Kathy Stewart: Spirit of Gainesville nominee
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
I’m nominating Kathy Stewart for the entrepreneurship award because of the positive impact her website, Fun4GatorKids.com has had on the Gainesville community. Four years ago, Kathy was a stay-at-home mom who really enjoyed taking her two kids out to do all of the fun things that are available in Gainesville and the surrounding area. To find things to do, she would spend hours each week scouring the internet, newspaper and circulars looking for events and activities for her family to do. It was frustrating to her that there seemed to be so much to do, but it was difficult to find the information and she had to check a lot of sources to get a complete picture of what was happening in and around the community. Kathy discovered she was not alone in her frustration after speaking with local educators and making inquiries with the local mom’s groups. In 2009, Kathy decided to do something about it and in October she launched her website Fun4gatorkids.com.
About Kathy Stewart
Occupation: Owner of Fun 4 Gator Kids
Years in Gainesville: 9
Spouse: Art Stewart
Children: Rebecca and Ryan
Fun4GatorKids.com has become the resource that provides families, caregivers and teachers with camps, festivals, programs, classes, schools, activities, day trips, events and services for kids and families in Gainesville and the surrounding communities all in one convenient place.
Fun4GatorKids.com brings a much needed resource to this highly transient community. One local mom told Kathy: “Our family moved to Gainesville in May of this year and discovered fun4gatorkids.com immediately. It helped us pick a school for our eldest daughter, assisted me in finding the local library story time and helped us cool off in the closest splash pad. In all of our moves I have never been able to make our town feel like home so quickly!”
For families that are relocating to this area, it provides a way for them to quickly learn about what is available in the area. By allowing relocating families to quickly find resources the kids and families are able to get back into the programs and routines they were used to in their old home helping them to integrate and settle into the Gainesville community. This helps families convert from feeling like they are “in Gainesville”, to feeling like they are “at home”.
Fun4GatorKids.com provides ways for families to help out in the community. Kathy promotes donation needs, volunteer needs and events benefitting children’s non-profits on the website, on Facebook and in the newsletters and calendars she sends out to subscribers. Kathy is a big supporter of Food4Kids Backpack Program of North Florida and her family volunteers in their distribution warehouse.
Kathy has also been an advertising sponsor for many children’s events in the Gainesville area including the Sweet Dreams’ Touch-a-Truck event. This non-profit event raises money for charities that benefit children and has been a very successful food drive for Food4Kids Backpack Program of North Florida.
Kathy lists all family and children related business and services for free to make the website a complete picture of the local community and to give all businesses an opportunity regardless of size. Kathy also recognized the need to provide affordable advertising opportunities for small business owners. Small businesses generally do not have the marketing budgets needed to effectively market in magazine, radio or television. To provide a level playing field for small businesses to compete, Kathy decided to keep her advertising reasonable allowing them to easily take advantage of the community reach that Fun4GatorKids.com provides.
The City of Gainesville Department of Parks is a money conscious advertiser who operates on a very limited fixed budget. Here is what they have to say about advertising with Fun 4 Gator Kids:
“The City of Gainesville has been advertising with fun4gatorkids.com since 2010. We have found fun4gatorkids.com to be a valued community partner and a "well-connected" venue where the public can learn about happenings in the community."
As a Gainesville entrepreneur, Kathy is always looking for ways to bring local business and families together in the community. Over the summer of 2012, Kathy sponsored and organized the Water Wednesdays events. Organizations and businesses which offer children’s and family services were invited to setup information booths for the parents while the kids played on water slides, sprinklers and with many other water toys. This past summer, Fun 4 Gator Kids teamed up with Gainesville Ecotours for a 10 week Family Nature Hunt that promoted explorations of nature parks in the Gainesville area. This provided families with a fun way to explore local parks, learn about local plants and animals while spending quality time together.
In 2013, Kathy teamed up with her website developers at Digital Scribeworks to form a new company called Fun 4 US Kids. Fun 4 US Kids offers software licenses for others to provide the same service in their communities. Each website is run by individuals familiar with the community that are interested in helping families, small business and non-profits in their community. Fun 4 US Kids currently has sites for Ocala, St. Augustine, Tallahassee, and there are several more currently in development.
Kathy is an excellent example of the Spirit of Gainesville. Through her entrepreneurship she solved a problem that all parents in our community have: What is there to do with my family here? The solution helps families to make Gainesville their home and in crafting the solution, she created a place where local business, services and charities are able to reach their audience and are not disadvantaged by cost. While a website may not be an innovation, the local synergy that this site provides for our community is.
Nominated by Kristina Wadsworth