In 2008, Joan Reitsma was the Coral Gables News’ first Gables Great honoree.
As an educator, businesswoman, volunteer and community leader, Reitsma has taken on many leadership roles. As chair of the Coral Gables Chamber’s Business and Education Committee she was critical to the success of many programs including the National Education Month Annual Program, Senior Achievement Luncheon, Junior Achievement (Middle School) and Elementary Recognition events.
When those programs were dropped by the chamber and then by Coral Gables Community Foundation, she recruited help to continue the programs and has done so on her own for almost 10 years.
Joan is a former member of the city’s Economic Development Board, and served on the City of Coral Gables School and Community Relations Committee.
After 41 years in business, Joan will be closing her store, The Giving Tree. While she may be retiring soon, you can bet she will continue to be an active part of our community.
A Rotary Paul Harris fellow, Joan Reitsma has not been as active as she would like in the Rotary Club of Coral Gables because of the store and will no doubt have more time for Rotary and so many others charitable causes. You see, Joan has a passion for Coral Gables, which is obvious. Her generous support for countless worthy causes is legend.
In past years, you could find The Giving Tree and Joan’s garage and house packed with boxes being sent to our military members overseas. During the holidays, there always were boxes or bags of blankets and gifts for seniors and children in need.
Joan has never seen a charity she doesn’t like and want to help in whatever way she can. From providing door prizes, auction items and money, she has aided countless charitable groups who are now taking advantage of her outreach once again as she closes her doors.
She already has held an open house with food and drinks for the Coral Gables Woman’s Club’s Children Dental Clinic and will be holding more soon for A Safe Haven for Newborns and Rotary. Not only is everything a minimum of 25 percent off, at these charity events, she is donating 20 percent of the total sales to the charity of the day. As word gets out, she is sure to have many wanting to take advantage of this offer and you can bet she will say “yes.” It is in her DNA.
If you talk to most any local charity, school or Coral Gables Chamber member, you will hear her praises sung by all. By the way, The Giving Tree, located at 248 Giralda Ave., is her second career which she began full-time after retiring many years ago from teaching Spanish, Government, and Economics at Gables High School to seemingly most of today’s municipal leaders.
For her lifetime of teaching and giving, Joan Reitsma deserves much good fortune and success as she enters a new phase in her life. She is truly an exemplary Gables Great.