Share this article:
Submit to Facebook Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Submit to Twitter

mark spinn westie awardsA couple months ago, Mark Spinn, the director of marketing & public relations for St. Andrew’s Parks & Playground (SAPP), turned 50 years old. Months before the big day, Spinn set a goal for himself to do something he hadn’t done in decades —slam dunk a basketball. The former UCLA basketball player stepped up his workouts, began eating better, and worked on strengthening his surgically-repaired knee enough to give him the springs he had half a lifetime ago when he played hoops for the Bruins. He worked his way up to slamming a volleyball, then a women’s basketball, and then sure enough on the day he turned 50, Spinn slammed a regulation-sized basketball into the hoop just like the good ol’ days.

It’s this sort of dedication and goal-oriented attitude that drives Spinn and also makes him a valuable member of the West Ashley community. Beyond constantly working to find sponsorships for youth sports teams, Spinn also is the chairman of the SAPP Scholarship Golf Tournament. Since taking over the tournament in 2008, Spinn led the way on making the tournament an annual sellout. More importantly, St. Andrew’s now nets about $10,000 annually at the tournament, which is sponsored by West Of, and enables the SAPP to fulfill, at least in part, every eligible scholarship request it received the last three years for summer camps, youth sports, after school programs, etc.

When it comes to the tournament, Spinn works hard finding not just a lunch sponsor, but a dinner sponsor, on-course food sponsors, beer and beverage sponsors, and golf product donors. “Because all this keeps players coming back, spreading the word about our event, and making sure we’ve got money in the scholarship fund to help the families in our community who need some help,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for. I’m passionate about that.”

Additionally, Spinn also recently became the Marketing Coordinator for the Charleston Miracle League, a baseball league and facility designed for children and adults with special needs.

alyssa maute westie awardsTo only be in her mid-20s, Bottles ‘n Brushes CEO Alyssa Maute is already doing big things. This art lover began her career with Bottles ‘n Brushes, a step-by-step instructional art studio, in 2011 at the Summerville location. It wasn’t long before her co-workers noticed her dedication, and Maute was promoted to CEO at the West Ashley location, which opened in April 2012, largely at Maute’s encouragement.

“I grew up on James Island. I love art, and I wanted to offer something different and special to our community,” she says. Instead of leisurely getting by with a typical 9-to-5, Maute uses her position at Bottles ‘n Brushes to better the West Ashley community she loves. She created a partnership between her company and the Charleston Animal Society (CAS) to raise awareness about animal adoption and donate funds to CAS. Each month, Bottles hosts a “paint your pet” night, where participants paint an animal available for adoption at the center. For each person that participates, $5 is donated to CAS.

“A lot of the dogs that we’ve painted have been adopted as a response to the class,” says Maute. “I felt like we had the perfect target market to get the word out there about animals that need homes.”

But animals aren’t her only passion; Maute also initiated an after school art program in several West Ashley and James Island Elementary Schools. With funding for the arts suffering as budget cuts are instated, Maute looks to fill in the gaps and make art readily accessible for children. “I truly believe that we are the friendliest city in America,” she says. “It really touches my heart when the community succeeds.”

As an active member of Lowcountry Local First and supporter of Lowcountry Orphan Relief and the Callen Lacey Center for Children, this is one young entrepreneur on the rise.

sharon richardson westie awardsIt’s been said that it’s better to give than to receive. For West Ashley resident Sharon Richardson, these are words to live by, as she has been giving and giving for quite some time. But this year, Richardson also received something — she was just awarded the Charleston County Government’s 2012 Employee of the Year, the highest award given annually to the person who best represents the county’s more than 2,000 employees. It was the first time ever that a library employee has won the award.

St. Andrew’s Regional Manager Cynthia Hurd and her Supervisor Rosemary Fludd called Richardson “a role model of professionalism” and a “valued veteran and ambassador of the branch.” In addition to the County’s Employee of the Year Award, Richardson is also receiving a much-deserved Westie Award for all the work she does in the community.

