Loving life in this “cool, collaborative” community

This is my Gainesville

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.

Debbie Mason, president and CEO of United Way of North Central Florida, describes herself as “single,” an avid boater and a mermaid at heart!” The North Florida area has been home to her family for seven generations.


Debbie Mason, president and CEO of United Way of North Central Florida.

A perfect weekend includes:

Reading The Gainesville Sun Saturday with a mug of green tea, followed by shopping at the farmers market in my Haile Plantation neighborhood and breakfast/lunch at Sisters. Plus a dinner party with friends at my home that night, as I love to cook and entertain! A perfect Sunday means staying at home piled up with The Gainesville Sun and The New York Times, hot tea, listening to classical music overlooking or sitting in my beautiful garden. A bike ride and some yoga followed by diving into a good book is the perfect day of restoration.

When I have visitors I like to show them:

Kanapaha Gardens, Florida Museum of Natural History, the Harn Museum of Art.

A hidden gem in Gainesville is:

Patticakes for fabulous cupcakes and Limerock for the best burgers in town! Both are in the Haile Village and do a great job. On the east side, it's Bistro to Go and Civilization for organic salads, soups and more. A fave for cooking needs and gator-themed hostess gifts is Kitchen and Spice, and for unique artful gifts it’s Paddiwhack.

A fun date night in Gainesville includes:

Dinner downtown at any of the super restaurants like Emilianos, Vellos, Dragonfly, or Paramount, followed by a show at the Hipp and an after-drink at Half Corked.

What I like most about my neighborhood:

It is peaceful, with nice neighbors, great walking paths, safe biking areas, a gym, Publix with a huge organic selection ... everything I need.

When I describe Gainesville I mention first:

How cool and collaborative it is, with a great community of caring residents.

What I’ve last read that I would recommend:

“The Untethered Soul,” by Mickey Singer. I've read it when I have had external pressing factors in my life and it restores me!

My favorite place to take a walk:

We are blessed with some amazingly beautiful parks, like Boulware Springs, offering beauty and peace.

A great Gainesville resource is:

2-1-1, the 24-hour, free call for information and assistance for families in times of crisis, sponsored by United Way.

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