Island Women’s first organizational meeting was held in September 2006 when a small, diverse group of local women held their first meeting to brainstorm ways they could come together to help participate in the revitalization efforts beginning to gather momentum on Pleasure Island. The dual purpose of the group was to improve the appearance of Carolina Beach with the goal of attracting more vacationers and to provide a venue for business owners to interact and promote their brands. Consequently, most women who attended the early meetings were either business owners or retail employees, although members did not have to live or work on Pleasure Island. During this first year, they drafted and finalized the Island Women Bylaws and on March 14, 2007 filed for a 501(c)3 designation with the IRS. The organization received notice of the approval on July 30, 2008.
Island Women’s first big project was weeding and planting the garden in front of the Carolina Beach Marina. Many members participated and the group received coverage in the local newspaper. Members also cleaned up and planted native plants in the traffic islands at the intersection of Lake Park and Cape Fear Boulevards. Island Women, in partnership with the Town of Carolina Beach and through the hard work of one of its members, was able to secure a DOT grant of $50,000 towards landscape improvement work done in 2009/2010 along Lake Park Boulevard, just south of town center by the lake.
The organization’s first “vision session” was held in 2010 to determine what direction the group should take. As the Island Women moved forward and continued to grow they became more involved in community projects, activities, and events: decorating the Carolina Beach Gazebo for Christmas-By-The-Sea, nest parenting a sea turtle nest for the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project, and fielding a team for the Steve Haydu LoTide Run to benefit the families of cancer victims on Pleasure Island.
After a second vision session in 2011, the group became committed to address environmental issues and began exerting influence on the towns of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach to provide recycling containers at sporting and music events. In 2012, Island Women hosted the Pleasure Island Environmental Symposium to bring further attention to the need to step up the towns recycling efforts in an effort to make Pleasure Island a more sustainable and environmentally friendly community.
Finding strength in its history, Island Women continues to support island beautification and environmental projects. We continue our work at the Carolina Beach Marina and at the Boardwalk. We’ve planted and now maintain a native plant garden at Kure Beach Town Hall. We cleaned up both the Carolina Beach and Kure Beach Dog Parks, planting trees, painting benches and installing water stations. Our support of the environment continues through the development of our annual Reusable Bag Initiative in support of the elimination of one-time-use plastic bags.
We’ve been able to increase our community support and giving efforts over the years as membership has grown and our fundraising efforts have gained steam.
- In 2016 after our 1st Annual Flip Flop Ball we donated $3,500 to the HELP Center to support their efforts.
- We have continued our support of the Carolina Beach Elementary School and last year we stepped up our efforts and made contributions to both Murray Middle and Ashley High Schools for students in need.
- Our Literacy Committee’s first effort in 2014 brought the famed StoryWalkTM to Carolina Beach Lake Park. Today, it provides tutors for both reading and mathematics to the Montessori Schools that support the children of Pleasure Island, and in partnership with Island Men built, planted and maintain the Little Free Libraries you will find throughout Pleasure Island.
- Island Women was one of the original partners in the Pleasure Island Disaster Relief Fund after the devastating fires in Carolina Beach on December 5th 2014, working tirelessly to provide help to those affected by the fires.
- In 2016 we kicked off our support of Martha’s Kitchen in Carolina Beach by providing volunteers for their First Tuesday and Third Thursday dinner services each month. The Island Women Martha’s Kitchen is 50 members strong, volunteering at two meals a month and assisting with weekly food pick-ups at Harris Teeter and Food Lion.
- Island Women funded the purchase of beach wheelchairs so that people of limited mobility can enjoy the beach too!