Elizabeth Hancock leads Friends of the Children of Hilton Head.

February's MVP: A Mom on a MissionFew things are as devastating as the diagnosis of a serious illness in a child. Elizabeth and Bobby Hancock faced that bleak reality, and all the uncertainties that accompany it, when their daughter Sarah was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

Thanks to MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston, the Hancocks’ story has a happy ending.

Today, Elizabeth Hancock and the organization she cofounded are doing all they can to ensure that other families have the same experience.

“We’re so grateful; the care we received was incredible,” she said. “ We knew we needed to let others in this area know about and connect to the hospital and the resources there.”

Marke's recaps its charity program recipients and announces plans to continue the program in 2009.

Marke's Heating & Cooling, Inc.'s 2008 Charity Program ended December 31, 2008, but, in spite of current economic challenges, company president Tim Ferguson reported that the company is going to strive to continue its popular program in 2009.

Because of the way the program is set up, each month the public is invited to vist markesheatingandair.com and nominate its favorite charity. The organization receiving the most votes wins a $500 donation.

In the Vanguard Mary Noonan sets the bar for Women in Philanthropy.

In the Vanguard Mary Noonan sets the bar for Women in Philanthropy.Since retiring to Hilton Head in 1995 fol- lowing a 30-year career in public relations, Mary Noonan has certainly made her mark on the community through her involvement in a number of organizations.

Noonan is a founding member of Women in Philanthropy, a fund of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. She has also served as an advisory board member from 2003 to present, as advisory board chair in 2008-09 and as the education chair from 2003-08.

Women in Philanthropy is one of the more than 200 funds of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, initiated in 2003 as an outgrowth of several focus groups the foundation conducted to see how they might more effectively foster women’s interests and giving in the community.

Pat Birmingham to take the driver’s seat of Meals on Wheels.

Pat Birmingham to take the driver’s seat of Meals on Wheels.Pat Birmingham is a true believer in Meals on Wheels – Bluffton and Hilton Head Inc., and the valuable service it provides to its clients throughout southern Beaufort County.

“Meals on Wheels is a great organization,” Birmingham said. “We’re not flashy, and we provide a valuable service to people who can’t prepare their own meals. You don’t get much more basic than food.”

Founded locally in 1979, the organization will soon enter its 30th year of service providing meals to clients regardless of their ability to pay. “We have never missed a day of serving meals, even when the occasional bad storm passes through,” he said.

Originally from Hoag Corners, N.Y., Birmingham started college but quit after two years to enter the Air Force Aviation Cadet program. He spent 20 years in the Air Force, for a short time as a navigator and the rest as a fighter pilot.

Missy SantorumLowcountry dynamo generates energy for Palmetto Electric.

Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee to rev things up.   However, some of us come “naturally caffeinated”…our own little latte of energy.

There’s energetic, and then there’s Missy Santorum. This Lowcountry dynamo has been channeling all that get-up and go into our community since 1985 and without a coffee cup in sight. The moment you meet her, all that energy comes through and you realize that her to-do list seems to be in a whole different league than most.

When asked what she wishes she had a little more of, she’s quick to note, “I wish I could do it all.” But she’s a great example of today’s well-rounded woman who manages to balance her career, her family, which includes husband Dan and three children, and a volunteer workload and dedication to her community that might seem remarkable to most, but just part of a day in the life for Santorum.

A Concours d’Elegance icon.

October’s MVP: Rosemary Kimball - A Concours d’Elegance icon

If you attended the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival in 2007, you’ll certainly remember Rosemary Kimball. She was wearing a 30s-era dress, hat and fascinating vintage fox stole. Although it will be difficult to top that outfit, Kimball will definitely wear something fabulous from one of the historic automotive eras celebrated at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, November 2, when more than 150 vintage vehicles compete for Best of Show. But Kimball is more than a fashionable addition to the Concours – arguably an integral centerpiece of the weekend; she’s responsible for why the event’s coveted awards are as artistic as they are prestigious.

September’s MVP: Carol SchembraThere are great women, and then there are amazing women – those who make you stand taller, set the bar higher and pave the way for others a little each day. Yes…she’s amazing all right. She’s also compassionate, smart, loyal, business savvy and a giver, by anyone’s standard. Carol Schembra, president of the WatersEdge Board and secretary of Hilton Head Prep’s Board of Trustees, is an MVP and it only takes five minutes into an interview to discover why. The day Monthly spoke with Schembra was a momentous one – her 30th anniversary with husband Phil.

Hilton Head Humane Association’s HERO.

August’s MVP: BOBBI HELTONRaven-haired Bobbi Helton sweeps into a room with the stealth of a tigress, attacking the day’s tasks with unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Whether she is taking inventory, assisting customers, moving furniture or wielding a mop, she gets the job done, collecting innumerable joys along the way.

Starting as a volunteer in 2000, a beacon of light to the Hilton Head Humane Association, Helton was asked to join the board the same year. She served as vice president in 2002 and was elected president in 2003. After working seven days a week for two years at The Litter Box thrift store (a funding mechanism for the organization), in 2006, she took the position as manager and continues to work tirelessly.

A former school teacher, devoted wife and lifelong animal activist, she brings passion and compassion to her role, her service and dedication surpassed only by her love of life itself.

Taking Care of BUSINESS

August’s MVP: Toni LyttonAfter 25 years with the sheriff ’s office, Toni Lytton now sits in the director’s chair for Beaufort County Animal Shelter & Control. Lytton, a native of California who lived in Hawaii after her father retired from the Marine Corps, came to the Lowcountry as a Marine wife in 1977. “Before I came here I worked for a veterinarian, but none of the vets were hiring,” she said of her career path. “I knew somebody who worked here and applied for the job and got it.”

When she started with the department, animal control officers didn’t carry guns even though they were certified deputies. “That came later,” Lytton said. “The incident reports haven’t changed, we just get more of them now. A lot, lot more compared to the ’80s and ’90s.”

The shelter serves all of Beaufort County, including Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Pritchardville and everything north of the Broad to the borders, she said. And population growth and development have increased the pressure of the job. “The people coming into Beaufort County are more demanding,” she explained.

Saving lives and beautifying beaches through Shore Beach Service.

July’s MVP: RALPH WAGNEREverything about his office has the usual corporate feel to it: an oversized wooden desk, family photos sprinkled throughout, however, visitors don’t receive the standard guest chair. It seems only appropriate that the “president’s office” would have beach chairs for visitors. When you’re the longtime owner of Shore Beach Service, green beach chairs for your guests make sense.

Ralph Wagner has been at the helm of Shore Beach Service since 1992. The beautiful island beaches we all know and love are kept that way in large part by Wagner and his staff. Shore Beach Service (shorebeach.com) is in charge of keeping the beaches beautiful as well as the ultra-important task of keeping beachgoers safe and out of harms way.

Wagner originally hails from the Midwest but came to Hilton Head Island in the early ,90s from snowy Chicago where he worked in corporate America as a controller for a Fortune 100 company. When the opportunity arose to purchase Shore Beach Service, the move was made.