The day I thought I never would REALLY see is coming. Don and Judy Bennett are leaving Lakeland.
Both Don and Judy have played such a role in my life in Lakeland that I can't imagine what it will be like without them. Not near as interesting or informational, I can tell you that!
My first contact was when my resume was released to the public. I quickly heard from Don about Lakeland and he added me to the QNet list and kept me advised with personal E-mails on various events in Lakeland.
One of my first memories of Lakeland is Don bringing me a "welcome plant". He did it while riding a bicycle and I never have figured out how he did it! (The plant is still alive and well, and will remind me of Don and Judy for the years ahead!)
Don and Judy were always active in my life in Lakeland and I learned to respect their opinions and beliefs, sometimes I agreed, sometimes not, but I always invited and welcomed their input.
Of her many contributions, perhaps Judy's most important contribution was her continuing sponsorship of "Leadership Lakeland". While going through the files, I found a memo from Judy several years before she became a Commissioner recommending a "Leadership Lakeland" program.
This year, Judy and Commissioner Stephanie Anderson made the dream become alive, and the first class of Leadership Lakeland graduated! This is a program which will have lasting impact on the future of Lakeland. The development of effective leaders is of overwhelming importance and this will have a lasting impact on Lakeland.
Late July, Don and Judy will say goodby to Lakeland. Mayor Carmichael has set 6:00 p.m., Thursday, July 7, 2005 as a time to say goodby and goodluck to Don and Judy. There will be a short reception in their honor at 6:00 p.m., just before the Board of Commissioners meeting.
In true Don and Judy fashion, both Don and Judy have remained active until they load the truck to move to New Mexico. Both Don, as Chair of the MPC, and Judy, as a City Commissioner, have remained, and I am sure will remain, active until they get into their car and wave goodby to Lakeland.
Lakeland is losing some valuable resources, as well as residents and friends. If you get a chance over the next month, tell Don and Judy how you feel about their contributions to Lakeland.