April 1, 2020 Newsletter 
Visit us on line:      http://www.ff-fs.org/                         www.facebook.com/FFFloridaSuncoast
Dear Florida Suncoast Friendship Force Friends, 
              
First, we are praying that all of you and your families are safe and healthy and out of harm's way. We know that many of you are frequent travelers, so our first hope is that you are safe. We do know that one of our members has been stuck in Mexico and another in Dubai, so keep them in your thoughts. We are as disappointed as you are that all our meetings and fun activities had to be cancelled, but we have each other to support and to depend on. Many members have contacted us and have offered to help those in need. Please let us know if you need anything. 

This is a sad time for our friends and neighbors all around the world. Not only are we physically separated from one another, but we are concerned that after this is over Friendship Force International might not be able to weather the storm. As you know, FFI depends on Journey fees to support its staff and operating expenses; and with all Journeys cancelled, we have heard that the very future of FFI is in question. Jeremi Snook, President/CEO of Friendship Force, is doing everything that he can to keep FFI going and will soon be providing us more information. It is with a heavy heart that we share this with you as we truly believe in Friendship Force and its mission.

At this time all our activities are cancelled until further notice. We are complying with the federal and state mandates. This includes the regional conference planned for November which we were able to cancel without financial penalty.  Our Journey to Armenia and FF Cottbus Germany in April-May has been cancelled, and our August Journey to Spokane is "on hold", awaiting an official decision next month.

We are in a wait and see mode; however, we are going to make every effort to keep our club together. We have some wonderful ideas including social functions as well as travel plans. Nothing has changed or happened as of now. We are still a club and a part of Friendship Force International. We are just sharing with you what we know. We expect that each club will be asked to make a donation to help sustain FFI, but our board will make that decision only when we have an official request and detailed information. We will keep you informed and up-to-date. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us .

In Friendship,
Jane Lee
President

Chris Michalek
Past President 
 
Connie Dubois
Secretary

Gena Cameron 
VP/Membership

Petra Gonzalez
Treasurer

Mair Murphy
Back-Up Treasurer
Marilyn Whelan
VP/Programs

Directors-at-Largo
Geri Espy
Betty Oldanie
Art Worth

Now For Some Other News!
We have quite a few friends who are interested in joining our club, but we've decided to wait before adding new members until we are able to have events, programs and Fun Stuff activities.  

We will continue to publish a newsletter each month to keep you updated on what's happening with Friendship Force International, and Sue Olnick will continue to interview members for profiles to appear in the newsletter.  We'll also continue our monthly Mystery Member which has proved popular.  

If you have any ideas you'd like to share or things you would like to see in the newsletter during this challenging time,   click here to let Sandy Gourdine know. Tell her what you've been doing with all this "free" time. It might be fun to learn how everybody has been spending their time at home. 
Member Profiles
Each newsletter features member profiles written by Sue Olnick
New Member:  Marsha Colin
MYSTERY MEMBER
Marsha was born and raised in the Tampa area and has deep roots here. She graduated from Hillsborough High School, and gets together for breakfast every month with her classmates. She is the mother of two independent women, and was a teacher for 33 years. Marsha is an avid gardener, and she was a Master Gardener at FL Botanical Gardens and a docent at the Sunken Gardens. She still likes getting her fingernails dirty, and is busy creating a garden under 276 trees at her Condo. She is in the process of selecting just the right plants to grow in this shady area.
         Marsha enjoys growing friendships as well as plants. She has made many connections through travel with Educators Travel Network, which was similar to FFI in hosting members. She has been to Europe, Cuba, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and more. One of her fondest memories was being hosted by a couple who were cathedral docents, and she was treated to a private tour of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. She enjoys the connections she has made in her travels and hopes to make many more through Friendship Force.
As we all know, so much direction in life can turn on one accidental moment. For me, that moment came some 40 odd years ago in beautiful Sicily. I had been to Greece the previous year and now found myself on a National Geographic tour of Sicily and Southern Italy. I was single and there was one single gentleman on the tour. He was a retired Army Colonel (American) who had been living as an expatriate on the French Riviera for many years. 
         There followed ten wonderful years of travel and living on an d off in France. Along the way we married as we freelanced by car through France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany and probably some places I've forgotten. After he passed, I married again and we too traveled around, Europe plus Portugal, England, Ireland and Scotland. These past years I have tried to cram in as much travel as I can - while I can. That meant trips (many solo) to Russia, Finland, Estonia, Scandinavia, Croatia, Morocco, Central America, and five countries in South America. The icing on the cake has been some great Friendship Force Journeys to Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Canada. Plus, I've home hosted guests from the Ukraine, Estonia, Isle of Wight and Australia. And I'm not done yet. After all, there can always be another accidental moment Who Am I?   
You Should Be Our Next
MYSTERY MEMBER!
Everyone has a story to tell, and we'd all like to hear yours.  We all have extra time now so why not write about some of your life experiences and become a Mystery Members in a future newsletter. All it takes is about 250 words and a photo!    Click here to contact our newsletter editor, Sandy Gourdine, or email to slgourdine@aol.com.