This will be Gabilondo's first term as president, and she will be installed on Feb. 7. Laurie Wexel is the outgoing president.
Gabilondo, whose family has lived in Lilburn for more than 21 years, first started attending Lilburn Woman's Club meetings in 2009, and became a full member by February of the next year.
Her first responsibility was to assist Patti-Jo Shapiro with the club’s public relations. Shapiro died in 2011, and Gabilondo paid tribute to her in Patch, and many other ways.
"We made a great team, and she was a passionate teacher," Gabilondo said.
In 2011, Gabilondo continued on as the club’s publicity chairwoman and also took on the role of co-chairwoman for international outreach. It was at that time, that her appreciation "blossomed" for the club's greater goal to serve.
We talked with Gabilondo recently about her plans as the new president. See her emailed responses below.
Patch: What are you most looking forward to as president of the Lilburn Woman's Club?
Pat Gabilondo: I am really looking forward to strengthening our relationship with the city as our community continues its transformation from a sleepy residential area to a thriving historic and commercial district. My theme for this year is “Transforming our Community and the World” in support of this movement.
I am also looking forward to leading and mentoring our newer members so that they are prepared to become the future leaders of the organization and continue our mission of volunteerism and community improvement.
Patch: What specific issue do you want to focus on during your term, and why?
Gabilondo: It is very difficult to pinpoint just one issue when the needs of the community are increasing exponentially in this difficult economy.
Domestic violence awareness and prevention has been identified by the GFWC president as her special project through 2014, and we will continue to support this effort in full force. With Gwinnett County leading the state in domestic violence incidents, this is a complex issue which has reared its ugly head right here in our backyard and we cannot ignore it.
Last year, LWC returned more than $25,000 back to the community in the form of local scholarships and program projects, and I would like to expand this list going forward. We added one new scholarship for a Lilburn high school senior in 2012 who was committed to majoring in the arts. As Lilburn Daze continues to grow and help fund our scholarship program, the potential for expansion is very realistic.
I also want to ensure that our legacy of annual community events continue and grow such as the Jawbones vs. Sawbones fundraiser in support of the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse; the Lilburn Relay Rally in support of the American Cancer Society; the bike rodeo for the Fourth of July; Lilburn Daze, which funds our scholarships and other community programs; and our Christmas auction, which benefits the Lilburn Co-op and needy families in the Lilburn area around the holidays to name just a few.
Patch: Why is this year particularly exciting time for the Lilburn Woman's Club?
Gabilondo: This is a particularly exciting year for the LWC for several reasons.
First and foremost, we are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. We received our charter through the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC Georgia) in 1973, and we are very proud to be associated with this international organization.
This will also be our 40th Annual Lilburn Daze Festival. With over 200 vendors and 15,000 visitors, the committee is already working on creative ideas to ensure this year’s event is even grander than ever.
In addition, we are installing six new members this year, which brings our total membership to 75 enthusiastic and dedicated women. This will make us one of the largest GFWC clubs in the state and will allow us to reach out further than we have been able to in the past.
We also are looking forward to finding creative ways to continue to show our support for community projects such as the new Lilburn Art Alliance, the farmer's market, Arbor Day, the community garden, the Greenway Trail, the new library and whatever the future holds.
Patch: Why do you like living in and serving the Lilburn community?
Gabilondo: I love the strong sense of community pride and Southern hospitality that runs through the Lilburn area. I also love the diversity of the neighborhoods and residents, the four seasons and the home town feeling the city has been able to maintain while still being a comfortable driving distance to downtown Atlanta and all the benefits that come with living near a major metropolitan area.
Serving the Lilburn community is so rewarding because after every event or activity there are always those individuals who make a point to let us know how much they really appreciate our efforts and recognize the difference we make in the community.
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