Hope, help and second chances
By the REV. WILLIAM K. CHRISTIAN III
Executive director, Star Gospel Mission
Special to CharlestonCurrents.com
note: We thank the Rev. William K. Christian III for sharing a
story that happens more often than most of us realize - and one
that has particular resonance in this season of new birth.
23, 2009 -- When Mannie arrived at the Star
Gospel Mission he was a broken man. When he left several weeks
ago he was a new man, a man who would go on to become a real-life
success story. This, then, is the story of Mannie's journey.
a frank and open conversation I had with Mannie recently, he was
quick to say that he suffers from two addictions. "My workaholism
came from my mother and my alcoholism came from my father,"
he said. "I started drinking when I was about 9 or 10. I discovered
a bottle of vodka under the car seat one day when my father went
into the barber shop. I said: 'Hmm, let me try this.' That's where
it all began."
didn't enjoy school and stopped attending while in the eighth grade.
He never attended high school, but when he was 18, "while drunk
on wine, I took the GED, and, I don't know how I did it, but I passed."
was hard-headed and wouldn't listen to his parents. "I wound
up going to the penitentiary three times -- the first time for breaking
into a house and grand larceny; the second time for violation of
probation; and the third time for accessory before and after the
fact in an armed robbery." For this third crime he served five-and-a-half
years at Kirkland Correctional Institution. While at Kirkland, he
attended school and received an associate of arts degree in psychology.
In 1979 Mannie got out on five years' parole.
his release, he said that he still used drugs but stopped dealing
drugs for fear of returning to the penitentiary. "It's jail
meaning six feet under," he said.
1985 Mannie met Martha and they were married. They had three children,
two girls and a boy. The girls were taken from them by DSS when
the oldest was 5 and the youngest was 6 months. Mannie has never
seen them again. He said, "It was that traumatic experience
that kept me drinking."
he had three DUIs and no driver's license, he worked for temporary
agencies for the next 11 years, living in public housing or at Crisis
Ministries. One morning he woke up in North Charleston following
a three-month drinking binge, thinking that he was having a heart
attack or a stroke. "I knew I'd reached rock bottom. All the
other things that had happened to me were nothing compared to this.
It scared me so much; it was the final wake-up call. I called the
detox center at MUSC, spent eight days there, and I haven't had
a drink since," he said.
next stop was the Star Gospel Mission, where he spent the next 12
months. While at the Mission, Mannie said that he "saw the
world and the way people were living outside of the Mission and
I just didn't want to go back to that lifestyle."
He made the decision to start life all over again and stuck to that
resolve. Mannie believes that "God has got to have some greater
purpose for me since I'm still alive! I believe that God had a hand
in my recovery because I'm sober and still here."
I asked Mannie about the influence that the Mission had on him,
he said: "It was a great place to stay; I slept there, had
plenty of good food to eat, and was able to save some money; it's
where I got back on my feet. I wouldn't be where I am today had
it not been for the Mission."
Mannie left, he's gotten his driver's license back, purchased a
used truck and has secured a great new job as head of maintenance
at a local hotel. Mannie is currently renting a house in North Charleston,
where he lives with his wife of 26 years, their son, and several
dogs and cats.
are very proud to say that Mannie is one of the true success stories
here at the Star Gospel Mission. His time here was truly a transformational
Rev. William K. Christian III is executive director of the Star
Gospel Mission at 474 Meeting St. in Charleston. Contact him at
good photos, it's more than point and shoot
ANDY BRACK, publisher
23, 2009 -- Watching a photographer like Jorg Meyer do his job is
an odd kind of pleasure.
one hand, you think, "I can do that. All he's doing is talking
to those kids and snapping some shots."
when you see the results of what he's done, you know he's doing
something much different that you could do with your digital, snap-and-shoot
still have to create your own image," says Meyer, born in a
German town where there were more cows than people. "You have
to see it, do the lighting and all of these important steps."
of us just point and shoot, and hope for a good shot.
always want to tell people that because you tell a doctor that you
know aspirin helps for your headache does not make you a good doctor,"
he says. It's the same with photography, he notes. Just because
you have a good camera doesn't necessarily mean you can consistently
take great shots.
