“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." — William Arthur Ward

Before I sign off on my weekly columns and head to my northern nest, I would like to express a sleigh-load of gratitude on behalf of my fellow Destin snowbirds. It’s hard to know where to begin. However, the tone was set last week at the Destin Snowbird Volunteer Appreciation Dinner where over 100 volunteers filled the Pelican Beach Resort’s banquet room for an evening of fellowship, fabulous food, and a whole lot of fun. Ken Yee of Michigan was recognized as the longest serving volunteer at 23 years.

The mood of gratitude was carried over to the 10 a.m. Tuesday morning meeting where, after an upbeat and incredible performance by the Northwest Florida State Jazz Band, outgoing President Jackie Roberson presented Lisa Firth, manager of the community center and her staff (especially Teresa Howard who made sure we had coffee and donuts at every meeting) a token of our appreciation for making us feel at home in The Roost. We thanked Deputy Kyle Corbitt for safeguarding our security. Finally, a standing ovation and gifts of gratitude were given to Jackie and her husband Terry for an exceptionally successful season. The year ended with a total of 2,177 registered snowbirds.

While handing out gifts of gratitude, we’d like to remember those who made us feel welcomed from the season’s start. Mayor Gary Jarvis, members of City Council and the Chamber of Commerce were on hand to welcome us back to The Roost at last November’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Thank you.

Local talent that included Kim Cannon, Rich McDuff, Jabbo with Krissa then again with The Boys, The Emerald Coast Community Band, Bobby D, David Seering, Todd Herendeen, David Hall, and the NWFSC Jazz Band and visiting performer Crystal Gage gave us a treasure trove of joy and numerous reasons to want to return next season. Thanks to all of you too.

We are also indebted to our generous vendors who have not only housed us, fed us, made us look good and ensured an abundance of invigorating activities, but also donated a plethora of door prizes to make our meetings that much more exciting.

We’d like to thank all the places of worship that opened their doors to include us, and all the medical facilities and first responders who looked after our health and emergencies.

I especially want to thank The Destin Log and the Northwest Florida Daily News. The coverage we receive is always phenomenal. I know that a large number of members get their snowbird information from the newspapers. I have received a lot of compliments on my columns, but few realize how much the editors help to make my words more legible.

Plans are already underway for our return. The gavel has been passed to the 2019/2020 president Ted Spring. Ted called the new board together last Tuesday for a brief meeting to insure a smooth transition and to welcome our new 2nd vice president, Tom Voelkel. Event and activity chairpersons are submitting their commitments to continue their services to the club. Entertainers for the weekly meetings are already booked and vendors are lining up to offer their support. It looks like it’s going to be another extraordinary snowbird season.

Safe travels home and hurry back soon!

Just a reminder: the storage lockers will be available every Saturday in March from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

Mary Pierce, publicity director, is from Toledo, Ohio, and can be reached at 419-250-9377 or destinsbclub.publicity@gmail.com. She will be writing the weekly column for the papers, so if you have something to share, contact her.