QUESTION: What brought a California girl to Florida?
ANSWER: I had a real estate business there, and sold it, and ended up doing event planning for Hilton Hotels and helped build a hotel. I started traveling with them, came out here and was hired by a business person out here from Hilton Hotels for event planning and decided to stay.
Q: How did you discover Boca Grande?
A: The first year I lived on Manasota Key and came out here to visit a friend in real estate two years ago. Just loved it and was offered a job out here at the cafe. I helped open the restaurant and got that started and have been there ever since. That's what got me out to Boca Grande. Then I started attending church on Boca Grande. I've been in church all my life.
Q: How is 3rd Street Cafe doing?
A: We're doing great in our second season. We've had a wonderful season, I'm very pleased. It was better than the first. We at least doubled the number of people we served. We've really made an impact in the community. We've worked with the Woman's Club, we've done cooking classes, we've done special events helping support selling the Woman's Club cookbook, we've done wine tastings and special events for weddings and birthday parties.
Q: How late will 3rd Street Cafe stay open this summer?
A: We're looking at July 4. There's a possibility we might offer an extended breakfast. It will be very light, simple. We're looking at doing special events for the fishermen during tarpon season.
Q: This summer you have a major new duty. What is it?
A: I have taken over as interim administrator for the (Youth Program for Lighthouse United Methodist Church.) Basically that involves covering youth groups, Sunday services, Sunday School, vacation Bible school and we have summer camp coming up that we do every year. Right now it's just keeping the youth program together. It's been very active in the community over the years and we want to keep that up. We lost our previous coordinator (Ruthanne Spurgeon) so they asked me to step in.
Q: Why take on such a heavy volunteer workload?
A: Well, I have a 14-year-old daughter who's very involved in the youth program. I home-school her. She has a lot of contacts on the island. There's a really great group of youths on the island. They spend a lot of time at my house. We really do a lot of things together. This is really a passion of mine.
Q: This dovetails with your work as a life coach?
A: Yes. I work with families and youth and youth programs.
Q: What is Panda Mania?
A: It's a summer program we'll have June 13 at the Community Center focusing on how pandas evolve. We have a lot of involvement from the Island School and the Boca Grande Child Care Center. Then we'll have our Youth Camp for 8-and-up Aug. 1. We're accepting applications for that.
Q: Are these programs religion oriented?
A: Of course religion is involved in it but it's not specified to one religion. It's open to all youth. We work with the other churches. It's an interfaith activity and everybody is invited.
Q: Who would benefit from the summer programs?
A: It can be a two-day or a week event. Anybody visiting or living on the island.
Q: What sort of activities will be scheduled?
A: We've got music and we've got crafts. We've got entertainment, food and great times. Friday night we have Youth Service from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. I always provide dinner. We do Dodge Ball, we've got games and events planned. There'll be a day-out adventure for Paint Ball. We'll meet with other churches and go to water parks. A lot of outdoor adventures are planned.
Q: How do your youth groups look demographically?
A: About half of our youth program is from off the island but they attend the schools so they come on-island for events because they have friends here. So it's a mixture of island residents and off-island. During season, of course, grandparents are here and they have family visiting so they bring their children. It's a great mixture.
Q: Might you take this over full-time?
A: I would like to actually. We're looking at hiring a youth minister and maybe it's something we could share together. Our ultimate goal is to continue to work toward our mission. We'd really like some of our youth to go on some missions. We're very involved in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. I'm looking at doing two missions this summer: the Dominican Republic and maybe a Bahama one we're affiliated with, and maybe taking a youth mission in the fall.
Q: How many hours a week do you put into all this youth activity coordination?
A: (Laughs) My scheduled hours at the church are about 3.5 hours per day and then I help with youth groups on Friday night and we're doing a lot of community outreach. We did a great community car wash at the fire department. Half of the money goes to the Grace House for Children, a nonprofit we support.
Q: What's next for you? What do you do for fun?
A: I'm writing a book called “Dandelion's Journey.” That's my nickname, Dandelion. I've led an adventurous life as the youngest of four kids. I've ventured around the world. This book will be about those travels. I'm learning to fly a plane. And I ride motorcycles.
Judy Lynn Garcia
Fact BoxJudy Lynn Garcia at a glance
Birth date: Oct. 14, 1963
Occupation: Life coach, real estate agent, youth coordinator, public relations
Residence: Boca Grande
Hometown: Walnut Creek, Calif.
Family: One son, one daughter
Education: Cal State Sacramento University
Contact: (941) 416-8399