■ BY SUE ERWIN
If you’ve stopped into the Boca Grande Health Clinic over the past couple of years, it’s very likely you were greeted with a smile by Jonna Foos.
Jonna has been a patient representative at the clinic for almost two years.
Originally from La Porte, Indiana, Jonna grew up and went to school in Goshen, Indiana.
She attended Indiana University in Bloomington, the main campus, where she graduated from the school of health, physical education and recreation with a degree emphasis in event planning and management.
“I really enjoyed planning events, and a lot of the classes were about recreation and eco-tourism, and I thought they were very interesting. I studied many different things before I chose that as a major,” Jonna said.
Jonna’s parents decided to move to Florida when she went off to college, since they didn’t want to deal with the winter weather up north any longer. “They came down and purchased a condo in Venice and stayed for a year. And they liked Florida so much that my dad went back home, sold his business, and they moved down permanently the next winter,” Jonna said.
Jonna would come and visit during school breaks. “I remember spending one spring break with friends on Cabbage Key. I knew I’d eventually want to live in Florida and relocate here, but obviously I needed to have a job offer before I could do that,” she said.
Her parents’ neighbors in Venice knew the family that owns Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, and Jonna’s resume´ soon ended up on the owner’s desk in New York.
“They called me and we did a couple of phone interviews, and they asked me to list in order the three hotels that I wanted to work at. So I picked St. Pete, Miami and Orlando,” she said. She received a phone call from a manager at the St. Pete hotel and was invited to come down for an interview. She subsequently had a job offer and relocated to the area. She started out as a supervisor at the outdoor pool area.
“They had a kid’s club and a beach bar and grille, and I was in charge of that. I was promoted to manager 40 days later,” she said. She worked there for several years, and met her husband, Greg, in 2007 while working at the resort. Greg was the executive sous-chef at the time.
After they were married, Greg received a job offer as an executive chef in Miami and they relocated to the east coast of Florida. They lived downtown in a big highrise complex but weren’t very comfortable in that kind of environment.
“It was very noisy, very crowded and very expensive,” she said. So Jonna spent her days searching online for jobs in southwest Florida. She found an executive chef vacancy at the Boca Grande Club and sent Greg’s resume. He had never even heard of Boca Grande, but Jonna had been coming to the island with her parents for years. Greg was offered the job, and they moved to South Gulf Cove.
At the time, Jonna’s sister was working at a medical office in Sarasota, and she mentioned there was an opening in the front office. Although Jonna had been working in a different industry, she decided to take on a new challenge. She met with the CEO of the office and was offered a position as an administrative assistant. She worked there for a couple of years.
Jonna and Greg have four children: Peyton, 10, Ava, 7, Finnegan, 5 and Lila, 2. Peyton and Finnegan attend The Island School, and Lila spends her days at the Boca Grande Child Care Center.
Because of the long daily commute to Sarasota, Jonna felt like she was missing out on spending time with the family. So she asked Greg to keep an eye out for job opportunities on the island.
She heard about a job vacancy at the Boca Grande Health Clinic, and after interviewing, she was offered the position of patient representative. Jonna and Greg both enjoy working in Boca Grande.
“I think the best part about working on the island is that I can take a walk down the street and peek in the window to see how Lila is doing, or I can just walk to the school if my other kids need anything. It really doesn’t get better than this. I’m reminded all the time by family and friends how fortunate I am,” she said.
She loves spending her lunch break walking around the island and going down to the beach to see the water or having lunch with the kids. “Everyone on the island is so nice and so friendly; it’s almost like having another family,” she said.
She said sometimes Greg will drop off a pizza, and she’ll take the kids down to the beach and have dinner.
She and Greg work opposite schedules, so they look forward to the summer months, when they work less and the kids are out of school.
“We usually take a trip together in the summer – just the two of us, to take a break, rewind and catch up,” she said. Jonna’s dad and stepmom live in Venice, where her dad has a grout business that he’s preparing to retire from soon.
Her mom and her stepdad live in Indiana, along with most of her family. Greg’s parents live in Jupiter.
Last summer, Jonna and Greg rented a condo on Lake Michigan and took the kids up north for a vacation.
“I love water, and I can’t be too far from the beach,” she said with a laugh. They visited Chicago and went to a Cubs game while they were there and they also went to several museums. “Every year we take the kids on a trip somewhere so they can see new things. They like being outdoors and being around nature,” she said.
When she is not working, Jonna enjoys spending as much time as possible with her kids. She also enjoys reading when time allows. She said it would be impossible for her to choose a favorite book, because she has so many. Her favorites are novels about the World War II era.
“They’re just very intriguing to me – but really, I enjoy reading anything and everything,” she said.
She doesn’t have a favorite movie, but she likes musicals, dramas and romance films. She enjoys watching the TV show “House Hunters” with Greg, and many of the shows on the Home and Garden channel.
“And I really like exploring new places – I love to see new things,” she said. Jonna said the person she admires most in her life is her husband. “He’s a wonderful father, and it amazes me how hard he works every day,” she said.
If you happen to stop in the Boca Grande Health Clinic, be sure to say hello to Jonna at the front desk.