By Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
Have you ever met one of those gals whose hair always looks perfect, they are always especially nice, kind and cheerful to others, they wear cool outfits, and somehow you still like them anyway? Well, meet Mimi Kitashima.
PINK: Mimi first came to the Lowcountry way, way back. How far back, Mimi?
MIMI: “I first came to Hilton Head Island in the early ‘60s. My sister- in-law's parents retired here way back when and pretty soon the rest of the family came to visit. Of course, we all fell in love. We started to visit regularly. So you see, I honestly do go way back. In those days I could walk all day on the beach and see very few people. In fact, I once spent an entire day on the beach and only saw two other people. My husband and I moved here for good in October 1984.
PINK: Talk a little about your job here. I know that what you do is a very big part of who you are and also has to do with a part of your personal bucket list.
MIMI: I am very blessed and fortunate to be the manager of one of the best kept secrets on Hilton Head Island. I manage Hospice Community Thrift, which is a non-profit thrift shop that benefits Hospice Care of the Lowcountry. Our shop is located in Mathews Court across Mathews Drive from BI-LO-Port Royal Plaza.
PINK: I understand that Hospice Community Thrift has something in common with PINK Magazine. MIMI: Yes, we do. We are celebrating out tenth year, just like Pink. I feel we are like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, though, while Pink. is always out there in the lead. We are 8,000 square feet of lovely items waiting to be yours.
PINK: What is your philosophy as manager of a not-for-profit thrift store?
MIMI: We are not a retail store, of course. We depend on donations for re-sale, but my personal bucket list goal for the shop is that, out of respect for our cause and for our shoppers, we look like a real store and we treat all of our customers like clients. We are clean, well organized and well stocked. I just get so excited when we sell a lovely piece of furniture to a buyer who really knows its value and loves it. We have such nice furniture and it is a pleasure to see people appreciate it.
PINK: What are your other bucket list wishes for Hospice Community Thrift?
MIMI: I have two things that I keep in the front of my wish list. First, I really work to keep up the wonderful camaraderie that we have among our volunteers. Many of them helped open the shop ten years ago and they mix well and easily with newcomers. The common denominator is dedication to our cause—Hospice Care. Many of our volunteers had loved ones who were served by hospice; that brings a lot of loyalty to their service. The other thing you absolutely must have is a healthy sense of humor. There is never a dull moment and it always helps if you can laugh at situations and at yourself, too.
PINK: I know the hospice mission is an integral part of your personal values system and that you have a personal story. Could you share that?
MIMI: Yes. My father died shortly after the opening of the shop. The compassion and strength offered to us by hospice care givers is indescribable. Most people who have lost someone special feel the empathy, support and strength provided by hospice. It is a difficult concept to grasp unless you have experienced it firsthand.
PINK: I know you are dedicated to your work, but what else is on your bucket list?
MIMI: I just returned from a trip to Ireland. I had family there and I went when I was 12 years old. This was a nostalgic return and it was fabulous. We even stayed a night in a castle. I am showing my pictures to anyone who will look at them. I have now been bitten by the travel bug and I am packed for the next trip, where-ever it may be.
Thank you, Mimi. What a wonderful experience for me and for Pink to be able to share this dedicated woman and her cause. What’s on YOUR bucket list?