Origins of the Lake Helen League for Better Living:
The Lake Helen League for Better Living was founded in 1973 by a group of citizens, including William Dill, Olga Bendurs, Lewis Long, Nora Bey, Alzada Fowler, Emily McGill, and Jean Beers. Their mission was to preserve the Old Florida residential charm of Lake Helen by encouraging controlled growth and an understanding of zoning and land use.
In 1988, the League sponsored a history book of Lake Helen, Lake Helen: The Gem of Florida—The First 100 Years, written by Dorothy Schneider. The League also provided the upfront costs to publish the book.
In the 1990s, the League was awarded a $7,000 matching grant for a professional architectural survey of the city's historic buildings. Max and Dorothy Schneider, along with John and Betty Doherty, were instrumental in forming the committee to initiate the Sydney Johnson survey of historic buildings in Lake Helen. The findings of the survey led to the creation of the Lake Helen Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Collaboration between the Lake Helen League for Better Living and the City of Lake Helen:
The Lake Helen League for Better Living and the City of Lake Helen have a long history of collaboration, dating back to the 1980s. Some of the League's notable contributions to the city include:
Co-hosting the annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting event, which is now fully adopted by the city.
Hosting the Meet the Candidates Night event since the early 1980s, giving citizens an opportunity to meet their neighbors running for local office.
Planting the cypress trees outside of City Hall and assisting in the establishment of the Museum in City Hall.
Helping to establish a recycling program for the city, adopting the motto, "recycling for the good of the community."
The League's Environmental Committee, formed out of its recycling efforts, has evolved into the Lake Committee, which focuses on educational outreach about local lakes, lake restoration projects, native plants, and land restoration for the local ecology.
The League and the city continue to collaborate on meaningful projects that benefit the community. The most recent collaboration is the Legacy Project, a public/private joint venture to establish a new pavilion and improved infrastructure at Royal Park. The Legacy Project will promote, preserve, and enhance the legacy of Lake Helen, Florida.
The Legacy Project is a continuous evolution of projects and fundraising, involving both the community and the city government. It will include:
Annual fund-raising project to maintain seed money for projects
Donor funding packet
Historical research on past projects
Continuity of past members for reference
The League and the city are committed to working together to make Lake Helen a better place to live for all.
Hopkins Hall and Community Relationships:
Hopkins Hall is an important historical building in Lake Helen, and the Lake Helen League for Better Living has been instrumental in its care and preservation. The League has made several improvements to the building over the years, including the stage curtains, lawn irrigation system, and signage. Hopkins Hall is also the base of the League's Home Tour, one of the longest-running events hosted by the organization.
The League has a long history of collaboration with other community organizations, including the Friends of the Lake Helen Public Library. The League and Friends of the Library collaborated on the Home Tour for many years, and the League continues to support the library today.
Recently, the League added the event Art with Heart to its calendar. This event collects food donations for Outside the Gates food pantry during the Give from the Heart run organized by Massey James Youth Center. The League is proud to support these organizations and their efforts to help the Lake Helen community.
The League is always looking for ways to reach out and collaborate with other organizations in Lake Helen. During the summer of 2023 The League partnered with The Gems to collaborate on events at Gem Station including relocating Art with Heart to Gem Station February 2024 and collaborating for a special Halloween History Story Time at Gem Station, October 2023; The League believes that strong community relationships are essential to making Lake Helen a better place to live for all.
Recent History of Leadership:
After 2010, leadership of the Lake Helen League for Better Living began to pass on to other citizens of Lake Helen, including:
These dedicated individuals have continued the League's mission of preserving the Old Florida residential charm of Lake Helen and promoting controlled growth and an understanding of zoning and land use. They have also led the League in its many collaborations with the City of Lake Helen and other community organizations.
The League is grateful for the leadership of these individuals and their commitment to making Lake Helen a better place to live for all.
The current leadership of the Lake Helen League for Better Living consists of the following board members:
The League is also supported by a number of project and committee volunteer teams, who have representation at each board meeting. These teams help to inform and guide the decisions of the board. Some of the most active teams include the Home Tour Committee, the Lake Committee, and the Legacy Project.
The League is grateful for the dedication and hard work of its current leadership team and all of its volunteers. The League's important work could not be done without them.
The Lake Helen League for Better Living is a volunteer-run organization that relies on individual donations, grants, in-kind donations, and volunteer hours to fund its important work. The League's current projects include:
Home Tour: The Home Tour is one of the League's longest-running and most popular events. It showcases the unique architecture and history of Lake Helen's homes.
Lake Committee: The Lake Committee works to protect and improve the quality of Lake Helen's lakes. The committee also educates the public about the importance of water conservation and sustainable practices.
Legacy Project: The Legacy Project is a public/private partnership with the City of Lake Helen to establish a new pavilion and improved infrastructure at Royal Park. The Legacy Project will promote, preserve, and enhance the legacy of Lake Helen, Florida.
In addition to these projects, the League also supports a number of other community initiatives, such as the Lake Helen Public Library, Outside the Gates Food Pantry, Gems at Gem Station, and the Massey James Youth Center.