Through her work in several key roles, Sara Lambert is impacting the community in a positive way.
Sara Lambert speaks animatedly, her voice punctuating the ideas and concepts that move her. Just ask about her job as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Marion County Parks & Recreation or her role as president of the Junior League of Ocala and watch her face light up.
Lambert, 31, is one of the community’s new crop of young leaders and brings fresh energy to everything she attempts. She’s a “beach” girl who grew up in Ponte Vedra, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville Beach, and relishes spending time with her husband, attorney Kyle Lambert, and their springer spaniel Rusty, especially for walks at the Baseline Trailhead Park and at his parent’s place on Lake Weir.
Lambert is a graduate of Flagler College in St. Augustine, with a degree in history. After graduating in 2014, she went to work in the education department at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville.
“Originally, it was writing summer camp curriculum, along those lines, and then I started doing some outreach for them and I learned that I liked doing that,” she shares.
She met Kyle in 2016 and they moved to Ocala in 2018 when he took a job with the State Attorney’s office. That is when she went to work for the county, in the recreation division, writing summer camp curriculum, among other duties. She assumed her current role in 2021.
“I had always known I wanted to keep doing an outreach/communications type of thing and so when we got that position approved, I applied for it,” she shares. “It’s a lot of social media management and some public relations. The cool thing is I get to be an advocate for my department, and I really appreciate that they have entrusted that to me.”
She manages the Instagram and Facebook accounts for Parks & Recreation and the Facebook account for the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion (SELP), one of the area’s busiest public venues.
“I make sure our content is planned out for the week,” she explains. “I promote any events or programs that we have coming down and try to make sure everyone knows what’s happening in Parks & Recreation.”
She is part of the team that produces the Marion County Parks & Recreation Carnival, which this year will take place on October 7th at the SELP. The family-friendly event will include a trick-or-treating trail, inflatables, games, carnival entertainers, face painters, giveaways, music and food trucks. Guests who bring a non-perishable donation for the Bring the Harvest Home food drive may win a prize.
“Sara has been a vital asset and is a fantastic representative for our department as she continues to grow our community reach through social media, marketing, events and other community interaction opportunities,” says Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation Kelsey Mears, CPRP. “Her position has her regularly interacting with nonprofit organizations, elected officials, other municipal entities and the public.”
Lambert’s community involvement includes serving as president of the Junior League of Ocala and secretary to the board of directors of the Marion County Literacy Council.
Lambert says when she and Kyle moved here, she didn’t know anyone and that some of the women in his office encouraged her to attend a recruitment event for the league.
“I fell in love with what they were doing. I fell in love with a lot of the girls. I really appreciated the fact that they were looking to meet people who need help where they were at,” she offers. “They weren’t assuming what people needed; they weren’t telling people what they needed. They were genuinely asking, ‘What do you need, and how can we provide it to you?’”
When she became a member, the group had a partnership with the School Board in helping out at entitlement schools.
“I really liked the fact that women were going into neighborhoods that they probably never would have gone into to say we are here to help and lend a hand. It was very personal,” Lambert shares. “I served as our Community Impact chair for one year, when were still partnering with the School Board. It was during COVID so we couldn’t do a lot of in-person volunteering, which was a huge bummer. But we would write notes of encouragement to teachers, students and staff and deliver them to the schools. And we bought books and wrote notes inside to the kids to help them in certain benchmark grades that needed higher reading skills for testing.”
The current Community Impact project is a diaper bank.
“It’s more of pantry, as we don’t necessarily partner with other nonprofits and give them diapers,” Lambert outlined. “We have been going out to community events and handing diapers out to people who need them. Our first big event was the Community Foundation’s school give-back, and we handed out almost 2,500 diapers. It was awesome.”
The league’s biggest annual fundraiser in the Autumn Gift Market, which will be held October 20th and 21st at SELP and the adjacent Marion County Extension Auditorium. The event offers vendors and artisans from across the state. Friday’s VIP Night features food, cocktails and first dibs on raffle items. Admission is $5 and the proceeds benefit the diaper bank.
“Sara has been a wonderful leader in Junior League of Ocala over the past few years. I am super excited for what she will accomplish over the next year,” notes former president Kali Stauss Lourenco. “Sara is dedicated to the league, her career, family and friends. She always gives 110% no matter what she is working on. Her heavy involvement in the nonprofit community truly makes a difference in Ocala and Marion County. Sara always has great ideas and is excellent at employing those around to her to put those ideas into action.”
Lambert, who freely admits she wasn’t too sure about moving to Ocala, says now, “I’m really proud to live here. It’s lovely to see how much it has grown and expanded,” she says, “and it’s nice to see an elder/millennial group of people who are trying to make a difference and see their home really grow and expand.” OS