Feb 18 2011

Johns Island Civic Club looking for successors

by Kristin Hackler

While there weren’t enough members of the Johns Island Council present for an official meeting this past February 3, those in attendance welcomed Calvin Schuler, an 83-year-old resident of Johns Island, to speak about an interesting situation with the island Civic Club.

Years ago, the old Johns Island Civic Club building was sold due to a massive increase in the cost of property taxes which the three members of the Club were unable to raise. Eventually, the building was sold to the water company and the funds invested conservatively through Morgan Stanley, as per the Civic Club members’ request.

“Our intentions were not to use the principal, but just the interest for the purposes of giving scholarships and school supplies to the poor schools on Johns Island,” said Schuler.

For several years the Civic Club abided by this, using only the accumulated interest to provide $2500 scholarships specifically to Johns Island students, and to donate school supplies to Johns Island schools whenever possible. However, like most people, the Civic Club’s investments were hit hard by the recession and for the past two years they have been unable to provide scholarships, though they continue to distribute school supplies as often as possible.

While Schuler was pleased to note that their investments seem to be recovering and that they should be back to normal operations by this time next year, the biggest problem is that the Civic Club – the members of which are both in their eighties – has no successors. In the unfortunate circumstance that he and the only other remaining Civic Club member pass away, there is no one to take over the duty of distributing scholarships and school supplies to Johns Island students.

“We have it set up so that the funds must be used toward scholarships so it can’t go to the state, but we need to find a group to take over the Civic Club’s mission,” said Schuler. “To the best of their ability, they should maintain the original, principal amount and only use the interest from the account for those purposes.”

The Civic Club had discussed the idea of going with a company which specializes in managing the disbursement of non-profit funds and trusts, but Schuler expressed concern over the amount the company would charge for their services.

“I would like a group out here on the islands take care of it,” said Schuler. “A lot of work is involved in doing it, especially with the purchasing and distributing of school supplies.”

He did ask, however, that should a group choose to take over the responsibility, that they retain him as one of their volunteers.

“I really do enjoy doing it,” smiled Schuler.

Johns Island Council member and Treasurer, Sam Brownlee, stated that the Johns Island Council would be interested in taking over the project for the Civic Club, and Schuler encouraged him to send a letter on behalf of the Council expressing their interest.

“It’s a lot of work,” Schuler reiterated. “Distributing supplies, going over scholarship applications and working with the advisors in schools; it’s not easy to determine who should get what.”

To contact Calvin Schuler regarding the Civic Club school program, send letters of interest to P.O. Box 537, Johns Island, SC 29457, or call him at 559-3533.

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