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Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation

In an era when the neighbor-helping-neighbor concept has all but disappeared, is it possible for an entire community to band together to make a difference? The answer is a resounding "yes," at least at Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation on South Carolina-s Grand Strand.

Community activism is not required of the homeowners in Tidewater, but they just can-t seem to do enough to help others. It all starts with the homeowners association board of directors.

"When a property is under construction, the developer markets that community aggressively, but, when it is near completion, the big marketing push stops and newer developments get the spotlight," says former HOA President Bill Pearson. "We wanted to continue the buzz at Tidewater."

Cynthia Stanley, a local real estate agent and Tidewater resident, agrees. "One thing that makes Tidewater different is leadership," she says. "We have a strong board that was formed when the developer started transferring things to the owners."

She adds that the Tidewater HOA is in excellent financial shape, having been judged by auditors to be one of the strongest associations in the area. Pearson agrees and attributes at least part of the association-s success to "a lack of micro-management" and the fact that meetings are open to all Tidewater owners and the board invites input from all property owners.

"The community is involved in everything the board does," he says. What exactly do the residents of Tidewater do to maintain their stature on the Grand Strand? They are involved in an array of worthy activities, including Meals on Wheels, tutoring and raising money for a variety of non-profi t organizations. Recently, members of this North Myrtle Beach community organized the Bahama Island Resort South Carolina Senior Open at Tidewater, raising $20,000 to help build a beach access crossover that complies with the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Held in early September, the Open offered a golf clinic, putting and chipping contests, raffl e tickets and 50/50 tickets. The tournament itself, with a total purse of $35,000, was a sellout, drawing a full fi eld of 31 pros and 93 amateurs, and more than 100 generous sponsors, including Bahama Island Resort, T&J Development and Oceanfront Real Estate, chipped in.

Stanley, while not a golfer, was anxious to be part of the event because of its goal to raise money for the ramp over the sand dunes. She points out that projects such as this one can cost from $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the height of the dunes. She sponsored the 13th hole.

While the event was produced by the Tidewater HOA, other businesses got involved in a big way. Outback Steakhouse, for example, contributed 180 meals for the awards ceremony, and Outback employees volunteered their services for setup, cooking, serving and cleanup. Tidewater again rose to the occasion when the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad needed a fi nancial boost. Tidewater-s residents sprang into action in July, organizing a block party that raised $12,000. "There are hundreds more smaller projects that don-t get the press," Pearson says.

Many people move to the Grand Strand to enjoy the good life. The residents of Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation take that concept a step further by striving to make life better for others. We can all learn from that.

Barbara Millen

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