Do you wake up every day feeling blessed to live in the Lowcountry? I know for the past 21 years that I've lived here, I do. The natural beauty, beaches, waterways, culture, history - and especially the people - are just some of the reasons I chose to raise my family here.
On April 4, I took the reigns as president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, becoming just the third person to fill that role in the organization's nearly 25-year history.
I follow the incredible trail Denise Spencer forged, as she retired after 12 years of service. I've spent my entire career working in the not-for-profit arena, so I genuinely feel I've prepared my whole professional life to do this job.
Many things attracted me to this position, but the Foundation's mission resonated with me: Strengthening community by connecting people, resources and needs. That is a really powerful statement.
Having lived in this paradise for more than two decades, I've come to understand that, while many of us enjoy a high quality of life, there are plenty of people in our area who do not.
Hard-working families struggle to make ends meet and commute long distances to find work, only to find jobs with low, entry-level salaries. These families' bank accounts often have less than $300 to cover any unexpected emergencies. And let's face it, we all have unexpected emergencies.
Many in our community lack access to high-quality healthcare, utilizing our hospital's emergency rooms for common illnesses, which is costly to the individual and to taxpayers.
One of the biggest factors offering a proven pathway out of poverty - and one of the issues I'm most passionate about - is academic success. Unfortunately, the academic success of children in our region is often determined by the ZIP code in which a child is born. What can we do to level the playing field?
Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." I'm excited about working with you and other community partners to continue to improve the lives of everyone who calls this beautiful place home.
We all know that life is short, so it's important to live every day to the fullest and, if possible, leave the world better than how you found it.
So how will you do that? What will your legacy be? Will you be known for helping a child succeed in school? Protecting the natural beauty of our region? Making a difference through volunteering? Supporting a cause that is meaningful to you?
That's what we do at Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. With more than 340 funds and 4,384 donors last year, we have provided more than $6.4 million in scholarships and $65 million in grants to strengthen and improve this beautiful region. I invite you to be part of that.
Let's get together. I would love to hear what brings you passion in life and begin talking about your legacy to the Lowcountry.
Christopher Kerrigan is the CEO and president of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. cf-lowcountry.org