The Boca Grande Woman's Club enjoyed its most financially resplendent year ever in 2011-12 under the leadership of President Marjorie Webb but she deftly deflects the credit to the entire club.
Created in 1948, the Boca Grande Woman's Club remains vibrant in its 65th year as evidenced by the more than $380,000 gathered and redistributed to island-related causes, scholarships and nonprofits this season.
Webb is prepping her island home for a daughter's November wedding. But she took time out to talk this week about the remarkable Boca Grande Woman's Club.
QUESTION: What Boca Grande Woman's club presidents have been role models for you?
ANSWER: Biggest impact: Mary O'Bannon, JeJe Pierce and Camille Williams. They were presidents a long time ago and their dedication to the Boca Grande Woman's Club has never faltered. They were there day in and day out with the best interests of the Woman's Club at their heart. They have been stalwarts.
Q: Coming off the Great Recession, the Boca Grande Woman's Club gave away a record $380,000 in financial support this season. How?
Marjorie Webb at a glance
Hometown: Long Island, N.Y., then lived 40 years in Connecticut
Occupation: Worked 31 years for Gourmet Magazine
Education: Briar Cliff College in Briar Cliff Manor, N.Y. It's no longer in existence.
Family: Sister living next door to me and two girls and a boy who adore coming to Boca Grande.
Discovered Boca Grande: I looked at many different areas (in 1997) to possibly have a second home and a friend of mine said before you buy a home you might take a look at Boca Grande. You might be that sort of person.
A: We're 320-women strong. We're a completely volunteer organization with no paid employees. We raise the money. We give the money away. All these women have had incredible life experiences. They've had families and great careers and they bring all those bits to what we do on the island.
Q: How do you choose the causes?
A: We had a Grant Day on March 22 and we sent out applications to all the nonprofits on the island for a request for funds. Then we have 15-minute meetings with each of the nonprofits (of course we've already digested what their requirements are), we look at how much money we have to give away and we designate. It's very child-oriented but we gave to practically every nonprofit on the island. We're as close as you get to the United Way on this island.
Q: The Woman's Club steps up in many instances where expensive equipment has failed or grown outmoded. But the 2011 restoration of the audiovisual components in the Boca Grande Community Center was one of the splashiest Woman's Club rescues. It was an exception to the annual giving wasn't it?
A: Movie Night is a big deal for the Boca Grande Community Center. The projector and the sound system died. We had an executive meeting and said, OK, we have $18,000. So we gave that away on top of everything else we gave away last year.
Q: Boca Bargains is one of the cornerstones of the Woman's Club achievements. How did it do this year?
A: Jan (Myers) and Jo Ann (Welch) and their army of volunteers have created this incredible emporium where the entire island and most of the county shop. Everybody finds something there. It's just a miracle of organization and skill.
Q: What's the president's role at the Boca Grande Woman's Club?
A: I think I'm the main cheerleader. I try to make it entertaining and inspiring. Inspiring is a very big word, and I don't think I inspire anybody, but I try to make sure they feel the work is interesting and meaningful.
Q: What are the main sources of the Woman's Club funds?
A: Boca Bargains is a big percentage of it with well over $150,000 per year; the gala, which was enormously successful this year; we had our cookbook, which is pure profit now that we've paid for all our printing costs; and the Island Fair, which is our gift to the community and it manages to turn a profit every year.
Q: Why did you buy a home in Boca Grande in 1997?
A: I looked at many different areas to possibly have a second home and a friend of mine said before you make up your mind, go look at Boca Grande. You might be that sort of person.
Q: What sort of person lives on Boca Grande?
A: Oh, gee. They're not showy.
Q: What convinced you to invest on Gasparilla Island?
A: Coming over that bridge and seeing those three-colors of pure aqua and sandy beaches, I went hmm. It's so evocative of your childhood out of the 1950s with no fast food or high rises, no traffic lights. It was just such a peaceful place.
Q: What's the next big event for the Boca Grande Woman's Club?
A: The next big thing is our gala, Jan. 25, 2013. Our chairs are Sarah Farrish and Camille Williams and the theme is "Jamaican Me Crazy." It should be a high-energy, colorful evening
Q: You've had an outstanding first year in a two-year term. What do you do for an encore?
A: If success is about dollars and cents, absolutely this has clearly been our most successful year. But my idea of success is everybody having a meaningful experience being part of a Woman's Club. Having great speakers, great meetings and volunteer opportunities. My idea of success - and not every member will agree - is that we make a palpable difference on the island and we do some very real good. If we can take care of the real need on this island, I would consider that a great success.
Q: Who follows you as leader of the Boca Grande Woman's Club
A: I'll be succeeded by Hebe Murphy.