Those who have heard me speak will know all too well how I think about my role here in Lakewood Ranch. At LWR 101, I'll typically introduce myself as Executive Director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities, and receive a blank stare.
I then will break the silence by saying "I know, I didn't think it was a job either". That will typically bring on some laughter, while also allowing me to land the punch line. That is, until I took this role almost 3 years ago. I then came to realize how much effort, planning, and teamwork went into making this into the #1 Multi-Generational community in the nation. We take our residents well-being and happiness seriously!
Over the past year, I've personally suffered the worst year of my life. What I'm about to share with you, is that thanks to the power of this COMMUNITY, it's been one fulfilling ride that is just only beginning. Thru the power of our wonderful community groups, volunteers, not for profit organizations, and of course our Board of Directors, we've been able to inject thousands of dollars into our community not for profits, all while continuing to build more lifestyle programming than ever before.
I've mentioned how I find one of the highlights of the year when Santa rides down Main Street in his horse drawn carriage. The looks of joy on the children's faces make me so happy to know I had even 1% to do with making sure his journey from the North Pole made a stop in LWR.
On January 9, we celebrated those who give their time, talent, and treasures to our organization at our Volunteer and Sponsor Appreciation. This was the worst day of my life personally, as I lost my grandmother on this day. Knowing she wouldn't want to impact my job, I then went right to a Board Meeting, and then hosted this event. I ended that evening knowing that I had an entire community behind me, and owed it to each and every one of them to honor them that day. I slept with a heavy heart, but a full one, knowing how everyone comes together to help a fellow rancher.
In February, we then hosted a new event, a Community Campout. Being someone who never camped, this was an adventure. We took the photo above with many members of the team, and it's sat as a reminder that together, #WEARELWR.
In March, our Annual Irish Celtic Festival raised thousands to support SUGAR, whoops mission is to help us teach children the power of philanthropy via giving back, even children as young as age 5. When we can have fun while doing good, we are at our best!
There's so many people that have a small part of making this such a great community, and I want to take a moment to thank those who I spend the most time with on a regular basis, for helping to make this the best place on the planet. Thank you, firstly, to our amazing Board of Directors - Jen, Carlene, Karen, Michelle, Monaca, Lisa, Rachel, Jen, Tom, and Larry. Thank you to all of our community volunteers, business sponsors, vendors, logistics providers, and neighbors. Thank you to everyone at Cowork who brightens my day each day I come to work - Eleni, Stef, Ashley, Margaret, Kendall to name a few. Thank you to my friends and family, near and far, for being my support system when I needed you the most.
And most importantly, thank you to Lakewood Ranch - for letting me be a part of your community, making it my home now for almost 10 years, and again - we're just getting started. I can't wait to see where 2020 and beyond take us as a community, and look forward to getting there together.