On March 26, the Isle of Palms City Council discussed a City service that has caused quite a stir in recent weeks…kindness.
One of the perks of living in a small Southern town is the willingness and readiness of neighbors, friends, and municipal services to lend a helping hand when needed. Both the town of Sullivan’s Island and the city of Isle of Palms perform what have become known as “Random Acts of Kindness” for visitors and residents in need of special assistance.
The issue started grabbing attention after Isle of Palms after Councilmember Bergwerf decided to donate two sofas and was offered help by the City to remove them. The public works department had finished for the day; as a part of the Random Acts of Kindness, City firefighters responded to help Bergwerf move the couch. Though the fire truck in front of a councilmembers house may have ruffled a few feathers, officials on the islands agree that this is a perk of living in a welcoming and friendly small town, not special treatment for Council. As for the fire truck – all firemen are required to use their truck as transportation while on duty in case of an emergency call.
Former Sullivan’s Island Mayor Marshall Stith feels that the willingness to help out all islanders is what makes island life so special. “This is something that I feel is essential to the rich fabric of living in a small community.” Stith added that the service did not exclude Town employees or councilmembers. “[When I was Mayor] it was something I was always proud of,” he added. Isle of Palms Council member Jimmy Carroll agrees, “I’m all for it, equally for all residents. I do believe in our City helping when our staff is available. It is what helps make us a community. Different City departments have done things for me many times over my lifetime.”
Sullivan’s island Fire Chief Anthony Stith said that they have been helping Islanders for years. “We have never felt anyone has abused it,” he added. All department heads on both islands have the ability to refuse any requests if they are too busy with City business.
At the beginning of each calendar year, Isle of Palms City Administrator Tucker provides a list of City performance goals to the Personnel Committee for renewal and approval, which is then renewed and approved by Council. Assisting residents and visitors with no additional expense to the City through Random Acts of Kindness is part of the aforementioned annual goals. The services are logged and at the end of the year, presented to Council for review. In 2011, assistance projects from the Public Works and the Fire and Police Departments ranged from removing a mattress from a resident’s home, pulling out a Century plant, removing a birdbath, assisting with garbage cleanup after a local fish fry, and removing a raccoon from a yard when animal control was not on duty.
It’s a service that is relatively unknown, largely because it isn’t advertised on the City website, due to the privacy of homeowners names and addresses. But fortunately for islanders, we live in a place where helping out a neighbor runs through the veins of our municipal governments.