Realtor Sean Ryan brings food to those in need as a Meals on Wheels volunteer

Realtor Sean Ryan brings food to those in need as a Meals on Wheels volunteerIn an advertisement, a smiling Realtor named Sean Ryan casually leans on a picket-and-wire fence on the beach, holding up a sign that says, “I will help you buy or sell property on Hilton Head for food.”

Given the real estate market over the last few years, the image elicits a few chuckles and defnitely warrants a closer look. It’s at that point, once you look past the picture and see what Sean Ryan is doing for the community, you realize there’s much more to him than real estate.

Ryan does in fact work for food. Only the food isn’t for him. It’s for the Lowcountry’s many invisible poor, who wonder every day where they’re going to get their next meal. And a percentage of every real estate commission Ryan makes goes toward putting food on their tables.

A Christmas miracle and the perfect ambassador for the March of Dimes

Brionna AndersonBy all accounts, Brionna Anderson is a typical, vivacious 7-year-old girl. A second-grader at Red Cedar Elementary, Brionna impresses classmates and adults alike with her talent for sports and her incredibly detailed drawings, fights of fancy that only youthful imagination and energy can create. Her bright personality and energetic zest for life are all the more amazing when one hears her story.

Brionna was born on Christmas Day in 2001, coming into this world 29 weeks ahead of schedule. Right away, she had health problems.

Her respiratory system wasn’t functioning normally, so she was quickly sent to the Medical University of South Carolina. There, she was given Survanta, which helps keep the air sac open and lungs from collapsing. The treatment was developed with funding from the March of Dimes.

Meet Joe Leland, the Lowcountry’s ‘Clam Man’

Joe “The Clam Man” Leland, right, and his partner Curtis have worked together since 1979. Here they are inspecting and counting clams on their boat in Port Royal Sound before they bag them and get them ready to sell to local businesses.Going back nearly to the dawn of man, there’s been a mystique to the sea. When it gets in your blood, any old salt will tell you that it never leaves.

For Joe Leland, that salt had been in his blood for generations, but it wasn’t until after retiring that he answered its call.

Leland, who goes by the afectionate nickname “The Clam Man,” traces his roots back to McClellanville, well known for its seafood.

“My family name goes back there. My daddy grew up in McClellanville,” Leland said. “My family’s background is in the seafood business.”

Clarece Walker is devoted to helping others as head of United Way of the Lowcountry

Clarece WalkerClarece Walker, president and CEO of United Way of the Lowcountry, was born to lend a helping hand.

“I think I might have been destined for this,” she said of her 30-plus-year career with the national organization whose mission is to improve lives by mobilizing communities.

The United Way’s credo is “Live United.” Raised in Maiden, N.C., Walker experienced that lifestyle before she even knew what the United Way was. “It was the kind of place you grew up knowing everyone and taking responsibility for helping your neighbors,” she said. “I remember my sister and I going through our toys and clothes to donate to other kids who could use them.”

Actions are louder than words for well-known volunteer

July's MVP: Gordon DealIf it’s for a good cause, Gordon Deal probably has a hand in it. Known around town as the man who belongs to every volunteer committee and appears at all the major charitable events, Deal just doesn’t have it in him to turn down a request for help. “My wife used to say to me, ‘Let me take your jaw and help you say ‘NO,’ ” jokes Deal, who is originally from Savannah but has lived on Hilawards ton Head Island since 1998. “I said to her, ‘But I’m having a good time!’ I work seven days a week because I like to stay active and give back.”

Much of Deal’s community involvement stems from his nine-year membership in the Rotary Club. For example, when a fellow Rotarian mentioned he was also the executive director of the Mental Health Association on Hilton Head, Deal asked what he could do and soon found himself with a Christmas gift wish list in his hands.

The Curry Foundation, started by Tom Curry of Lowcountry Paver, is raising money for Ben and Brittany Kennedy of Bluffton, who are facing mounting medical bills since Ben was diagnosed with follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Treatment could take six months to a year. Meanwhile, the Kennedys are struggling to pay for their house, car, food and utilities.

Young actor shines onstage

Lauren OsborneWITH A NATURAL POISE beyond her years, fresh-faced Lauren Osborne brings the stage to life. The 15-year-old found her calling onstage with her first lead role as Laurey in “Oklahoma!”

“It’s one of my favorite places to be,” said Osborne.

“I have a good feeling — must be the adrenaline!”

“Oklahoma!” was an ideal role for Osborne, according to Jodi Layman, Main Street Youth Theatre artistic director and choreographer.

“Lauren studied ballet with Hilton Head Dance Theatre for years and is a beautiful dancer,” Layman said. “She’s a triple threat — voice, dance, acting — and those are hard to come by. Most of all, she’s a natural. It’s in her eyes! She’s so believable.”

Upwardly Mobile Coach

Bob Cooke stresses values and sportsmanshipIt’s no surprise that St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church’s Upward sports program is so popular. In fact, it’s tripled in size in the last two years, and that has a lot to do with coach Bob Cooke.

“It’s one of the largest faith-based, youthsports programs, with guidelines that help with coaching,” Cooke said of Upward, which is part of a national program with more than 750,000 kids across the country. “The key piece of Upward is being out there with the kids, making sure they hear a consistent message.”

Retired lawyer Kenneth Nagle finds fulfillment as volunteer.

Kenneth NagleKenneth Nagle, a volunteer for Lowcountry Legal Aid, is no stranger to service.

After attending The Citadel in Charleston on a basketball scholarship and graduating from law school at the University of Cincinnati, he served in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps in Vietnam, Germany and other assignments where he tried courts-martial cases among other duties.

He left active duty but remained in the Army Reserves and retired as a colonel in the JAG Corps.

Upon leaving the Army, he began a career with the Defense Department as a contract law attorney and was involved in litigating contract disputes. Nagle’s other professional experience includes working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a litigation attorney in banking cases.

New Hilton Head Prep chief and his family are ready to enjoy island living.

Kandel, “is totally committed to doing what’s best for the kids. He is the right guy to take the school to the next level.”Anthony Kandel, newly named head of school at Hilton Head Preparatory School, would admit to personal as well as professional reasons why he’s eager to move to the island.

Those reasons could be summarized as “Sun” and “Belt.” Kandel, contacted March 4 in Philadelphia, where he heads the upper school at Haverford School, reported an outdoor temperature of 16 degrees at mid-morning.

“Two nights ago it snowed eight inches,” the Los Angeles native added.