Q&A with Sanibel Community House’s Gloria Baker
Gloria Baker has been a mainstay at the Sanibel Community House for more than five years. Her enthusiasm for the community can be seen on the smiling faces of residents singing silly songs during Karaoke or sharing camaraderie during the Community House’s Thanksgiving event. We wanted to catch up with Baker as she is retiring from her manager position at the Community House later this month.
Where did you spend your childhood?
I spent my childhood in NE Wisconsin, the destination for more winter than anybody needs!
What brought you to Sanibel?
My reason in coming to Sanibel; a pitstop vacation that turned into buying a house before I left the island and I hate winter.
What is your favorite thing about living on the islands’?
My favorite thing about Sanibel is that 360 days/year the weather is grand.
What do you see as a challenge for Sanibel and Captiva residents?
The biggest challenge-traffic during season.
We know you work at the Sanibel Community House. How long have you worked there? What does your job entail?
I’ve worked at the Community House since 2004; I was an assistant to Faye Matthews who was the Executive Director at that time. My current job ranges from being a “real manager” to housekeeper to plumber to cook to just being a listener.
What is your favorite experience while working at the Community House?
I have two favorite experiences: The night we put a “homemade murder mystery” about the Community House; the motive was about stealing the rights to naming a new shell. 2. The appreciation of people for the small things that we do at the Community House….allow young people to come a play piano during slow times….we have encountered Rachel – a virtuoso pianist and two little grandchildren who like coming. They come every time they visit their grandparents.
What do you see as the greatest purpose of the Community House?
The greatest purpose of the Community House is its flexibility and reasonable price in offering a place where our community offers an event place to fit people’s needs. This is exactly how historic traditions like Shell Fair and the Spaghetti Dinner got started.
We just heard through the sea grape vine that you will be retiring from your position at the Sanibel Community House. When will you be leaving?
My last day is April 30.
What will you miss most about your work at the Sanibel Community House?
I will miss greeting the people that I have come to know (a big bunch in East Rocks, the Dunes, Gulf Shores, and Lake Murex); they have consistently supported and enjoyed the planned events at the Community House
What are your retirement plans?
Retirement plans: go back to being a volunteer, a “helping hand person in the community” for such organizations as F.I.S.H., ABWA, the Community Church, and the USA Dance chapter of Fort Myers. Also go back to visiting my mother and my daughter who bought live out of state.
What do you like to do in your leisure time?
Leisure time is some gardening (i.e. fighting the Sanibel jungles), a little cooking for friends, and ballroom dancing. I might even go back to stained glass art and sewing and I want to travel some.
Can you share something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Most surprising about me….that I’m a no frills person and am still the Wisconsin farm girl that I always will be.
What is your family life like?
My immediate family is me and two cats….married daughter who lives in Virginia. I have two brothers and my mother who still live in Wisconsin.
What do you consider your secret for living a happy life?
Happy life: doing work you love, being with people you enjoy, and living in a place (like Sanibel) that is as close to Eden as I can think of……