The Civic Affairs Group was one of WAHHI’s first Interest Groups. It’s mission was to protect and promote health and education of Hilton Head Island citizens.
One of its first activities was to assist the community in the development of a day care center for low income working parents. The need for such a center came to light after Isaac Wilborn, principal of the HHI elementary school, reported that a number of students were frequently absent because they were taking care of younger siblings. Wilborn approached Billie Hack, President of WAHII (65-66) and asked her to convene a group of interested people to work towards the development of a day care center. The Child and Youth Development Center (now The Children’s Center) opened around 1969 serving 23 children.
Another significant effort in which the Civic Affairs Group was involved related to the health of HHI citizens. In the early 1960’s, Dr. Donald Gatch a Bluffton physician, publicized the hunger, poverty and poor health of many in Beaufort County, with particular emphasis given to the large number of children infested with parasites. At the time it was estimated that 70-80 % of the poor children in Beaufort County had parasites. Subsequently, US Senator Fritz Hollings took up the issue conducted his famous “Hunger Tours” around SC where he brought attention to the issue and need for national action. On February 18, 1969 Senator George McGovern, Chairman of the Special Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs convened several days of hearings on hunger in South Carolina. A direct result of these hearings was legislation that established the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which in 2018 served 5.3 million infants and children.
Marie Danforth, Historian