There is a difference in life on Callawassie Island. It is evident in the written words. It is noticeable in the people who live here. It’s eminent when you pass through the gate towards home. Commonly attributed to more obvious qualities – the striking landscape, the distinction, the peaceful surroundings – all of these depend on the contribution of a single benefactor: The balance of security. It’s this central element that enables the Island’s exceptionally at-ease lifestyle. Where security brings peace, Callawassie becomes one of the most peaceful homesteads in the Lowcountry.
“When you live here,” says General Manager Jeff Spencer, “you own 1/700th of an island. When you pass through a security gate onto a quarter mile-long causeway to your own private island with one way on and one way off, that goes a long way in establishing a solid sense of security.”
Behind the scenes, Callawassie is always making efforts to increase this sense of secure living, without making much fanfare those advancements. The magic of perfection is in not seeing the work being done but enjoying the results. Residents and guests are newly enjoying added resources in visual security (thanks to TEKWave software advances). Small things affect and protect the balance of an overall sense of “lifestyle,” like the ability to upload photos of everyone with access, from summer guests and weekend visitors, all the way down to the family dog. Interactivity and convenience are also improved through mobile options like instantly emailed property passes and smartphone tools.
GM Spencer reminds confidently, “An upgraded system provides better, more dependable technology, but there’s no substitute for the face-to-face security, warmth, and connection of a human being, and that’s why we stay at the gate every minute of every day.” Since Callawassie’s conception, the gateway to the island has had a personal presence on duty, 24/7/365, balancing dependability with warmth and connection. Spencer emphasizes, “At no point is it left to a computer to make decisions about the security of the community. From the onset, this has been our commitment.” There has always been and will always be “someone there” for Callawassie members.
One of the most consistent “someone’s” has been Callawassie’s Chief of Security Vaughn Holland, who has been on the frontline since 1995. Recently having taken the helm, he’s been credited by more than one member as the defining factor in feeling “at home and secure.” Major Holland, however, passes the credit onto the team. Drawing in part from his six years as a military police officer in the Marine Corps, Holland leads a crew of mostly military and law enforcement experienced officers who are also State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) accredited. This generates a dream-team in itself, but perhaps most valuable on their resume, is that they’re celebrated by name, by the residents of Callawassie. “We can rest easy,” states on member on Facebook, “because we have such fine officers, like Lt. Black, Capt. Atkins, and Maj. Holland, watching over our island night and day.”
“Night and day” is a consistency felt by Island members, thanks to the longevity of leadership that has lasted a quarter of a century and counting. As another Island resident appreciates, “Callawassie is where your certainty comes from not having to think about security; that’s the beauty about our team, knowing that help is there if and when we need it and always feeling safe and secure on our island.”
This secure line of defense sets the tone for on-island living. It provides members with an external layer of protection as well, especially beneficial amid national health challenges. Holland gives a warm shout-out to those who serve with him, saying, “We’ve always been here. The whole way through.” His 11-member crew is tightly knit and celebratory of one another – an appreciation that is shared by the community they serve. Patti Noe, Secretary of the Callawassie Island Safety & Security Committee, acknowledges Holland and his team’s relentless efforts. “They’re working hard for us through this pandemic, and they deserve all the accolades we give them.”
Noe is a governing member of the Callawassie Island Safety & Security Committee, which she and neighbor Pete Murray were integral in instigating just two years ago. The Committee provides an added layer in Callawassie’s culture of not only internal “balance and security,” but one that influences the surrounding community as well. Some of these are improvements in area speed enforcement, Fire Department Programs that check and replace home detectors (58 homes completed and counting), and the current work towards added lighting at the Island’s entrance. One of the most personal-touch projects among residents, Noe describes, is “developing a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), working with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, training a team of now 49 members to respond in a crisis.”
The secret to achieving this balancing act of security without restriction, according to Holland, is “to not see it as policing, but as a customer service.” Holland points out the Island is essentially a zero-crime setting (presumably due in part to the success of his team). This allows them to focus increased hands-on efforts elsewhere, such as being a First Responder (all Officers are First Aid and AED qualified) at times or an Animal Services stand-in. (This entails anything from the conflictingly named Save-A-Snake Program, to removing the occasional “small alligator” from a swimming pool.)
Like a fulcrum, security is the central point that provides a sense of balance central to Callawassie’s brand identity: “Warmth, Balance, and Connection.” Defined as “enabling something to remain upright and steady” or to “keep in a steady position so that it does not fall,” it’s clear that Callawassie’s center of gravity is a Security team designed for and committed to “enabling” a way of life to “remain upright and steady.”
This sense of security and wellbeing is echoed repeatedly as something rare and treasured. When you are known by name on your own private island, by a long-tenured law-enforcement and military-grade team who stands in the gap, is always present, and occasionally saves a snake, you can do more than “leave your keys in the car.” With this height of assurance, you can head home across the causeway, and live in peace.