Meyer starts a shoot with children, he squats to their level and
talks to them awhile. Then he gets them to pose and say things they
might find funny - "spaghetti" or "bologna sandwich"
or "broccoli." Soon, they relax and start making interesting
faces. All the while, Meyer snaps shots. Like us, he's looking for
the really great shot, which he explains is a "combination
of expression, how the person is set into the image, the setting
and how the lighting affects the image."
says he loves photographing people - and the wider the variety,
love to find out the stories behind all of my subjects, being it
an assignment or a personal project I create."
of his worst assignments, he recalls, was shooting former presidential
candidate Michael Dukakis for a magazine. Dukakis showed up in a
Hawaiian shirt, instead of a suit.
of this I could handle, but after I got the film back from the lab,
it turned out that he is the worst blinker I have ever met,"
Meyer remembers. "Usually, you can detect blinkers and you
get in a rhythm to avoid the blinking, but I didn't see any blinks
while I was shooting.
the end, I had only five frames of all the film I shot to present
to the client!"
who has lived in West Ashley and James Island for the last three
years, is moving to New York at the end of the month to be nearer
to corporate clients who are the bread and butter of his job in
portrait and children's fashion photography. The kinds of things
he shoots - from hip, happy children wearing groovy clothing to
models for pages in Glamour or Parenting magazines - are harder
to come by in South Carolina, where his three young children live.
just have to concentrate where the market is," he explains,
adding that he will frequently be in Charleston and able to schedule
time for any photographic projects here. As the economy, particularly
the real estate market, picks up, he hopes there might be more work
in the Lowcountry.
now, you probably can enjoy Meyer's work locally when you see photos
at TJ Maxx or Stride Rite. Or you can visit his Web site (www.JorgMeyer.com)
to see outstanding photographs of children, boxers and Latin America.
It's particularly fun to try to figure out where he shot the many
scenes around the Lowcountry.
Brack is publisher of CharlestonCurrents.com. You can reach him
by email here.
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public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents
to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Maybank
Industries, LLC of Charleston, SC. With broad experience in
commercial and government operations, Maybank Industries applies
deep-rooted commitment to teamwork, reliability and personal service
to provide innovative business solutions for project development,
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Maybank Industries applies a powerful blend of professional expertise
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Industries and Maybank
program to help 'grow' new crop of farmers
the average age of farmers in South Carolina at 59, Lowcountry Local
First has decided to take steps to help ensure that there will be
a new generation of farmers in the state by establishing the Growing
New Farmers Incubator Project.
New Farmers is designed to work with farm interns to train the next
generation of farmers, strengthen our local food economy, preserve
and steward farmlands, and improve the health of our community.
"What we have learned from the land and our own hard work cannot
all be taught, but the experience of farming is a rare opportunity
that can be shared by those fortunate enough to have experienced
it themselves," says Maria Baldwin, an organic farmer at Thornhill
Farms who will be training a new crop of farm interns. "I am
proud to share this beautiful farm and what we have learned with
an eager mind. It will only help to shape us all for the better."
addition to Baldwin, farmers Sidi Limehouse (Rosebank Farms) and
Joseph Fields will be training interns as well.
residents can support the project by donating a laptop computer,
digital camera or Palm Pilot for interns to use to upload information
to online markets; housing a farm intern for the 2010 growing season;
or providing a stipend for one new farmer. LLF says donations in
any amount are welcome, and contributions of $500 or more will be
matched by a private donor.
can be sent to Lowcountry Local First, 1345 Avenue G, #AA, North
Charleston, SC, 29405. To learn more, call Elizabeth Beak at Elizabeth@lowcountrylocalfirst.org.
extends 'Waddle Wagon' penguin program
South Carolina Aquarium is extending its popular holiday penguin
program for an extra week in response to visitor demands. The "Waddle
Wagon" gives aquarium patrons a chance to see one of the facility's
Magellanic penguins up-close as the bird rides in a special cart
through the building, and people can even get their picture taken
with one of the birds.
