There is always at least a little time for the fun stuff.
And, as I have often found, when fun stuff arrives it often comes wrapped in lessons about passion for community and civic stewardship that are hiding in plain sight.
Last week offered up several examples.
One would be the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes.
Less than three years ago this group of local ladies with a love for a particular dice game decided to roll for books.
The idea was to attract as many Bunco players as possible to a day of cubes and food.
Everybody would pay a small amount for the fun and the money collected would be donated to the Friends of the Port St. Joe Library.
At the time, I had no idea what Bunco was beyond what Sgt. Friday taught me during his frequent excursions with the Bunco squad on Dragnet.
In order not to date myself too much, let’s say I learned this while watching reruns of Dragnet.
In any case, until meeting with the Reid Avenue Babes the concept of Bunco conjured up all manners of vice.
As for the game, I hadn’t a clue and still don’t. Anything more complicated that checkers is beyond me.
But the library was certainly in need.
This community asset was having its budget slashed as governments constrained on spending and so many perks of the library, magazines, newspapers, books on CD, entertainment DVDs, depended on the margin between fully-funded and cash shortfalls.
That is where the Friends of the Library come in.
The Bunco Babes decided they could assist the library’s mission with planned play-dates and hoped that the concept would find suitable traction.
Many times, such noble ideas die over time due to lack of attention; we have certainly seen our shair.
But nearly $10,000 and six fundraisers later, the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes are going strong.
With nary a desire for the spotlight – just try getting them all to pose for one photo.
The library has more offerings, can allow visitors to check out more books on CD or DVDs, favorites among snowbirds, than ever before.
In turn, the library, despite cutting hours as a result of those budget shortfalls, has become even more of an asset, with membership, computer use, books on loan and other numbers on an upward arc.
The Reid Avenue Bunco Babes have become bricks to the foundation of the Port St. Joe Public Library, their twice-a-year fundraisers the mortar to constructing a better, more useful library.
At this juncture, it would be impossible to move on without a mention of Cathy Colbert and the Friends of the Port St. Joe Public Library.
Colbert is a tireless advocate of the library and her community, a smiling presence whether in the classroom – where she to teach even after passing retirement age – or in the community.
She is a picture of grace, charm and a marvel of thanks whenever the Bunco Babes come around with their checks, unfailing in her generosity towards the Babes’ efforts and ability to work so tirelessly for the library.
And among the ranks of those Bunco Babes is Dana Boyer, named the Volunteer of the Year by the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce last week.
Calling Boyer the Volunteer of the Year, however, seems almost an understatement.
Last year, with the Board of County Commissioners and Port St. Joe City Commission in a bit of kerfuffle regarding paying for the annual Fourth of July fireworks show in the city, Boyer took the baton and sped ahead.
She began a private-sector fundraising campaign and even in a tight economy her efforts secured more than $6,000 in contributions. A fireworks display that is a community staple was transformed from a dud to cracker jack.
Last fall, the annual Ghosts on the Coast Halloween celebration was endangered, with the Chamber and many small businesses wondering whether the expense and energy of the event was worthwhile.
Boyer was undaunted.
Ghosts on the Coast, she said, was a tradition, something residents marked on their calendars each year.
And Boyer defines that old maxim about wills and ways.
She solicited support among the small-business community and launched a campaign for candy donations so those businesses would not feel they were bearing the brunt of the expense for an event from which others derived so much.
No seeking of public or personal glory, no desire for honorifics or monetary gain.
Just a passion to improve the community, to maintain the fabric of that community wherever fraying appeared, to continue the traditions that help define that community.
There is a popular cliché characterizing governmental actions that benefit multiple parties, agreements that carry mutual satisfaction of goals reached.
In folks like the Reid Avenue Bunco Babes, Cathy Colbert and Dana Boyer the community is fortunate to have people who see, in almost any situation, a win-win direction.