We all know that Oviedo has been mentioned in "top cities to live" lists in multiple publications, but what strikes me the most, what really makes me smile are the intangibles...
Between my three kids' activities and selling art at shows, I get to meet a lot of people around town. From getting to know young families to older folks to city officials, it got me thinking about the things I love about our town.
1. In this town, we support one another's endeavors. We try our best to attend each other's events and activities. Just look at how many small businesses and work-from-home ventures we manage to support. We understand the old adage that another's success does not diminish our accomplishments, instead they often add value. I've been amazed by the support I've personally felt in this community and have tried to pass that support on. I see others around me doing the same. It's inspiring.
2. We know one another. Yes, at times it can be tough quickly running into Publix or Target without stopping to chit-chat but you have to admit, this town of 60,000+ can sometimes feel like 500. It's not that we are a group full of gossips, it's just that our lives overlap. We are interwoven like the lattice top of a blueberry pie. This occurs by attending many years of school events, church gatherings, sports and service projects. We are raising our families together. I know that if my kids are out acting a fool that I will hear about it. Conversely, when they are doing things right, someone is going to compliment them. It's part of the parent network and it's healthy.
3. We tolerate annoyances well together and know how to laugh at them. There are things about living in any town that are frustrating, but as a bunch, I think we exercise a lot of patience. Like how we are the only ones who can decode the multiple names of one street. Or how we've painfully stuck by our mall hoping for eventual improvements. What about the way we love our little chickens, even if it means waiting for them to slowly cross the road? There is also the growing traffic and that eyesore of the Albertsons plaza. These are things beyond our control as residents and yet we manage to work around them.. These things might be mildly vexing, but the issues can be complicated and it's easy to overlook a thing or two when you know how good you've got it … and we all know.
4. We help one another in times of need. In the 17 years that I've lived here, I've seen this town truly rally when crisis hits. In case you doubt me, remember back to a few names; Madison Mickens and the flag football tournament to raise money for support of his family and medical expenses. Nadia Bloom and the incredible search and recovery of that precious young lady. Or how about hurricanes Charley and Mathew? We slept over at one another's houses when we didn't have power and cleared our neighbors' and friends' yards with chainsaws that we didn't really know how to use. It was a great time of community!
5. Neighbors feel like neighbors. Recently, I've become aware of a group of young teen girls living in an Oviedo foster home. A dear friend of mine asked if I'd be willing to do a watercolor workshop for them. When I got there to paint with the girls, I was surprised to see two other friends. One was ready to help the group paint and one was dropping off a McDonald's dinner. I had no idea they were quietly involved in this type of service. It became known to me that these ladies were a part of a group called Foster Friends of Oviedo. As awareness of the girls' needs grows, so has the number of people stepping up to bring meals, donate items and raise funds. It's been incredible to witness! My eyes well up thinking of how our community will rally when we know about a need... everyone sharing or doing what their unique circumstances will allow. If you'd like to get involved or give, check out iwillprevail.org. As a show of your support for the girls, you'll receive a "LOVE Oviedo" sticker donated by the creator of the Oviedo 32765/32766 Facebook page, Emma Reichart.
Beyond the parks and amenities, it's those hard-to-put-your-finger-on elements that really make the town of Oviedo feel like home!