Dec. 26 through Jan. 3, the Waddle Wagon will tour the aquarium
beginning at 1:30 p.m., with educators and staff members on hand
to talk about the penguins. At 2 p.m., visitors can watch the penguins
being fed. To see a video of the Waddle Wagon in action, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgMOpcNal5k.
Black Book celebrates 10th year of directory
Black Book, a guide for "Every Busy Woman," will celebrate
a decade in publication in 2010 with several special issues and
the unveiling of a new design in January.
concept of the publication arose from a local resident's unsuccessful
attempt to find a doctor through a directory search. "A name
and number in a traditional directory listing gives very little
information and no testimony to the quality of services offered
by that business," said publisher Jennifer Dyer Buddin. "The
Little Black Book and EveryBusyWoman.com,
the publication's Web site, collect women's referrals for their
'go to' businesses and invites those recommended most often to be
included in the specialized directory."
first issue of The Little Black Book was published in January 2000
in Charleston, and it was produced annually. The directory has since
grown to a quarterly publication and expanded into nine markets.
passion is connecting busy women looking for trustworthy resources,"
says Buddin. "Women are busier than ever, but we still want
the best for ourselves and families. We aim to help simplify that
search by asking a few thousand of your 'sisters' to share who they
birthday party for clients and supporters will be held Jan. 14 and
will feature the unveiling of the anniversary issue and a revamped
design. Buddin says highlights for 2010 include the launch of a
Business & Finance section for busy women in the workplace,
expansion of EveryBusyWoman.com's reach and presence, and a luncheon
to honor Charleston women who impact the community.
park plans winter carnival, fireworks to end year
old-fashioned winter carnival at James Island County Park Dec. 30-31
will help send 2009 into the record books and welcome 2010 in style.
The two-day, family-friendly event will feature carnival rides,
a traditional carousel, food, marshmallow-roasting and, at 9 p.m.
on New Year's Eve, a fireworks show. Guests can also still see the
park's Holiday Festival of Lights displays those nights.
will be sold for $10 each and will provide for unlimited rides on
the carousel and the climbing wall (two tries during one turn).
Individual ride tickets will also be sold for $1 each. Attractions
average three tickets per ride.
carnival and light displays will open beginning at 5:30 p.m., with
fees of $10 per vehicle for up to 15 guests. For more information
on the carnival, call 795-4FUN or visit http://www.holidayfestivaloflights.com.
us a review
If you have a review of a book, movie, restaurant or local arts
endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to editor Ann
Thrash. Make sure to include your name and full contact information.
Friend of Charleston
by the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, the Best Friend
of Charleston was the first locomotive built in the United States
for public service. Constructed in New York City at the West Point
Foundry to run on the Charleston-Hamburg line, the Best Friend was
christened by hopeful supporters on its Charleston arrival in October
1830. The locomotive had its formal debut on Christmas Day 1830,
pulling passenger cars from Charleston to Dorchester. Its performance
exceeded expectations, with one observer writing that passengers
"flew on the wings of the wind at the speed of fifteen to twenty
miles per hour, annihilating time and space."
1831 the Best Friend was used to carry mail, freight, and passengers.
A second engine, the West Point, went into use on the Charleston-Hamburg
line in March 1831 but never achieved the same speeds as those of
the Best Friend. The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company
used slaves to work on the line, both as laborers and as firemen
to regulate the steam engine. At one point the company even considered
the use of black engineers to serve under the management of white
conductors, although the suggestion seems to have been dropped.
June 1831 an accident brought an end to the Best Friend. A slave
fireman closed up a safety valve on the boiler while the locomotive
was stopped at a platform. When the Best Friend began to move again,
a terrible explosion threw the boiler twenty feet into the air,
killing the fireman, scalding the engineer, and injuring several
workers. The engine was rebuilt and rechristened the Phoenix.
Excerpted from the entry by W. Scott Poole. To
read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina,
check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information
used by permission.) To
read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina,
check out The
South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used
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and next, we're publishing only one day a week in observance of
the holidays. Next week, look for us on Dec. 30. We'll resume our
usual schedule again on Jan. 4.
It seems like
it's Christmas year-round at Blackbaud on Daniel Island. Employees
held toy drives throughout the year to collect items for Toys for
Tots, donating more than 6,300 toys to the program last week. Here's
a list of other charitable efforts the company has been involved
in during 2009.
