Honorary mayor of Palm Harbor Pam Sprecher poses with her 9-year-old “little sister” during the 39th annual Harbor Art Festival Dec. 7 in Palm Harbor.
PALM HARBOR – Pamela Sprecher of Dunedin was declared the 2014 honorary mayor of Palm Harbor, just prior to the start of the annual Holiday Parade in December. Sprecher, who ran neck and neck against one other candidate, won the race by a margin of $109.
“I’m so happy I did this,” Sprecher said. “As much as it made me nervous, it turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Sprecher, 31, raised $4,279 for her charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters. Her first fundraising event at the Palm Harbor House of Beer raised more than $2,000. Sprecher also tapped into different contributors including family, friends and business contacts, which increased the monies collected.
The other candidate, Penny Lee Todd, raised over $4,000 for the Suncoast Animal League. Earlier in the month, both nonprofits were presented with checks during the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce coffee hour.
“There’s always a little competitive spirit but toward the end, I was just happy that I was able to bring in as much as I could for my organization,” Sprecher said. “We both win either way because our organizations get to receive this money.”
Candidates raise money for the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation and for a charity of their choice. Each candidate hosts their own fundraising events and asks contributors for $1 or more per vote. The proceeds are distributed equally among the charities and chamber foundation.
As honorary mayor, Sprecher will represent the chamber during new business openings, ribbon cutting ceremonies and first year anniversaries.
“I’d like to speak at events and help the chamber raise money,” Sprecher said. “This is great exposure because I’m a Realtor, and I’m excited to be able to have new speaking opportunities as well.”
As a mentor, Sprecher continues to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters. January is National Mentoring Month, which focuses national attention on the need for mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people. Sprecher said that having mentors throughout her own life inspired her to become one herself.
“I’m a big sister, so for me what was really one of the best parts of the entire race was that my little sister got to participate and help me,” Sprecher said.
Sprecher and her little sister made and sold gingerbread ornaments at the Harbor Art Festival in December. Money garnered through sales was donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters and the chamber foundation.
“She had such a good time making the ornaments and selling them,” Sprecher said. “She was so awesome. She’s really outgoing and ran up to everybody and told them we were raising money. She just loved it.”
Sprecher is president of the Palm Harbor Toastmasters Club. She credits much of the success of her campaign with the experience she has gained from serving in earlier positions as vice president of membership and vice president of education for Toastmasters.
“Toastmasters is an organization that helps people to be better speakers and leaders,” she said. “A lot of the skills that I learned to run my campaign, I learned through Toastmasters.”
Sprecher added that she also has done fundraising and given several speeches through Toastmasters. She felt comfortable going into the mayoral race knowing that she would need to speak before a crowd and write speeches on very short notice.
“I never would have accepted the challenge if I didn’t have the training that I have had through Toastmasters,” she said.
Sprecher is currently chairing a 300- to 400-person conference in May for Toastmasters that includes weekend workshops. She has been preparing for the spring conference for the last six months.
“This is all volunteer work,” Sprecher said. “I have seen how much Toastmasters has changed me and raised my confidence level. I really like giving back to the organization because I know how it can change people’s lives.”
Recently, Sprecher became an officer with Bay Area Young Professionals as the fundraising and events coordinator. She will oversee Big Brothers Big Sisters matchmaking events in order to get young professionals interested in sponsoring and becoming mentors to local youth in the community.
The honorary mayor’s seat is the first political position Sprecher has held. Growing up, Sprecher said she had a running joke with friends that one day she would run for political office. She told them, “Vote for Pam.”
“Some of my friends got a pretty big kick out of that,” she said. “I really had a blast and learned so much.”
Sprecher is currently recruiting volunteers for Bowling for Kids’ Sake, a fundraising event in March.