Serving Family and Community

It was a day that would make a visitor from Utah forget it was November. Standing in a park on the edge in the small town of Sebastian, with a fresh breeze blowing over the barrier islands, across the Indian river, and into my face from the east. I taste the slight tang of salt on my lips. My luck was running high on this trip. I had visited Sebastian Florida for the first time in my life, and that visit happened to coincide with the Sebastian Clam Bake. Sebastian Park had been isolated from traffic on three sides to accomodate the parking of hundreds of cars that would come for this regional event.

Booths had been set up, and clams were baking, frying, boiling and simmering in anticipation of the crowds that were to come. My anticipation was high. I hadn’t eaten for many hours, and the idea of eating at an event like this, with the different smells of food in the air was pretty exciting.

I’ve got to tell you, I love the ocean, but I love what comes out of the ocean even more, and I hadn’t eaten yet on this day. I was looking forward to sampling as many booths as possible.

After eating I walked down the rows of booths, and noticed a booth with no line. Barbara was sitting there with two giant red tubs filled with ice and beverages. As I enjoyed my frosty beverage, we started to chat.


Barbara gave up her life in southern Florida and came to Sebastian to care for her aging parents. She told me that her father had died in May, and now her life revolved around taking care of her mom who’s health was also failing.

She had a couple of kids that came with her when she moved. I couldn’t help but think about the great example Barbara was; showing respect and service to care for her parents. I thought about the phrase “honor thy father and mother” and was touched at the sacrifice Barbara had made in truly giving her parents honor.

The conversation turned to other areas of her life and she told me about a project she was working on to ensure the future of Sebastian. She told me that it was important to her to work hard to leave a legacy that would sustain this community for many years after she was gone.

That project is an ecotourism development to create a working waterfront for people to come visit. She talked with great enthusiasm about how visitors would be able to go to an award winning resturant and watch a chef cook a dinner in a new and innovative way, then after the meal walk down onto the dock and purchase some of that same fish fresh from that day’s catch.

She sees a time when people who live and work on the waterfront would be able to create a tourism industry that will preserve the fragile nature of the ecossystem in the local rivers and oceans, and provide good jobs and income for the surrounding area.

I was impressed by what I learned about Barbara, and appreciated her example of giving both to her family and the community in which she lives. The statement that stuck with me is when she said “it’s one thing to live in a place, but we kind of have a responsibilty to lend our voice to make a difference for the people who are going to live here in the future”.

I realized how easy it is to get caught up in the “here and now” of my life – in the pursuit of working hard to obtain more “stuff”. I appreciated talking to someone who helped me see there’s more that I can do to build a legacy for those who will follow.

Video of the Sebastian Inlet can be found here.

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