Bluffton honors Ida Martin’s legacy
In honor of the Bluffton Self Help founder, Ida Martin, family members, friends and volunteers gathered Thursday for a “home going ceremony” at Campbell Chapel AME Church in Old Town.
Bluffton Self Help volunteers lined the aisles to greet family as the celebration began. Martin, 86, died June 12 at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
In 1987, Bluffton resident Martin recognized a need not being met for working families and senior citizens in the area. She began Bluffton Self Help, which was chartered a year later in October of 1988.
Martin was a Savannah native whose family is from White Hall in Colleton County. In 1979, she moved to the hometown of her husband, after his retirement as a Detroit police officer. She began providing food and clothes to those in need from her car trunk and garage. The nonprofit Bluffton Self Help was born to help working families and senior citizens in need of food and other emergency assistance.
The facility offers food distribution five times a week, clothing distribution Monday through Friday and three interview rooms for providing financial assistance to Bluffton residents.
In 2010 alone, Bluffton Self Help provided food to 11,600 people and clothing to almost 9,000 people. Bluffton Self Help also provided families with short-term emergency financial assistance toward housing and utility assistance, medical assistance, or children’s program assistance. The nonprofit serves about 25,000 people annually.
Martin was recognized as an American civilian hero at a White House ceremony in 2011. The nation’s second-highest civilian honor recognizes Americans who perform “exemplary deeds of service.”
President Barack Obama embraced Martin with his right hand around her back. When he handed her the medal, which rested in a box, she reached up and hugged him and he hugged her back. She was applauded while another military aide escorted her back to her seat on the stage.
April 4, 2011 became the annual “Ida Martin Day” in Bluffton after Martin received the award. She was recognized by the town in 2012 and holds a spot on the Wall of Honor in Town Hall. She was the first woman of five honored and only one to receive a place on the wall while living.