The Boy by Her Bed

January 30, 2012

Barbara Nichols writes…

I run an afterschool reading and math program in a small town in South Carolina. This is the story of one student and his remarkable grandmother.

I first met Chris in 2005 when he started attending our afterschool program. Chris was a quiet, hard-working, and unassuming sixth grader at the local middle school. At the end of each day, I noticed that a cab came to pick him up. Being curious about the reason why he wasn’t picked up by his parents as most of the other students were, I decided to do a home visit. This was the beginning of a six year relationship with Chris and with Ms. Daisy, his grandmother.

With Chris’s address in hand, I drove to his house, parked my car, and walked up the ramp to the small house. The windows were covered in plastic. There were old pieces of furniture on the screen porch. The house hadn’t been painted in years. Upon opening the door, I was surprised to see a hospital bed in the middle of the tiny cold living room. Surrounding the bed were lifts, medicines, and an oxygen tank. Lying under many blankets and quilts was Ms. Daisy – and by her bed stood Chris.

Greeting me like an old friend, Ms. Daisy reached her hand out to me. Her warm appreciation and her love for Chris were immediately obvious to me. As we talked, she explained that she had been bed-ridden for years with a variety of problems including heart failure and fibromyalgia. She explained that she had no way of arranging a ride home for Chris, so she was paying $3 a day to have him picked up by cab. She felt that helping Chris catch up academically was well worth the money for the cab. She talked about what a fine boy Chris was – dedicated to helping her as well as trying his best in school. From that day on, I drove Chris home.

During the rides from the program to his home, I found out more about this remarkable boy. Chris often was the only person in the house with his grandmother. He made sure she took her pills. He did his best to “cook” for her, often heating instant meals in the small microwave in the kitchen. When she needed to be hospitalized, he went with her, often staying in her room all night. Most nights at home, he slept on the floor next to Ms. Daisy’s bed to be sure she didn’t need anything during the night. Neighbors checked on Ms. Daisy during the day when Chris was in school. When he got home, he stayed by her bedside. He rarely went out to play. He never had friends over. Yet, there was this peaceful acceptance of his role. I got the feeling that he looked at the care of his grandmother as a privilege rather than as a burden.

Over the years, I visited Ms. Daisy often. I, too, felt it was a privilege. She told me proudly that she adopted Chris when he was an infant. Chris, born with heart problems, spent many months in the hospital during the early years of his life. From the time he was a young boy, Ms. Daisy taught him the things she felt were important – hard work, kindness to others, doing your best, respecting all people. Ms. Daisy often talked about how anger accomplishes nothing. She felt that each person was doing the best they could and needed support from others. She felt that even the smallest gestures by people should be appreciated and acknowledged. I always left our visits with a renewed sense of optimism and peace. Chris watched and listened and learned from his grandmother, as he remained by her bed.

Ms. Daisy loved Chris with all her heart. She really was an example of “the iron hand in the velvet glove.”  When Chris was given a computer by a generous couple in Georgetown, Ms. Daisy insisted that it be set up at the foot of her bed so that she could see what Chris was doing. She had heard of kids who went to “bad places” on the internet. When I explained that he did not have access to the internet, she still wanted to oversee the situation. When Chris rode his bike in the neighborhood, she insisted that he only go a block in each direction so that he would not get too tired. She kept up with his schoolwork, making sure that he did his homework. One day while I was visiting, Ms. Daisy’s lunch arrived from Meals on Wheels. She asked the volunteer to put the lunch in the refrigerator. I asked her why she wasn’t eating her lunch. Her reply was, “Chris is hungry when he gets home from school. I’ll save it for him.”

The boy by the bed matured over the years. He’s now 17 ½ years old. Last year, we hired Chris to work at the afterschool program he had grown to love. It was not easy for Chris to make the transition from student to staff member. He would often go home and talk to his grandmother about how to handle different situations that arose. She talked with him about insisting on respect and good behavior from the students. She urged him to take suggestions from the teachers without feeling that he was failing in his job. She talked about setting an example of good behavior through his own actions. At one point, she reported to me that she had told Chris that he could either do a good job or she would insist that he quit. Ms. Daisy’s remarkable strength of character, coupled with her unending love for Chris, has been the major factor as this young boy moves rapidly toward adulthood.

Ten days ago, Ms. Daisy had trouble breathing. The ambulance rushed her to the hospital. Over the days, her condition worsened. Chris saw her as often as he could, standing by her bed in the Intensive Care Unit, holding her hand. He told her about the good report card he had just received. He told her about things that happened at the afterschool program. He told her he loved her. When he knew the end was near, Chris told his grandmother that he would always stay on the path she started him on. This was the last gift he gave to her.

