffin seems to know each student by name and works hard to match each student a mentor in the business world. Mentors are asked to spend at least one hour a week with their student “in an interactive personal exchange that assists the student in academic, personal and or professional success.” She introduced me to Mykell Nixon, currently a junior whose mentor is Doug Wendell, a well known business man in Horry County. He is the youngest in his family and wants to be a major game developer and programmer; he is hoping to go to either USC or the Citadel and major in computer engineering. “The hardest part of Early College,” says Mykel, “is getting used to the classes and not being with his friends.” One of the best things “is the Socratic Seminar where you hear different viewpoints from people all over the county and learn to think about things differently.”

  Doug Wendel, former President & CEO of Burroughs and Chapin, says, “The Early College High School mentoring program provides an opportunity for business men and women to give back to the community. The return gift is much more rewarding than one can imagine. Providing hope and assistance to a young man or woman to realize their dreams and potential and to watch them progress into productive contributing members of our society is to inspirational beyond what one can imagine. I would highly recommend it to everyone.” (Quoted on website.)

  When Marsha Griffin believes something should be changed or done, she doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Rather she finds a way to make it happen. The BE2 Servant Leadership Program is one way that local businesses can connect with students in the Early College program by providing internships, summer bridge programs, mentorship and tutorials and/or volunteer services in support of Early College High School students, administrators, teachers, and/or facilities.

  Coming in November will be Marsha Griffin’s second highest priority – the Horry County Dances with Stars Show that raises money to provide enrichment opportunities for the students. It will be held again at the Marina Inn and is partnering with the Long Bay Symphony. As before, only ballroom dancing (tango, samba, rumba, waltz, and West Coast swing) will be exhibited. You will want to get tickets early as it is a sell out event!

  Marsha donates most of the time and energy that she gives to the Early College High School; she also is owner of Marsha Griffin & Associates that provides her clients with leadership training, team building and executive coaching. She and Larry have been married 39 years and own The Men’s Store in Myrtle Beach. Her children are the nearly 400 who attend Early College and she couldn’t be prouder of each one. Of the senior class of 105 students, 20% are on target to graduate with both high school and associate degrees, 60% will take an additional year to get their associates degree and the other 20% may not finish. Marsha swells with pride as she recounts individual stories of success and progress. Lead from the right, manage from the left – Marsha Griffin does it well and is a woman you want to meet!

  For more information on the Early College High School go to www.horrycountybe2.com. To contact Marsha Griffin, call 843-449-9675 or email at mgriffin@sccoast.net. Get involved, make a difference, and follow a good leader!


A Woman You Want to Meet

Cookie Goings

By Peggy New


When asked what she would do with a million dollars, Cookie Goings’ answer was immediate, definitive and passionate: “I would build Hope House.” 

  Cookie Goings is the Guidance Director at Myrtle Beach High School and she has a vision of a dormitory-style home for students who are of age yet not parented and who are attending high school. This home would be called “Hope House.” For the past 23 years Cookies has been passionately involved with all the students at Myrtle Beach High School, her alma mater. She has seen many changes in those years and one of the most dramatic is the number of students who are “homeless” and trying to finish High School.

  The Federal McKinney-Vento Assistance Act ensures education rights and protections for children and youth experiencing housing difficulties or loss of housing. Cookie Goings knows first-hand that not all “homeless” students are living in the woods or a car; many simply couch-surf, bummin’ nights from friends or family. “Homeless” then is defined as someone who does not have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, is temporarily sharing the housing of other persons, living in temporary house (motel, camper, emergency shelter, etc.), living in substandard housing and/or is unable to live with a parent or legal guardian due to family difficulties. Basic documents such as birth certificate, social security card and/or immunizations are often not readily available to such young people, hindering their ability to get help.  Cookie Goings, however, is helping these young people to finish high school, go to college, find and succeed at a career and help others to do the same.

  Last year at least seven (7) students were identified as “homeless” and today three are in college with scholarships, one will begin college this fall, one has gone into the military and two are still in high school – thanks in large part to the help and aide Cookie and the other staff at Myrtle Beach School have given them. Teachers help identify students who need help when they notice someone sleepy in class because of working late to earn enough to pay the rent, missing school to work, unable to concentrate or focus due to family issues.

  Cookie Goings may be just one person but she is someone who has organized and found “angels” to help her help these students. Some provide temporary housing, some give clothing, shoes, food for special occasions like prom, diapers and formula for young mothers, gift cards or money. She tells her students that they have angels they don’t know they have or will ever meet. Often the need isn’t as much financial, as it is to be in relationship and accountable to someone who cares. Currently Cookie’s “Hope House” is multiple homes where families have signed a letter of responsibility to feed and clothe a homeless child at MBHS.

  Cookie graduated from Myrtle Beach High School, went on to Newberry College and then USC where she received a Masters of Education. While looking for a job she worked retail which helped her indulge in her passion for shoes! But, as she says, “God intervened” and she was hired as a part-time English and Guidance teacher. She has been a youth advocate for foster children, in addition to raising her own children, Whitney and EJ who are currently students at MBHS. She and her family are members at Mt Olive AME. Her husband is as passionate about helping children as she is – what a team!

  She has a vision of one day opening Hope House and caring for all the students who so desperately need someone to parent them. In the meantime, Cookie Goings is just deeply grateful for the many “angels” in the community who are helping her do the very best possible to see that every student has the opportunity to go to school, be safe, and grow up to make a positive contribution to society. If you are interesting in making a difference in the lives of children, contact Cookie Goings at MBHS by calling her at 843-445-2032 or send her an email at mgoings@horrycountyschools.net. Your life will be richer for having met and known Cookie Goings.


© 2011 South Carolina Woman Magazine