- On Dec.
10, the company donated $20,000 to Crisis Ministries as part of
a longstanding tradition of making a charitable gift in honor
of its employees' service to nonprofits, both professionally and
- The Blackbaud
Conference, held Nov. 15-18, directed about $200,000 worth of
expenses to nonprofits and included service projects throughout
- During the
third quarter, employees collected sports equipment for Louie's
Kids, a Lowcountry nonprofit organization that raises funds to
help treat childhood obesity.
- In April,
Blackbaud employee volunteers participated in the Lowcountry Food
Bank's Backpack Buddies program. Over three days, volunteers gathered
in the company's atrium and packed 400 backpacks with food supplies
for area children.
- During one
week in February, employees participated in the "52 Weeks
of Thanks," a Daniel Island Community Association program,
with the company donating meals and snacks to First Responders
serving at the fire station on Daniel Island.
conscience is a continual Christmas."
Franklin, American statesman (1706-1790)
Night Before Christmas": 1 p.m. Dec. 23, Circular
Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St., downtown. A trio of musicians
will perform well-loved Christmas songs as actors bring favorite
Christmas stories to life. Actors Chris Weatherhead and Michael
Easler from the Actors' Theatre of South Carolina join Chamber Music
Charleston flutist Regina Helcher Yost, clarinetist Charlie Messersmith
and bassoonist Sandra Nikolajevs for the family-oriented concert.
Admission: $10 adults, $5 children 3 and above; free for kids under
3. More info: 763-4941, by
e-mail or visit
New Year, Charleston: 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Marion
Square and surrounding locales, downtown. A family-oriented, alcohol-free
event with concerts and activities to mark the beginning of the
new year in the Lowcountry. More
info online or at 724-7305.
ONGOING AND SOON
Resolution Run: Jan. 2, Joe Riley Stadium, downtown.
Family-oriented 5K run/walk sponsored by Trident United Way to get
the new year off on the right foot. Race begins and ends at "The
Joe." Registration opens at 7 a.m. Jan. 2, and the race starts
at 9 a.m. Kids, dogs and baby strollers welcome. Food, fun, party
hats and a long-sleeve T-shirt for all participants. More
Sounds at the Sea: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 13, South
Carolina Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra
and the aquarium are teaming up to offer aquatic-themed performances
throughout the aquarium. Attendees can wander through the exhibits,
interact with the musicians, and sample light hors d'oeuvres and
nonalcoholic beverages. Tickets: $10 for aquarium and CSO members;
$20 for nonmembers. Call 577-FISH (3474) or go to http://www.scaquarium.org
Reception: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 14, South Carolina
Aquarium. The Charleston Metro Chamber will host the reception to
provide the community a chance for informal networking with local
town councils, mayors, state legislators and federal legislators.
Leaders who helped secure the Boeing facility will offer special
presentations. Cost: $54 for chamber members, $65 nonmembers. More.
Park Tour: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 16, Two Pines Park near
McClellanville. A Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission
naturalist and historic specialist will lead a preview tour of the
new Two Pines county park site, an 812-acre covered with pine flatlands
and bottomland hardwoods. Open to ages 12 and up; a registered,
paid chaperone is required for participants younger than 15. Cost:
$12 Charleston County residents, $15 nonresidents. More
info/registration or 795-4FUN (4386).
Art of Dueling': 7 p.m. Jan. 21, Charleston Museum. Museum
Curator of History Grahame Long will give a presentation titled
"Two Pistols, Two Seconds: The Art of Dueling in South Carolina."
Discover why it has been argued that Charlestonians participated
in more duels than any other community in the United States. Free
and open to the public. More
info or 722-2996.
Polar Plunge prep
Homes for Christmas
Enjoy holidays sans lbs.
Instruments of Hope
Armas: Latin biz expo
Be a principal
Women at Gibbes
new food show
on car tags
way of tithing?
over on Sanford
off a little
is time for courage
place for prejudice
fun at Halloween
to old clunker
to squeeze in
on holiday lights
a tourist here
lists of year