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Chapter Spotlight - FNGLA Frontrunners Chapter

Monday, December 4, 2017
Article by: Greenline

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Strength Through Unity and Service

Team effort -- FNGLA volunteers lend a hand in clean-up efforts at Orban's Nursery in Bradenton, Florida. PHOTO COURTESY FRONTRUNNERS CHAPTER 

Amid tattered shade cloth and strewn-about ground matt converged nearly a dozen FNGLA volunteers last month to right a wrong started by Tropical Storm Emily, but exacerbated by Hurricane Irma. 

Members from a handful of chapters took to Orban’s Nursery in Bradenton, Florida to assist Owner Marty Orban in cleanup efforts. 

Volunteers replaced shade cloth, and -- perhaps, most valuable of all -- offered a hand of friendship and camaraderie at a time when those in the industry need it most. Owner Marty Orban said the effort was nothing short of awesome. 

“We put up half an acre of shade cloth and almost an acre of ground cover,” he said. “Like many I am having trouble finding help so the FNGLA members coming in was amazing.” 

FNGLA President Ed Bravo helped coordinate the effort: 

FNGLA: How did the plan to help come about? 

Bravo: Soon after Tropical Storm Emily made landfall in Bradenton, Florida on Monday, July 31, someone posted pictures on Facebook of tornado damage at Orban’s Nursery. Eric Smith from the Action Chapter brought it to my attention within minutes of seeing it on social media. He is from Bradenton and Orban’s had sponsored the Little League team he had played on years ago. He asked that we check on Marty and see if there was anything FNGLA could do to help. 

FNGLA: How did you round up volunteers? 

Bravo: Originally, we had 20-30 volunteers signed up to help, then Irma changed everything. On the actual volunteer day, we had a total of 11 volunteers, plus Marty and his son. The actual volunteer work day ended up being postponed until October 7. Four chapters had at least one volunteer. Action Chapter: Billy Butterfield, Eric Smith; Tampa Bay Chapter: Will Womack; Lake Region Chapter: J.R. Reiner; Frontrunners Chapter’s Joe Eslik and Stefan Liopiros, and Local volunteer Steve Sutton. Myself and four other Big Trees Plantation staff also assisted. Manasota Chapter also donated $2,500 toward materials. Steve Sutton donated all grounds staples and General Cordage sourced and expedited all the needed materials. 

FNGLA: Why was it important to undertake the effort? 

Bravo: I promised I would help not knowing that Irma would make it very challenging to honor that promise. And, FNGLA chapter members are not just a list of companies we are extended families, when the opportunity to help arises, FNGLA members should be prepared to do what they can. My main objective for this project was to set an example of what FNGLA chapter members could accomplish if they work together. 

FNGLA: Where did you start? And what progress did you make during the effort? 

Bravo: I called Marty to make sure he and his family were OK. Then, I called folks in the area to see if they would stop in and let me know the extent of the damage. After assessing the damage, we began to help coordinate how the materials and a volunteer work day could be scheduled. We were able to replace all the shade cloth and ground mat in one section of the Orban’s Nursery (approximately three acres) operation. One week after the work was completed, I received pictures from Marty showing the area full of new plants under production again. 

BEFORE -- Volunteers lend a hand to repair shade cloth at Orban's Nursery. PHOTO COURTESY FRONTRUNNERS CHAPTERAfter -- Plants once again sit atop shade cloth at Orban's Nursery in Bradenton, Florida. PHOTO COURTESY FRONTRUNNERS CHAPTER

FNGLA: How did you feel after the effort was complete? 

Bravo: I slept very well that night knowing that I had followed through on my promise even though by that point many of us were in the same boat.

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