Linda Ketron will be attending Souper Bowl 2011 as a self-described "soup slurper" on Jan. 29. Ketron, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Coastal Carolina University, counts the annual Souper Bowl as one of the many things in the community to which she has lent her considerable energy, passion and expertise.
Souper Bowl began with an idea from a local potter, Lori Leary. Leary was teaching pottery in adult continuing education courses that Ketron had created. "Lori based this on a program she knew in Philadelphia," Ketron says. "Artists were making bowls and serving soup in them to raise money for the homeless."
A light bulb went off in Ketron's head. "I love to organize, to create new things, to figure out logistics. I am not an artist; I couldn't make a bowl. But, I knew local restaurants and local chefs. I knew I could do something."
What resulted was a successful fundraiser for Georgetown County's Habitat for Humanity, now in its 13th year. "It was an obvious choice for me," says Ketron about selecting Habitat for Humanity as the recipient. "It was well-established and had a good structure. Habitat has a good ratio of money donated to what is actually used to fulfill the group's mission (of building affordable housing for people). Not a lot of their funding is eaten up in administration costs."
"Plus, there's something about the concept of building a home," she says. "It's about hearth and home, a family having a place to thrive. Part of thriving is eating. This whole idea was just a logical extension of what they did in Philadelphia." Because of Ketron's busy schedule, she turned over the reins of planning and running "Souper Bowl" to Georgetown's Habitat for Humanity about eight years ago.
Ketron is a bit demure when asked what keeps her so involved in the community. "I'm not exactly sure," she says, laughing. "Inertia? No, really, I love this community." The Oregon native moved to the Waccamaw Neck 20 years ago from Manhattan, when she and her playwright/screen writer husband decided to leave the hectic pace of New York."When I got here, I saw so many opportunities to do things from other places that I had seen or done," she says. "The population was here, the desire was here. I just tapped into that."
Two points of pride for Ketron are Bike the Neck and Friends of the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library. Ketron was and continues to be the guiding force behind the biking and walking trail that now stretches from Murrells Inlet through Litchfield Beach to Pawleys Island. "I do adore this project," she says. "I feel this has grown slowly; the community has become aware of it incrementally, and the community is growing into the idea of interconnected paths."
Ketron moved to the area two months after the Waccamaw Library opened in Pawleys Island and immediately got involved with the facility. "I have been involved with Friends of the Waccamaw Library for 20 years now. This is a team of people devoted to the library, in all aspects."
Whether it is the annual book sale, art auction or just shelving books, Ketron is hands on. In addition, Ketron has proudly been involved in the feasibility studies and securing donations for the planned new Waccamaw Library. "The new library will be just west of the Osher Learning Center on Willbrook Boulevard in Pawleys Island. This will be a good partnership. With proximity to two schools, this will be a true educational hub," she says.
Not one to rest on her deservedly tired laurels, Ketron is also starting a new publishing house. Last winter, Ketron created Self-Published Authors Talk, or SPAT, an off-shoot from her popular Moveable Feast program, a monthly luncheon that features authors talking about their works. "We thought it would just be self-published authors coming to talk and meet each other. It turned out that we had an overwhelming response from local writers who were looking to get published, too."
Ketron estimates there are at least 60 self-published authors in the area, whose works range from poetry, essays and novels, to thrillers and children's books. Yet, there are many more aspiring authors waiting for the chance to get their works published. "I have four authors right now who have books that should be published. That is my goal."Whatever Linda Ketron undertakes, there is always an element of learning to it. "I think there is an enormous emphasis put on the capacity of young minds to learn and absorb, and rightly so. But, this somewhat shortchanges the capacity of the mind to continue to learn throughout its lifespan," she says.
"If you just keep pushing the horizons, no matter what your age, there is no limit to learning. Learning is living."