BY SUE ERWIN – Island employee Tracy Peppers has worked at the Englewood Bank & Trust branch in Boca Grande since June.
In the few months she has been there, she has already been promoted to Senior Teller at the office.
“I was completely new to banking when I took this job. I was nervous at first, because of course when you are working with money, there is a lot of pressure,” Tracy said. “I worked at Aqua on the island for a little while, and before that I worked at Bed, Bath and Beyond in Port Charlotte. That’s where I received a lot of my managerial experience.”
While working at Aqua for several months, she would make the daily deposit at the bank every afternoon. That’s where she became familiar with the other bank employees.
“One of the bank’s employees mentioned that they were hiring, and I was thinking in the back of my mind at the time about my future and where I was going to go next. And literally it seemed like God just brought me to this opportunity,” Tracy said. “And I am extremely happy there, I love all the girls at the bank – it’s like we are family. I feel right at home.”
Tracy started out at the bank part time, with the hope that a full-time position would open up eventually.
Then a few months ago, Martha, the previous senior teller, broke her leg and went to work at a more accessible branch, which opened up the Senior Teller position.
After catching on quickly and retaining all the new information she had to learn, Tracy is now quite comfortable in the new position.
“It felt like everything just kind of fell right into place at the right time,” Tracy said.
Tracy graduated from Lemon Bay High School in Englewood in 2009 and went on to study Business Management at Edison College.
Tracy said it was the courses she took at Edison that got her interested in management.
“I enjoy helping people work well together as a team, and the classes I took at Edison helped tremendously,” she said.
Tracy said she enjoys working in Boca Grande because of the small, hometown feel.
“It reminds me of the friendly small town that I grew up in. And that’s what I like so much about Boca Grande – I kind of get that feeling again of family and friendships,” she said.
Tracy’s goal is to eventually become Branch Manager at the bank.
Originally from Chesapeake, VA, she moved to Florida when she was 11 years old, when her mom relocated to Charlotte County.
“My dad worked for a navy shipyard there, and he would repair the ships when they came in to the docks needing to have work done,” Tracy said. “My parents divorced when I was little, and then my mom was dating a Navy recruiter. They decided to move to Florida after they met.” They lived in Punta Gorda for a couple of years and then moved to Englewood.
“We’ve been coming to Boca Grande ever since we moved here – my mom fell in love with it once she discovered it,” Tracy said.
Tracy presently lives in Gulf Cove with her fiancé, Marco Pardo. The two first met in middle school more than 11 years ago.
“We met in 8th grade and have been together ever since. We are thinking of a wedding maybe in 2017, but we don’t have any real plans yet. We’re happy and we know that marriage isn’t going to change things, so we aren’t in any rush.”
Marco also works in Boca Grande, at Island Bike and Beach. He also does some part-time landscaping work on the island.
The couple has two pets: an American bulldog named Carson and a cat that they just call “Cat.”
“The two of them get along really well. It’s funny, because he is such a big dog – he weighs 80 pounds – but they play together great and chase each other around the house like buddies,” Tracy said. “They’re great animals.”
Marco has family in West Virginia, and the couple enjoys traveling up in the mountains and going hiking in the snow during the winter months.
“Last year we went and it was the first time I saw snow since I was a kid. It was so picturesque on the mountain tops; it was like a postcard, it was just so beautiful.” Tracy said. “Of course, I’ve never had to drive in it or shovel it, so I don’t know that aspect of it.”
Tracy has two older step-brothers who both live in Virginia. Her father still lives up there as well.
“My dad pretty much raised my brothers, because they were both still pretty young when my mom met my dad, so they have a good relationship,” Tracy said.
Her mom currently lives in Port Charlotte.
“I think she’s happy and she’s with a really great guy now – he’s like my second father,” Tracy said.
When Tracy is not working, she enjoys sewing.
“Sewing is one of my passions,” she said. “I really enjoy making skirts. I used to sew a lot as a kid; I learned the basics from my mom. I also took a couple of classes. I guess I am just crafty in general. I can take an old shirt and turn it into a new article of clothing.”
Tracy and Marco also have a passion for hiking. Their goal is to do a long hike in West Virginia starting at one of the entry points to the Appalachian Trail.
“We’d like to spend several days on the trail and camp at night. We really enjoy nature and living off the land,” Tracy said.
Tracy also enjoys checking out antiques and other rare items.
“I like to dress things up, like sewing crafts to wrap around wine bottles and things like that,” Tracy said.
Her favorite book is “The Shack,” a Christian novel by William Young.
Marco’s sister-in-law told her about the book, and she was curious about it and decided to check it out.
“It’s an amazing book – it literally changed my life. It was so inspirational. It opened my mind to learn to really appreciate the small things in life,” Tracy said. “After reading it, I truly feel as though everything happens for a reason. I feel that whatever path my life is leading me down at the time, it will be the right one. I have learned to just go with it and trust fate.”