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Q&A with BIG ARTS board member Mary Buck

By Staff | Dec 11, 2009

Mary Buck is one of those people who you feel you have known all your life. She has an instant smile for everyone – friend or stranger.

She can be spotted working at BIG ARTS.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. I earned my undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. and my master’s degree from the University of Connecticut. Connecticut was always home until we moved to Florida in 1994. We still have family there and return to Long Island Sound every summer.

What brought you to Sanibel?

My husband and I came to Sanibel to visit close friends who spent their winters here. We fell in love with the island and with the encouragement of our friends, one rainy day we went off looking at condos and submitted a bid. Much to our surprise, when we returned to Connecticut, we found out that our bid was accepted and we had in fact purchased a condo.

What do you

appreciate most about Sanibel?

I’m a people person and genuinely enjoy the diversity and friendliness of our island residents and tourists; the wonderful weather, the multitude of activities, and the different ways we all volunteer to make a contribution to the community. Plus, I like island living.

We heard you enjoyed a successful career in development and fundraising. Can you share a little bit about what you did and where you worked?

My entire professional career was spent at the University of Connecticut. I was originally hired as a grant writer and when the University initiated a major gifts campaign, I was in the right place at the right time. Meeting people, determining their interests and then matching their interests with the University’s needs was an association of pleasure. As a senior Development Officer, my last 10 years were spent raising major capital gifts for the University from alumni in the State of Florida. It was the ideal job since I could live and work from our island home.

Word on the street is that you are involved with BIG ARTS. What do you do at BIG ARTS?

Word on the street is correct…I love BIG ARTS and all it offers to the island in cultural, educational and social opportunities. As Vice President of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Development Committee, I’m responsible for membership, sponsorship, planned giving, the Annual Benefit and all major fund raising events. It takes a team effort to make it all happen and I work very closely with our very competent staff and a group of dedicated BIG ARTS volunteers.

Why do you volunteer for BIG ARTS?

Part of the reason for volunteering is that I live on the island and I want to do something that makes the island even better and BIG ARTS is my choice for doing that. It provides a wide array of activities and pleasure for our island residents music, dance, theater, poetry, and art and opportunities for sculpting, painting and even Italian.

How can someone volunteer for BIG ARTS?

Walk into our office on Dunlop Road and ask for Wendy Harriman, our Volunteer Coordinator. There are many different ways that someone can contribute to the BIG ARTS experience, meet people and have fun. You can tell Wendy if you have something particular in mind or she will help you determine where your strengths best fit everything from answering phones to collecting tickets to serving food to parking cars. We have something for everyone!

You seem so fit and trim. Any special health secrets?

My special health secret is the wonderful Rec Center that is available to all of us. I work out three to four times a week taking advantage of all the special classes that are offered. I also try to watch what I eat and what Ray (aka my husband) eats.

What do you when you are not at BIG ARTS?

I belong to a very special group of island friends who meet weekly to talk Italian. Our language skills are such that we spend two hours totally immersed in the language, culture and food (we take turns meeting at each other’s home and prepare wonderful Italian specialties) as part of our enjoyment of all things Italian.

I also having a standing date every two weeks with my friend Tanya. We are avid Scrabble players, enjoy learning new words and challenge ourselves to collectively score at least 700 points or more per game.

What is one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to learn about you?

My close friends call me “Principessa” (italian for princess) because I love clothes and enjoy getting all dressed up, no matter what the occasion. Truth be known, Principessa is not known for working in the garden but rather for having manicures!

What are your long/short-term goals?

My short term goal is to have a successful Campaign Membership Drive. We need to spread the word that BIG ARTS is the place to be and we want everyone to be a part of it . My long-term goal is to raise enough money to ensure quality programming while keeping ticket prices as low as possible.

You seem to be one of those upbeat sorts who smiles when they answer the phone. Any secrets to your sunny outlook?

Life is good we live on a beautiful island and my husband brings me coffee in bed every morning.