Posted: April 26, 2011 – 9:33pm
By Frank Morris
Bluffton Self Help’s leadership is excited about reaching two milestones – contracting to buy a new headquarters and hiring a new executive director, board President Peter Bromley said Tuesday.
The nonprofit charity, which provides food, clothing and other emergency assistance for the needy, has backed away from plans to build a new home and instead signed a lease to buy a 6,500-square-foot building in Sheridan Park.
And leadership has hired Lili Donaldson Coleman of Hilton Head Island to take Bluffton Self Help’s helm executive director beginning May 3.
Bromley said Julie DelGuercio, who became interim director after Jenny Haney resigned Jan. 5, will “stay in an enhanced role.”
Coleman relocated to Hilton Head last fall from Macon, Ga., where she was senior marketing manager for Jones Lang LaSalle. She has a master’s advertising from the University of Michigan. She began her nonprofit career with four years at the Association for Retarded Citizens/Detroit and four years at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, “She has 25 years corporate experience in cause and event related marketing, community relations and fundraising,” according to a profile in Self Help’s new spring newsletter.
“Bluffton Self Help stands for everything I believe in; helping the clients and educating the community on their needs and accomplishments,” she said in the newsletter.
The decision to buy rather than build came after the March 14 signing, by Bromley and Town Manager Anthony Barrett, of a Town Council-authorized lease agreement for a building site. It provided a quarter-acre building site on town-owned land at 115 Bluffton Road (S.C. 46) near the Hargray building in a 20-year, extendable lease for $10 a year.
The new home will replace an old 1,000-square-foot building, once the town’s police station and jail, with limited parking on May River Road. Self Help leases it from the town for $1 a year. Barrett confirmed Tuesday that the town released Self Help from the lease.
When preconstruction figures for site work on the town land, including wetlands mitigation and utilities installations, came in, “the costs just become prohibitive,” Bromley said. From an initial estimate of $800,000, “we were up to $1.3 million and counting. We just said, “whoa.” He said he went back to the first building he’d looked at more than 15 months ago, when the project started – the former tile and granite company showroom and warehouse at 39 Sheridan Circle.
He also thanked the building’s owner, Mike Keenan, “who made a major price concession to us.” Bromley declined to release the price pending a June 30 closing.
For the building project and prior support, he offered Self Help’s “sincere appreciation … for the fantastic cooperation and support we received from the town…”
With the purchase instead of building, “We’re going to have at least a half-million in true savings, and get in the building 15 to 18 months sooner,” Bromley said. “Our plan is to be in well before Thanksgiving.”A targeted $1 million fundraising campaign will kick off at the May 5 “BASH at the Lake” at Hampton Lake, and already about $500,000 has been raised.