Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
Communication Specialist Treasures All Things to Do [in] Ocala
Kelly McAtee is one of the rare Ocala born–and–raised girls. Her look is timeless, her love for the community endless, and her dedication to the betterment of that community is boundless. She is one of Ocala’s gems. Perhaps, surprising to some is that this Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) communication specialist and the mastermind behind the social media sensation Things To Do Ocala, started her adulthood with an AA in biological sciences, specializing in biotechnology and a bachelor’s in health services administration.
What she wound up doing is living life as it unfolded. After college, Kelly became a stay-at-home mom for six years. She has two boys, Kyle and Caleb, now in first and third grade. “After I started getting a little stir crazy at the house, and the kids were getting a little bit older, I wanted to start getting back into the workforce. I started [by] attending non-profit, open-to-the-public business meetings.”
The first meeting she attended on a regular basis was the Tobacco Free Partnership of Marion County. She chose to start there because her friend was the Marion County Liaison. “It was held at our local Habitat for Humanity building. So, I got to start meeting all of these non-profit entities.”
Prior to venturing out to these meetings, Kelly had started a hobby that had grown into a rather large Facebook sensation. “I had Ocala Yard Sale for Kids, and it was the largest yard sale group for only kids’ items in Ocala.”
Her group became a big asset to non-profits that attended the community meetings. The non-profits would often pass out flyers for upcoming events, and they started to request that Kelly share them with her yard sale group. “One day, at the meeting, we were talking about these upcoming events, and some of them weren’t necessarily just for kids’ events. There were related more towards adults. I said, ‘Well that’s not really going to do well on my yard sale site pertaining to the moms.”
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Published January 1, 2022
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson
The Conclusion of Kelly's Story
Kelly McAtee broke the local Facebook algorithm with both her yard sale group and the community events page, but what she didn’t expect was how it would launch her back into the workforce. “Shortly after I created [Things To Do Ocala], I became a CEP partner. I presented, for the first time in front of people, at 1 Million Cups. After that, I ended up renting a space in the Power Plant as an entrepreneur business.”
This gave Kelly an office space for Things To Do Ocala, and after about six months, she received a part-time job offer with United Way of Marion County, as the community impact coordinator. When United Way offered her a full-time position, Kelly closed her office at the Power Plant.
She thoroughly enjoyed working for United Way and stayed there for three years. “I think it helped create who I am as a businessperson today.” She now works on her Facebook page at home.
In the meantime, Kelly became very involved in the CEP. They asked her to become an ambassador. “I started going to all the ribbon cuttings, and I really got to learn how the Chamber worked and how it benefited our community. It aligned with what I really enjoyed doing with Things To Do Ocala, which was providing the community with the resources and tools and a service where they could go to find things to do with their family. It would keep things local, money would stay local, our businesses in the community would grow and benefit from it. The goal became to bring the business world and the community world together. That has always been my goal for Things To Do Ocala. Now, for the past [several] months, I’ve been working at the Ocala Chamber as their Communication Specialist.”
Kelly is also on the board for Young Professionals Ocala. “I wear a lot of hats in the community, I would say. I didn’t do any of this intentionally, but it’s really interesting how it all worked out. And I absolutely love it!”