PARRISH -- You could call Phil Godin the volunteer-in-chief at Veranda Springs.
The retired New York judge is president of the homeowners association. But he'll grill the ribs and chicken to a tasty turn at a community cookout or do the scooping at an ice cream social.
Many of the other residents of the 55-plus manufactured home community of 350 at 9815 U.S. 301 N. are similarly committed to helping their neighbors.
Residents have organized themselves into about 45 committees that handle everything from aerobics and aluminum cans to travel and tours and welcoming new residents.
"We have many, many volunteers," Godin said. "Most everyone knows everyone else. They help each other, and that makes for a great group of people."
The lineup of committees changes according to demand or need.
An elder services committee was recently organized to inform older residents about benefits, scams or how to deal with abuse.
Other activities at Veranda Springs range from working with Southeastern Guide
Dogs -- residents have sponsored 16 dogs over the years -- to golf, horseshoes, billiards and Bible study.
"If you can't find an activity here, shame on you," Godin said.
Even though Veranda Springs opened in 1987, residents help keep it like new.
"You can look around and see how peaceful it is, and how well maintained it is," Godin said. "Everybody chips in. It's been busy, but not too busy to take away the fun of living here."
Life at Veranda Springs revolves around the community center, which hosts dinners, dances, coffees and more.
A small flag is run up outside the community center when the postal carrier delivers the mail. The flag acts as a signal not only for residents to come get their mail, but to gather and catch up on news and events.
In addition to the official mail, Veranda Springs also has an unofficial mail system of sorts.
For the past decade, Lois McDonald has walked the community delivering cards from one resident to the other, marking birthdays, anniversaries or illnesses.
"Most everyone sends out a lot of cards. I just drop them off," McDonald said.
One of the most popular activities at Veranda Springs is the Thursday morning coffees, when residents can do more catching up with their neighbors and exchange hugs and handshakes.
A warm welcome awaits each new resident, with their photos being added to the "hall of fame" in the community center. Each new resident also receives a write-up in the "Meet Your Neighbors" section of the community newsletter, Veranda Springs Views, which editor Dan Morris has compiled since 2001.
Through the newsletter, residents might learn that their new neighbor is "an amateur rock hound," or "performed as a clown in an earlier life."
Vergie and Harold Day have been married 68 years and are long-time Veranda Springs residents.
"I was born on the Fourth of July. I came in with a bang and I have never sat down," said Vergie Day, 91.
Her contributions to Veranda Springs, aside from her rapid-fire jokes, are the afghans that she knits for neighbors. She has made and given away about 50 of them.
"What I like most about Veranda Springs is the way the people treat one another," she said.
Veranda Springs is known for honoring veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day.
This year, the community is also honoring Canadian veterans.
Veranda Springs counts among it population 16 Canadians. Also well represented are Floridians, New Yorkers, Michiganders and Massachusettsans.
About one-third of the residents are winter residents, and activities slow down in the summer.
Phil and Linda Courtright have been coming to Veranda Springs since 1990, when there were only about 40 homes there. They moved full-time in 1998 from Quakertown, Pa.
In March, they were honored as grand marshals of the Parrish Heritage Day Parade.
The Courtrights have been leaders in their community in sponsoring Southeastern Guide Dogs, and in collecting toys for the annual Parrish children's Christmas party.
Phil Courtright founded the Ellenton-Parrish Lions Club, and Linda Courtright just finished a one-year term as president of the club.
Linda's parents were among the first residents of Veranda Springs.
"We have seen this place really grow and develop. Beyond Cape Haze, where the tennis courts are now, was all jungle," Linda Courtright said.
"You could hear the cows bellow at night," she said of the largely rural nature of the neighborhood in the 1990s.
Asked about his favorite spot at Veranda Springs, Phil Godin says it's the deck around the swimming pool, where cookouts are held.
Ask him what's most unique about the community, and he says it's the people.
"When you call for volunteers, they show up," he said. "I spent a lot of time in big cities. This exceeds my expectations."
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.