March 18 2020 – Alan and Edina Lessack started volunteering at the village around 2010 and came to Sanibel in the late 1980s when a cousin invited them to spend a week at their Casa Ybel condo. “We fell in love with the island and immediately purchased two weeks of timeshare, which we did over the next 20 years,” they explained.
Alan is a tour guide and also served on the board of directors for six years including as an officer and president. Edina has worked in the village store and did the buying for a couple of years. She also has helped with Luminary and volunteered in the Rutland House. She is hoping to lead tours soon.
The Lessacks are originally from Philadelphia but lived in Chicago from 1986 to 2007. They became Sanibel residents in 2008 and reside on the island for eight months. They return to Chicago for the summer months, where Alan is a certified Volunteer River Docent for the Chicago Architecture Center.
Alan has a BA in Education from Temple University and an MA in African Studies. He was vice president at Adams-Lessack Co. office supply and furniture, and later district director and national field services director for B’nai B’rith International.
Edina was in hotel sales and marketing, then was in management at AT&T for 14 years. During that time, she also sang with opera companies in Philadelphia as a professional chorister and sang and/or conducted synagogue choirs. “In 1993, I took an early buyout from AT&T and started my own company, Meetings & Events USA, planning meetings and events for corporations and associations,” she explained.
The Lessacks have played valuable roles at the village, and their dedication is indicative of their passion for history and service.
“I love history,” Alan said. “Every time I speak about quality of life and mention the island was once the mosquito capital of America, I am in wonder and full of admiration for those brave souls.” He names the old Bailey General Store among his favorite buildings because it served as the center of life on the island. “I love having visitors look at the pharmacy,” he added.
Why does he volunteer at the village? “I have a strong belief in giving back and sharing my passion about the people who make this island what it is today and the commitment to preservation of our quality of life,” he said.
“Unlike many museums where items are behind locked glass doors, almost everything at the village is accessible,” Edina explained. “I like meeting visitors and finding out where they are from and what brought them to Sanibel and to the village.
Edina names the Rutland House as her favorite building, as the rooms are excellent examples of life in the early 1900s.
“I like sharing an important aspect of Sanibel’s history. I enjoy meeting the visitors, and the volunteers are all committed and wonderful,” Edina concluded.
To become a volunteer at the village, call executive director Emilie Alfino at 239-472-4648, or Volunteer Coordinator Jan Symroski at 239-472-1856.