Left: Gina Sowders, District senior land specialist, dressed as a bag of jelly beans during a bake sale to help a fellow employee. Top right: Employees have a blast participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Bottom right: Members of the employee committee show off their greenery during this year’s Mother’s Day plant sale.
If you’ve ever noticed signs posted around the District promoting an employee activity, such as the recent Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids’ Sake or plant sale, chances are the employee committee was involved in planning it.
The District’s employee committee was formed more than 25 years ago as an informal group to plan employee picnics and holiday parties.
Since then, the committee has grown to do much more. The committee coordinates at least two social events a year. They also organize benevolent activities throughout the year and provide a snack to new employees following orientation.
“The employee committee is there to bring staff together through activities and by providing a sense of community,” said JoAnne Rehor, current committee member and outgoing chair.
To fund activities such as employee appreciation days and holiday lunches, the committee holds fundraisers and recycles aluminum cans at the District. A portion of the proceeds from the vending machines is also designated for the employee committee. All of these funds go into the committee’s “Sunshine Fund,” which may also be used to assist employees who come to the committee for help in times of need.
The committee supports a variety of benevolent activities throughout the year. Examples include the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the Bowl for Kids’ Sake, care packages for troops overseas, holiday food drives and other holiday charitable efforts. This year’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake teams raised $3,758 for the 7th annual fundraising event of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which serves Citrus, Hernando and Pinellas counties. The committee also organizes the annual senior staff auction and provides guidance to departments that may want to hold a fundraiser for a co-worker experiencing adversity.
The committee is composed of a representative from each department. Primary and alternative representatives are either chosen by their director or volunteer to serve on the committee each year from June until May.
The most important thing for employee committee representatives is to relay information back to their departments.
“The key to success is an active representative who lets co-workers know about the opportunities out there,” said Rehor. “People can’t participate in an activity if they don’t know what’s going on.”
Officers are elected annually and begin their terms in June. Tammy Antoine is the incoming chair. Other officers include Darlene Johnson, vice chair; Donna Brooks, treasurer; Toi Basso, financial secretary; Yassert Gonzalez, secretary; and Phyllis Young, assistant secretary. Joyce Morra is the benevolent coordinator.
The committee’s mission is to “promote a positive work environment with an atmosphere of high morale and productivity.” In an effort to do that, the committee is always looking at new things staff may be interested in doing or new ways to get people involved.
To share their thoughts, District employees should contact their department’s employee committee representative to get their ideas on the monthly meeting agenda so they can be shared with the committee. Employees are also asked to respond to the committee’s periodic email surveys so their voices can be heard.