By Dawn Gabel
When Gayle Best answered the phone call a year ago from Jim and Joan Davies concerning the Lake Quivira directory they published for many years, she did not foresee the path that has brought her to near completion of her first directory.
The directory is a phone book and cross-reference guide for neighbors and off-lake members of the club. It’s a business referral with advertising for many regularly used trades people. It’s a social organizer for many, listing children of the home and their school year. It’s a map to get you to all of the small roads that connect the community. Its publication has been in only three hands, and Gayle is working her way to the first printing in her care.
Gayle was chosen by the Davies due to her connectivity and extensive involvement at the lake. The Davies were chosen by Muffy because of Joan Davies life-long ties to LQ (she grew up here), her knowledge of the people and their trust in her. And the Davies felt the same about Gayle.
Traditionally, the directory is delivered to each residence around the end of the year. But Gayle has been knee deep in planting tulip bulbs, cleaning up after a hurricane and helping throw a holiday bazaar.
“I was already very involved in the pontoon crawl that takes place in September,” Gayle recalled. “So when Joan and Jim would have been starting on their directory activities, I was immersed in pontoon crawl. My goal was to get started and reach out to the advertisers, which I did back in August and sent them info about their ads.”
Gayle and her husband Kent went on vacation to their Hilton Head home the last week of September. The day they returned to Lake Quivira, they heard about Hurricane Matthew, which was predicted to hit land on Hilton Head–and a mandatory evacuation the next day, October 5. “My husband and I dropped everything and focused on that,” said Gayle. “We watched it all night long on television and started making plans for traveling south.” Hilton Head opened up to residents three or four days later.
While en route, they received pictures of their house and discovered the area had been hit with a tornado in the middle of the hurricane. Two huge trees had landed on their house, and several were down around the house–probably fifteen trees involved.
National guard and FEMA were on location, assigning each house a color code. “They put yellow on ours; the ones that had red you couldn’t stay in,” said Gayle. “We were not allowed in certain areas of our house where the trees were coming through–like our master closet.”
“Having a hurricane was not in my mix,” said Gayle. It took several days of waiting for the five cranes which would eventually remove the trees. “While they worked to lift the trees, I sat in my home office, which is in our master bedroom, and worked on the directory and the holiday bazaar,” she recalled. The Bests remained at their “vacation home” ten to twelve days.
The day the Bests left to go to Hilton Head, foundation repair of the Lake Quivira Clubhouse started. All the planting in front of the Clubhouse had to be removed in that process. Here’s the problem: five outdoor weddings were scheduled through October.
“LQ had made a commitment to those who had signed up for outdoor weddings,” said Gayle. Lori Keller, Jeff Eldridge and Gayle had been coordinating the purchase and planting of yellow mums and crotons that would patch in some color to the landscaping. It was all happening at the same time–directory, bazaar and hurricane.
“In a way, the story of that week is the story of our need at the lake,” said Gayle. “There is a great need for more volunteers to take leadership roles. We say it and speak of it in our groups, but we need to take action and ask for help. I was needing help. Although we have many volunteers here, we need more–and we need leaders.”
The 1972 all-resident directory for Lake Quivira is small and unassuming in comparison to today’s version–a tan, comb-bound book about five by four inches. The pages are a soft blue paper, and only lake residents are listed–no off-lake members and no map. Other noticeable differences are land line phone number and address only; no cell phone numbers or email addresses. No children’s phone number were listed; those would be added later in the next decade. Children’s numbers in later additions noted a separate landline dedicated to their use.
Gayle has taken the Davies’ charge to make sure the lake has an accurate and useful book, just as the Davies did when Muffy handed it over to them. “The directory is a great asset to the community–and it is a little late. But I look at it as a process of making it more useful for how we live now.”
Gayle was no stranger to maintaining a database of contact information. “It made it easier for me to follow up to confirm phone numbers since I have email addresses I have put together from the home tour, pontoon crawl, the holiday bazaar and the other committees I have been involved with.”
That’s not saying it was easy. When Gayle started gathering her contacts for committees in 2011, she would list a contact, phone number and email address, and before long one or the other of even both had changed. It was tedious work and highly inaccurate as well.
“So many people just had their land lines at the lake in the older directories, and they wouldn’t answer when the landline was called. And most residents didn’t have their email address listed either.
“I lived in the online Lake Quivira roster since the directory did not have that information at that time. When I first started chairing events in 2011, I had to communicate with people. All I had was the garden club list of phone and home address with the name.”A database came together when Gayle became the committee chair of the pontoon crawl. “I needed to reach out to the whole lake so that we could have 600 plus people at the event.”
Gayle soon realized that the information was collected in a centralized area, but it was not accessible. “I went to the office and they couldn’t release that information to anyone. Not email address or cell phones. But I found out that there is an online roster via lakequivira.org. Members have access via a password. I went person by person and called up each individual person from the online roster and confirmed their email address and cell contact and then created a spreadsheet.”
The problem was, as soon as she created it, it was out of date. “The next time I would do an event I would ask the office for the names of the people who had left or the new ones that had come in, and I would build them into what I had and start reconfirming for new emails and cell numbers.”
For Joan and Jim, when it was time to do the directory, they would get the printout to send to each member to ask for updates and permission to print in the mail. Joan and Jim would get it out as of Oct first and it would have last name, address, spouse, children, home phone and dock number. Each individual had to take the time to fill out the paperwork and mail it back. Hardly anyone sent updates back to them, so their info was only as good as what people revealed to them.
Gayle has taken confirmation personally. After trying an eblast news story three weeks in a row with only fifty responses, she emailed everyone using the event database she had built.
“Several weeks ago I sat down and I got out the spreadsheet and started going through, checking them off. As I look at them I’m thinking I know so and so, and this is their old landline and they don’t have a landline anymore. I know they are very involved and that they need to be contacted by people. So I have written an email to almost every single person. I am up through the Js.”
In March 2015 Gayle retired following forty years at Black and Veatch, most recently as the director of business and financial systems globally. But Gayle’s year has not felt like a retirement. She has taken on large projects like the directory in a fearless manner. Like her chairmanship of the homes tour in 2014, she is surprised she had the fortitude to take the directory on. But when she puts her mind to it a new project, she likes to put her own spin on it.
Her plans for the future of the directory include a rethinking of the advertising area and quarterly updates to the book. Updates will have a special folder area so they can be slipped into the booklet.
“I want this to be a very useful thing for members. I am looking at ways to have the information, along with the advertisers, referenced from the internet.
“The year has been crazy, but I am focusing on getting this last project finished–finished and improved for us all. Then I will relax.”