Thank you, friends, for a purr-fect first year as Black Tie Reporter.
First and foremost, I’m sorry about the cat pun, but you know it had to happen.
Second, how have I already been here a year?
They say time flies when you’re having fun, so I guess that’s how.
This time last year I was looking at this job listing thinking, “Hey, this could be a fun job to do for a year or two,” not knowing that Sarasota — the events, people and organizations — would change my life in ways I never thought possible.
So, where to start?
I would like to make it known I have mastered the art of 1: Spotting co-chairs in a crowd of people; 2: Meandering through a thick crowd, camera and bags in hand (in a year, I only accidentally made someone spill their drink once, so working on making that zero for this season); and 3: Not eating every dessert I see, even though they always look delicious.
All the while, I was covering events focused on doing good for our community and, in some cases, the world (looking at you, Share Care Global and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium).
Before I arrived here, philanthropy meant writing a check to a local animal shelter or church at the end of the year for taxes.
That’s not the case here.
I now look at giving back as a way of life. The time, resources and passion that go into not only the events I cover, but the nonprofits that host them is inspiring. Being around this environment day in and day out makes me want to do better, be better and do all I can. I find myself wanting to volunteer, donate, join committees and tour nonprofit campuses, even though you all keep me busy during season.
I covered 233 events during my first year here, took thousands upon thousands of photos, and made so many memories along the way. I remember being so nervous to cover my first big evening event — The Hospital Gala — and searching my closet for hours wondering what would be appropriate to wear to my first-ever black-tie affair. Then came the Circus Arts Conservatory Gala. It was one of my first events with an entertainment factor, and I think my jaw might still be on the floor of the Ulla Searing Big Top after seeing those performances.
Soon after, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center Inc. hosted its annual luncheon and fashion show, SPARCCle on the Runway. That event was a turning point for me, because it made me realize how much I truly love being the Black Tie reporter. The shopping, the fashion show and being seated at an event for the first time made it all come together for me. As one of my beloved friends on the scene told me, I no longer looked like “a deer in the headlights.”
Then there was Pique Nique, Paws on the Catwalk, Firefly, CANDance, and so many more. The more events I covered, the more of you I was lucky enough to get to know. Thank you to everyone who has gone above and beyond for me and helped me get through my first social season. I couldn’t have done it without you.
So see you soon, friends. Season — and my second year on the Black Tie beat — is already rockin’ and rolling. Let’s make this community an even better place.