President’s Message

Pandemic of Kindness—An Organization Full of Resilience

There is no doubt that the pandemic brought darkness, and that in times of crisis we tend to focus on the negative. But there are positives, too, that have provided optimism, promoted resilience, and increased our ability to adapt to challenges and, although we are still facing albeit a somewhat diluted COVID crisis, our ability to accept that which we cannot change, and to handle each situation as it arises, never ceases to amaze me. My favorite saying (and printed on a coaster on my desk) is: “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t recall a day in my life that everything has gone according to the way I envisioned it upon waking.

We have now seen both the 2022 Commercial and Home Wine Competitions come and go and, unless you were a part of the crews that made them happen, they both appeared to run relatively flawlessly and easy. Little do many of you know the trials and tribulations of the Committee members who worked tirelessly for months on end that made them look that way, and the hundreds of volunteers who ultimately brought the Competitions to fruition.

This is the story of the workings of the OCWS all year long (and for over four decades now), and the commitment and kindness of all the volunteers that make it happen. Someone very high in the ranks of the OC Fair & Events Center once asked me how we manage to run such a highly successful organization on volunteer power and could we teach their other non-profit partners to do the same. My response was that good, kind hearts can’t be taught and that, although, the majority of us originally joined because of our love, and often curiosity of wine, we stay because of the love and camaraderie that abounds within the OCWS. It’s infectious and makes us want to participate more.

I have seen kindnesses within the group like nowhere else. Volunteering becomes addictive and makes one want to work to lift up the organization and those within. I wish I could list all the people who I have witnessed who selflessly have supported and helped lift others up, while devoting themselves to the OCWS for no other reason than they are kind and we share a common goal…..the success of a truly phenomenal organization, with amazingly kind and loving hearts.

We now have The Courtyard at the OC Fair ahead of us in the near future and, again, we are looking at over 300 volunteers to make it happen. I have no doubt that this too will follow suit and rank among the many successes of the OCWS.

I hope you all know that whether you volunteer all year long, or for just a few hours a year at one event, you are what drives the success of the OCWS. I am so grateful to be a part of something so amazingly special and thank each and every one of you who make the Orange County Wine Society what it is!

– Fran Gitsham, President