“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” –Dolly Parton
For Joellen Principe, this has meant a twenty-plus year passion for collecting toys for sick children. Before we go into that, please know that everyone who finishes this entire Spotlight article on Joellen will realize why a quote from Dolly Parton, a country music icon who also is renowned for her charitable work with children, is the most appropriate way to get to know Joellen. The Principe’s other connection to Dolly was a delightful surprise to me. So read on.
Joellen hails from Dyer, Tennessee, which is a small town close to Memphis. She and her husband Richard (Dick) moved to Jacksonville Golf & Country Club from Neptune Beach in 1995. Joellen got involved with the Women’s Network immediately. Over the years, she has served as Historian, Welcome Committee Chairperson, and on the Holiday Tour of Homes. That said, she is best known for her role in the annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Holiday Toy and Book Drive held in our neighborhood.
It began as many things do in our community. Joellen met Sharon Brunell, a newcomer to our neighbor. It just happened that Sharon’s Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback son Mark and his wife Stacy had a foundation that benefited Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Joellen had been searching for a recipient for the toys collected at the front doors of the Holiday Tour of Homes, and the rest is history. Things change, people move, but wonderful ideas have a way of evolving into bigger and better things. We no longer have the Tour of Homes, and Sharon Brunell has moved. Not to worry, Anne Stewart and Lorraine Meide have been Joellen’s faithful helpers in continuing this wonderful holiday tradition. Unwrapped toys are now collected in the life-size Santa Sleigh with Reindeer that sits proudly in Principe’s front yard throughout December. The WN Book Club has joined in and for the past several years has donated 75+ new books collected from members at the holiday gathering.
Joellen and Dick have been known to dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Many neighborhood parties have collection boxes that continue to grow the number of toys and books contributed every year. One year a Security Guard even used his Christmas bonus to buy toys for this heartwarming cause. These toys and books are distributed to children spending Christmas in a hospital bed and worried that Santa wouldn’t know where to find them. Joellen’s passion is sure to bring a smile to the children’s faces and some holiday cheer to their hospital stay. Thank you, Joellen, for connecting an idea with a friend that led to a generous charitable event.
Now for Joellen‘s second association with Dolly Parton. For 20 years, she and her husband were co-owners of a Square Dance Retreat in the mountains of East Tennessee near Sevierville, Tennessee, the hometown of Dolly Parton. She and her husband would go a week out of the month to dance, work in the gift shop or restaurant, and to meet their guests who had come from all over the US and Canada. Their English Mountain Dancers were honored to dance one day each week at Dollywood. Who would have guessed that Mr. and Mrs. Claus are also world-class dancers?
You would need a pretty large spotlight to capture the various ways Diana Bucher shines in Jacksonville.
She is one of the longest active members in the Women’s Network – if not THE longest. A corporate move with Nissan Motor Company brought Diana and her husband Bob to Jacksonville over 26 years ago from Worthington, Ohio. Born and raised in the Cleveland area, Diana met a fellow Ohioan at Ashland College. She and Bob married soon after graduating. The Bucher family moved several times to accommodate Bob’s automotive industry career. As a K-8 certified teacher, Diana continued to substitute teach in the Columbus area where both of their children had graduated from high school. Now their daughter Stacie was a graduate of SMU and pursuing her masters in Maryland. Coincidentally their son Scott was already in Jacksonville to attend college and play tennis. Scott’s presence here helped Diana and Bob choose between two locations being considered, and the sunshine state won.
Jacksonville Golf and Country Club was a new neighborhood then. We were stilled “owned” by the developer, Arvida. In fact, one of Diana’s treasured possessions is the large neighborhood map that depicted every home and street in the rapidly developing community. Diana joined the Women’s Network and tennis community, which began a long history of involvement in each organization that continues even today. Diana didn’t ask what her community could do for her; she asked what she could do for it. Apologies to John F. Kennedy aside.
Over the years, Diana has been part of many interest groups within the WN. She has served as Chairwoman for the Caring Committee, but without a doubt, she is most closely identified with the Luminaria project. The Luminarias are a 20-year-old tradition where residents of JaxGolf set out sand-filled paper bags and light the candles inside at dusk each December. As the Luminaria Chair, Diana has organized this enchanting winter wonderland every holiday season for as long as anyone can remember. She oversees preorders, recruits volunteers to set up, light and clean up for common area streets, and works with the vendor who supplies our Luminaria kits. In fact, it was Diana who petitioned the WN Board to buy kits assembled by Pine Castle which is a local, non-profit organization whose mission is to empower adults with intellectual and development disabilities. The Luminaria project benefits Pine Castle, as well as our neighborhood, as proceeds have been used to fund flag poles, the Woodland Parke sign, benches, and most recently, the Little Free Libraries.
