Nurturing the Future: Kim Likins

People

Kim Likins believes that everyone in the Lowcountry has something valuable to give, whether it’s their time, talents or “treasure” — a tactful way of referring to money. Likins is both the mayor pro temp of Hilton Head Island and the unit director of the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island. Both jobs require all three gifts.

In 2010, Likins ran for Hilton Head Island Town Council because, she said, all the island’s other elected officials at that time were retired men. She had no background in politics, but had dealt with the town when she was part of the citizen’s group that founded The Sandbox: An Interactive Children’s Museum in 2003.

“I felt that as a community, we needed leadership that was diverse and looking at situations and opportunities from a different perspective,” she said.

Now more than halfway through her second term, Likins has been part of pivotal negotiations — including the Shelter Cove re-development deal, which was the town’s first public-private partnership, and the redevelopment plans for the Coligny area.

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I WANT THIS TO BE A PLACE THAT CHILDREN WHO GREW UP HERE WANT TO COME BACK TO LIVE AS ADULTS.

She’s been a champion of the arts and of initiatives that benefit lower-income residents, including affordable housing and Project S.A.F.E., which has helped 400 homes on the island’s north end connect to public sewers. She’s also passionate about the town’s “Our Future” visioning project, which is currently wrapping up.

“I want this to be a place that children who grew up here want to come back to live as adults,” she said. “For this to happen, we have to be willing to look beyond more than five or 10 years.”

Children, she believes, are the best investment for a better future. At the Boys & Girls Club, Likins helps kids from working class families reach their full potential. Her tone is the same, whether she’s talking about club members or her own children: it’s full of love, pride and gratitude to the people who have helped them succeed.

Her son, Ben, plans to be a doctor and will start at the Medical University of South Carolina this year. Alex, a senior at Hilton Head Christian Academy, has been accepted to study engineering at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Likins and her husband, Steve, have worked hard to give them a strong spiritual foundation and opportunities to play sports including tennis.

Likewise, Likins makes sure the children who participate in the Boys & Girls Club have positive role models, character lessons, interesting afterschool activities and help with their homework. She partners with local business leaders, civic groups and volunteers to expose the club members to new and enriching experiences. Robotics, a theater program, a chess club, violin lessons, golf, 3-D printing, and college and career counseling are just some of the activities led by club staff and volunteers.

“This is a transformative experience,” she said. “These kids will never live in the type of poverty they grew up in.”

When asked what she’d request if she could have one wish for the Boys & Girls Club, Likins responded: “So many interesting, successful people move here all the time. Some of them don’t even know we’re here. I’d like more ambassadors.”

Her wish for the Town of Hilton Head Island?

“The bridges are a top priority,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a bridge like in Charleston, that’s made for walking and biking and has a fishing peer?”

Both wishes could come true with enough time, talent and treasure.