Making a Difference
by Gertrude Mann
Michael (Mike) Berman first came through the ORC gate with a YPO group for car dealers. He was impressed with the beautiful terrain and leisure pace. It was all so different from the crowds and commercialism he’d seen around Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. He remembers thinking this was the real Florida he’d always imagined. Mike and Angie became Social Members, looked for property, and, on their third visit, bought a house. This was 27 years ago. Since then they’ve found activities that enhance their stay here. Angie is a devoted golfer. Mike likes to fish, golf, is an avid reader of fiction and when called on, helps orchestrate and promote community events.
The first foray into leadership was when the couple agreed to chair a Triple Golf Classic. It was a success and they had fun. Over time, Mike joined the Membership and Marketing committees and Advisory Board. He values the mentors who helped him see how important it is for Members to lend their time and skills to keep ORC activities exciting and meaningful.
Mike’s next challenge was to take over the wine component of the All Charities auction. The All Charities initiative began 13 years ago, created to take the place of the 27 fundraising events occurring within a six-month period.
Mike says, “From the start it was a success. We were able to meet needs both on and off The Reef. I was the wine chairman for several years until 2011 when Teresa Holmes and I were asked to be Vice Chairs of that year’s event. We took over as Chairs in 2012. We brought in a fabulous new auctioneer from Chicago who really clicked with the crowd. It was the first year we raised over three million dollars. In 2014, I took over as Chairman of All Charities. The wine tasting on Friday night has been a popular addition to the program, encouraging more Members to participate. The time I put in is very satisfying and I meet wonderful people. I am in awe of their generosity. They give with open hearts and they inspire me.”
Mike is grateful for the Fitness Center, which he visits at least three times a week. He admires Director Luis Bracamonte and his staff for the job they do keeping our Members healthy and in good shape.
Next year, Mike takes over as chairman of the Medical Center. He is also helping development for a College in the Keys to be located in Key Largo. The emphasis will be on vocational training with a goal of keeping young people in the Keys doing needed work with good pay.
Ocean Reef Philosophy
Mike reflects on the many steps he’s taken to learn how the community works. He knows Ocean Reef would not be the paradise we enjoy without Members sharing some of the responsibilities.
He says, “Helping in a large or small way is all it takes to give back for the blessings we find here. I was planning to be an English teacher, but I changed my mind. I decided to sell cars. It was a lucky choice. Living at Ocean Reef is more of that good luck. Volunteering is my way of giving thanks.”