27 Aug 2013

Time For Change on Nantucket

It’s been said, “You don’t know what you don’t know, but when you do know you have to do something about it.” When Darcy Creech, founder and CEO of Peter Beaton Inc of Nantucket, visited a child named Joyce in the tiny village of  Olkolili, Tanzania in 2010, she discovered something she did not know…Joyce and the other 2300 residents of the village had no clean drinking water.  The nearest supply was 2.5 miles away and Joyce along with the other children and women of the village were spending hours each day hauling water. Darcy also learned that the multitude of health and developmental issues being suffered by the children of Olkolii all pointed to the same problem – the disease infested water the villagers were consuming. Once Darcy became aware of the problem, she knew she could not sit by and do nothing. She got busy developing a way to use her successful Nantucket fashion company to reach beyond the shores of the island to bring relief and restore health to little Joyce and the other residents of Olkolii in Tanzania.

Darcy created an initiative called Hydrex Philanthropic (a division of Peter Beaton Inc) to help fund the clean water project. She designed a beautiful and colorful watch and committed to use 100% of the proceeds to finance the mission.  The watches became an instant hit, sold quickly and in just a few short months the $60,000 needed was raised and today the villagers of Olkolii are all enjoying clean water, a substantial decline in childhood illness and death and the opportunity to experience something we Americans take for granted.  Darcy is now working on her third overseas initiative, building a Child Development Center in Kiio, Kenya. This project is being funded in part by 100% proceeds from the sale of her latest bright orange designer watch and she’s well on her way to reaching the goal.

The people of Nantucket never cease to amaze me with their generosity and creative ability to benefit others. In recent weeks, there’s been talk of “donor fatigue” as so many non-profit organizations host summer fundraisers on the island. There may be some donor fatigue, but there is no heartstring fatigue. Nantucket residents and visitors care deeply about one another, the island in general and the needs they discover around the globe. It’s inspiring to watch local individuals and organizations get creative and intentional in their efforts to use their time, not just their money, to benefit others.

Some days it’s as simple as “doing what you can do.” Darcy sells a fashion accessory through her Nantucket retail store.  Our own Carolyn Durand, along with many others, participated in Swim Across America this past weekend to raise money for cancer and PASCON. Jason Bridges of Nantucket Bike Tours hosts island tours to raise money for Nantucket Wheelers so the elderly and special needs individuals can own specialty bikes. People who enjoy long walks join fellow walking enthusiasts to log a few miles for Autism Speaks. There are many more island organizations and individuals who have found creative ways for all of us to be part of “paying it forward” both on Nantucket and beyond.

What are you passionate about?  Get involved with a Nantucket organization or business to swim, bike, golf or shop to benefit others.  Gather a group of Nantucket friends and neighbors to design your own unique product or event to bring awareness to a cause that’s important to you.  It can be as complex as hosting a several hundred person soiree or as simple as taking a walk or purchasing a new watch as you consider time for change on Nantucket.

It’s about time.

Shellie Dunlap

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