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As the Executive Director at Lake Technical College, Diane Culpepper knows that setting goals is the first step to growth and development.
When Lake Cares Executive Director Irene O’Malley recruited her to join the Diamond Endowment project, there was no hesitation.

“I have always been involved in service and volunteering,” says Diane. “It started at an early age for me because my mother was always serving others. By the time I was in high school, I was president of the largest service club on campus and it was exciting to volunteer for numerous projects as a high school kid.

I have been involved with church and service projects my entire life. Once I became a school director, I wanted to encourage our students to serve as part of their learning. It has been amazing what they have accomplished over the years.”

Diane is one of 12 women participating in a fundraiser for Lake Cares that was inspired by the 2008 best-selling book “The Necklace,” which chronicled how a jewelry-sharing journey changed the lives of 13 women. Each woman wears the necklace, dubbed “Bella Diamante,” for one month raising funds and awareness throughout Lake County. The pantry is selling 1,000 raffle ticket at $50 per ticket. March 30 at the10th Anniversary Gala at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora the winner will take home the show-stopping necklace appraised at more than $20,000. Second prize is $5,000 and third prize is $2,500.

“All you have to do is look at the statistics on the Lake Cares website,” says Diane. “Serving more than 200 families each week. Four satellite locations in our community. An alarming number of seniors and people with disabilities in need. The impact they are making is probably only scratching the surface of the true need in Lake County, but they are making a difference.”

Participating in the Diamond Endowment has been insightful for Diane.
“In the beginning, I was excited to meet the other women in the group and get to know them. Each month, we have all learned more about each other, what we do, and how involved we all are in our community – in so many ways,” she explains. “As time went on, I learned so much more about Lake Cares and the impact it is making in our community and am honored that I had the chance to be part of this experience.

“My husband couldn’t believe I was wearing it every day to work. My daughter told me to be sure I wouldn’t get mugged! But I enjoyed telling everyone about ‘the necklace’ and the mission of Lake Cares and by wearing it, I had several chances each day to share the story. I hope everyone has had as much joy and fun wearing the necklace as I have had.”