By Angela Higginbotham
Wendy Regas was born in Atlanta, Ga. and moved to Naples, Fla. in the midst of her junior year of high school. Through hard work and determination, and eager to move and start her college career, she was able to attend Vanderbilt University at only 16 years old. An Art History major, Regas met her husband, Chris, in pottery class. They have five children, spaced 14 years apart, and they recently celebrated their 42nd anniversary on the same day their fourth grandchild was born.
Always passionate about others and the well being of the community, Regas is a past president of the Mandarin Toastmasters. She also volunteered her time to the Parent Teacher Association of Beauclerc Elementary for 19 years straight. Inspired by her own child’s cancer diagnosis at the age of 10, Regas gave her time freely to the Meals on Wheels fundraiser through The Children’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Currently, she’s focused on her church, where she teaches Sunday school and leads the women’s Bible study. Wendy and Chris Regas have been proud to call Mandarin home since 1979.
- What do you enjoy most about living in Mandarin?
The great accessibility to both river and ocean, and the surprising variety of people that live here. Through Toastmasters, I’ve met residents from all over the world.
- How did you become involved with the Mandarin Toastmasters?
I came to Mandarin Toastmasters because of a personal challenge I had faced. Our priest invited me to give the sermon for Mother’s Day five years ago. He didn’t know that I had a lifelong, paralyzing fear of public speaking. It took me two weeks of wrestling my fear to agree. It was extremely difficult, but very rewarding to step beyond the barrier of my own fear. I decided I didn’t want to have such a huge hurdle to overcome in the future, and joined Mandarin Toastmasters to stay in the groove. I think I’m like many people who join a self-help group, you come with your own personal agenda, but soon discover that if you’ve benefited, you need to give back to the group.
- What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?
My strongest desire in life was to be a mother. I love creativity in every form, and the opportunity to creatively interact with my children, sharing my love of books, of inventing and innovating, and teaching them through experiments has been my biggest blessing.
- What do you enjoy doing outside of volunteer work?
I enjoy pottery. I have a kiln and wheel at home. Toastmasters is both volunteer work and a hobby for me. I’m still finding new ways to grow through my involvement with Toastmasters, and equally important, I’m finding more enjoyment in helping others grow. Lifelong learning is very important to me. I hope to start on my master’s degree online through Oxford University this fall, and also possibly write a book one day.
- You mentioned your love of books. What is your favorite book?
I read so many different books. Everything from historic fiction to mathematics books to philosophy and inspirational books, but my all time favorite would have to be Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Photo courtesy Wendy Regas