In addition to playing tennis, Diana is currently the captain for the C2 and the First Coast C tennis teams. If that isn’t enough, she also serves as the Flight Coordinator for the C2 league. In this role, Diana interfaces with tennis team captains throughout northeast Florida.
Finally, Diana is involved in the fight against breast cancer. She supported the WN’s charitable contributions to R.I.T.A (Research is the Answer) and the Donna Deegan foundation. The WN was fortunate to have Donna Deegan as the guest speaker at our spring dinner a few years ago. We learned how Donna’s foundation addresses the financial hardship often faced by women fighting breast cancer so those women can focus on their health. So it might be appropriate to end this spotlight on Diana by highlighting that she recently celebrated her seven-year clean bill of health from breast cancer. Hip, hip, and hooray - she is with us to stay!
Linda Plummer was an extremely pleasant person to interview. She was well prepared, articulate, and entertaining. She exemplifies her favorite quote: “Luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.”.
Let’s start at the beginning. Linda grew up in Lapeer, Michigan, a small town about 20 miles from Flint. Her father owned a bowling alley. Linda helped out with the family business and was valedictorian of her high school class. Initially, Linda thought she would like to go to a small Methodist college and snag a minister as a husband. Fortunately, a high school teacher and an after-school employer talked her out of this plan. Linda, being very frugal, looked at various state schools. She found Penn State was most financially reasonable and applied there and only there. When she did not hear from Penn State by January, she called and pleaded her case with admissions. They immediately sent her an acceptance letter. Linda considers her decision to go out-of-state to college one of her most daring moves. After all, Penn State was larger than her home town.
At Penn State, Linda had to take a PE credit. She selected bowling and averaged above 150 (an A) which got her noticed by the bowling team’s coach. She had already spent a great deal of time in bowling alleys and was not sure the team was for her. However, when the coach explained that the University paid for travel to all matches, she reconsidered. Which was a good thing for the team as she set a school record for a 3-game series and the team was the national bowling champions her junior year of college. The bowling coach was also the golf coach. She encouraged Linda to learn to play golf. She eventually joined the junior varsity golf team. This was fortunate, because being a good golfer helped her in her professional career.
After college, Linda became a 21-year-old recruiter for Bell Laboratories. Her 20 year career with the phone company, brought her to Jacksonville twice. The second time, was 30 years ago when she had a 2-year-old. She and her husband chose JAX Golf & CC because it was close to work. Linda really enjoys living in JAX. She has many treasured friends and relishes the active life style, ZUMBA, water aerobics, tennis. What more could one want?
Linda no longer works for AT&T. She is an independent HR consultant. Her practice involves advising companies on HR matters, issues, laws; and developing and teaching seminars on various HR topics. Linda often volunteers her expertise by conducting training or classes on HR related topics for schools (FSCJ) or non-profits. Through her consulting Linda met Ida Gropper at UNF. When Ida retired from UNF, she developed a program to put the long-time unemployed back to work. Ida convinced Linda that she was needed on the Workforce Advisory Council for the back to work program. Thus, Linda’s connection with Catholic Charities even though she is a Unitarian Universalist. This exemplifies Linda’s willingness to advocate for people who are different than she is and who might be overlooked by others.
Linda has a great sense of humor. This is best exemplified by her family’s Easter Tradition. After Easter Sunrise service 24 years ago, Linda offered to take her daughter and two friends to an Easter egg hunt and then out for lunch at The Landing. When she parked, she realized she forgot her purse – no credit cards, no cash. She found $10 in her pocket and one of the girls had 56 cents. Linda and the girls walked around the Landing examining menus to see where they could buy the most food for $10.56. The Hooter’s manager saw her checking things out and asked if he could help. Linda explained her dilemma. The manager allowed them to order a generous lunch for $10.56. Linda could not tip the waitress but, wrote her a glowing review. Thus a tradition was born as the three families and others gather at Hooters every Easter for wings and all the trimmings.
Thanks for the interview, Linda. It was fun getting to know you a little better. See you on the courts or in the pool.
