Fran Knoizen has raised more than $100,000 to fight cancer over 30 years, she served more than 50 senior attendees weekly for more than 26 years in a church outreach lunch that is self-sustaining and she has been part of the leadership that has protected the environmental conditions of the pristine natural lake for more than 30 years.
Thirty years ago, Fran Knoizen started a fundraising luncheon for the American Cancer Society in Marion County, Florida. She knew that fundraising for this cause was exceptionally important, but she felt uncomfortable following “the door-to-door strategy” that the national campaign suggested.
The wife of a renowned Admiral, she was very experienced in leading and organizing important events related to her husband’s responsibilities here and abroad so she felt much more comfortable picking up the phone and organizing a small luncheon fundraiser. Eleven women accepted her first luncheon invitation and together they raised more than $1,000 dollars.
That was only the beginning.
Today, Knoizen still hosts these annual fundraisers. Everything about these luncheons is supplied by volunteers. All of the food, wine, services and even valet parking are provided at no cost by a wide variety of volunteers, businesses and sponsors. Many of those volunteers have been giving their time and resources for decades.
This continuity in the volunteer effort permits every dollar raised in ticket sales and donations to be given to the American Cancer Society.
Knoizen’s leadership and long-term community service is also actively present in other local service programs. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the weekly “Tuesday Timeout” luncheon she initiated at Lake Weir Presbyterian Church. Originally planned to be an outreach for senior citizens, this self-sustaining luncheon now attracts 30 to 75 weekly attendees.
The physical center of Knoizen’s community is the beautiful and pristine Lake Weir. When the health of the lake was threatened in 1983, Fran and a group of residents formed the Lake Weir Association called “Save Lake Weir,” a 501c3 to study the inter-relationships between planning, housing development and pollution in Lake Weir. Fran Knoizen passionately believes that service is its own reward and is always quick to recognize every other volunteer who is part of the efforts. Her strong but self-effacing leadership style has endeared her to her co-volunteers and the community.