This Wednesday, a local church group will hear from Anna Maria Island Welcome Home Group, a grassroots organization that bills itself as committed to welcoming new permanent residents to “come home” to Anna Maria Island while inspiring all residents to love living here.
JOY, short for Just Older Youth, will host the latest of its talk series at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Roser Community Church Fellowship Hall, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.
“JOY is an official church group that meets every second and fourth Wednesday,” said Bev Hunsberger, media facilitator for Roser Community Church. “It’s like a brown bag lecture series that’s a bit informal, and they have various topics each time.”
AMI Welcome Home Group, which is also known on the 7-mile barrier island as Anna Maria Island: Home, Sweet Home, was co-founded by Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter, Holmes Beach Commission Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen and former Bradenton Beach Commissioner Janie Robertson. According to an email from Hunsberger, those who love the island will want to hear more about the group’s work.
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“The purpose of Home Sweet Home is to encourage people to either stay here, live here, own your home here and to encourage people from the outside to come here and own their own home,” Robertson said late Sunday morning. “We’re losing so many residents. It’s (the organization) to encourage people to be residents of the island.”
Robertson said in 2001 she was living in a condo in Bradenton, but purchased a trailer at Pines Trailer Park in Bradenton Beach just for the weekends.
The purpose of Home Sweet Home is to encourage people to either stay here, live here, own your home here and to encourage people from the outside to come here and own their own home. We’re losing so many residents. It’s (the organization) to encourage people to be residents of the island.
Janie Robertson, co-founder of Anna Maria Island Welcome Home Group
“I ended up staying there more than anything,” she said of the trailer home.
In 2007, Robertson decided to move permanently to Bradenton Beach after purchasing a condo with a view of the water. Water, she said, is what first attracted her to Anna Maria Island.
“I’m a water person. I love the water and I need to be near it,” she said. “I observe the water. I observe the bay, and I go into the gulf often.”
Asked what she thinks will attract more permanent residents to the island, the former Bradenton Beach commissioner said there are a million reasons.
“For families, there’s an excellent elementary school (Anna Maria Elementary School), there is a quality of life here that’s just tremendous for both retired people and families,” she said. “Obviously, the crime is very low and our trolley allows people to move up and down the island and avoid the parking problems.”
The church’s release on the upcoming JOY gathering included photographs taken by island resident Kelly Smith, part of “The Island Child” album that can be viewed on the AMI Welcome Home Group’s website, OurAnnaMaria.com.
“I photograph my kids and the beauty that is found on this island. We walk down to the beach via the same path I walked over 30 years ago,” Smith said in a statement. “We pass the same house with the same resident that was there when I was little. We play on the beach just like I used to do. We enjoy the sunset and come home sandy, salty, and relaxed.”
For more information on the upcoming JOY gathering featuring Anna Maria Island Welcome Home Group, please contact Roser Community Church at 941-778-0414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.