The first time I met Susan Dienes, she was facilitating a Book Club meeting. Her passion for books was clear from her in-depth analysis of the book and discussion questions. When I learned of her involvement with the Little Free Libraries, I wasn’t surprised that she was behind the initiative to install those cute little “bird houses” by the bus stop on Hunt Club Road. She’s someone who I consider a friend and just one of the many wonderful women who live in this community.
Born and raised in Bay Village, Ohio, a small suburb outside of Cleveland, Susan dreamed of being an archeologist as a child. She graduated from Miami of Ohio and went on to work at Xerox in Toledo, Ohio.
Susan began her career as a Sales Representative for Xerox then moved onto selling computer services and hardware for Control Data before selling software for Lockheed-Martin. Her last, longest and favorite role was as a Recruiter for Information Technology professionals. “It was so satisfying to match the right people to the right job. It was fun to help people pivot in their careers, move to their desired location and work for their dream company.” Many of those people became lifelong friends.
One of those friends was a process engineer working for Allan Bradley in Boston, who wanted to make a career change to the software world and move back to Atlanta. He leveraged that experience and his contacts at Georgia Tech, his alma mater, to start a cyber security company which he later sold to IBM for millions of dollars. “He was always willing to help me in my efforts for other individuals wanting to make IT career changes. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to talk to people and find out all the things they had done and wanted to do.”
Susan and her husband Vic moved to Jacksonville Golf & Country Club twenty-three years ago, when Vic took a corporate move with Xerox. Her favorite thing about living in JGCC is the friendly neighbors, but also that the people who live here are engaged with their neighborhood, as well as the larger community of Jacksonville.
During the weekend, Susan likes to take in the Jacksonville attractions, like the Riverside Arts Market or a Jumbo Shrimp baseball game. Besides being an avid reader and library lover, she’s also a tennis player and enjoys the Mixed Doubles matches at the JGCC tennis courts and dining out with friends.
Susan became involved with the Little Free Library when her husband Vic handed her an article in The Florida Times Union in May 2016. The article was about these book sharing boxes. She approached the Women’s Network about sponsoring this community project. The WN Board quickly approved the funds to buy two limited edition replicas of the First Library, created by Todd Bol, in honor of his mother who was a teacher. The WN received final approval to install the libraries from the POA and celebrated their two-year anniversary on April 1, 2019! Both Little Free Libraries have regular visitors and books do circulate and get replenished. We are proud that JGCC is a part of this free book exchange initiative that supports reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world while building a sense of community.
Susan has also served on the Jacksonville Golf & Country Club Boards of Governors, and is now content to be the Head Steward for the Little Free Libraries. She is proud to continue with the work of the Women’s Network and the POA to maintain our libraries.
When asked what she likes best about volunteering, Susan said, “Making new friends and having a chance to give back to organizations that have given so much to me and my family.”
The one thing that might surprise people is that Susan was in the White House Oval Office when Jimmy Carter was President. “Six of us who were in Xerox’s basic training class for three weeks were in Washington D.C. on a Saturday. One student knew someone in the FBI and somehow we got permission to go into the Oval Office. It was incredible! The President was not there nor even in Washington, which is one reason why this could happen. He had pictures of his wife and children on his desk, along with a Bible.”
Q & A with Susan
What is your favorite Holiday?
“Thanksgiving. The three F’s - family, friends and food.”
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
“Honfleur, France. Vic and I chanced upon this Normandy fishing village located where the Seine River meets the English Channel during our honeymoon. A small festival was in progress. We joined French families enjoying carnival rides, food and live music. It was magical.”
If you could do anything for an entire day, what would it be?
Do you have a favorite quote?
“A favorite quote currently is ‘They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’ It is attributed to Andy Warhol and makes me acutely aware that we are in charge of how we want to live our lives.”
A Message From Susan
I recruit a Monthly Steward for the Little Free Libraries. Their job is to stop by the libraries about once a week to tidy up the books. They are also authorized to remove any inappropriate material. That to date has only meant taking old, tattered or tired material out. If you are interested in serving as a Monthly Steward, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 904-992-4211.
I first met Louise Caputo when we carpooled to the Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build in October 2017. I was brand new to JGCC and the Women’s Network, and nervous about meeting so many new people at one time. Louise eased all of that anxiety for me in just a few minutes. She’s so easy to talk with and quick with a laugh. I always enjoy speaking with Louise and getting to know her better.
