HISTORY

Origins:

Lake Helen League for Better Living was established in 1973. The signers and the first board of directors upon incorporation in 1973 were William Dill, Olga Bendurs, Lewis Long, Nora Bey, Alzada Fowler, Emily McGill, & Jean Beers. The founders mission and goal 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 when the City of Lake Helen celebrated its centennial, "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" provided the up front 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. In the 1980's and 1990's 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. From its findings the Lake Helen Historic District was created by the city and added to the National list of Historic Places.

"The League" and The City of Lake Helen:

In the 1980s "The League" hosted the annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting and the City of Lake Helen was the co-host. This event was eventually fully adopted by the City of Lake Helen and is now an official City event. Another long time event hosted by "The League" since the early 1980s is Meet the Candidates Night. This event provides an opportunity for citizens to come meet their neighbors running for local Lake Helen seats for Zone Commissioners and Mayor. "The League" planted the cypress trees outside of City Hall and assisted in the establishment of the Museum in City Hall. And long before recycling programs were common practice, "The League" helped to establish a recycling program for the city, adopting the motto, "recycling for the good of the community". Out of this effort an Environmental Committee was formed. Today, this committee has developed into The Lake Committee who's volunteers focus on educational outreach about our local Lakes, lake restoration projects, native plants and land restoration for local Lake Helen ecology. "The League" and The City of Lake Helen have a long history of collaborative work and meaningful relationship to meet mutual community goals. This is a relationship greatly valued by our membership and one we like to honor. The most recent collaboration between "The League" and the City of Lake Helen is The Legacy Project. The Legacy Project is a public/private joint venture between "The League" and 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. The Legacy Project is a continuous evolution of projects and fundraising in a public/private venture between the community and The City of Lake Helen. It will include the following: Annual fund raising project to maintain seed money for projects, Donor research, Donor funding packet, Historical research on past projects, Continuity of past members for reference.

Hopkins Hall & Community Relationships:

"The League" over the years has done several improvements to Hopkins Hall which include the stage curtains, lawn irrigation system, signage, and more. Hopkins Hall has always been an important place at the center of activities hosted by "The League". As one of the most important historical buildings in Lake Helen, it is of great focus and attention of "The League" to assist in the care and preservation of this building. Home Tour is based out of this location which is one of the longest running events hosted by "The League". Originally Home Tour was a project run by Friends of The Lake Helen Public Library. And then for at time done collaboratively. Friends of the Library is another local organization that "The League" has maintained a long history of collaborative work and meaningful relationship to meet mutual community goals. These collaborations mean a great deal to us at "The League" and we love to support our neighbors working towards the betterment of our community through other projects. For this reason we also give back to the Lake Helen Public Library to honor the history of the work The Friends of The Lake Helen Library established with the Home Tour.

In addition to that long time relationship we are looking for ways to reach out and collaborate with other organizations in Lake Helen. Most recently, we added the event Art with Heart so we could collect food donations for Outside the Gates food pantry during Give from the Heart run by Massey James Youth Center. We love being able to help collect donations for their giving to Outside the Gates.

Recent History of Leadership:

After 2010, leadership began to pass on to other citizens of Lake Helen including Nancy Willis, Diane Jennings, Steven Gutshall, Bart Gawlikowski, Brenda Gawlikowski, Todd Preston, Terry Jacobs, Heather Rutledge, and Joe Hammett.

Current Leadership:

Currently Joy Taylor, Jennifer Hopton-Villalobos, Roxann Goodman, Arlene Raffa, Marcalee Parrish, and Robin Mimna make up the board for The Lake Helen League for Better Living.

Current Projects:

The League continues its work to improve and preserve Lake Helen culture and history through the support of several projects. For information on current project please visit CURRENT PROJECT page.