When asked what the best part about putting on events is, the polished event planners will say it is the people they get to work with that make the experience magical (stars in eyes). Well, since we are blessed with a tight-knit community, you probably already know who your Evening Under the Oaks planners are (so you may already have your opinions about whether or not working with us would be on your bucket list) but we’d like to come out from behind the green curtain and introduce ourselves to you anyways. If I do this correctly, you’ll be so curious to find out if we actually are as cool as we sound that you’ll come April 29th to see for yourselves.
If the alphabet starts with A, our list should start with Becky Gooden Skipper. Born and raised in Hartsville, SC, this Clemson fan and Sonoco marketer is the vision behind Evening Under the Oaks. She saw how much our local Darlington County Humane Society needed funding to maintain and better the shelter our furry friends stay warm and dry in, so she decided to throw a party (obvious logic). She somehow convinced a handful of us to also group around the table and, for the love of fur and whiskers, we daintily whipped up (kidding, blazed through months of planning to put on) Evening Under the Oaks 2016. Becky has four fur babies—Jo, Sam, Gator Bait (you are what...almost eats you), and Sophie. She loves pretending her last name is Gaines so that she can rope her husband Derek into another weekend home improvement project.
Elizabeth Heustess, also one of Hartsville’s finest products, currently resides in the Big City (…Florence) with her own fur daughter, Ellington. She also loves animals, and the Clemson Tigers, and has a knack for interior design. Though serving as an Account Manager may be a full enough schedule for some, this Winthrop grad serves on more boards and acts as a Chairperson on more events that we can count. She’s always ready to lean in with a smile on her face and help run the show. The best part is that she actually knows exactly what she’s doing when she runs it, too.
To break the unnerving orange and purple tinge this article is taking (caution: author may be biased) and because she is so crucial to our success, JoEllyn Watson must be mentioned next. I’ve heard she is a Gamecock fan, but I can’t remember if Marcus Lattimore told me that after he had dinner with her—correction, after she watched him have dinner from the table behind him—or if one of her 378 Gamecock football posts appeared in my feed recently. She shares Becky’s vision to one day help the shelter build a new, state-of-the-art facility. She grew up in Darlington, SC and has more connections in our county than a councilman—but somehow, she knows all of the kind-hearted, generous people. Her power to convince others that their donation matters is unreal. We would not have achieved double digit fundraising last year without Joellyn. No, she is not for rent.
And then there’s me. There are rumors I’m the youngest recognized Crazy Cat Lady with social skills, that I get gleefully excited at volunteering under any circumstance, and that I’m the best French cook in the South East. They’re all true. A bit of a yin-and-yang, I love both clean spreadsheets and creative outbursts, I do half-marathons so I can bake more, and I mix my European upbringing with the tips I’ve picked up on warm Southern hugs and comfortable elegance. Also, though I only have two cats (for now), I consider myself the wicked cool aunt of all the dogs at the Bridge, and I visit them every other Saturday with our Sonoco Cares volunteers.
See? We sound cool and eclectic, but don’t let us fool you—at the core, we’re all just huge animal lovers who like to leave things better than we found them. And we’re always willing to help. Tune in next week, we’ll introduce more of our team!