KarenSue Molis didn’t come up with the idea of running for Lutz Guv’na on her own. The seed was planted by someone who knew a little something about the ceremonial title and the fundraising race that goes with it.
She was recruited by a previous Guv’na.
“Karen is enthusiastic, she is creative, and she appeals to just about everybody,” said Edwina Kraemer, who was Guv’na in 2006. “You want a winner for the club. You want a winner for the community.”
The club in question is the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, which selects and supports a candidate each year. And the community is Lutz, and the money raised by the annual Guv’na’s campaign goes specifically to community groups and service organizations.
After some coaxing, Molis decided she was up to the task, even though she had an inkling there was more to running for Guv’na than meets the eye.
“At first I declined, because I had a feeling there was a lot more work to this than I was being told,” she said with a laugh. “And believe me, there’s a lot more work to this than I was told!”
She’s having fun putting in the work necessary to compete in the race, which runs until the July 4 weekend. For Molis and the club, that means knocking on doors, drumming up some cash with raffles and planning events to raise the bulk of her war chest. Whichever candidate raises the most money earns the sash, so she’s getting creative with ways to collect as much as possible.
Being creative comes naturally for Molis, who was an art teacher for 11 years for elementary school children in her native Illinois. Her job took her to different schools, giving young students a chance to develop their skills, and also providing lessons that go beyond paintbrushes and crafts.
Art allows children to express themselves freely, Molis said. But it also teaches them that creating is a process, and there are steps each person takes as they progress. And that kind of discipline isn’t limited to art.
“It’s the same way in life. You can’t drive a car until you’ve been taught to drive the car. “You can’t bake a cake if you can’t follow the directions,” she said.
It’s not unusual that Molis referred to a car, when making her analogy.
Her husband of 46 years, Fred, is an antique car enthusiast, and they have a 1959 Jaguar and a 1957 Ford Thunderbird. The Thunderbird has been in the last four Lutz Fourth of July parades.
When Molis and her husband were moving to the area from Jacksonville to live closer to their grandchildren, they didn’t originally intend to live in Lutz.
They planned to live in Wesley Chapel.
But when their real estate agent showed them something else, they made a detour.
“The realtor showed us the community of Lutz, and of all the places he showed us, this one just felt good,” Molis said.
She joined the woman’s club to make friends and, six years later, she’s their candidate for Guv’na.
While Molis is full of smiles and eager to shake hands as she campaigns, she knows it’s all about the money. And she has a full slate of events planned to raise funds. Each Thursday, the club hosts a luncheon at the Lutz Community Center, 98 First Ave., N.W. And on June 6, she hopes to raise a lot of cash at a special car show from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Furniture Now Home & Accessories, 15445 N. Nebraska Ave. There’s a good chance the Molis antiques will make an appearance there as well.
While the club is working hard to put Molis over the top (their candidate last year just fell short in what was likely the closest race in Guv’na history), she knows that there are no losers in the race. When another Guv’na alumnus, Suzin Carr, explained that local organizations will get thousands of dollars to meet their goals and keep the local flavor of Lutz alive, Molis knew it was a good cause no matter the outcome.
“When she started telling me all the things that had been done with (the money), then I thought, well, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, because all of the money goes into the Lutz pot.”
If she does defeat the other two candidates, she’ll have some say in where a small portion of the money goes. And she’s already identified the Lutz Library, the Old Lutz School and Canine Companions, which helps provide assistance dogs to those in need, as her choices for Guv’na assistance.
With two children, three grandchildren and a lot of gardening to tend, Molis doesn’t lack for activities. But her schedule is all about the Guv’na race for the next month, and becoming even closer to the area that she joined just a few years ago.
“Of all the places we’ve lived in the United States, in the six years we’ve been here, we’re more a part of this community than we’ve been of any of the communities,” Molis said.
Published June 3, 2015