April 2013: Charity Corner- Deep Well
Author: Peggy Nowak
Deep Well Celebrates 40 years Helping Islanders in Need
It was the late 1960s when island resident Charlotte Heinrichs, a former New York State public health nurse, recognized that the widespread infestation of parasites in local school children was the result of water wells that were simply too shallow, their water thereby being contaminated by ground sewage which leached into them. So she boldly brushed aside bureaucratic interference and developed the program that brought deep-water wells—parasite free—to native Hilton Head Islanders. Thus began The Hilton Head Deep Well Project, known in the area simply as Deep Well.
Officially founded in 1973, the organization has evolved over time to meet the needs of the less fortunate on Hilton Head Island, but still is distinguished by the fact that it is a true volunteer-based non-profit that has long enjoyed the universal support of islanders.
“Charlotte’s initial undertaking has been embraced by the people and organizations of Hilton Head. And that’s what we’re celebrating—recognizing—this year,” said Betsy Doughtie, executive director since 1996.
Deep Well’s list of services is extensive, last year providing over 61,000 nutritious meals, over 600 emergency payments for rent and utilities, over 500 furniture donations, over 380 Thanksgiving meals, Christmas meals or gifts to nearly 1,000 people, over 90 medical payments to help the sick, diapers, school uniforms and supplies, emergency shelter and more.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a plantation, church, school, civic organization, or social group that hasn’t contributed food, furniture, and funds. Combined with the generosity of many individuals and businesses, we’ve been able to help in many ways,” Doughtie said.
Deep Well’s small staff is supported by a full range of volunteers who last year spent over 12,000 hours interviewing clients and working hard to meet their needs whenever possible, managing the food pantry and delivering food, making home repairs and providing furniture to make housing livable and executing the broad mission of this most unique charitable organization. These expansive volunteer efforts are a big reason why roughly 92 percent of every dollar contributed to Deep Well provides real help for the needy, a rate of efficiency that earned Deep Well “Angel” status, directly from the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.
With the help of a range of corporate and individual contributors, Deep Well will host a community-wide celebration at Honey Horn on Sunday, April 7, from 1-4 p.m. There will be live entertainment, modestly-priced food and beverages and lots of special events for kids of all ages. Admission is free.
“This is a chance for Deep Well and our neighbors in need to say ‘thank you’ to the people of Hilton Head who have supported our efforts for over 40 years,” Doughtie said. “It’s truly a celebration of the unique story of islanders helping islanders.”
For more information, visit deepwellproject.org or call (843) 785-2849.