I would also like to thank all the team members, which I consider close friends and family, from Avalon Park Group for their passionate, dedicated, and hard work for our many enterprises around the globe.
Additionally, I would be remised if I did not recognize my appreciation for Avalon Park Groups’ business friends, partners, clients, vendors, bankers, and government entities we work with every day.
Thanksgiving is the time to look back and while doing so, I am deeply thankful for the United States of America. As an immigrant from Switzerland, this country has offered me everything I could ever dream about. As a young man, who barely spoke English, I arrived in Florida with the dream to build a town and find success as an entrepreneur. I was welcomed with open arms to this community, as a human being, and as a businessman.
As a businessman, I learned in order to earn you have to invest.
Many years ago, I heard a speech from the late Richard DeVos, the owner of the Magic basketball team and billionaire entrepreneur. He told his fellow church friends in Fort Lauderdale that he experienced something interesting. He would start to give 10 % of his income to the Church as required by the Bible. However, he then decided to give more of his income, and at times to give more than he earned in a given year. Rich DeVos said, “The more I donated, the more my fortune grew.”
I am fortunate and deeply thankful to be in this country where you can pursue your dream and by working hard, being honest and obeying the law you can reach all your dreams. It is not only an honor to be able to give back in thankfulness to the community which allowed me and many other entrepreneurs to be successful, but I see it as an obligation and honor to give back to the community and less fortunate. Giving for Avalon Park Group often means identifying a need and filling it.
Almost 20 years ago, Avalon Park Group donated school sites for Avalon Park Elementary school, funded the Timber Creek high school football stadium, and built the Timber Creek Bands marching field. A high ranking Orange County Public Schools school official asked me, “How can you afford to do all those donations, Avalon Park has barely started, and with just few homes cannot possibly be making you money.” By the way, my CFO also wondered what I was doing when “giving away with both hands.”
I am thankful and glad that Avalon Park started with giving. It was the strong foundation for a great community. Without those gifts we would not have what we have today, a wonderful town, where people can live, learn, work, and play. A town where people can find a strong sense of belonging and safety. Hence giving back starts early and should never end.
Sometimes people believe giving is just money. I strongly disagree, there are so many ways of giving back, as in time and talents. I am thankful that the Avalon Park community is among the best I have experienced when it comes to giving time as volunteers in schools, at Encore Assisted Living community, at the service clubs, such as the Avalon Rotary Club and Avalon Kiwanis Club. I admire anybody spending time to give back, sometimes it is easy just to send a check, and much harder to invest time and passion when giving back. So, in the spirit of the season, as I look to new and familiar ways to give back, I encourage you to do the same!