IOP ‘Law Enforcement Neighborhood Support’ (LENS) program banquet honorary co-chairs and longtime IOP residents, Tommy and Bonnie Hartnett, invite you to celebrate our first responders and island community at the annual LENS Fundraising Banquet on May 15th, 2023.
The IOP LENS program is notoriously known to knit our island together and draw community members closer. The advent of this program on IOP and its mission drew the Hartnetts in immediately. They passionately support the LENS program’s foundational motives to raise
money to support local police officers and their families. “We are so enthusiastic about it. Despite popular opinion, this program doesn’t raise money to pay the officers’ salaries. Funds are gifted for IOPPD officers and their families– you know, members in our community - who are enduring times of hardship and might need help with hospital bills, paying for education, or things of that nature,” Tommy says.
In the first eight months of the program, IOP LENS awarded the IOPPD and our community financial support that totaled over $30,000. To name a few, the program assisted financially in
domestic abuse cases, housing hardships, those who lost family members, and those who needed help satisfying medical bills, and child support.
The Hartnetts believe that the program’s inception on the Isle of Palms could not have come at a better time. “The way officers are treated in media nowadays is demeaning. One of the few things that stands between us and anarchy, is strong law enforcement. We depend on them more than we realize. They are a quiet force that protects our community. When called upon, they do their job. It is our civic duty to come together to help them when they need it,” Tommy says, conviction tightly laced in his tone.
Tommy and his wife, Bonnie, remember when our beautiful barrier island was nothing more than a few houses – in his words, “a deserted island.” His father was cousin to famous developer, J.C. Long, who effectively took ownership of the Isle of Palms in 1944. The Longs would invite Tommy and his family to spend the summers on the island in one of their rental homes. When Fort Moultrie was still open in 1947, Tommy recalls watching the soldiers in uniform walk up and down the beach.
He and Bonnie bought a house in Wild Dunes in 1978, six short years after the private community was established on the island. Wild Dunes was the first planned residential community in the State of South Carolina. “We spent most summers out here with our families in our little tree house on Sand Crab Court,” Tommy says, chuckling. For the last 40 years, the Hartnetts have spent their summers on IOP. The island is very dear to them. “Most of our social life and my childhood memories are on the island, and now I get to watch my grandchildren experience the magic this island has as well.”
The sleepy little Southern Island that Tommy remembers from his childhood has evolved quite a bit over the decades. “There was a time that the island ended where the Methodist church currently sits. There were no houses on front beach. From 41st Ave to the end of the
island, there was nothing. A campground, that was it.”
Now, Tommy says, “The island belongs to the world. The East Coast has seen such an influx of people, and IOP is a world class destination. With so many residents and tourists, we need the island police now more than ever.”
The Hartnetts are honored to co-chair the 2023 IOP LENS Banquet, which will be held at The Sweetgrass Inn at Wild Dunes Resort on May 15th at 5pm. Thanks to multiple decades serving on the Charleston port authority board, Tommy was able to pull a few strings for a special auction item that guests at the event will have the opportunity to bid on – an exclusive tour of the South Carolina Wando Welch port facility.
Remember, when you participate in the LENS program, you are making a profound impact in the lives of those in need, including our devoted police force and other community members. No amount of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Thank you for putting others first to support our community. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for believing in the power of generosity.