I have had the pleasure of being President of the OCWS twice now, four years apart, and have tried to use this column wisely as a forum to share some of the history of the organization, to give you a peek into the workings behind the scenes, and to highlight the magnitude of just what it takes to run this amazing organization. This article is a reaffirmation of something I wrote in 2018 and is different from other articles I have written 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, professors, law enforcement, salespeople, white and blue-collar workers. We have people that live from check to check and multi-millionaires. But none of this matters because what everyone in this organization has is heart and passion, and they don’t care about the trimmings or the labels. They care about the success of the OCWS, its educational mission and fundraising, and the camaraderie that nowhere else in my life has been found elsewhere. 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 oneself. 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, so 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, not once, but twice. I am so proud to be a Director and having had the opportunity to be your President.
With every new member, we continue to make more friends, have more fun, feel more fulfilled. The last couple of years left a hole in my heart in that I missed all the smiles and hugs, but they are back with a vengeance at the OC Fair this year and I could not be happier. I hope the Orange County Wine Society makes each of you as happy as it makes me and that our paths, and new ones, continue to cross often in the future, all while working for a common goal.
Until we next meet again. Cheers and L’Chaim.
– Fran Gitsham, President