A self-professed bookworm, Richardson became a Library Assistant in the Circulation Department of the St. Andrew’s Regional Library in 2002. Her positive attitude, commitment, and professionalism was evident in how she interacted with customers and fellow co-workers. In addition to her regular duties, Richardson created and maintained a Coupon Corner at the branch, which helps patrons and staff save money by sharing unused coupons with others. The program and her infectious positive attitude also increased usage of all items at the St. Andrews branch to 80 percent from the previous 60 percent.
Additionally, Richardson helps at Crisis Ministries downtown in the soup kitchen and is a hospice volunteer at Heartland Health Care. She also runs her own business, Sharon’s Baked Goods, to supplement her family’s income.

mike lotz triangle char and bar westie awardsThere are some businesses that exist solely to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. After all, that is the point of business, isn’t it? But then there are those businesses that believe you can be successful and give something back to the community and the planet. Triangle Char & Bar is one of those businesses. Not only do they take pride in offering 100-percent grass-fed beef, raised by local farmers at Hill Creek and McCutchen farms, but they make a tremendous effort to recycle and compost as much their waste as possible.

The restaurant is also at the forefront of several community initiatives. Triangle’s energetic and tireless general manager Mike Lotz has been the force that has made the Avondale restaurant a favorite place to dine as well as leader in the community.

A past Westie winner, Lotz exemplifies what a Westie Award winner is all about— someone who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty to make West Ashley better. Lotz is instrumental in the organizing and execution of the annual Avondale 5K Run. In 2012 the race had nearly 500 participants and raised nearly $50,000 for West Ashley’s own Charles Webb Center, a developmental day care that serves children who have special needs

Additionally, Lotz has been the driving force behind organizing Avondale Restaurant Week. Created in the same mold as the Charleston Restaurant Week, the Avondale Restaurant Week keeps things local and draws hundreds — if not thousands — of diners to our part of town twice a year to have special pre-set menu items at a half dozen restaurants in the Avondale neighborhood.


ruth metzger charleston girl scouts westie awardsIt’s no secret. They make the most famous cookies in the world. Thin Mints, Shortbread, Caramel Delights … for nearly 100 years, Girl Scout Cookies have been a staple in American families from coast-to-coast.

But for Ruth Metzger, recently retired Board Chair of the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina (GSESC), being involved in this beloved organization is so much more than cookies. A native of Maryland, this leading lady began her work in Girl Scouts 30 years ago, when she decided to volunteer as her daughter’s Brownie Troop leader. Metzger and her husband retired to West Ashley, but giving back to the community through Girl Scouts was already in her DNA, so she jumped on the chance to get involved in the Lowcountry.

In 2007, Metzger was elected Board Chair of GSESC and began managing and leading volunteers, staff, leaders, and troops from as far north as Myrtle Beach down to Hilton Head. “When I was elected, I couldn’t say no,” she said. “I’ve volunteered in the community for a long time. It’s important to be engaged, and give back.”

Those Brownies in Metzger’s first Troop are certainly thankful for her dedication over the years; the girls have grown into women making an impact in their own community, choosing careers in medicine, teaching, biomedical engineering, and the U.S. Navy, to name a few.

After serving two three-year terms as Board Chair, Metzger is looking forward to the next stage of life as a retired board member but lifelong supporter of Girl Scouts … perhaps snacking on cookies instead of managing the entire sales process. On March 7, she will be honored at the annual Mary Dean Brewer Women of Distinction event in Florence for her dedication to Girl Scouts since 1983.

barry owns trinity bible church westie awardsFor 50 years, Barry Owens has served as a preacher in churches throughout the Charleston area. At 70 years old, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. The man behind Trinity Bible Church, located adjacent to West Ashley Park, knew he wanted to be a preacher at the ripe young age of 14. “I was at a youth camp when the Lord spoke to me and told me to be a minister,” he explains.

Travel back to 1988. Glenn McConnell Parkway doesn’t exist. The land now occupied by Owens’ church was then home to snakes, squirrels, and deer. After a series of events that led the property to fall into Owens’ hands, Trinity Bible Church was formed, at the time in the middle of nowhere. Now, the church is flourishing. “I knew this is what I was made to do,” he says. “God made everything happen and I’m just trying to do his work.”

But Trinity Bible Church is more than just a Sunday morning routine. Pastor Owens makes sure that his congregation gives back to the West Ashley community. From oyster roasts to live bluegrass music events to an annual fish fry and skeet shooting competition, Owens keeps his congregation busy with tons of family-friendly events designed to raise money for missions throughout the Lowcountry.

“I love the sweet spirit of the people here,” he says. “They are good, loving people. The church family here really enjoys each other.” When it’s not Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, Pastor Owens can be found visiting the sick in the hospital, spending time with church members in need of comfort and support, or looking for ways to share his faith. “I love my ministry now more than I ever have. This is a wonderful place to be,” says Owens.

brady quirk-garvan westie awards money with a missionAlthough local businessman Brady Quirk-Garvan has lived in Charleston for many years, he just moved to West Ashley three years ago and has worked tirelessly to improve the West Ashley area since that time.

