Mask maven: Island resident doing her part to keep community safe

10 April 2020

By Anthony Garzilli

When Paula Traver returned recently from yet another trip to Walmart, the Hilton Head Island resident wasn’t ready to rest. There was so much to be done.

Since last weekend, Traver has spent about 12 hours each day sewing masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Using fabric depicting Batman and the solar system, Traver’s designs originally were just for family, friends and her real estate clients. But late last week her husband Jack went to Grayco wearing one of the masks she made. The mask was a hit at the hardware store and management asked Jack if Paula could make some for its employees. Sure, she said —16 masks shouldn’t be a problem.

Word of the masks spread within the company. When Grayco asked for masks for two of its other stores, 16 turned into 80 and Paula headed back to Walmart. More fabric was needed.

Then the Jazz Corner and Sea Island Landscaping asked for 25 masks, Traver said, and she plans to make 45 to send to Traver IDC, her family’s electric company in Connecticut. About eight businesses had requested masks as of April 8. “It’s been fun,” said Traver, who has lived on Hilton Head Island for 17 years.

With help from her friend Patty Zensinger, who has purchased fabric and helped with cutting and ironing, Traver and Gloria Krolak have done lots of sewing. The 48 different cotton designs include scenes of Paris and two London designs — one of buses and the other depicting a trip around London. Traver says these make her think of her daughter, who lives in London with her husband.

There are plenty of Disney themes, too. And Stars Wars and Trolls. Traver said she is stunned by the demand for her masks. “I was blown away,” she said. “It feels really good to give back.”

Traver said she had never made a mask before, but she watched a few YouTube videos and through trial and error, including five prototypes, she settled on her unique masks.

She includes cleaning instructions (wash every day with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hang dry or dryer) and a note with each mask: This mask was lovingly made for you.

This is not Traver’s first experience helping others during extreme times of need.

In 2001, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Traver and a group from her church in Connecticut traveled on a charter bus to Ground Zero. With help from the General Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Diocese of New York, they brought supplies including masks, shoes and socks, hoping to provide relief for firefighters working at the scene.

The trip was such a success that Traver decided to keep giving. During the next four months she returned frequently to Ground Zero with local fire and police departments and school teachers and brought supplies, fresh sandwiches and good cheer.

This instinct to help in times of crisis came roaring back with the mask project. “I try to get fun fabric that I hope makes people smile,” Traver said. “I just hope to lighten the mood a little. If I can help people smile, that just feels good.”

For more information about her masks, call Traver at 843-247-3728.

Queen of Christmas



On Hilton Head Island, there are parties and there are parties. That second type is the kind that people look forward to all year long. They mark their calendars well in advance, arrange for babysitters, and watch the days roll by as their excitement builds.

Paula Traver’s annual Christmas do is just such a party.

HHM Xmas 005“I love being with my family and my friends, and I am very blessed to have so many wonderful friends down here,” Traver said. Lavishly decorated and boasting a gourmet spread of specially prepared cuisine, her annual shindig’s guest list has grown over the years to well over 100.

Preparations begin the day after Thanksgiving, when Traver and her family pull out Christmas décor that occupies roughly a third of their spacious attic. Then they get to work decking the halls with countless trinkets, wreaths, garlands and seasonal delights, to say nothing of three 12-foot Christmas trees, each with its own theme and colors.

“Every year I mix it up. I have a huge snowman collection that moves from room to room each year,” Traver said. “When the family arrives we have a contest where you count how many snowmen are in the house.”

Last year there were 105 and Traver plans to add more this year. The centerpiece of the whole affair is an 80-piece Christmas village, a beautifully crafted landscape of small-town charm that takes Traver three days to assemble.

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“That’s the biggest labor of love there is,” she said.

Outside, Traver has Branches in the Village at Wexford set the mood with delightful swags and wreaths donning every tree, bush and door.

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“I’m very proud of how the house comes together,” she said. “It takes a lot of time, but it’s all worth it.”

With the stage set, it’s time to welcome the legion of guests who attend. One part cookie swap, one part gift exchange, and several parts old-fashioned festival of cheer, Traver pulls out all the stops for her annual fete.

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The pastries and cookies in the accompanying photos came from Carrie Castano of Custom Confections in Bluffton, and for everything else there’s her family’s own traveling chef, son-in-law Gerrard Ball. The husband of daughter Jillian, he flies in every year from London to oversee the kitchen.

“It’s a British afternoon tea theme, so everything’s authentic,” Traver said. “I have a good team in place and I’m very blessed that the whole family chips in.”