Ms. Daisy died a little after noon today. Chris was called out of school and went to be with her.  He told me, “She really looked peaceful.” This remarkable woman is gone. The love that she and Chris shared will go on forever. As he stood, saying good-by to his grandmother, the boy by her bed began his lonely journey on the path toward becoming a man. Ms. Daisy’s example of love and courage will guide him.

3655 S. Hwy. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

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If you have any questions, please contact Shawna Mosley-Foster at 843-357-4483 or shawna@mywcf.org

12/09/2022
3:00pm

Dennis L Wade

Dennis Wade is a native of Lancaster, SC and a graduate of the University of South Carolina. Mr. Wade has been President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jackson Companies since 2001. The Jackson Companies is a diversified tourism, hospitality and real estate development company located in the South Strand of Myrtle Beach. For more than five decades, the Jackson family has instilled philanthropy and community service into their multifaceted group of businesses. Dennis is a graduate of Leadership Grand Strand XIX and a Waccamaw American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow. He currently serves on the Coastal Educational Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of Visitors for the Wall College of Business at Coastal Carolina University, and the Conway Medical Center Board of Trustees. He is also chairman of the Board of Directors of Coastal Carolina Bancshares, Inc. and a director of Coastal Carolina National Bank. Dennis and his wife, Marie, have two children, Erica and Taylor, and have called the Grand Strand home since 1997.

Allen Jeffcoat

Allen Jeffcoat has been practicing law in Myrtle Beach since 1977. His areas of practice include real estate, estate planning, probate administration, environmental law, corporate and business law, and bankruptcy.  He serves as an expert witness in cases in these areas of practice. He is licensed to practice law in SC and NC. He has served as chair of the Real Estate Practices Section of the SC Bar.

Allen’s relationship with Waccamaw Community Foundation began many years ago, when he would advise his estate planning clients to invest their funds to benefit their philanthropic interests, such as education, the arts, and environmental protection. After working alongside his clients and WCF, Allen joined the Foundation’s board of directors in 2007 and served as director until 2016.

In addition to his professional to his professional interests and his involvement with WCF, Allen has a history of supporting coastal and statewide conservation efforts. In 1985, Allen joined the South Carolina Nature Conservancy board of trustees, and fulfilled a variety of leadership roles- including a stint a chairman— from 1987-1989. Allen also served on Governor Carroll Campbell’s Freshwater Wetlands Forum, and continues to apply his experience in environmental and real estate law to help preserve and protect natural resources and ecosystems vital to the local community.

Allen is also a founder and first president of the YMCA of Coastal Carolina.

Allen has resided in the Grand Strand since 1977 with his wife, Mary. They have two grown children and a granddaughter.

Tim Whitten

Tim@mywcf.org

843-357-4483

A native of Alabama, Tim received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University and a master’s degree in religion from Lenoir-Rhyne University. He brings to WCF a background in grant writing and in disaster recovery most recently serving the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Tim resides in Galivants Ferry with his wife Julie and their four children.

Phillip Anderson

Director

Phillip Anderson is a Senior Vice President & Senior Lending Officer for Asheville, North Carolina-based HomeTrust Bank, serving the coast of South Carolina. Throughout his 22-year banking career, he has served in commercial banking, trust administration, retail banking, and market leadership roles with mid-size and regional banks in South Carolina and Georgia. He has always embodied the community banking model of building strong local relationships and being active in numerous non-profits and promoting their causes.
 
He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, GA, the Cannon Financial Institute’s Trust School, The Stonier Graduate School of Banking and Wharton Leadership program. He is also a graduate of several Chamber of Commerce Leadership programs over his career.
 
Phillip resides in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, with his wife Mary Beth and daughter Carolina. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and playing golf.

Ellen Barney Sycks

Stewardship & Communications Officer

ellen@mywcf.org
614-893-7998

Ellen serves the Foundation as its Stewardship and Communications Officer, responsible for communicating with fund holders on a regular basis and providing advice when needed, particularly around fund development as well as relevant field of interest information.

A native of Hillsboro, Ohio, Ellen provides more than three decades of non-profit leadership experience, focusing on creating major gift and planned giving opportunities to support organizations’ programs, special projects and capital campaigns. Ellen received her B.A. in National Security Policy from The Ohio State University. She lives in Murrells Inlet with her husband Jay and their two cats, Mabel and Murray.

Chris Hanna

Director

Chris Hanna is a Senior Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. Born and raised in Myrtle Beach, he started in the real estate business in 1993. Chris is a member of the Coastal Carolinas, South Carolina and National Associations of REALTORS and is an active local community member as well, having served on various boards such as the Horry County Zoning Board of Appeals, the Coastal Carolina Athletic Foundation, and Horry County school district Carolina Forest Advisory Board. He is a member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality and Oceanview Baptist Church. Chris is a graduate of Socastee High School in Myrtle Beach, and he received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina at Coastal Carolina in 1992.