During the day, Quirk-Garvan works along with his father doing business development for Natural Investments/‘Money With A Mission’. “We’re trying to help people be more intentional about their financial life.” Unlike many financial investment companies, who simply look at the bottom line, Natural Investments/‘Money With A Mission’ tries to match individuals up with investments that are in line with their values and encourage them to be conscious of what their money is actually supporting. “We’re not out here to say making money is a bad thing, we’re saying there is a better way to do it,” says Quirk-Garvan. “We’re trying to help people be more intentional about their financial life.”

Quirk-Garvan and his company are also very active with the City of Charleston’s Green Business Challenge, an initiative to improve the performance of commercial and institutional buildings and their operations through reducing energy and water consumption, and waste reduction. “I love the Green Business Challenge. I like to know we’re improving our planet. I like knowing the are steps we’re taking to make the planet better.”

When not in the office, Quirk-Garvan serves on the Greenbelt Advisory Board and is always pushing to improve the quality of life for West Ashley residents. He was an advocate for making the Greenway more accessible for residents and has been working with the City of Charleston to try and get some of the more rundown parts of the Bikeway repaved. Quirk-Garvan also serves on the board of several non-profits including The Palmetto Project, We Are Family, and Remember Niger.

bill moody westie awards charleston city councilHe’s no stranger to the public eye. City of Charleston Councilman Bill Moody may have his hands full with political agendas that come with serving on a council of a large city, but he certainly represents his local West Ashley community well.

Since moving to West Ashley in 1968, Moody has worked faithfully to make his home better and brighter. A passionate believer in making the greater Charleston area aesthetically appealing, Moody’s latest project involves garnering support and effort by local businesses, schools, and residents in West Ashley to clean up underbrush and overgrown areas by bridges, streets, and intersections.

Moody hopes that by recognizing businesses like Baker Motor Company, that maintain a beautiful presence in the community, other companies will jump on board to take proper care of their property.

“I’m not asking for money, I’m asking for simple things, like more effort here and there to clean up what’s right outside our backyard,” he says. “Let’s encourage neighborhood associations and reward businesses for looking good.”

Moody met with Mayor Joe Riley to discuss cleaning up the West Ashley area, specifically at bridge joints and crossovers. With Riley’s support, Moody spearheaded a campaign to clean out underbrush and dead palms by the entryways into West Ashley. “We have these beautiful marshes that were getting covered up by dead brush and branches. I knew if we put forth a little effort, we could get it looking much better.” Residents have noticed, and credit Moody and his team with making West Ashley more appealing.

For the councilman, though, giving back to the community at large is second nature. “I’ve always been involved. I like to solve problems. I know what my skill set is and I like to use it. That’s just my life,” he modestly says. Though the CPA technically retired in 2009, he is involved now more than ever, and plans on continuing his work to improve his beloved community.

joan perry westie awards scrubsShe’s not your average Charlestonian, but Joan Perry is certainly making a difference in the West Ashley community she calls home. Born in Canada, Perry spent her formative years growing up in Northeast India, where her father taught English before moving back to Toronto to begin her career as a nurse. Fortunately for many health practitioners in the area, Perry’s path led her to West Ashley, where she started working at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital.

In 2004, Perry developed an institution that would change the lives of countless high school kids across the lowcountry. Perry established the “SCRUBS” mentoring program to allow students interested in a career in health or medicine to gain first hand experience alongside nursing staff in the hospital that serve as mentors.

The students work side-by-side with nurses in the hospital for 40 hours in order to complete the program. “I knew I had to do something,” says Perry. “I thought to myself, when I leave here, no one is going to say ‘oh that Joan kept the front desk covered well.’ I wanted to make an impact.”

For nearly ten years now, hundreds of health care providers, doctors, and nurses credit their chosen career path to the SCRUBS program that Perry started. Since its establishment, the program has expanded into evening career information sessions, individualized and hands-on mentor programs, and a nationally award winning summer camp, where participants can earn CPR and First Aid certificates. “The kids really get excited about it. They want to learn. And to me, that’s worth it,” she says.

When she’s not busy serving as Director of Volunteers at Bon Secours, Perry spends time volunteering with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about the importance of heart health. In the words of her colleagues, “Joan is truly a treasure who makes the hospital, and West Ashley, an even better place to work, play, and learn.”