Gillian Horsley

Charity Angels...Celebrating Those Who Give of Themselves

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Gillian lives in a world of art and beauty, some of it natural and some of it created. Her Sea Pines home is a sanctuary for everything from butterflies to bunnies and her strikingly lovely art reflects her strong emotional ties to her surroundings. She is a self taught artist among her many other achievements and she paints sailboats that look for all the world as if they are flying and shore birds that seem to float off of the canvas. All of this is wrapped up in a tiny lady topped by a head of flame red hair and a smile that is as big as her heart and love for her faith.

They say that good things come in small packages, and if you sat down for even a few minutes with Gillian Theunissen Horsley, you would surely be convinced that this is a true statement. She is full of talent, life, energy and trust in her deeply held Christian beliefs.

When Gillian and her sailor husband Ted Heintz began to spend more and more time at their Sea Pines home, which by the way, is called No Rush, her choice of organizations to join was one dear to her heart from former locales—The Hilton Head Island Audubon Society. She has been a member of the National Audubon Society for many years.

PINK: Gillian, why the Audubon Society?
Gillian: People sometimes think of the Society as being about birds, but that is not correct. Their mission statement is: “To promote the awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.”  I feel that it is at the local level where one can really make a difference. Wherever I have lived I have sought out fellow birders, as I find we have so much in common. I mean that there is a keen sense of how essential it is to protect and sustain the environment.

I understand your property is a certified Nation Wildlife Preserve and Monarch Way Station.
Gillian: When we first saw our house, Ted casually asked if I would be in charge of the garden. I set about moving the grass at once and planted ground cover and fruit and vegetables, instead. I got loads of Sea Pines mulch and created a bed on the marsh side. My goal was to get the property certified as a National Wildlife Preserve and a Monarch Way Station.  It took 18 months and lots of sweat equity. I was amazed at how well my scattered seeds did. The zinnia seeds I had harvested from our place in Atlanta and the milkweed seeds from the previous year did not get the memo that they should only grow knee high. Some were taller than me and after the monarchs were done, there was not one leaf or flower left on the milkweed!

How did you share that amazing garden?
Gillian: Well, I know that one garden is just a drop in the bucket, so we invited fifty Audubon members to a cocktail party in April to see how easy it is to have an environmentally friendly and sustainable garden. I don’t know how other people’s milkweed and flower gardens did, but one day I counted over 250 monarchs and 230 Gulf Fritillaries and 60 Long Winged Skippers, plus about 80 Citrons. I have also planted about 600 daffodil bulbs, and all in all, we have about 1,000 planted bulbs.

That is amazing! Share more about the Audubon Society.
Gillian: Hilton Head Audubon Society members do so much to help build a sustainable community. This includes the redevelopment of Shelter Cove, the plans for Burkes/Collier Beach, and perhaps, expansion of their survey efforts to Fish Haul, Sea Pines Forest Preserve, and Jarvis Creek Park. They are such a wonderful organization.

I happen to know that you have another gift that you are currently sharing. How did this come about?
Gillian: I am an artist, Judith. I love to paint sailboats and sailing scenes. I have made some of my paintings into what I call Usable Art, which means coasters, napkins, plates, note cards and things like that. To my shock, my efforts are actually selling extremely well. My next collection will feature shore birds and I have dedicated a profit share to, of course, the Audubon Society. There are many ways to give of one’s self are there not?

PINK: What a unique person, and what a giver of her time and talents. My last question to Gillian regarded her so-called “words to live by” and this is what she said:
Gillian: “My late husband was a Quaker. I learned from him to look for that of God in everyone. I believe very strongly that collectively we citizens of this planet hold the keys to our own future. If you think of the world as a jigsaw puzzle with a myriad of pieces, each representing one human being, if one piece were missing, the puzzle would be incomplete. All of the pieces are different shapes, but when connected, they make up this gorgeous world.”

Charity Angels wear many different faces. Giving comes in many different forms. What are YOU doing?  Share with me your own good works or recommend a friend. We love to honor women who give back!