The beginning? Well, I guess you can say the fall of 2005 was the beginning of the beginning. There was “some sorta” before that and it really truly began after that, but yeah, let’s go with the fall of 2005. Because it was then that I joined the 2005-06 class of LEEdership Sanford and met the people who would get me hooked on what became a passion for me – Communities In Schools of Lee County. It was also the beginning of a lot of really great friendships!
The “some sorta before” relates to why I had an interest in considering CIS. The place I work has had a long partnership with CIS and for some years prior to the fall of 2005, I was involved on a small level in volunteering for CIS through work – tutoring, reading to kids on my lunch break, collecting stuff for the Teacher Resource Room, etc.
Then, my boss and our plant manager recommended me for the LEEdership Sanford class that year. I was a little reluctant, but agreed. And, I’m so glad I did – I really enjoyed every part of LEEdership Sanford. I learned a LOT about the community I had lived in for 20 years, but really wasn’t overly engaged in. I met so many wonderful people, especially my class mates – many of whom are still good friends.
Through that amazing experience, I met Alison, who was the Executive Director of CIS at the time. Alison and I became friends and she recruited me and a few of our other class mates to join her Board of Directors. I was planning to ask her how to get more involved in volunteering, but didn’t quite plan to jump in with both feet! I had never been on a board before and didn’t know what to expect. But, Alison and the other wonderful board members made it easy!
I spent my first year learning the ropes as Program Committee Chair and fell in love! I told Alison when she signed me on that I would work hard for her, but to not expect me to be good at asking for money or organizing fundraisers! But, that was also the first year CIS held a major fundraiser – the very first Gala event and I assumed the role of Gala Chair and got thrown into the world of fundraising BIG TIME! It was so successful — the biggest and most elegant event Sanford had ever seen! It was a huge effort on the part of many people and I was so proud to be a part of it all!
Because of my work on the Program Committee and the Gala, I was asked to agree to being nominated for the position of Board Chair. I really didn’t think I was ready for that responsibility, but Alison and the board thought I was, so I agreed. And that was the beginning of a three-year run as Board Chair.
This past week was the end of that run……..after a lot of ups and downs – three successful Gala events, the economy hitting us with both barrels, almost having to shut down, multiple employee changes, and our coming back with a vengeance with the amazing Dancing with the Lee County Stars event last year – I have turned the role over to a new Chair who will be amazing and bring a whole new perspective to the organization! I thought long and hard about resigning from the board altogether, but I couldn’t do that – I have too much of my heart and soul in it. But, it was time for a change – both for me and the organization.
But that isn’t the end…….it is the beginning! I’ll continue on as a very active board member and am looking forward to great things to come! I am excited about being a part of the newly formed Public Relations and Marketing Committee and the chance to work with the person that was appointed as Chair for that committee. I have come to love that part of the work I’ve done with CIS the most and am really anxious to learn all I can about how to best promote and market this great organization!
The organization is going through new beginnings, as well — earlier this year, CIS-National rolled out a new logo and we started using it recently. It is so cute and a lot more representative of what we do in the community.
The old logo:
The new logo:
They also rolled out a new Mission Statement:
The old Mission Statement: “Helping Kids Stay in School and Prepare For Life.”
The new Mission Statement: “Empowering Students to Stay in School and Prepare For Life.”
Locally, we have a new Executive Director who I’m sure will raise the bar and do some amazing things for the organization! And, last but not least….for now….we are a little over a month away from the Second Annual Dancing with the Lee County Stars event! August 13 — Dennis A Wicker Civic Center! Visit our website at www.dancingwiththeleecountystars.com for more info!
It was a great three years and I am extremely proud of what we all accomplished together — but there are so many wonderful things on the horizon that I know it will be just a drop in the bucket of great memories associated with CIS!
Oh, and by the way – if you ever get the opportunity to be a part of the LEEdership Sanford program, I highly recommend it! If all you get out of it is the friends you make, it is so well worth it!