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Time helping people is time well spent

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image Deb Adams may work at BMO Harris Bank in Apollo Beach but she is so active in her community many associate her with organizations and projects not connected to her job. Photo Penny Fletcher

When you hear of all her community activities, you wonder how she has time to work as vice president and branch manager. Yet she does.

BY PENNY FLETCHER

You might find Deb Adams teaching people who have no credit- or bad credit- how to build it back again, or helping women at the Mary and Martha House shelter in Ruskin learn to manage their finances.

Or she could be doing fundraising and other activities for her church; working on a project for perpetual care of the Ruskin Memorial Park Cemetery; helping the mentally ill being released from facilities work their way into society; or maintaining email lists of thousands that help match people searching for work with available jobs.

And those activities are just for starters.

Deb Adams is one busy gal.

The Valrico resident, now 52, and her husband Jimmy, have two sons, Chris and Dan, and a daughter Amanda. They also have two granddaughters and another on the way.

She has been a resident of the area since she was 11 years old and her husband is from a native Hillsborough County family.

She’s been in area banking for 10 years, as American Bank became Gold Bank and then M & I and now BMO (pronounced Beemo)- which is actually Bank of Montreal, located on US 41 across from Mira Bay.

But when you hear of all her community activities you wonder how she has time to work as vice president and branch manager. Yet she does. And she still manages to make time to take motorcycle trips with her husband occasionally, her favorite one being their annual trip to the Florida Keys.

“I am so fortunate the bank encourages community life or I couldn’t do all this,” Adams said in a recent interview.

She’s involved with the SouthShore Business Association, the Ruskin Woman’s Club, the American Business Woman’s Association, and the SouthShore and Sun City Center chambers of Commerce. She also serves on the board of Project Return Inc., that assists people who have been in a mental health facility adjust when they return to society.

Because she’s in these organizations, she knows a lot of people and keeps an email contact of everyone she can.

“It was just natural for me to have lists,” she said. “I don’t use them to solicit business. I use them to promote charity events and the past few years, help people seeking work and on the other side of that- help employers find qualified people to fill their openings.”

Adams said when the economy tanked in 2007, people began sending her emails with resumes, or just saying if she heard of a job opening to let them know.

She also knew several employers that had jobs.

A light bulb went off! She began sending regular emails listing jobs and people available for jobs to her long lists of contacts.

“It started paying off right away,” she said.

But it doesn’t end there. Individuals began using her lists as well.

“One thing that sticks out in my mind is a heartwarming story about a local attorney who sent me something about her daughter who was turning 10. I remember that she’d been born on 9-1-1. The mom was taking her to see the Bucs, she really liked football and she liked the Bucs. Well, I had contacts with the Bucs and the girl and her family got to go down on the field and meet the players. It was a very satisfying thing.”

Mostly though, Adams said she likes to do things for charitable organizations and their recipients.

She’s posted events for the Mary & Martha House, and worked with shelter guests. Having been in all banking positions from teller and other jobs to her current position as branch manager and vice president she especially enjoys teaching women who don’t know how to handle money how to use checking accounts, save money and build credit.

When the Ruskin Woman’s Club took on the project of finding people to care for the community-owned Ruskin Memorial Park and Cemetery, she found landscapers to donate time. She said she works with others who are now trying to put together a foundation of some sort to see the place will get perpetual care.

Because now there’s so much cremation to save money in tight times, the cemetery needs all the help it can get, she said. The cemetery has no actual “owners” or responsible parties because it is a remnant of the Commongood Society that inhabited Ruskin in the early 1900s with the goal of public education for all classes of people based on the ideas of John Ruskin who had done this in other places. That makes upkeep voluntary.

“When I’m at my desk working, and I can’t get out and about, the email lists are one way I can keep on helping the community,” Adams said.

“You never know when the seeds you plant will grow,” she said. “There might be some information passed on this week that will help someone down the road.”

So she continues to collect emails from everyone she meets along the way.

“I will never use them for solicitation for business,” she said. “People can be assured they will be used to help others find work, employers fill job slots and charities that help right here in our community.”

To contact Adams, email her at deb.adams@bmo.com.

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