Low(e’s) and Behold!

We deal with a lot of challenges at our hospital: sick and injured turtles, a temperamental water system and equipment that breaks and just plain wears out from constant use. But the one thing we never really think too much about is our décor. When our wall murals were painted fifteen-years ago we basically stood back and said “done!” Now we have a brand-spanking new 13,600 square feet of space, and a lot of blank walls that needed more than one HGTV moment to make them look like something.

One of our planned cost-saving measures was to have the interior painting on our new facility done by volunteers. Thankfully we didn’t have to look too far for helping hands. In fact, we didn’t have to look at all: they came to us, and they came from just down the road. “Lowe’s Heroes” encourages store employees to band together to complete a project for a local non-profit that makes a difference in the community.

Several of our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers work at the Surf City Lowe’s Home Improvement, and almost everyone who works at the store has toured our current facility and has been following the saga of the construction of our new hospital. It’s well known that we spend all of our hard-earned money on the care and rehabilitation of the turtles, leaving little for anything on our “wish list.” So when Human Resources Manager Shanon Neuman heard we needed something and somebody(s) to cover our walls, she completed the paperwork and submitted her proposal to the powers that be. The project was quickly approved and Shanon began recruiting her crew of 20 painting elves who would work in shifts over a two-day period. And they were doing it on their day off!

Sarah Ramsey, Manager of the paint department saw this as “a great opportunity to help” and after calculating our square footage rustled up about 20 gallons of primer and 15 gallons for the topcoats. Lowe’s supplied all the painting paraphernalia: rollers, brushes, tape, drop cloths, etc. They used their highly-rated Valspar (satin finish) paints throughout — “Aqua Ocean” in the great hall and “Aqua Dance” in our gift shop area. They also have a generous budget to help with the remaining interior areas of our building.

While the crew was transforming our hospital into a thing of beauty, I spoke with several of them, including the husband and wife team of Kellie and Dennis Beaddles. Kellie is the Seasonal Manager at Lowe’s and Dennis is a professional painter. They witnessed firsthand the mysterious powers of sea turtles the day they took their 7-year-old grandson on a tour. Even though he had to stand in line for hours they said he was amazingly patient and never complained because he was determined to meet our turtles. He still talks about it and they say it’s something he’ll never forget. Although Dennis does not work at Lowe’s he was there to support his wife, and “because you’re supposed to do things to help your community.”

Phil Herbst (a.k.a. “Weekend Phil”) loved having the opportunity to hang out with his co-workers in a different setting. The bonus for him was the feeling that he was accomplishing something worthwhile. John Cilino, Flooring Specialist, has been a sea turtle fan for years, and had adopted a turtle and followed its progress online. He says he “can’t wait to bring the kids” to the new hospital, and “participating in this project was worthwhile.” “Worthwhile” seemed to be the theme for the day!

The first shift worked from early morning into mid-afternoon and as the second crew arrived in came Dell Sorensen, one of our Topsail Turtle Project volunteers. Dell works in the Lowe’s Administration Office and saw the opportunity for matching our needs with the “Lowe’s Heroes” mission. She assisted Shanon in coordinating the effort with our Board, and she’s also a super good painter!

We’re sending out huge flipper hugs to Lowe’s and all their incredibly hard working volunteers who spent their days transforming our plain-Jane interior into a magnificent, ocean wonderland. Every time we walk through our doors we’ll think kindly about you, and we’ll be forever grateful for the time and effort you gave to our turtles.


Hatching almost completed

As of this writing there’s only one verified nest that hasn’t yet hatched. With the cool nights we rely more than ever on you to be our eyes on the beach, as we can’t keep watch 24/7. We are prohibited by law from disclosing exact locations of the nests and we honestly don’t know exactly what night those little hatchlings will pip out. If you happen to be there during a hatch you will need to listen to what our trained volunteers are telling you. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (hatchings, strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at 910-470-2880. Terry can be reached at topsailseaturtle@aol.com for non-emergencies. You can also call our Director, Jean Beasley (910-470-2800) or the hospital (910-328-3377) to report activity if you are unable to reach of Terry. All sea turtles are federally protected and harassing or harming them in any way will result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.

You can keep track of what’s hatched and other turtle hospital activity by checking our website: www.seaturtlehospital.org.


Questions, comments, suggestions?

Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this column to me at flippers@att.net. To be added to the newsletter list, e-mail me at the same address. If your e-mail address has recently changed please send me your new one so I can update my master list. You can also access the last newsletter from our website. The next issue — “How We Spent Our Year” — is in development and will be out before the holidays. This column now appears every other week until next spring, unless we have really exciting news to share!


Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.