Sara Borger, with her husband Robert, at her going away party at the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club in Belleair.
BELLEAIR – Every town has a familiar face, someone who is always around and who plays a part in the everyday life of most residents. Nobody in Belleair fits that description better than Sara Borger, the town’s director of special events.
Borger has now become the former director of special events. She resigned Jan. 9. After five years of working with the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, Borger said it was time for her to move on.
“The job I had was fun and rewarding and it had its challenges,” she said. “But I want more challenges and I need some room for growth. I’m really driven, I love to work hard and I love new challenges.”
Anyone who has observed Borger over the past few years will attest that she does indeed work hard. Many of the events that take place in Belleair were either created by her or undertaken by her. Each one with nothing but hard work attached to it. And not everything was successful. Yet, failures didn’t deter Borger from trying something else.
“Nothing big comes to mind about a failure or disappointment,” she said. “I use those things as a lesson to get better. For me that is good, to make it better for the next time.”
In the same vein Borger said there isn’t really a success story that stands out during her tenure, at least nothing in terms of an event.
“The biggest thing is the people I have met,” she said. “I have met some wonderful people, residents and nonresidents alike. Through the events that we were able to do, I’ve loved working with the people. That has been my favorite part of it.”
Borger said if there is one thing that she’s especially proud of it is the concert series; the three-year-old thrice-yearly event that draws thousands on a Sunday afternoon.
“I love how that has benefitted the town, it makes me very happy,” she said.
Parks and Rec Director Eric Wahlbeck said Borger has had an impact on the community during her time at the Rec.
“She has done some amazing things here in the town,” he said. “We’ve really transformed the community with some of the things she has come up with, the concerts, the market, the garage sale. She has a great personality.”
Wahlbeck admits that filling Borger’s shoes is going to be a tough job.
“Absolutely, we’ll have to figure out a way to move on and get somebody else. It will be a challenge,” he said. “You can never keep the good ones; they are always taken away by somebody else. They look for new opportunities.
“Sara was special. Her kids grew up here, she volunteered here and she came on board at the right time. She was a unique person, it will be tough to fill her shoes, but we will,” Wahlbeck said.
Borger, 52, has been a resident of Belleair for 20 years. Her husband Robert is a contractor, and they raised three children: Ali, 25, Danny, 23 and Nic, 19. All took part in the programs at the rec as they were growing up.
“I was a stay at home mom back in the early days,” she said. “I served as a volunteer on the rec board and the soccer board and did a lot of volunteer work at the rec and the kid’s schools.”
Then Borger got a job working in a dental office until one day her son Nic, then 14, came home and told her of an opening at the Rec Center.
“He said, ‘Mom they are hiring a part time position at the Rec,’” she said. “He brought me an application and I said why not? And my husband, who watched me conduct many volunteer fundraising campaigns told me it would be really good it you would make some money doing this.”
So with her family’s encouragement Borger applied for and got the job at the Rec and became the face in the town that she is today. It is a face that will no doubt be missed in the community.
“It is a huge loss, a huge loss for the town,” said Commissioner Mike Wilkinson who serves as the commission’s representative on the Recreation Board. “She is tireless, passionate and energetic. She had a flair for the special events. It is amazing what she has created over there. It will be tough to replace her.”
Wilkinson said he is convinced that wherever Borger ends up she won’t stop being the person that she is.
“She isn’t the kind of person that can’t be involved,” he said. “Wherever she goes she will be a huge success, it is all about her attitude and her personality. “
Borger said she is headed for a career in real estate. She has begun the process of getting her real estate license. It is a career that she has pondered for a while.
“Ten years ago when the real estate market crashed I remember thinking how are my kids ever going to be able to afford homes,” she said. “Now that the market has corrected itself I am going to be able to help others. I love real estate, I love people, and I’ve been interested in it for a long time. I’m good at listening; I can’t wait to match it all up.”
The phrase “parting is such sweet sorrow” seems to apply perfectly to Borger and the town she has served for the past five years. Borger is as sad to leave, as her bosses are sad to see her go.
“It is bittersweet. I love it here so much, there is no place I would rather have been and no place better for me,” she said. “I learned so much and had a great time growing with the Rec but it is time for me to move on and to pass the torch to some of the talented people who work here. My job is ready to be taken over by somebody else.”
Borger says she plans to come back and volunteer from time to time so her face will still be around.