I’ve often spoken of what it takes to make a community great. It really has little or no connection with buildings, organizations or the overall monetary value of land it sits on. None of this really matters in the long run in life.
I’ve known people that think their value as a member of a community or organization is directly related to the numbers of plaques, awards or accolades they’ve received in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. That type of self-absorbed narcissism really has little to do with the person you are, but instead speaks volume to the person you certainly don’t want to be remembered as.
Some of the finest people I’ve ever had the privilege to know in my life were extremely quiet, non-assuming and dedicated to doing for others. They have been kind, considerate and deeply sensitive. All of that while being the first who could make you smile and laugh.
I guess we’d all like to be remembered in that way. To be a confidant to our friends and be that person one would always know they could count on and would always be there if a need should arise.
Compassion would also be one of those traits that we all should aspire to and look for in those friends that we have. In addition to those traits they would always look to elevate another, therefore assuring they would be able to realize the full potential of their lives.
I just think about how wonderful it would be if we could just fill an entire community with people that shared all these attributes. What a spectacular place that would be to live in, it would be almost too good to be true and it would only exist in our fantasies and not in real life.
In reality a community is especially graced if they only have a fair share of those individuals. People who just want to make a difference in the lives of others. Individuals who by their very presence can light up an entire room as soon as they walk in. A person whose smile will melt even the hardest of hearts and bring joy to so many.
In 2016 Marco Island was honored to have Danielle Siegel and her husband Rick join our community. He would open his dental practice here, but more importantly than that they would open their hearts to the Marco Island community by quickly becoming part of the fabric of what makes this little island so special.
She and Rick would quickly become involved in many activities and organizations throughout Marco and quickly assimilated within the Marco culture. They were the perfect couple, whether it was at a Chamber event, judging in the Christmas Island Style Boat and Street Parades or helping support the Meals of Hope effort, and so many other wonderful charitable events.
They would be generous to a fault with their time, treasures and talent, as they would seek to make Marco Island a better place for all. They did so without fanfare or seeking the limelight, they just wanted to help and do a little good for those who needed it.
Sometimes God just smiles down upon you and introduces a ray of sunshine into your life to remind you of the good that still exists in this world. He does it by bringing certain people into our lives. I think that was the case for us all when he decided to introduce Danielle and Rick to Marco Island.
I’ll always recall at the end of the Christmas Street Parade last year and how elated she was to sit in the stands besides Rick while watching the various entries and participating in the judging with her best friend. I’ll never forget that big smile and the big hug she gave me as we wound down the event. She was as happy as I’ve seen anyone in my life.
Our community is better for the time Danielle had with us. It is better because of who she was and what she brought to our lives. It was better because she had that special gift which brought out the best in us all, a trait that was one of her specialties.
I write this tonight as I think about the grief that Rick carries with him and the realization of the loss that our community has suffered. The loss of a great friend and a special person who contributed so much to so many in such a short amount of time.
God bless you Danielle… we all miss you.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com