Garey follows Lynn Larson, who held the position for two years.
After two years, the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key has a new leader.
Michael Garey, the club’s former vice president, takes over for Lynn Larson, who served as president for two years. He’s a co-chair for the club’s upcoming Lawn Party alongside his wife, Catherine. His journey with the club started 10 years ago when he volunteered as restaurant coordinator for the 2011 Lawn Party.
“I did everything, but I refused to join Kiwanis because I lived in Sarasota and the idea of making a 7:30 a.m. breakfast on a weekly basis did not appeal to me,” Garey said.
Still, he joined the club in 2014 when he first served as chair for the Lawn Party. By then, he said, his duties required too much communication to stay away from full membership. In 2019, club meetings even moved to his restaurant, the Lazy Lobster, when they had nowhere else to go. Now, Garey is all in and has plans both immediate and long term to grow the club. It’s a lot of work, but work he enjoys, he said.
“I think there's a good opportunity to grow Kiwanis, to bring back our Lawn Party and to increase our impact in the community,” Garey said. “ Lynn (Larson), did a tremendous job of getting our club through very difficult times, not the least of which was the COVID crisis. Our club was struggling prior to COVID, and it required strong, dedicated leadership that Lynn provided.”
At the top of Garey’s mind is the Lawn Party, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4. He’s already running full tilt into planning and at his first meeting, provided his club with a three-page plan of the tasks required to pull it off.
87Garey already knows that the event will be held at the Town Center Green, that tickets will cost $75 individually or $600 for a table of 10, that the raffle will be a 50/50 format and that Tsunami Sushi and Apollonia Grill will be two of the presenting restaurants. All proceeds will go towards Children’s Guardian Fund, a Sarasota organization that works with foster children and their guardians and one that Kiwanis has worked with for over a year
“There's pent-up demand for the event, and we are very excited about Children's Guardian Fund as our beneficiary this year, and … it just motivates our club and inspires the whole island,” Garey said. “It inspires not just our club, it inspires the best of us on Longboat Key.”
Looking past the Lawn Party, Garey wants to focus on building membership and getting back to the mission of Kiwanis, which is concentrated on changing the world one child at a time. The regional Kiwanis mission, reiterated at Sept. 2’s meeting by Regional Lieutenant Governor Xavier Colon, is to assist children on both educational and economic levels.
“We're excited to increase our impact in the community,” Garey said. “The best way to do that is to increase our membership, and the best way to do that is to do a good job of selling the joy of volunteering, as well as the friendships and camaraderie that belonging to a good club brings. And it helps if you like to enjoy a good breakfast for about 10 bucks.”
After planning the Lawn Party, Garey hopes to establish events that have gone dormant, such as the pancake breakfast. He wants to move on from scholarships as the primary focus and get back to focusing on younger children in the community.
“I’d like to come up with at least one more significant fundraiser that we can get the proceeds from and help benefit the community,” he said.
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