Britt Riner opens up about her reasons behind volunteering and her passions for education, veterans and getting women involved in the community.
Raised in Sarasota, Britt Riner has learned a lot about giving back from her parents: Her father served as a green beret in the Vietnam War and her mother was a public school teacher in Sarasota County for 34 years. Riner discusses how her background has inspired her volunteerism and her passions for education, veterans and getting women involved in the community.
I think that age-old adage “to those whom much is given, much is expected” holds true with me. Growing up in Sarasota County and getting to go to these incredible schools and being a daughter of people with such missioned careers has profoundly shaped me. I want to pay it back, and I don’t want to wait to do that because we don’t know how much time we have and I want to make that time count.
The Junior League recently adopted Pineapple and Palm avenues, and we do a quarterly cleanup. We had our first cleanup about a month ago and we were wearing these bright neon yellow shirts for safety reasons, had on our latex gloves and we picked up trash all morning.
I think this generation of women is more about caring women who come together to assist their community not just through fundraisers and events, but with their own hands and feet.
I remember a business trip when a colleague told me about Honor Flight and that there was a movie about it. I was on business in Seattle and it was rainy and gray, so I watched it. My life was changed that night.
I took it home to my husband and said this is a fundraiser that sends veterans from local communities to see their memorials in Washington, D.C. Both of our grandfathers had served in WWII, but they had already passed so it was too late for them.
This was an opportunity to serve other people’s grandfathers as well as a way for me to live out a little bit of my mission about not forgetting the generations that served before the present one. We started by sending two guys to go in place of our grandfathers.
We started by sending two guys to go in place of our grandfathers and I signed up to be a guardian on that trip. By the second trip, I started doing some Facebook photojournalism and a friend of mine, Melissa Howard, saw my posts and said we need to spread the word about this. I really credit her vision for making our efforts for our past mission, Mission 22, even happen, because without her vision we would have not raised more than $30,000 that almost paid in full a flight of veterans to go to D.C. We also recruited about 40 more guardians, which is really substantial because they can’t ask the same people to accompany every time.
There was a gentleman on this last Honor Flight trip who was telling me that every time he drives by the Unconditional Surrender statue, it means so much to him. He had prepared the field for the Enola Gay to take off — this guy had surveyed the field for the plane that essentially ended the war to take off. I was thinking he must have this deep, profound thought every time he drives by the statue, so I asked. He sat back in his chair and said “what a lucky guy that was.” It was a realization that one of the secrets to a long life is a sense of humor.
I’ve learned how hard it is to do the work. You have to give things time to take root and grow. Anything worth doing is going to be hard, but it’s worth it. We live in such an immediate gratification generation that we expect things to come quickly, and they aren’t always going to.