Island Vibes April 2024

Even after 10 years of suffering from progressive cognitive dementia, Smiley continued her work with Meals on Wheels, according to Chapman, who said that it was good therapy for Smiley to feel part of the team. Ensuring that Smiley could still enjoy her role as a volunteer, her caregiver Jim drove Smiley on her route so that she was able to carry on delivering meals. Chapman said that until the end, Jim and Smiley were the best of friends, and it was precious to watch the way he looked after her. Smiley passed away peacefully on Feb. 14, 2024, Valentine’s Day, a day associated with love. In memoriam, the city passed a resolution honoring Smiley for her dedication to serving the community she loved and the people in need she took the time to care about, who loved her just as much in return. To make a donation in Smiley’s name to Meals on Wheels, visit Another recipient was 99 years old and lived alone. Due to inoperable cataracts, she would have had to leave her home and move into a facility if it weren’t for volunteers like Smiley delivering Meals on Wheels. For Smiley, her volunteer work was about so much “more than just a meal.” Tirelessly asking about and looking after everyone was a quintessential trait for the outspoken Smiley, who Chapman also recalled was joyful, smiling, compassionate and gracious, with a wonderful sense of humor. sle of Palms husband and wife Billy and Lisa Lempesis are native Charlestonians who are no stranger to water sports. The duo is part of the Charleston Paddle Club’s Firebreathers Dragon Boat Team that has qualified for the prestigious Club Crew World Championships in Ravenna, Italy, this September. “It’s a really big honor,” said Billy, who founded the Charleston Paddle Club in 2010 along with his son Pete and four others. They are the only team representing the Carolinas in the event, which brings together elite 13 RECREATION I IOP couple qualifies for Club Crew World Championships in Italy By Colin McCandless Heart of a public servant City honors Betsy Smiley for charitable efforts By Sarah Rose dragon boat squads from around the globe. The Firebreathers earned their coveted spot in the World Championships after winning silver at the U.S. Dragon Boat Federation’s Club Crew National Championship in Sarasota, Florida, last July. Taking place over several days from Sept. 3-8, the World Championships consist of 71 teams and more than 8,000 paddlers from around 25 countries. The race comprises four age divisions and the Firebreathers are competing in the 50-60 age group. There are 200, 500 and 2,000-meter race categories, each entailing a different strategy. No cash prize is awarded, with teams instead vying for medals. “You meet people from all around the world who all just love paddle sports,” said Billy. Dragon boat racing, which traces its origins to ancient China, involves teams of 20 paddlers in pairs that sit in long, narrow canoe-like vessels adorned with dragon heads and tails, “totally synchronized, all mirroring each other almost like a ballet, in order to make the boat go as fast as it can,” related Billy. The Firebreathers are members of the Charleston Paddle Club, a local nonprofit passionate about paddle sports, physical fitness, fellowship and protecting our waterways. While there is a small group of members competing nationally and internationally with the dragon boat team, and some who have raced internationally for Team USA, Billy emphasized that CPC welcomes people of all skill levels. It’s primarily about community and the pursuit of watersports. They host regular events throughout the year including dragon boat practices, outrigger canoeing and various social and community service functions such as beach sweeps, added Lisa. The club offers an opportunity to enjoy Lowcountry waters recreationally, but “you can take it as far competitively as you want,” explained Billy. Six people from Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island are club members. For Billy and Lisa, living on the Isle of Palms suits their aquatic lifestyle perfectly. “I feel like I’m in paradise now,” said Lisa. “We love the island life,” stated Billy. “Being able to paddle whenever you want to… I have Lowcountry pluff mud in my veins.” Although the Firebreathers have qualified for the World Championships, members must pay their own travel and race expenses. CPC is currently seeking sponsorships to help ensure that every paddler can make the trip. For more information or to make a donation, visit s a resident of the Isle of Palms since 1971, Elizabeth “Betsy” Russell Smiley loved the community so much that she served three terms on IOP City Council from 1978-1990. Having also retired from the banking industry, Smiley enjoyed playing tennis and was passionate about advocating for the community, whether that involved helping with recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo or volunteering for East Cooper Meals on Wheels. That’s why every Wednesday for over 20 years, Smiley drove the same route between the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island to deliver meals to the homebound recipients who had become her friends. According to ECMOW volunteer manager Kelley Chapman, volunteers are the ambassadors for Meals on Wheels and as the eyes and ears of the charitable organization, they take the responsibility of looking out for the people on their routes seriously. Chapman said that Smiley always went above and beyond that charge because she wanted to make sure the island residents were safe. On one occasion, Smiley noticed that something was unusual at the home of a recipient: his door was locked, the porch light was on and no one answered when she knocked and called out. So, Smiley and her husband Jim drove to the IOP Fire Department which then dispatched a crew to the house, discovering that the resident was dehydrated, had collapsed in his bedroom and had been crying out for help. Thanks to the Smileys, the man ended up okay. A Photo Provided. Photo Provided.