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Media Release

Local Citizens Receive Honored Islander Awards in Recognition of Their Community Service

Release Date: December 10, 2019

Contact Information:
Carolyn Grant email icon , Communications Director, 843-341-4618


Congratulations to Hilton Head Islanders Rich and Suzanne Thomas, Ward and Karen Kirby, Dr. James Field and Linda Peterson.

On Monday, Mayor John McCann presented each of them with the Hilton Head Island Mayor's Honored Islander Award in recognition of their service and contributions to community organizations and projects.

Longtime volunteers Rich and Suzanne Thomas were recognized for their work with organizations throughout the community. Rich is a historian who spends time preserving and sharing the area's history. He volunteers at the Heritage Library, teaches classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and works with the Beaufort County Heritage Corporation. He serves on the board of the Santa Elena Foundation, the Lowcountry Civil War Round Table and the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee for the Town of Hilton Head Island. He is author of Backwater Frontier, a History of Beaufort. Passionate about working with organizations focused on children, Susan volunteers five days a week at the Children's Center and the Boys and Girls Club.

Ward and Karen Kirby have devoted themselves to helping needy individuals on the Island. They were instrumental in founding the South End Soup Kitchen and currently serve lunch every Friday. In addition, Ward serves on the board of the Hunger Coalition of the Lowcountry and the Heritage Foundation. He is chairman of the board for the Children’s Center and is a member of the Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island. Karen provides care to elderly individuals and support to caregivers. She is the founder and current leader of the Dementia Caregivers Support Group.

At 93 years old, Dr. James Field is still caring for patients. For the past 18 years, he has served as a volunteer doctor at Volunteers in Medicine.

Linda Peterson has spent many years behind the scenes working to address and prevent human trafficking. She is part of the Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Fresh Start Healing Heart, World Affairs Council, the Rotary Club's Gift of Life Program and numerous other organizations. She currently serves as president of the Peregrine Pointe Plantation Homeowners Association and as a board member of the Italian American Club of Hilton Head Island. She has served as a host for foreign exchange students and for recipients of the Rotary Club's Gift of Life program.

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About the Mayor's Honored Islander Award Program

The Mayor's Honored Islander Award Program publicly recognizes Hilton Head Island residents who make a significant sacrifice of their time, talents and/or resources, to better the community without compensation or significant public or media attention. A committee of individuals appointed by the Mayor reviews nominations and selects individuals to receive the award. Anyone or any organization may nominate individuals for the award. For more information or for a nomination form, visit https://hiltonheadislandsc.gov/boards/boarddetails.cfm?DetailID=CITIZEN.