This will be my next to last President’s article, as I will have served six years as a Director and, under our Bylaws, will be termed out at the end of September. I have tried to use this column wisely as a forum to share with all of you some of the history of the OCWS, to take a peek at the behind the scenes workings, and to highlight the magnitude of what it takes to run this amazing organization. This article is going to be different in that I want to tell you why I think the OCWS is so incredible and why it holds a huge place in my heart.
To me, the Orange County Wine Society is a microcosm of what the entire world should be. We have members ranging from their 20s to their 90s, members of all races, religions, political affiliations, and sexual orientations. We have doctors, lawyers, white and blue collar workers. But none of that matters because what everyone in this organization has is heart and passion and, for the most part, they don’t care about the trimmings or the labels. They care about the success of the organization and its educational mission and the camaraderie that nowhere else in my life has something like this been found. This group has hundreds of people willing to go out of their way to hold others up and come together for a better cause than one’s self. Absolutely amazing in my estimation!
I have watched the people around me circle and embrace those in need of support as often as I have seen them laugh, dance, occasionally drink (okay, maybe that’s a bit of an understatement), and work their tails off to make every aspect of our eclectic group a raving success. On a personal note, this group has held my heart at the highest points in my life, the years after my husband and I joined, and at the lowest point, when I was widowed. It was people within the OCWS that encouraged me to get back out into the world again, lifted me up and gave me the courage to help lead this organization, if but for a brief time. I am so proud to have been a Director and having had the opportunity to be your President.
As those of you who led before well know, we do not go quietly, as we continue to be die-hard volunteers, and our faces pop up all year round in one capacity or another. I will be amongst great company as a past President. The only thing I ask of all of you is to show the support and compassion to those coming next as much as you have shown me and, for me personally, please don’t stop giving me hugs when our paths cross, which I hope will be often!
– Fran Gitsham, President