Coastal Federation community work days commence

by Sam Wilson
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Staff photo by Cole Dittmer 

Volunteers like Carol Tutton offer a little elbow grease to prepare the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Southeast Regional Office and Coastal Education Center for painting at a volunteer work day on Friday, Oct. 25.

Braving a frigid October morning, about a dozen volunteers were hard at work on the N.C. Coastal Federation’s new headquarters, scraping paint, moving doors and furniture and tending to the various other home-improvement jobs for the historic building’s ongoing renovations.

The local nonprofit environmental advocacy organization held the first of two community work days on Oct. 25 to give volunteers and beach residents a chance to lend a hand to the process of turning the 1946 beach cottage into a local headquarters and community outreach center. 

Talking over the noise of hammering and heavy moving, program coordinator Sarah Gilliam detailed the nonprofit’s plans for inside of the three-story Palmgren-O’Quinn house, which was barged around Harbor Island to its current site in the Town of Wrightsville Beach’s Historic Square in June.

“This will be a front office and reception area; we’ll have couches here, and different displays to pique people’s interest,” Gilliam said. “We’d like for this to be an area where people come hang out with us. I’d really like to have a screen with video of restoration projects, rain gardens, the Titan fight. It’ll give people a place to just chill out and learn more about what we do.”

Gilliam explained the center will also feature rain barrels, cisterns, native plants and a rain garden as a demonstration of some of the low impact development work on which the federation focuses. Space for indoor classrooms will be supplemented by outdoor classroom areas for the organization’s educational work, including the adjacent salt marshes.

Education coordinator Ted Wilgis said the organization’s ongoing capital campaign to raise $600,000 is going well, keeping the renovation project’s funds in the black — so far — with about $400,000 currently raised. 

“We’ve been really pleased; there have been some grants, there have been some individual donations, and then people giving us their time or whatever they can,” Wilgis said, adding, “and if anyone wants to write us a check for $200,000, we’ll take it.”

Pausing for a moment from scraping paint off a second-floor window frame, longtime federation volunteer Carol Tutton said she was excited for the opportunity to help the project along its way.

“They do such a great job of protecting our coast, and this is just a small way I can help,” Tutton said. “The thing I like most is they’re using an old house – I love the ambience of old houses. And this one is going to keep living.”

The next community work day will be held Friday, Nov. 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To sign up, contact Ted Wilgis at 910-509-2838 or


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