By Katy Calloway, Managing Editor for The Island Eye News
The IOP Exchange Club is engaged in an ambitious and transformative project to access the waterfront with a seawall, dock, boardwalk, and other improvements. The new dock will enhance the Club’s service to the community including veterans groups and at-risk children, by providing needed access to island waterways.
The new dock marks the beginning of a new direction for the Club. By providing on-site programming, the Club will be fulfilling its mission in a hands-on way. Modeling the four pillars of the National Exchange Club, programs will be based on 1. Prevention of child abuse, 2. Americanism 3. Youth programs and 4. Community service.
Partner organizations include the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose Chief of Community and Veteran Engagement, Fred Lesinski said, “[Local] patients would benefit from complimentary use of this facility for recreational purposes.” The VFW Post 3137 is also, “very supportive of this project.”
Partnerships with underprivileged youth programs, such as the Carolina Youth Development Center, will bring kids to the waterfront, many of whom have never been to the shore, for therapeutic experiences such as fishing and kayaking.
Through the use of the new dock facility, the existing building and ample, free parking, the Exchange Club will be able to offer an all day island experience to program participants.
The capital improvement project will run in excess of $400,000 and fundraising efforts are underway. Successful events such as Paddle to the Coast and the Front Beach Crawl, committed donations and pledges from Club members and grants and sponsorships have provided a solid foundation for the projects advancement, but there is more to be raised.
The next major fundraising event will be the raffle of a signed guitar courtesy of Audio Productions, Inc. in Nashville, TN. The guitar will be in studio, collecting autographs from major recording artists throughout the summer. This one-of-a-kind item will be raffled off in November, in conjunction with the IOP Marina Festival. All proceeds will benefit the IOP Exchange Club.