Long before there was a sprawling tennis and concert stadium on Daniel Island, before stately homes dotted the perimeter of Smythe Lake, before Bishop England High School welcomed its first students to the island and before Independence Day golf cart parades and other special events would become celebrated community traditions – a transformative idea took root.
This was to be a different place, set apart from other master planned communities. A place that not only provided its residents with a wonderful quality of life, but that also gave back to the community and the greater Cainhoy peninsula.
Such was the plan inspired by Dr. George Brumley, the late brother of Frank Brumley, who, along with Matt Sloan, has guided Daniel Island’s development for decades. Dr. Brumley believed that philanthropy should be part of the fabric of the community, much like schools, churches, libraries and parks. His altruistic vision for the island was officially put in motion with the creation of the Daniel Island Community Fund (DICF) in 2000.
“I think that the developers of Daniel Island envisioned a mixed-use beautiful community, with a variety of housing types to ensure opportunities for a diverse community,” noted Jane Baker, president of the Daniel Island Town Association. “And to underscore that commitment, the importance of recognizing that there are so many neighbors in need within a stone’s throw of Daniel Island that have lived in this community for generations should not go without attention.”
Managed by a resident-developer advisory board, the DICF is funded entirely through a community enhancement fee on all resale real estate transactions on Daniel Island, and not through annual property assessments. According to Baker, “zero dollars” from those fees are spent on reserves.
“So your assessments go toward general maintenance, all operating costs for all three associations, and reserves for capital assets,” she added.
Since its inception, more than $10 million has been distributed by the DICF in support of various community improvements and local nonprofit organizations that serve the 29492 or 29450 zip codes.
“It’s not only donating money to nonprofits around our area, but it impacts the island and residents as well,” said Danielle Stix, associate community manager for the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association. “There are multi-generational impacts – and it’s embedded into the culture of why people move here.”
Last year alone, the DICF dispersed approximately $1.9 million to fund grants to various non-profit organizations, as well as community initiatives, events and projects.
On the list of new DICF recipients in 2022 was Feeding of the Multitudes (FOTM), a ministry that provides free food to close to 3,000 people in need each month on the Cainhoy peninsula. The organization received a $25,000 matching grant from the DICF, which was used to help purchase a new refrigerated food truck for their growing operation.
“That truck is paramount and essential to us in being able to pick up food and distribute food,” said Rev. Levi Wright, who runs the FOTM ministry with his wife, Janet. “…The (Daniel Island Community) Fund has really been a blessing to us, in a way that we can’t even imagine how to show our gratitude.”
Also on the list of new recipients in 2022 was Blissful Dreams Rescue Ranch (BDRR) in Huger. Through its Christian-centered mission, the ranch serves children and adults struggling with psychological, emotional, physical, and relational challenges by offering therapeutic horseback riding and animal-related activities. The money from DICF allowed them to purchase needed equipment, such as safety stirrups, helmets, and support saddles.
“The money has helped us make sure we have equipment available to be able to accommodate and share the love of the Gospel to those of all shapes and sizes, and various abilities,” said Jamie Kohler, BDRR founder/director.
East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) began receiving support from the DICF in 2007, according to Executive Director Stephanie Kelley. The funding has been incredibly significant, she said. About 23% of ECCO’s clients reside in the 29492/29450 zip code areas that are served by the DICF. This year’s grant will help them assist close to 300 families with what Kelley calls “comprehensive wrap around services,” such as food or clothing, financial assistance, medical or dental care, or prescription assistance.
“The Daniel Island Community Fund is making sure we’re here to support the people who live in this area,” Kelley said. “We’re so grateful.”
The DICF is also an integral part of what residents and visitors see and experience on Daniel Island. The fund has provided for a plethora of community enhancements, including the refurbished waterfront park along the Wando River, the upgrades to Guggenheim Park, the Osprey Trail in front of the Daniel Island School, and playground spruce ups like the one planned for Center Park.
“The level of excellence in our public spaces would not be there, but for the community fund,” Baker added.
Additionally, DICF monies make possible a variety of community events, such as Concert in the Park, Independence Day celebrations, the Pumpkin Walk, and Holiday Tree Lighting. The DICF also supports the philanthropic work of island residents and organizations.
The Daniel Island Historical Society’s tree marker program, the Danziger Cup kids’ fishing tournament, and the Daniel Island Exchange Club’s Pinwheels program and Fields of Honor event are among the many DICF beneficiaries.
Another philanthropic vehicle, the Daniel Island Community Foundation, is funded through donations of island residents, businesses and employees. Run by a board of island residents, the foundation is tasked with identifying local nonprofit organizations and special projects that community members are passionate about, such as natural disaster relief, food and clothing drives, or volunteer opportunities. Often, the foundation and DICF work together to support a variety of causes.
“When critical needs arise…our philanthropic organizations can meet the challenge,” Baker said. “Those two nonprofits are important to every property owner – to their property values, to the culture, and really the spirit of what we think Daniel Island is, and why it is a different planned community from any other planned community in the country.”
A LASTING IMPACT
According to Daniel Island resident Steve Slifer, who has served on the DICF Board since about 2004, the DICF has “led the way in providing funds to literally hundreds of charitable organizations over the years.”
“I feel good that the developer of this island had a very philanthropic heart and chose to create an organization like the DICF,” he said. “That sets us apart from every other planned community…In my opinion, the residents of this island are some of the warmest, giving people
I have come across. Whenever there is a need, they invariably step up to the plate to help.”
Longtime DICF board member Bill Stevens called the fund’s impact “major.”
“The capital improvements on Daniel Island are big, visible, and used by residents,” Stevens added. “The annual events are great and well attended. Best of all, perhaps, are the many lives impacted by the charitable work of DI residents and selected charities. I’m reminded of the great quote by John Wooden: ‘the definition of a good day is when you help someone who cannot repay you.’”
Baker estimates well over 100,000 people have been touched in some way by the work of the DICF over the last 23 years. And even though declining real estate sales last year meant less revenue for the DICF, Baker once again pointed to Daniel Island’s resilience.
“We are hoping for the best and that it rebounds and we can fulfill more grant requests in the latter part of the year,” Baker said.
Despite the market’s ups and downs, Daniel Island’s appeal as a community remains strong, continued Baker, thanks in large part to the vision planted long ago.
“I don’t think as many people would be attracted to moving here, frankly, if we did not have such a strong philanthropic mission,” Baker added. “… And you can feel that and see that once you’re here.”
DANIEL ISLAND COMMUNITY FUND
Private 501(c)4 organization financially supported by a Community Enhancement Fee on all resale real estate transactions on Daniel Island
DANIEL ISLAND COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Private 501(c)3 organization financially supported by donations from Daniel Island residents, businesses, and employees