Island Vibes May 2024

aptism by fire!” That’s how Valerie McHenry describes the introduction she and husband Jay received after moving to Isle of Palms less than two weeks prior to the arrival of Hurricane Irma in 2017. Jay recalled multiple trips to Lowe’s for boards and other hurricane supplies as quite a harrowing experience, with the wind and the IOP Connector and the uncer22 PEOPLE & PETS Meet Your Island Neighbors! By Laura Fogarty B Pet of the Month Nilla, the sweetest and shyest retriever By Isabel Alvarez Arata Photos Provided. Photo Provided. THE MCHENRYS tainty of how to navigate their first hurricane as island residents. Life on the island has settled down significantly for the McHenrys since their adventurous arrival, giving them a fuller perspective on all things IOP. Val and Jay met on the beach in Delaware and moved to Pennsylvania shortly after their wedding. The Isle of Palms became a vacation destination for them after Jay attended a friend’s wedding here and wanted to share this “much warmer” beautiful beach destination with his bride. After visiting Isle of Palms once or twice a year for a while, they decided that once their children were grown, they would move to the beach fulltime. Jay noted, “When we fish, we fish locally. When we exercise, we exercise locally; we run on the beach or do beach yoga or go to the IOP Rec Center. When we go out to eat, we eat locally at Smugglers, The Dinghy, the marina, Islander 71. There are so many great places here! There are so many things to do here, we rarely venture off the island to go anywhere else.” Val added, “We love the ability to be outdoors year-round gardening, washing pollen off the cars, hanging out by the pool, going to the marina, beach yoga, riding bikes, all things Front Beach, the oyster roasts, all of it! Crabbing is a bit different here than it was for me growing up in Maryland, but it’s something we are continuing to work on figuring out!” Now, their island home is an oasis for family and friends from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Jay’s friends tend to visit during football season to watch Penn State games and Val’s dad is a frequent guest who enjoys taking the McHenrys’ dog, Finley, on his daily walks. Of course, their children and grand babies do manage to get them off the island for special events and northern visits, but Val and Jay welcome the kids and their littles every chance they get. Although they couldn’t quite wait for retirement before moving here, both McHenrys have location flexibility with their respective jobs. Jay works as a director of telecommunications and Val is a pediatric speech language pathologist or as she describes her title, “speech therapist for little ones.” For Val, relocating to the Isle of Palms a bit earlier than planned was in large part due to the “trifecta of being at the beach, having a beautiful, historic port city nearby with shopping and restaurants and all of the creature comforts in between with grocery stores, doctors’ offices and fastfood conveniences in close proximity.” It’s a big difference from the rural beach life they had grown accustomed to and a welcome change of pace. When asked if the Isle of Palms is their forever residence or if they have plans to move farther south, Jay is quick to answer, “We will be here ‘til the good Lord calls us home.” HEY NEIGHBOR! If you or a neighbor would like to be featured in our Island Neighbors section, contact Zach Giroux at or call (802) 733-6321. welve-year-old Nilla wasn’t named for the popular brand of vanilla wafers. Her registered name is Sweet Vanilla Cream; she goes by “Nilla” for short. A yellow English Labrador retriever with almost white fur, Nilla is not your typical lab. While she's a good hunter, for example, Nilla’s predecessors weren’t bred for sport. They were show dogs. She too would have been shown had it not been for a trait she may have inherited from her grandmother: Nilla is shy. “She was 3-and-a-half when I got her,” said her dog mom, Sis Nunnally. “She was so shy she couldn't be shown. She’d back away from the judges.” In preparation for possible showing and breeding, Nilla was well-socialized by her initial owner, which came in handy during her work as a therapy dog. Nilla is now retired, but she spent her nineyear therapy dog career as part of a library program that encouraged children to read aloud to a dog to gain confidence. These days, Nilla enjoys going to the beach and taking three daily walks around her neighborhood. After a good sniffing session, Nilla likes to take a nap. She may be timider and more aloof than most labs, but Nilla loves to eat as much as the next dog. To keep her weight in check, Nunnally cooks string beans and carrots to add to her kibble. The princess is pleased with the additions. Nunnally’s friends joke that they’d like to reincarnate as her dog in their next life. Who can blame them? Walks, naps and a dedicated dog mom are the perfect way to spend a lifetime! T “