Florida Keys Weekly

3 years ago
How Did You Get So Involved?

Take a cue from these leading ladies and start volunteering or participating on a non-profit board. Pick a cause you care about. Left to right are First State Bank CEO Karen Sharp, Joy Wilson, Charlotte Quinn, and TIBs Renee Gilbert board members of the American Cancer Society

The questions I field, or opt not to (since I was taught in my ripe 20s to ignore stalkers), from the messages sent via my Facebook account every week cover an ocean of topics.

Can my daughter interview you?

What’s your address? I’d like to send you my salsa recipe and a coffee cup.

Have you ever speared a Grouper?

My wife and I are coming there to dive, where is the best place to stay and can you recommend an operation?

Hey, it’s your cousin. I’m tired of the cold. Is there a principal position open down there?

But, there was one that came across this week from Greg Garcia in San Bruno, California I thought was worth sharing:

I was looking at all of your pics and wondered how you got so involved with charity work?

 I had to answer this inquiring gent from the west coast; and hopefully in the process, I can inspire some of you to make our community a better place to live, vacation and do business.

I simply chose a career and wrapped my aspirations around being able to be part of the community and have an impact working with causes that were beyond the scope of my own existence. I choose to hone my skills in media with the ambitions to be asked to roll up my sleeves and pitch in and help make the community in which I live a better, more cohesive place.

Most recently, those ambitions had me sweating it out at the Police Athletic League gym while Naval Air Station Executive Director Ron Demes, city engineer Birch Ohlinger and about 12 others performed a “disaster clean-up.”

I can’t tell you how many times I mumbled, “I don’t like getting dirty…”

Money and a prestigious title have never been at the forefront for me. However, charity work did move me on the fast track in my career. My boss stood in front of his office and scanned the room back in my formative years and brought me out to garage where all of the news trucks were parked.

“I field more public appearance requests for you than any other person in this place,” he observed. “We’re promoting you, and if we keep fielding the phone calls for your dog to lead a parade, he’s getting 401k plan.”

I had colleagues who wouldn’t help out with any local causes, rationalizing, “I’m not getting paid. Why should I?”

Their careers never catapulted to the next level. They were left feeling unfulfilled, and often asked, “Why? Why am I not successful?”

Tack Stock in Children, Rotary and the are just three organizations Newspapers recommends to all newbies who have packed their U-hauls and moved to the Florida Keys in search of a better life.

This is where you start to become part of an organization that has a wider reach than anything you can accomplish alone. These organizations are where the leaders, the movers and shakers converge. These ladies and gents are able to point you in the right direction to find a cause that best suits your ideals.

In fact, a new gentleman joined in our chamber meeting this week at Louie’s Backyard and said, “I believe in the Chamber and what the organization does for the community. How it’s designed to promote every aspect of Key West, and it gets me out meeting people when otherwise I’d be holed up in an office.”

Here are a few names I’m going to toss out if you’re interested. Find them online or add them as a friend on Facebook.

Sarah Cizmas –

Kelly Astin- Islamorada

Mary Lou Hoover- Key West

Billy Davis- Key West

Mike Puto- Marathon

Matt and Carolyn Anthony- Marathon

Daniel Samess – Marathon

Ed Kokonis- Islamorada

Esther Tupino- Key West

Greg Sullivan- Key West

Ron Demes, NASKW

Holly Merrill- Key Largo

Margie Smith – Islamorada

And of course, you can always contact me, Jason, Kate, Blair or Lesley!

I hope this answers your question.

♦ End
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