Sunset Vision Inspires Sunset Beach Residents
Looking to enhance the enjoyment of the unique town of Sunset Beach? There’s a group for that.
Sunset Vision is a community-enrichment organization made up of a diverse group of volunteer citizens, from local business owners to community leaders, all from different neighborhoods in Sunset Beach. They are dedicated to providing stewardship, inspiration, innovation, collaboration and resources so that Sunset Beach continues to be an ideal community in which to work, play and live.
Started by Mayor Ron Watts and his wife, Adrienne, in early 2015 as an interest-seeking mission, Sunset Vision has evolved into a grassroots committee that recommends and promotes citizen-funded community projects that the local government might not be in the position to support for a variety of reasons. The group convenes monthly to examine projects and funding opportunities.
“It’s a collaboration of great ideas with no agenda other than to give back to Sunset Beach,” explains committee member and acting chairwoman Catherine Milioti.
The power behind Sunset Vision lies with Sunset Beach citizens, who ultimately suggest projects. Residents’ suggestions are vital to the group’s mission, and committee members make it their goal to support worthy ideas and projects that can help maintain and enhance the Sunset Beach experience for both its citizens and visitors.
“We want the people of Sunset Beach to tell us what they want to see happen,” says committee member Clark Milioti. “They give the committee a direction on what to work toward.”
Committee co-founder and member Adrienne Watts further describes the impact of citizen guidance when it comes to selecting projects.
“It exemplifies the grassroots nature of the group,” she says. “The more input the residents give us, the more ownership of the town and the community they have.”
Though still in its infancy, Sunset Vision has already resulted in several gifts to the town of Sunset Beach, including two bike racks, the first installed just before Memorial Day in the newly opened Sunset Beach park and another installed at the Bird Walk on Shoreline Drive West at Twin Lakes. A third bike rack that will support seven bikes is currently in the funding stage and planned for installation at the public beach access at 40th Street.
With the town’s efforts to increase bike and pedestrian pathways, there is an emphasis on outdoor living and experiencing nature as a way of improving health and well-being in the community. Sunset Beach is fortunate to represent a community of cycling enthusiasts, naturalists and visitors who focus on personal and environmental health. The bike racks seemed a good place for the group to start, as they are reflection of the community’s commitment to enrich its public gathering spaces.
In addition to the bike rack in Sunset Beach Park, Sunset Vision has been able to fund a swing and a bench to be installed in the park in the coming weeks. Both offer citizens and visitors a great place to relax and observe the beautiful natural resources the town has to offer.
Sunset Beach is the number 10 stop on the North Carolina Birding Trail. With more than 260 species of birds living in or visiting the area each year, the community a birder’s paradise. To help nature lovers learn more about the birds they can find, such as wood storks, black-crowned night herons and white ibis, to name just a few, Sunset Vision recently funded and installed an educational kiosk at the Bird Walk on Shoreline Drive West.
Sunset Vision helps residents take proactive steps to identify and create solutions that work to fill a need or meet a challenge in the neighborhood. There are several ways to help Sunset Vision fund those solutions. Citizens can make financial contributions directly to Sunset Vision, or they can fund a specific project through citizinvestor.com.
Citizinvestor is a crowdfunding and civic engagement platform for local government and community projects that empowers citizens to invest in their community to create change. Sunset Vision will post a project to citizinvestor.com, where citizens can then make tax-deductible contributions and watch the progress of the donations online.
In addition to Citizinvestor and resident funding, Sunset Vision works directly with Sunset Beach Merchants Association members to help increase awareness of their project-driven committee.
“We’ve done a lot of grassroots fundraising to foster synergy with local merchants like Backstreet Café, Oceans Salon and Spa, and Bleu, who’ve all donated bicycles or gift cards for raffling,” says Catherine Milioti.
Volunteering with Sunset Vision is an important way for citizens to give back to their community. The current advisory committee is made of 10 volunteers who all have full-time jobs or commitments in addition to bringing good things to the town of Sunset Beach, so help is always welcome and appreciated.
“Suggesting projects, donating or volunteering, there are multiple ways every citizen can contribute,” says Clark.
Donations of any size are welcome.
“All contributions help us to continue to make Sunset Beach the little gem of a city that is,” says Catherine Milioti.
Sunset Vision is extremely optimistic about its future.
“This is an exciting time for us because what started out as an experiment with a single bike rack has worked beyond our imaginations,” says Catherine Milioti. In the coming year they hope to seek nonprofit 501(c)(3) status so that they have the ability to accept contributions and donations that are tax-deductible to donors in order to broaden their base of public support from individuals and companies alike.
Want to help?
Sunset Vision encourages all citizens of Sunset Beach to share their project ideas, to volunteer or to donate. Go to sunsetvision.org or find them on Facebook by searching Sunset Vision at Sunset Beach.