VenezuelaAs Venezuela descends into economic and political chaos, one of the South American country’s native sons has found a safe harbor in the Lowcountry.

Gustavo Rattia, who is 33, was lucky to get his family out of Venezuela before things got as bad as they are now. He, wife Rossany and young son Sebastian emigrated to Bluffton in February 2015, and they say the peace and quiet of their new life in the Lowcountry life is a blessing.

RileyCHARLESTON'S JOE RILEY ACCOMPLISHED MUCH THROUGH A STRONG MAYOR SYSTEM

A strong mayor system in Charleston, combined with a visionary leader, produced four decades of dramatic improvements in race relations, urban re-development, and quality of life for all residents. Studying this city’s successes could inspire leaders on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton.

I’M A BUILDER AND A CRAFTSMAN,” ROBERT GRAVES JR. SAID IN A THICK SOUTHERN DRAWL. A PIONEER AND ONE OF THE FIRST DEVELOPERS ON HILTON HEAD ISLAND, HE WORKED CLOSELY WITH CHARLES FRASER.

“Charles would give me his vision and talk to me while designing a home,” he said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have raised seven children and 22 grandchildren at last count.”

Graves, 79, founded his custom home construction business in 1959. It is still in operation today, though the island looks a lot different now than when he started.

Caring for others, especially seniors, has always been a big part of Jennifer Spencer’s life. In fact, caring for others is her way of life. Her new business helps deal with the details when someone downsizes, moves to a senior facility or passes away.

The new Lowcountry resident recently opened the doors to Relics Estate Sales and Consignments on Persimmon Street in Bluffton, a business she started with her fiancé and business partner, Scott Tracy.

Roots have a way of extending themselves over time and eventually rising to the surface.

Researching family genealogy and DNA testing have become very popular, and people are using a combination of DNA testing and online websites and apps to construct their family trees — and some have tracked down long-lost relatives in other countries and travelled to meet them. But the burning question is: Do I really want to know?

THE MARSH TACKY IS DESCENDED FROM THE HORSES BROUGHT TO AMERICA BY SPANISH EXPLORERS IN THE 1500S.

Waiting for the Daufuskie Island ferry at Bluffton’s Buckingham Landing, Erica Veit stands in her cowboy boots, sipping coffee and greeting the locals. She’s dressed to work in the barn, managing the needs of four endangered marsh tacky horses on a barrier island only accessible by boat. She doesn’t seem to mind the trip from the mainland, using the time to prepare herself for her busy day as executive director of the Daufuskie Island Marsh Tacky Society. Her charity is just over a year old and is already educating island visitors on the history and legacy of the rare marsh tacky, the South Carolina state heritage horse.

JUST FIVE WEEKS AFTER GIVING BIRTH TO HER FIRST CHILD, DANIELLE VELEZ OF BLUFFTON FOUND HERSELF NEEDING A PLACE TO LIVE.

Danielle VelezVelez contacted the local Medicaid office to find out what programs were available to her and her infant son, Jameson. She was referred to Family Promise of Beaufort County, an affiliate of the national nonprofit organization that provides temporary shelter, food and other resources to homeless families with children.

Local congregations provide shelter for the families, who move once a week from one location to the next. Volunteers serve food to the families and offer companionship. Staff members provide case management and help families find jobs, child care, school placement and ultimately affordable housing.

Angela Kari RosenbergA lifetime spent around the water has led to an exciting new venture for two former Lowcountry natives, sisters Kari and Angela Rosenberg. After pursuing separate careers in film and marine science, respectively, they recently launched the ANGARI Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps bridge the gap between marine science and the general public. The centerpiece of the organization is a 65-foot Grand Alaskan trawler that last year they outfitted to serve as a research vessel.

A dolphin trainer, vet tech and diver moved from Pennsylvania to Hilton Head, wiggled into her 30-pound silicone tail and became a full time mermaid after the surprising success of her book, “Sammy the Sand Dollar” in 2016.  

“I wanted to teach kids how to identify dead or alive sand dollars and encourage them not to take the live ones home,” Leipold said. “And I wanted to write children’s books that educate kids about conserving marine life. I’ve always felt an affinity for the ocean.”

Russell Fredericks Makes Dramatic Career Transition

Russell Fredericks, a brand new Bluffton resident, has made a subtle, but dramatic career transition.

Two months ago the 49-year old New Jersey native was tending to historic fountain sculptures, dealing with cranky TV film crews, and making sure tons of debris were swept up daily. There was also the occasional dead body fished by his team from the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in the heart of New York City's world-renowned Central Park.