Dr. Jonathan SackIn 1984, Dr. Jonathan Sack was a 35-year-old physician who had been practicing for 10 years in Johannesburg. But apartheid-era tensions in his South African hometown were boiling over, manifesting themselves in racial and political violence, and Sack decided it was time to prepare an escape.

“It was starting to get ugly,” he says. “It was getting unpleasant living there.”

He and his wife, Amy, hopped on a sailboat and spent a few months cruising the world. And a fortunate jaunt up the east coast of America put them on a course straight to Hilton Head. “We stopped here for gas and never left,” he says. “I didn’t really know the place existed before.”

Lisa RileyLisa Riley never planned to sell cosmetics. She was a sales associate in the children’s department at Belk in The Mall at Shelter Cove when a manager requested (or, more accurately, instructed) that she move to the Clinique counter. Riley admits to not liking the job at first — she had never worn make-up — but she soon realized there was more to the job than helping women choose between matte and glossy lipstick. “I realized that I was making people happy,” she says. “I wasn’t just selling make-up. I was listening to women, hearing their stories and helping them feel secure and beautiful.”

Riley says she realized she had a gift for pairing people with products when a mom and daughter approached her looking for a single item and ended up leaving completely made-over. And those are just two of more than a thousand clients — including some from as far away as California, Virginia and Michigan — who now ask for Riley by name.

Ben WolfeWith his youthful demeanor and Justin Bieber haircut, 24-year-old Ben Wolfe could easily pass for a Hilton Head Preparatory School student, instead of its performing arts director.

A veteran performer in his native Georgia since age 5, Wolfe was hired in 2009, fresh out of Armstrong Atlantic State University.

“I almost took the same job at a school in Tampa,” he says. “But I’d worked at the Arts Center here, and theater is about who you know and have good relationships with,” he says. “I didn’t know anybody in Tampa.”

Lindsay BurkeLindsay Burke knows she’s fortunate. Her bright smile no longer shows any trace of the cleft palate that she was born with. But rather than forget about the past, she’s driven by a need to help others born with the condition.

Lindsay, a senior and avid tennis player at Hilton Head Island High School, is an active fundraiser for the Smile Train foundation, a global charity that helps teach local doctors and provides free surgeries to children in 78 of the world’s poorest countries born with cleft lips or palates.

“I decided to combine two of the things most important to me — my tennis and helping Smile Train — and came up with the idea of holding a tennis exhibition at my home club in Spanish Wells to raise money,” she explains.

Suzette Springer: THE CIRCUS COMES TO TOWNMany kids dream of joining the circus, but Suzette Springer actually did it. In the 1980s, she performed with Cirque du Soleil as a contortionist and served as a member of the Big Apple Circus.

“It was a time for learning how to approach not just the arts, but life,” she says. “No complaining, no whining — just incredible amounts of practice and absolute devotion to your goals.”

Springer began dancing when she was 10; by the time she reached high school she was studying for half her days and dancing the rest. A prosperous professional career in dance and teaching followed; now she’s about to fulfill her longtime dream of teaching at her own studio.

Harold Watson, executive director of Programs for Exceptional PeopleHarold Watson, executive director of Programs for Exceptional People, has a difficult time talking about himself. He briefly mentions his prolific 30-year background with non-profits and church ministries before he changes the subject to his No. 1 cause. “I find a great deal of fulfillment in working with adults with intellectual and mental challenges,” he says of his work with PEP.

Founded 15 years ago by a small group of parents of disabled adult children, PEP provides a place where special-needs adults can take classes, participate in community programs and socialize with peers. “Members have goals to help increase their independence, whether it be at home or in the community,” he says.

Carrie HirschWhen Carrie Hirsch started working on the battered old “Little House” on Gumtree Road, she wondered what the neighbors were thinking.

“I thought, ‘Everybody’s going to think I’m a Realtor,’” she says, recalling how she’d drive over to the abandoned shack if she had a free hour and work to clear  brush from the site that would be transformed into the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island. “People would ask me what I was doing. Eventually I knew everybody by name, they knew me by name and I felt like they were watching out for me. I don’t know if they’ll ever know how much that meant to me.”

What’s intriguing about Hirsch, 49, is that she is so passionate about preserving a piece of history that holds no place in her personal history. She isn’t a native islander. She isn’t even a native South Carolinian. She’s a Hilton Head resident by way of New York City who stumbled upon the island’s true wealth while on vacation here several years ago.

Chris GarniewiczBluffton Fire Capt. Chris Garniewicz’s usual firefighter uniform can be described as inspiring, yet creatively uninspired. But the colorful costumes he and his wife, Lara, make in their free time are worthy of sugar plum fairies and mouse kings.

Chris and Lara have been sewing and designing costumes for “The Nutcracker” ever since their daughter Hayden, now 10, joined the Dance Theatre seven years ago. This year, they created the delicate ruffles and glittering baubles on nearly every costume in the show. “I get some odd looks sometimes when I tell people I make tutus,” says Chris. “The guys at the fire station take it in stride because they’re also asking me to alter pants and fix tears. I just got done sewing zippers back on some sweatshirts.”

Roy Goyochea: No LimitsTeen turns his life around and spreads message of hope

To go from being in a gang to quoting Gandhi is a long road for most people, but it’s a path 17-year-old Roy Goyochea has walked and lived. One of his favorite quotes is by Gandhi: “Whatever you do in the present is going to affect the future.” Goyochea “gets it” in a way many teens might never understand.

His quiet confidence arrives in a room almost before he does. As he mentors other kids and coaches soccer at the Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club, it’s hard to imagine just how far he has come.

mayorHilton Head Mayor Tom Peeples

As the summer season draws near, we have been hard at work to complete several new capital projects on the island. These projects will provide our residents and visitors with improved infrastructure and a new emergency service facility.