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And the Crowd Went Wild

And the Crowd Went Wild

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners meeting was filled to the rafters last week and it caused me to wonder what had prompted the large turnout.

I was there to support an agenda item relating to a partnership between the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the County but I knew that the crowd had not assembled on account of that matter.

My first thought was I had overlooked a heated or controversial issue on the agenda.  Many times when a BOCC meeting is packed with citizens and county staff it is an indication of topic requiring much public comment and discussion.

I asked a few people around me if they were part of this crowd but they too were perplexed by the masses.

It didn’t take long for my mystery to be solved as the Commissioners moved quickly to the topic that had garnered so much attention.  The anniversary celebrations of Lee County employees.

This is not a novel idea- many companies acknowledge team anniversaries, but what struck me was the wide spread support and enthusiastic mood of this celebration.  The crowd was not there to debate or discuss, but rather to cheer.  The Commissioners and the Lee County administration were not  just going through the motions handing out 5, 10, 15 and 25 year pins, but rather were fully engaged in recognizing the employees.

One by one the public servants made their way down the Commission Chamber aisle towards the dais. As their names and departments were announced loud and energetic cheers rose from their friends, families and colleagues.  They were greeted with pats on the back, smiles and congratulatory handshakes.  It had a bit of a red carpet feel as photographers captured shots of the honorees as they made their way toward the receiving line.

Family members of one of the 25 year recipients were sitting just ahead of me and they were bursting with pride as their loved ones’ names were announced as the employee made his/her way forward to accept a pin.  Suddenly I found myself becoming emotional. I came to the meeting for a business issue and was now moved to tears.

Animal Control, Human Services, Public Safety, Waste Management, Parks and Recreation were just a few of the departments represented and it struck me that the people being honored had played a major role in our community, most had committed well over a decade to me and the  other residents of Lee County.

In the world of philanthropy we often talk about private/public partnerships between government and the private and charitable sectors to create a vibrant community, but we can easily lose sight of the men and women who work tirelessly day in and day out to carry out those projects.  Those days turn into years, decades and careers and our community owes them a debt of gratitude.

As soon as the ceremony was over, most of the room cleared and the agenda moved ahead, but I knew all of the cheering section and honorees were back at work making a difference in Lee County and for that I am so grateful.  Keep up the great job.

If your team has a special way of acknowledging employees or volunteers for their service I would love to hear from you at [email protected]

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More