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Rotary Business Networking Event Hosted at Native Imagery

Effort Returns to Rotary Roots as Business Networking Group

Several dozen Rotarians, area business people, and many of their customers attended a "Ridge Taking Care of Business" networking opportunity Thursday evening at Native Imagery in Lake Wales.

Guests were treated to live music by singer and guitarist Mickenzie Peisher, along with a variety of beverages and a very tasty buffet provided by Wales Point Restaurant. The event was organized by members of Rotary on the Ridge, a 44-member group that meets for after-hours connections on Monday evenings.

The event was hosted by Allen Tatem and the staff of Native Imagery, and the adjacent Original Ink, a screenprinting and embroidery business owned by Alan Tatem's wife, Olyvia Tatem.

"In addition to fellowship and service, Rotary on the Ridge is all about business networking and helping our members grow their businesses," said immediate past president Chevon Baccus, who is also the incoming district governor for a district that includes clubs in Hillsborough, Polk, Hardee, and Highlands counties. The gathering was the post-pandemic restart of a business promotion that may become a quarterly event, according to Baccus.

The public is invited to attend as guests at the club's weekly meetings, which run from 5:20 to 6:20 pm at the Ouellette Law Firm community room at 151 East Central Avenue.

"We are getting ready to take over two of the Kiwanis projects," Baccus said, referring to the now-disbanded Lake Wales Kiwanis Club. "We're reinstating the very popular Pancake Festival, which we'll host on Veterans' Day, November 11. They always fed over two thousand people. We're also taking over the Christmas Parade," Baccus said.

"Our big service project is the water safety program with 'Josh the Otter,'" Baccus said, explaining that it involves an otter costume often worn by her patient husband and fellow Rotarian Mike Baccus, who enjoys being high-fived by the kids fascinated by the character.

"We took that project to seven school and over 600 children last year, and have made arrangement with the City of Lake Wales to offer kids free swim lessons. We promote them heavily in the Northwest Neighborhood because many adults don't know how to swim. "

The club also plans to once again host Camp Fearless, a weekend empowerment program for middle school girls at Lake Aurora, according to Baccus.


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