Rick Elliott

Director

Rick Elliott is president of his family business, Elliott Realty, one of the most prominent real estate companies in North Myrtle Beach. As a native of Horry County, he has always made giving back to the community a part of his approach to business. Each guest who stays with Elliott Realty is given the option to add an additional $1 per night to their bill to be donated to the Elliott Realty Charitable Community Fund at Waccamaw Community Foundation, which invests in causes throughout the surrounding community. Rick brings this commitment to community philanthropy to his service on the Waccamaw Community Foundation Board of Directors. He has also served as the chairman of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.



Tyler Easterling

Director

Tyler Easterling is a native of Marietta, Georgia and has resided in Georgetown County since moving to the area in 2002. Tyler is the president and COO of The Brandon Agency, an integrated marketing agency headquartered in Myrtle Beach. She is the current board chair for Coastal Montessori Charter School and serves on the boards of Helping Hands of Georgetown and Young Presidents’ Organization Southern 7 Chapter. She is a member of the 2018 Liberty Fellowship class.

Tyler holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Mississippi and a Masters of Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She is an active member of Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church and enjoys spending time with her husband, Marshall, and two daughters, Julia and Anne Marshall.



Terri DeCenzo

Director

Terri serves as executive director of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University (WIPL). She is married to Coastal Carolina University President David A. DeCenzo, and when he joined the university in 2002, she became passionately involved with the life of the university, taking an active role in issues relating to student government and NCAA athletics, among others. Previously Terri has served on the boards of the American Red Cross and the Foundation for Georgetown Hospital System and was an adviser to the Safe Families Initiative that established Family Justice Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties. In 2016, Terri was awarded the Order of the Silver Crescent by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. A graduate of St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing and Towson University, she spent most of her career practicing in critical care. The DeCenzo’s have four children: Mark (his wife Jen), Meredith (and her husband Ryan Daley), Gabriella and Natalie; and one beautiful grandson, William Mason Evans.


Executive Director, Women in Philanthropy and Leadership for Coastal Carolina University (WIPL)

Dr. Tracy Bailey

Director

Dr. Tracy Bailey earned a Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Language and Literacy at the University of South Carolina in May of 2013. She is a Teaching Associate with Coastal Carolina University teaching Intermediate Literacy Development and Instructional Practices for Early Literacy.

Dr. Bailey began her career in education as a high school English instructor and has worked in both rural and urban educational settings. After realizing the impact professional development and community literacy had on her personal and professional growth, she wanted others to experience this. She is the founder and executive director of Freedom Readers, Inc., a nonprofit company dedicated to promoting literacy. Tracy seeks to instill in teachers, students, and the community at large the belief that every student can learn and every learner has the responsibility to pass on new knowledge to another.

Dr. Bailey earned her BA from The College of Charleston- majoring in English Education- and a Masters in Secondary Education from Coastal Carolina University. She is married to award-winning writer, Issac J. Bailey, and is the mother of two wonderful children, Kyle and Lyric.



Brent Groome

Chair

A 1987 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Brent came to the Grand Strand area in 1989. After a 31 year career with HTC (Horry Telephone Cooperative), he retired in 2021.  In addition to his current role with WCF, he also serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners for HGTC. He is also active with his church; serving as a Sunday School teacher and congregational song leader.  He and his wife, Dana, live in the Conway area.

Shawna Mosley-Foster

Service and Operations Officer

shawna@mywcf.org
843-357-4483 x200

Shawna, a native of Jamaica, NY, has more than 15 years of experience working in the hospitality and tourism field. Since relocating to South Carolina in 2004, she spent a few more years working with a local hospitality company before joining WCF’s staff.  While a native New Yorker, Shawna has a rich heritage right here in the Waccamaw area. Her mother was born and raised on Sandy Island, and her father is from Bucksport. She enjoys cooking, stargazing with her family, cruising and once retired….RVing! Shawna and her husband are empty nesters and resides in Myrtle Beach. 

Mike Mancuso

Executive Director

mike@mywcf.org
843-357-4483


Mike is a veteran business leader with more than 30 years of experience as an innovative problem solver and change agent for nonprofit, banking and small business organizations. Mike is a skilled economic developer with background in community development, downtown redevelopment, industrial development and strategic planning. His passion is helping Communities and Businesses thrive and grow. Most recently Mike served as the President and CEO of the Triangle East Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Foundation in Johnston County, NC and as Executive Director for the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, Inc in Salem, OH. Mike and his wife Christine make their home in Little River, SC. They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren living in Charleston, SC, Atlanta, GA, & Austin TX. Mike enjoys boating on the ICW, tinkering in his workshop/garage and spending time with family and friends.