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Happy New Year!

As the new Chair of EMERGE for 2022, I hope you’ll indulge me a few moments to look back at all we accomplished in 2021, and all we have planned for 2022.

EMERGE has been a source of community and opportunity for me almost since the day I moved to Lakeland in 2018. After being voluntold to participate by my boss (a former EMERGE Chair himself), I got signed up with the EMERGE Serves program and the Events Committee. Though I’ll probably never give him the satisfaction, I owe him a huge thank you for helping me find my footing so quickly. Moving to a new city can be daunting, and although Lakeland is unique in its hospitality and philanthropic culture, it was no exception.

Through EMERGE Serves, I got a taste of that community-focused ethic that makes Lakeland so special. I also met two of my best friends in the program! And through my involvement on the Events Committee, I got to flex some creative muscles, helping plan the Gala and EMERGing Race, my favorite annual events.

Looking back at 2021, we had some unique challenges while living in the Time of Covid, and we took those on with new, creative events. Our (admittedly, delayed) Membership Drive took out some 2020 frustration by throwing axes at AxCaliber, we raced around downtown during our EMERGEing Race, and found a (fake) murderer at our Murder Mystery Gala. For all the fun we had, we also got to grow and serve in town, with our seminars on mental health in the workplace, a vision board workshop, and multiple service projects, including Sole Saturday.

In 2022, we are looking forward to building upon the foundation of years’ past and leveraging all that Lakeland has to offer. EMERGE is in a unique position, thanks to our partnerships with United Way of Central Florida and the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, to provide opportunities to grow in, learn more about, and give back to Lakeland. Lakeland is teeming with incredible people and a wealth of activities and resources; it’s our goal to connect our members with all Lakeland has to offer, and—of course—have some fun along the way!

One last thing:

What makes EMERGE so incredible is truly its members. Like all worthwhile things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. It is an volunteer-run endeavor, and our Steering Committee members are the real MVPs. They are the genius behind our event planning, professional development opportunities, and service efforts. I don’t think, even if I said thank you every day from now until I hand the gavel to the next Chair in December, that it would be enough gratitude for all they do for EMERGE and Lakeland. If you are interested in learning more about EMERGE, or looking to meet some fun and creative humans, reach out to any of our Steering team.

We know by now not to make assumptions about the future, but of one thing I’m certain: EMERGE in 2022 has some of the most exciting plans and the most dedicated people that I’ve seen in my tenure with EMERGE. I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

If you’re looking to join in on the chaos fun, please join a committee (monthly meetings scheduled in our events calendar), attend our Membership Drive (details coming soon!), or reach out to me via email or Instagram (@megsrusc) with any questions.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all in the new year!


Chair, EMERGE Steering Committee

Attorney, Saddle Creek Logistics Services @megsrusc on Instagram

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