Bluffton resident Laurie Brown sent us the following letter about what being local means to her. Brown is the founder and owner of Aunt Laurie’s, a company that gives back to the community by providing jobs, job training, projects and a sense of purpose to individuals with disabilities.
By Laurie Brown
Travelling back and forth to Hilton Head Island for years is just the start. That is how many of us now can call the Lowcountry our home. We may not have been born here or lived here for a very long time, but we are local lifers now.
My husband and I could have gone anywhere, and we did. We went to multiple places in Florida, Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island, Scottsdale, Asheville, Albuquerque, Palm Springs and much more. But, you know what? We always returned to Hilton Head Island. We felt at home, comfortable. Just the smell of the pine needles and the ocean air made me smile. The golf courses helped a lot too!
I find it hard to understand when someone says, “It took me 20 minutes to get over the bridge.” I used to drive 1 hour 20 minutes each way to work, every day! Twenty minutes on a bridge looking at palm trees, the boats, dolphins, the sun shining on the ocean ripples … let’s get a grip. Things could be worse. You could be sitting in a traffic jam in the middle of a cement city.
It astonishes me when I hear or read about all those tourists on the island. Things like, “So many people, traffic is bad, when are they going to leave? It is overcrowded when the tourists are around,” and on and on. Well, I was a tourist at one time. I loved the island and everything about it. I respected its beauty. This one-time tourist is now a local, and I love it!
Yes, we have tourists. That is what drives our economy. They pay taxes. They buy products. They eat at our restaurants and enjoy our activities. They stay at our resorts and rental properties. They infuse money into our economy, create jobs, and spread the word about our wonderful island we all call home. We need tourists or many of us could not make a living and stay.
So, this one-time tourist now loves being a local and proud of it! I own my own business helping the community. I am active member in many local organizations. My husband and I spend money at restaurants, at golf courses, invest in our home, and continue to help this local economy. We understand and respect the importance of maintaining the area’s beauty. We are proud to now call the Lowcountry our home and are locals for life. Amen.