Born and raised in Ohio, Louise always dreamed of traveling the world one day. She attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where she majored in French and Education. After graduation, Louise realized her dream of traveling when she got on a plane all by herself and moved to France to work as a fille au pair and study French. To this day, Paris is one of her favorite places because of the magnificence of the city, the incredible food, and extraordinary art.
After her time in Europe, Louise moved to New York City and sought employment in international corporations. She worked for a Japanese trading company and traveled to the Orient. Upon her return to NYC, she became a Personnel Manager, and ultimately a Corporate Vice President and Director of Human Resources for an international paper company in Manhattan.
When Louise and her husband decided to retire, Robert said they could move anywhere, as long as it was in Florida. Within that parameter, they wanted to be near a large city, the beach and the airport. Since Jacksonville checked most of their boxes, they left Manhattan after over thirty years of city life, and headed South. They’ve lived in JGCC for nine years now. In addition to the beautiful curb appeal and wonderful residents, some of Louise’s favorite things about living in JGCC are her tennis teammates, and the members and activities of the Women’s Network.
Beyond tennis, some of Louise’s other hobbies include walking, reading, cooking, gardening, watching old movies, going go the beach, and trying new restaurants. Living in Europe for two years sparked her interest in cooking, and her enthusiasm for trying new restaurants came from living in Manhattan. As one of the former chairwomen of the Let’s Do Lunch Club, Louise did an excellent job of scoping out the newest places to eat in Jacksonville!
When I met Louise on the Habijax Women’s Build, I had no idea of her involvement with them, specifically with Beaches Habitat for Humanity. Three years ago, she responded to a request in our Women’s Network newsletter from the Director of the Beaches Habitat for Humanity Education Program asking for volunteers. She spends about 12-15 hours a month working with children of the Beaches Habitat residents.
When asked what she likes best about volunteering at BHH, Louise said, “Knowing that we’re helping the children we tutor to do better in school and hopefully have a stronger sense of self worth. Perhaps the most challenging part about the work is keeping the children motivated. They’ve been in school all day and some have learning issues, so sometimes it’s a struggle to keep them interested. As our mentors say, ‘just giving the child your time and attention is very helpful.’
In addition to volunteering with Beaches Habitat, Louise has chaired WN committees, assisted with several of our volunteer programs and served for six years on the JGCC Human Resources Committee.
Q & A with Louise…
What is your favorite Holiday?
“Thanksgiving. Throughout my lifetime, it’s always been about sharing, feasting, and gathering with family and friends where everyone of all walks of life come together.”
What is your favorite vacation spot?
“Not sure I have just one. While living in NYC, Robert and I would go to a different Caribbean island each winter. A week on the beach - that’s my style.”
If you could do anything for an entire day, what would it be?
“Wine and dine and not gain an ounce.”
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Alas, I’m at the time of my life when I use the Bette Davis quote ‘old age ain’t for sissies’…a lot.”
A Message from Louise
“I’d like to close with some information on Beaches Habitat for Humanity. They were established in 1991 as a division of Habitat for Humanity. Through philanthropic funding, BHH provides educational opportunities for the homeowners and their children as an addition to the home building program. They include college scholarships, support for teens to complete high school or vocational programs, and an after-school program for the children which includes our tutoring for the younger kids.
My specific volunteer job is working individually with first, second or third graders in approximately 45 minute sessions on reading, math and homework. Habitat provides us with many useful tools, such as books, worksheets, flash cards and the newest addition, iPads loaded with OSMO learning games. I am so proud that our Women’s Network was able to contribute to this cause as part of our yearly philanthropic endeavors.
One does not need special training or degrees to be a successful volunteer. There are trained professionals to guide us and so many educational materials at our disposal. Many of us volunteer one day a week (Monday-Thursday from 3 to 6pm), some do two days per week or more. We follow the school calendar.
I encourage anyone who is looking to spend quality time for a great cause, to come join me.”
If you’d like additional information on the Beaches Habitat for Humanity Education Program, please visit their website at https://beacheshabitat.org/ or contact Sue Goebertus at Sue@BeachesHabitat.org
Thank you so much Louise for agreeing to be our first WN member featured in the Spotlight.
This page spotlights members of the Women's Network who are making a difference in our community. If you have a suggestion for someone who should be featured, please contact Stacie Merriman @ firstname.lastname@example.org