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Beacon of HOPE bids farewell to Haesemeyer

March 13, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

There were tears and lots of hugs as people streamed into the Beacon of HOPE to say farewell to Betsy Haesemeyer. Haesemeyer resigned her position as executive director of the Beacon in November. Her last day was Feb. 28.

Haesemeyer served the people of Pine Island for 14 years; first as a Beacon volunteer, then as president of the board of directors and finally as executive director.

The Beacon of HOPE came into being following Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Article Photos

Betsy Haesemeyer and friends at her farewell reception at the Beacon of HOPE. Haesemeyer has retired from the island organization after 14 years of service — first as a volunteer, then as a board member and then as executive director.


"Immediately after the storm, four pastors, one from each church, put together what was called then the Pine Island Long Term Recovery Organiza-tion" Haesemeyer said. "That's when I volunteered."

"We all met at the Methodist Church to coordinate fulfilling the needs of the people of Pine Island whatever they were, " Haesemeyer said. " I remember the Church World Service was there and he had a book "Recovery for Dummies" and I was hooked. We started with the storm and we learned how to work together."

What was the Pine Island Long Term Recovery Organization became the Beacon of HOPE. Since then, Haese-meyer has been instrumental in the GED program, English as a second language, AARP - Free tax returns, veterans services, Feed America Food Bank and quit smoking classes. The newest program is transportation for Pine Island residents.

"I'm happy for Betsy because she's moving on but I'm also very sad that she's moving on," long-time volunteer Dick Maher said. "Betsy has done a marvelous job here, and to tell the truth, Betsy has built the Beacon of HOPE to what it is today. She never had a real job description because whatever came her way she just added it to her duties. She will be greatly missed."

"Ever since Charley in 2004, Betsy has done so much for the island and the Beacon of HOPE," former board president Elsie Stearns said. "She has put her whole heart and soul into making the Beacon what it is today. If you come to Betsy with an idea, you can see she's already thinking of who to contact and what to do to get it done."

"I've been on the Beacon Board close to 11 years now," the Rev. Ryan Wright said. "Betsy has led us through so many changes and expansions and the Beacons ability to serve the island. Her dedication and love for the people of Pine Island has changed countless lives and we're so grateful for her years of service."

Jane Bennington is the current president of the board of the Beacon.

"I'm happy and sad at the same time," Bennington said "I'm sad for the Beacon but happy for Betsy. I know she'll be successful in whatever she does. I'm also confident with the Beacon going forward with our new director Nancy Buthman."

"What can I say, 'parting is such sweet sorrow?'" Haesemeyer said. "This is actually an easy transition to make because the people they have in place are awesome. I'm so impressed with the people they selected and every one has volunteered their time talent, and treasure and all of our people believe in the mission. They make this difficult time much easier for me."

"I am really blown away by the reaction of the community and I'm sure it's affecting Betsy," husband Rad Hazen said. "I have to admit it's nice to have her home at night and on the weekends, though."

The Beacon of HOPE is located at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St. James City, FL 33956 For additional information about the organization, please call 239-283-5123.



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