LAKE WYLIE — Debbie Garbon is still making herself at home in Lake Wylie. She’s also making thousands of others at home, too.
Garbon, an Indiana native who built a home in Lake Wylie just more than a year ago, is the new general manager of River Hills Community Association. She replaces Martha Simmons, who retired this year after nearly 30 years in River Hills. Garbon describes herself as an even-keeled, unopinionated person but one who will make a tough call.
“I’m confident that people will find that my skills, experience and knowledge will be an asset to the community,” she said.
Simmons’ started in River Hills with what she called a “one-girl office” in a sales trailer at the maintenance building. The association now works with 36 employees and $1.5 million to $2 million annual budget. Simmons said last year, in preparation for finding a new leader, she was most proud of what the association had become for residents.
“It has become the hub of the community,” she said.
Garbon is now meeting with staff and residents. She wants to hear what people want and don’t want River Hills to be, which includes residents and community members outside of the gates. Garbon sees her role as improving River Hills from the inside and within the wider context of Lake Wylie.
“We could become stagnate and dated if we just continue to live in our own little world here,” Garbon said.
Garbon’s experience includes stops in Las Vegas and Chicago. She’s managed commercial, industrial and retail entities.
“Residential is a little different for me,” she said.
Garbon would like to see more community partnerships between River Hills and other groups. She’s joined All Saints Catholic and the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce. She and husband Paul volunteer with the Children’s Attention Home in Rock Hill and Royal Family Kids’ Camp, and recently became foster care parents.
As someone new to the area, Garbon sees the value of promoting her community through groups and organizations. She’s found a willingness of River Hills residents to reach out to others, many of them having moved from elsewhere, by being involved.
“A lot of these people come in and they have some great stories to tell,” Garbon said.
Her goals are to increase the perception of the River Hills community, and to increase volunteerism within it. River Hills has 10 volunteer committees performing a variety of functions. Garbon said her transition has been smooth.
Garbon is looking forward to having the community know and come to her soon enough. And not just, she hopes, with problems.
“We want to hear the good things, too,” she said.
The River Hills Community Association office is at 102 Hamiltons Ferry Road. Call 803-831-8214 for more information.
John Marks • 803-831-8166