Outgoing Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association President Becky Griffin, center, is flanked by new President Phil Wrobel on the right and Vice President Hippy Laramee on the left. They were enjoying the April 28 Biggest Beach Party Ever.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association has a new president. Phil Wrobel took over from Becky Griffin on May 1. For Griffin it was the end of a long run as president. For Wrobel, it is the beginning of his second time around in the top job.
Years ago Wrobel learned the hard way; if you are going to complain, be prepared to do something about it. Back then he complained that the Homeowners Association wasn’t doing enough. It was shortly after that, he recalls, that he became president of the organization.
“I kept asking them why the Homeowners never did anything,” he said, “Then someone approached me and asked me why I didn’t take over. If I thought we should do something more then take over, so I did.”
That was in 2006. Wrobel served as president until 2011, stepped down, and is now the president again.
He remembers the organization back in 2006 as low key without much going on.
“The Homeowners basically did a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event whenever there was an election, and they helped with the Beauty and the Beach event, which was put on by the city,” he said. “They got volunteers to pour beer in Kolb Park; that was about it.”
It was also then that Wrobel met the woman who would eventually take over from him and who he now succeeds: Griffin.
“I brought Becky on board and we picked up the ball and ran with it,” he said. “By then the Civic Association had closed down and the YMCA was slowing down so we got some dates and began the Biggest Beach Party Ever and the Taste of IRB.”
Those events have been going on since then and growing every year. Griffin recalls the work she did during those years.
“As president there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” she said. “There is a lot that people don’t realize. I had to make sure that the various jobs were being done and I had to stay in touch with those people every day. I began by doing the website, and then I became treasurer. Phil and I formed a partnership, it just kept growing.”
Griffin said her decision to step down as president was made in part because of the improving economy and its effect on her and her husband’s publishing business.
“During the slower economy it was easier, now it is picking up and our business is more demanding,” she said. “We just have not had the time that we should have to devote to the business.”
Griffin said her husband Bob, who is also the president of the IRB Boat Club, has also been active in a supporting role with the HOA.
“Bob has been very supportive; I don’t think people realize how much he has done,” she said. “He hauls stuff around, he cleans up, and he’s the go-to guy for picking up things. He’s out in the community every day, now he’s stepped back with me and people are beginning to realize what he has done.”
Wrobel said people in supporting roles, volunteers, are critically important to organizations, such as the Homeowners Association. But he recognizes that volunteering isn’t for everyone.
“To each his own; there are people who just want to enjoy their private lives and others who want to get out and help others,” he said. “There are plenty of volunteers to go around and they are happy to help all the organizations with what they do.”
“We’re lucky in IRB that we have so many people who want to get involved in the community. For those who don’t want to help, then hey, come on out and enjoy the event. I’ve never been one of those who sits home.”
As he begins this second stretch as president of the HOA, Wrobel said there are a couple of things he’d like to see happen.
“We might try to bring back the Movies in the Park or on the beach and we may make some changes in what we’re doing now. But we have plenty on our plate right now.”
Wrobel said he’s already been encouraged by a number of people who have stepped forward and offered to help in any way they can, particularly his friend and HOA vice-president, Dave “Hippy” Laramee.
“I’m excited about Dave coming on board,” he said. “We spent many hours together planning things. He’s going to be a fantastic asset. We need five or six people to replace Becky with all the work she did; Dave is going to be one of them. He and the rest of the board members, along with me will be taking the organization to the next step.”
Wrobel said the support for him really begins at home.
“My wife, Jane, isn’t the social butterfly that I am,” he said. “But she supports me in everything I do, and I enjoy doing this very much.”
Both Wrobel and Griffin said they are involved in the Homeowners Association because of what it brings to people and the community.
“So many people have made new friends through our Happy Hour gatherings and other events,” said Griffin. “I hear from other people who wish their community had this kind of spirit. I have met hundreds of people I never would have met if it weren’t for our events.”
“I just enjoy being involved,” said Wrobel. “I love to be involved to help people out and help them have success in whatever they are trying to accomplish.”
Even though she is stepping down, Griffin said she isn’t finished getting involved.
“I won’t be able to walk away completely. The people here are all good friends of mine, I’ll be back doing something,” she said.
No doubt Wrobel will have a job for her if she so desires.
“I feel lucky and fortunate to have the people who say, what can I do to help? It is unbelievable,” he said.