Meet our Local Pro: Patricia Lee, Owner and Creator of Destinites

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By Lori Leath Smith

What is a Destinite? According to Destinites.com Owner and Destinites Facebook (locals only) group creator Patricia Lee, it’s someone with a vested interest in the Destin community—residents, business or property owners and even those who work or do business here. “Those are the people who care the most about this community, because what happens here affects them personally and/or their livelihood,” says Patricia.

And that’s the reason she launched Destinites. “I started the group because, at the time, I couldn’t find any Facebook group that was just for locals. I wanted a place where locals could meet each other, ask for recommendations, reach out for help, discuss our community or just have fun,” she says.

An age 61 native of Birmingham, Patricia is a three-time cancer survivor of three different cancers as well as mother of two grown children. She was even the Life Inspiration Award Winner for the American Cancer Society. At one point (2005), she was told she would maybe live a couple more years— that was 16 years ago!

Six years ago, Patricia decided to move to Destin. “God literally drove me here not knowing anyone who lived here. I was warmly welcomed by all and have never met so many friendly people in one place,” she says. “Moving to Destin was one of the best decisions I ever made and my life is truly blessed for having done so.” Through the Destinites Facebook private group created 2½ years ago for Destin and surrounding areas and the Destinites website, Patricia is blessing us!

And now, she’s trying to get the word out. “Its growth has all been due to members inviting others. It has really helped bring locals together or reach out to neighbors and it’s sure the perfect place to be if you have an immediate need,” she says. “One member even refers to it as her local Google.”

A highly monitored, positive place, the structure for how the group is managed has allowed members and advertisers to co-exist in a balanced way. No foul language or negative comments about community, state or national leaders are allowed, no politics and no complaints about businesses nor their owners are allowed. “Our group is not a complaint nor gossip platform—when/if that happens, it is immediately deleted and trust me, admin gets contacted as fast as striking match to gasoline.”

Folks tell Patricia what a blessing it has been for them to find the group. “It fills my heart to know how many people have been helped both personally and professionally by this group. I pray over it every day. New members are added weekly, but more people need to know about us,” she says. “It’s been good for the community and I work really hard to keep it that way—a safe, happy drama-free place.”

The criteria to join is that you must be a current local resident, business or property owner. There are almost 4,000 members, but only about 10% are out of state property owners. The rest live in or around the Destin area. “We have membership questions when people join, but also we look at their personal Facebook wall. We take every measure possible to ensure the safety and integrity of the group.”

Benefits of the Destinites Facebook group include:
– Monday Morning Job Report—Members can let everyone know about job offers in and around our area.
– Thursdays: Members can post about special happenings for the upcoming weekend, such as when and where bands/artists are performing.
– Saturday Group Shopping: Locals may post any personal item they wish to sell.
– Sundays: Life encouragement video is posted by Rodney Martin Waits, local real estate agent and entrepreneur.

The Destinites website includes information for new residents, updated community news and the weekly life encouragement video as well as featured sponsors. One particularly valuable feature is the Destinites Local Business Directory with more than 100 businesses in and around the Destin area participating. Upcoming additions include a tab of Local Discounts with a link to a website that offers all kinds of discounts for area rentals and activities.

To participate in the local business directory, for more information, or to read more about Patricia’s story, visit Destinites.com. To join Destinites, go to the Facebook group page at www.Facebook.com/groups/Destinites.