After Hurricane Irma, Rev. Debra Andrew Maconaughey, the Reverend Canon and Rector of St. Columba really stepped up for the community – first by opening the church’s doors for incoming supplies, and then by housing community members who lost everything. “Our parish strives to be a strong partner in the community so I am involved in all different kinds of endeavors,” she said.
Regionally, she is president of the Board of Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of Southeast Florida, which offers an opportunity to network with many different nonprofits and charities.
Locally, she celebrates with her congregation, conducts services on Sundays and during the week, presides at weddings and funerals, helps people in crisis, and welcomes people to the community.
And the list continues: she helps at The Hammock House and the Nearly New Thrift Boutique and the church’s Five Dollar Bag Sale; she helps to coordinate The Florida Keys Celtic Festival; and is honored to serve as the president of the KAIR and Independence Cay boards. “KAIR and Independence Cay offer a consistent and tangible way to help people in our local community and I get to work with wonderful people,” she said. “I like helping.”
The Keys reminded her of the small town she grew up in in New England, after moving here with her husband Kirk to Ramrod Key after she finished seminary school. “He basically said he was going to miss me if I stayed in Virginia, so I made the move and have loved it since the first day.”
She and Kirk share two basset hounds, Layla and Charlie, and have four grown children. “Isabel, a graduate of Marathon High School, studied under Chef Green and the wonderful Culinary Arts Program at MHS,” she said. Her daughter attended Johnson and Wales and is now working at Victoria and Albert’s at Disney World. They also have two grandchildren, Leonardo and Kristina, whom they love to dote over. Her parents, Tom and Ruth, also live in Marathon, “And, my mom is a big fan of Publix,” she said.
Nickname? Rev. Deb
One fun fact about you? I want to learn how to play the xylophone.
What’s the most rewarding project you’ve worked on? St. Columba Workforce Housing Corporation and the building complex at 1655 Overseas Highway and organizing eyeglass clinic projects in Madagascar and Southern Sudan.
Following Hurricane Irma, what are some of the projects St. Columba worked on to get the community back on its feet? From money donated to the church, we quickly rented and purchased 22 travel trailers to house residents in the church parking lot. We operated a distribution center for the 25 truckloads of goods that came down from the mainland. We helped purchase and repair several boats in Boot Key Harbor. We opened a mission center and housed more than 1,000 volunteers who came to help in the Keys. We prepared and served breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Vulnerable Persons Shelter that was located at the Guidance Care Day Center. We acted as advocate for the community with FEMA (the best we could). We had a volunteer crew that helped people remove debris from their homes and yards.
What’s the biggest take-away from the hurricane? The coming together of all kinds of groups and people to help one another. That when people work together, any challenge can be overcome.
What does success look like? Preparing to hold the 6th annual Florida Keys Celtic Festival, which helps fund The Hammock House and free after-school and free summer camps which have been helping families in the Middle Keys since 2011.
Proudest achievement? In my personal life, my family. In my professional life, getting ordained and serving as the rector of St. Columba Episcopal Church, creating The Hammock House, Free After School and Camp Program, and the Florida Keys Celtic Festival.
What was your first job? I had a summer job as an A&W carhop … and one time a customer asked me to run away and join the carnival, which I did not do.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating … who walks in and sits next to you? Denzel Washington, and we order a beautiful plate of salmon with a glass of pinot grigio.
Favorite Keysy thing to do? Drive on Overseas Highway.
Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? Wonder Woman.
What would your superpower be? Super-speed.
Best piece of advice you ever received? Just show up, don’t be afraid and do your best.
What is your nerdiest passion? Polishing items for the Nearly New Thrift Boutique.
If you could take one item on a deserted island, what? why? My cellphone and a solar charger. You can get news, read a book, and talk on the phone.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Watching public television crime series
If you could change the world, what would you do? Convince people that we live in a world of abundance, and if we just shared, there would be more than enough for everyone.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to? I love to go on mission and pilgrimage trips, I think Uganda, Ireland and Iona in Scotland have been my favorites.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be creative and in charge.
Finish these sentences…
My parishioners would describe me as … a juggler.
My autobiography would be titled … “I have a great idea.”
I live by the motto … OK, let’s try it.