Edie Tall, Founder Ibis Cultural Association, 2016
Over ten years ago, we moved from Boston to escape the winters and enjoy our retirement. Settling into Ibis, where we knew only one couple, my puzzle was, "What am I going to do with the rest of my life?" Restarting with a new career was neither viable nor attractive. We are not golfers, tennis players or card players.
There was a notice posted asking for members who wanted to get together to develop a member art show. After attending the meeting, I called the Social Director to inquire about starting any activities for those of us who were interested in cultural functions. She suggested my contacting the House Committee. They were not only receptive, they jumped at my suggestion of developing a cultural program. A group of us put together a list of activities and advertised for people to attend a meeting to discuss the possibilities. We developed a survey to uncover the interests, experiences, talents, preferences and dreams for adding cultural activities to our beautiful Ibis surroundings. The survey was placed in every Ibis mailbox.
The response was fantastic. Talents, skills, interests, requests, willingness to participate, and dreams of adding to our lifestyle were all expressed. At the first meeting of the volunteer organizers, lists were made of potential beginnings. We agreed to start small with the intent of finding like-minded people to meet, learn, enjoy, and grow our interests. Large numbers were not the goal, but common interests were. (and still are!)
With ideas and talent, we needed leaders and members who would offer their time and energy to building a multifaceted interest group. The majority of respondents to the survey were interested in music, theater, all forms of the arts, trips off campus and cooking, all of which provided the basic skeleton of our organization.
One person had been an opera singer. We convinced her that she could lead a group of people who wanted to sing for fun. Our thought was that there must be people who had, over their adult lives, played an instrument, or sang in a group. Soon we had The Ibis Singers, who now consist of over 30 singers and the Ibis Musicians, including over 20 instrumentalists. A woman came forward who had directed plays and been a comedienne on Broadway. She is now directing our Ibis Actors' Workshop. Skilled organizers arranged trips to museums, concerts, theaters, and even The Everglades. Our skilled cooks developed a program, Ibis Cooks, with demonstrations in people's homes. That expanded like rising dough into The Refined Palate, with fine dining being prepared cooperatively and shared in small groups. A wonderful way to meet new people! A small group of photographers gathered and now represent an organization of over 50 members, with outstanding shows, classes and photo shoots. Our Writer's Group has both new writers, published writers and those who cherish the camaraderie of like-minded folks. We have Knitting Classes, Knitting for Charity, Volunteer Fairs, Language Classes, a Film Series, followed by thought provoking discussions and much more.
As the calendars flipped their pages over the last 9 years, additional ideas were planted and have grown to include new topics, new members, new events, requests, and most importantly interests. Last season close to 5,000 people attended our series of 19 activity venues, all lead by volunteer members, with the cooperation of the Club staff and the devotion of over 20 Committee Chairpersons.
This current season, a request came to us for a Garden Club. An experienced gardener stepped forward and developed a new group that is planning visits to exotic gardens, demonstrations, as well as tours of the gardens homes within our walls.
The list goes on, as we look forward into the soon to be newly-remodeled Clubhouse, where the Ibis Cultural Association will have its own dedicated room, providing a classroom for painting, lectures, films, meetings space, and plenty of room to grow.
The past has proven that dedication and hard work is a two way street. Those who donate their time and energy receive in return, as much, if not more, than they have given.
The Future of the ICA is Ours! We are thrilled to have achieved and accomplished something that we are very proud of. Come meet us, bring your interests, your ideas, and participate in our growth as well as yours.