While it’s a team effort, the result is a legendary party that has earned Traver the nickname, “The Queen of Christmas.”

“If my legacy is to be known as the Queen of Christmas, I will wear the tiara proudly,” she said.

Hilton Head Island a Fabulous place to call home!

Catch Paula on HGTV’s “Island Life”!

Catch Paula on HGTV’s “Island Life”!

In case you missed it, you can view the show here!

An active couple is ready to ditch the cold weather of Lake Placid, New York, for the year-round sunshine on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. After spending summers on the island with their family they fell in love with the community, the culture and most importantly, the golf. The search is on for the perfect place to call home.

More Showings:

SUNDAY:  Oct 15

9:30pm | 8:30c

MONDAY:  Oct 16

12:30am | 11:30c

Tune-In to 2 NEW Island Life Episodes with Paula!

Hilton Head Island Hole in One

An active couple is ready to ditch the cold weather of Lake Placid, New York, for the year-round sunshine on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. After spending summers on the island with their family they fell in love with the community, the culture and most importantly, the golf. The search is on for the perfect place to call home.

Upcoming Showings:

SUNDAY:  Oct 15

9:30pm | 8:30c

MONDAY:  Oct 16
12:30am | 11:30c

Heading South to Hilton Head

Matt and Kyle have been living between Philadelphia and New York for years, and the constant traffic and chaos has left them wanting a fresh start. After visiting Kyle’s aunt in Hilton Head, SC, they knew they had found a place where they can enjoy a simpler life by the beach. They’ve decided to make the move south and are looking for the beach home of their dreams.

Upcoming Showings:

SUNDAY:  Oct 22

9:30pm | 8:30c

MONDAY:  Oct 23
12:30am | 11:30c

Paula Johnson Traver Featured on Island Life on HGTV

Paula Johnson Traver Featured on Island Life on HGTV

Last week was the premier of Island Life Hilton Head Island featuring Paula Johnson Traver and first time home buyer Holly Strohm. Holly is a 27 year old Michigan native with a career in hospitality management who wanted to trade her cold winters for warm summers in Hilton Head. Holly enlists the help of her mom Debbie to choose the perfect property with enough room for guests. Tune in to watch Paula help Holly find the right one!

Charles Fraser’s Vision

A great marriage between the environment and progress….

Charles Fraser’s vision of Hilton Head Island has been passed through the decades, and has been envied by developers around the world. When you travel through the United States, almost all resort communities are concrete jungles; Hilton Head Island will remain a timeless masterpiece.

It is impossible for a community like Hilton Head Island to grow and continually prosper if not for the dedication of its people. Without this dedication, the community would fall into the honky-tonk pattern that many seaside communities acquire. This stewardship can be exemplified in the Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee which I am honored to serve on. It is a privilege to work with a group of individuals that are the epicenter for Hilton Head Island’s future. We are charged with representing Hilton Head Island on the local, state and national level. Visits to Columbia, SC to meet with our state representatives and visits to Washington DC to meet with our national representatives keeps the issues of Hilton Head Island on the forefront with our legislators. This type of volunteerism represents the generations of dedicated people that will keep Hilton Head Island as pristine as it was envisioned forty years ago.

Hilton Head Island is a truly blessed place. Every day on Hilton Head, you can experience the beauty of the island and this exceptional eco-system on Hilton Head Island. You can witness bottle-nose dolphins frolicking on the beach.

The marshes on Hilton Head are protected from any type of development allowing hundreds of bird species to flourish here. Clamming and oystering are two other truly exceptional activities to participate in on beautiful Hilton Head Island.

The miles of leisure trails that are entwined through forest preserves, conservancies, and
hilton head real estate neighborhoods are another unusual characteristic of Hilton Head Island. You can navigate the entire island through the trail system.

There are numerous tennis courts scattered throughout Hilton Head. Personally, I take pleasure in participating in my weekly tennis groups; it is a wonderful opportunity to create new relationships with people with a common interest. Many visitors come to Hilton Head strictly for the world-renowned golf courses. On Hilton Head, there are 26 golf courses. The Heritage PGA Golf Tournament takes place each Spring on the world class Harbour Town golf course in Sea Pines Resort. You too can play Harbour Town or one of its two sister courses Ocean or Pete Dye’s newest masterpiece Heron Point in Sea Pines Plantation.

Whether you are into biking, golf, kayaking, sailing, yachting, relaxing, bird watching or any number of the 101 things to do on Hilton Head Island, you will have realized that the true reason you chose Hilton Head Island is because of the people, because without the people, the Grass would not be Greener on Hilton Head Island.

So what are you waiting for…