Making A Difference: Jodi Betz
by Gertrude Mann
In this community, there are many fascinating people, coming from so many different places, with a myriad of interests and lifestyles, and together this creates the fabric of our Ocean Reef. All it takes is a little initiative to find the activities and events that are right for you. But to make this special place a reality year after year, it takes all of us as individuals. Individuals with ideas. Individuals willing to volunteer and put in their own time and energy.
Over the past 20 years, I have used this column as a way to shine a small spotlight on individuals Making a Difference. It doesn’t take a huge effort to be impactful… but it does take a team, of professionals and community members, to make this place so unique.
For this column, which is probably my last of the season, I sat down with Jodi Betz, the current Chair of the Golf Committee. She and her husband Michael are longtime Members and have been an integral part of our community for many years. As individuals and together, they have quietly devoted their lives here to improving the experience for us all. This was recognized publicly in 2019 when they jointly received the Spirit of Ocean Reef Award.
Longtime Devotion to ORC
Jodi was just a young girl when her father, a weekend golfer, first introduced her to the game. She loved the feelings of being out on the course with her dad and learning how to play. Her mother signed her up for a golf clinic when she was only 9 years old, and as she grew up, family vacations to golf locales and being around the game with family became favorite adventures and created lifelong memories. By the time Jodi was 16, golf necessarily took a backseat to her education and career, but she always maintained her love of the sport.
“Michael first started coming to Ocean Reef as a child with his parents in the late 1950’s for vacations,” she told me. And after raising their son in their home outside of Philadelphia, Jodi and Michael moved to The Reef full time over 20 years ago. Jodi explained, “It was always our favorite place to come. It gave us a chance to relax, be together, and enjoy all the activities we love in a beautiful atmosphere.”
Jodi continued her career as a teacher once down in the Keys, teaching Special Education and math at Key Largo Elementary for several years. Once retired, however, she returned to her love of golf and soon was asked by friends to help organize events and lend her skills to the women’s golf program. Over the years, she has helped run many of the Club’s major golf events, including chairing the Bag Room Open with Michael for almost a decade. When presenting the couple with the Spirit of Ocean Reef Award in 2019, then ORC Chairman Bob Manzo extolled their joint efforts. “For nine years, the Betz have been devoted to running the Bag Room Open,” he said. “The coordination of this event takes season-long time and dedication. In addition to organizing all the details of the Bag Room Open, the Betz look after the golf professionals, often hosting them at their own home throughout the year and over the holidays.”
Always unassuming, Jodi explained, “To be honored for doing something you love is truly humbling. Being a part of the Bag Room and being around the Associates is something Mike and I gain so much from.”
Jodi’s devotion to the Golf program only had one more stop. One day, when speaking with former Director of Golf Scott Kirkwood, she expressed an interest in serving as overall Golf Chair. Now in that new roll, she was instrumental last fall in seeing Mike Leone take over as Director upon Kirkwood’s departure. Jodi explained, “I was extremely happy to see Mike in the new Director role. I’ve watched Mike grow over the years at Ocean Reef from an Outside Operations professional to the well-respected and well-liked leader he is now.”
“Chairing the Golf Committee is not very difficult,” she continued. “We have great leaders of all our different subcommittees. I see myself as someone who is there to iron out any wrinkles in the program. To help where I can. Even though I am just an average golfer, I love the sport and I am committed to do everything I can to make it an even more successful and enjoyable experience at Ocean Reef.”
Jodi is an incredibly warm and engaging person. She personifies the Ocean Reef Member who jumps right in to make a difference for us all. Her easy-going congeniality and organization are keys to her success. She jumps at the chance to lend a hand where needed. When Ocean Reef first began a fledgling Pickleball program, both Jodi and Michael were instrumental in organizing and promoting the new sport, serving on the pickleball committee, always welcoming new players and helping our program grow to the enormous success it is today. You can always be sure to find them both on the pickleball courts, as well as on the golf course or in the Member Fitness Center.
What I enjoyed most when speaking with Jodi was learning how she finds satisfaction in just being a part of this community and feeling like she’s contributing to our collective experience here. That’s what Making a Difference is all about.
“Wherever I go,” Jodi told me, “whether coming home from vacation or a trip to Winn Dixie or Publix, when I enter the gate, I remember how thrilled I am to be part of this community and how grateful I am to be living here.”