Editor's note: Richmond Hill Mayor Pro Tem Tara Baraniak recently made it public she'll be leaving her post due to her daughter's acceptance at the Bolles Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. Here's a farewell column from the outspoken young councilwoman.
One of my favorite sayings is, “And suddenly you know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
Thirteen years ago, my family and I moved to Richmond Hill because an opportunity came our way that we couldn’t say no to. Prior to moving to the area, we came and looked at the community to see if this was going to be a place we wanted to raise a family. After we spent three days in Richmond Hill, it was hard to tell if we were making the right choice to relocate here, but because we were prior military we knew we could make the most of any place we lived. Little did we know that this beautiful city would hold such a special place in our hearts years later.
Everyone has different opinions on what makes a community a great place to live. Part of my job as a City Council member requires me to be a good listener. It is important that we as City leaders listen to Richmond Hill resident's concerns, suggestions and comments regarding the place we all call home. During my time on Council, I’ve heard and read hundreds of comments and suggestions regarding the betterment of Richmond Hill, but one request I’ve heard over and over again sticks out for me among the rest. And this request is the reason my family and I are going to miss this place tremendously when we leave. The request is to keep Richmond Hill a place where when you drive home in the afternoon from a long day of work or head back in to town after time away with family/ friends, you breathe a sigh of relief because you’re home. This request by so many is all about preserving the community we love so dearly. I think about this all of the time when faced with making decisions that affect our community because again this is the reason I love Richmond Hill. Over the past 13 years I have enjoyed nothing more than the feeling of returning home after being away.
I mentioned before that everyone has different opinions on what makes a community a great place to live. My opinion now is different than it was years ago. I have learned over the past 13 years that you can have all the conveniences in the world at your door step, but if you’re not surrounded by great people, none of that matters. I tell our residents all of the time that Richmond Hill has a ton of room for improvement as exciting growth heads our way. We are managing it wisely by getting ahead of the everyday challenges it brings. But then I always follow that statement by saying that the people in this town are what makes Richmond Hill so special. They are the true heart of the community.
Tuesday evening at our next council meeting, I will publicly announce that my family and I will be moving to Florida for another opportunity that we just can’t turn down. I will be relinquishing my title as the City of Richmond Hill Mayor Pro Tem and my last meeting will be Aug. 19.
Although I am excited about this new adventure, I’m sad at the same time because I am saying goodbye to a place that I truly love. There are so many amazing people in Richmond Hill that have touched my family’s lives and for that I am grateful. I have made some of the best memories of my life here with individuals that I consider more like family than friends. With all this being said, I now know that if my family hadn’t taken advantage of an opportunity presented to us years ago, I would have missed out on friendships that have brought me so much joy.
As we embark on our next chapter in life I can’t help but think of the quote by Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Life is all about leaps of faith and seizing opportunities when presented. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if we had not made the decision to move to Richmond Hill over a decade ago. I don’t think it would be as full of happiness as it is now and I really couldn't ask for more than that! So, I am trusting the magic of a new beginning for my family and I.
Moving to Richmond Hill and embracing the heart of the community has taught me to preserve and take care of what’s important in life. I understand now that not being afraid of the unknowns will lead to great things and even if I don’t have it all figured out I can still move forward. I pray that Richmond Hill will continue to thrive under its strong leadership and be a place that all its residents are proud to call home.
I am not shy to say that the City of Richmond Hill has one heck of a team that works very hard on behalf of its residents. If you are ever in City Hall or see one of our men/women in uniform, please take the time to thank these hard working public servants. I saw first hand how hard they work behind the scenes. They are the true heroes of this community.
Lastly, I feel extremely blessed to have served the place I called home. It has been an honor and an experience I will always treasure. Thank you Richmond Hill for the memories and being a part of my heart. Until we meet again, God Bless and Pace Out.
Mayor Pro-Tem, Tara Baraniak