I started writing my Freetime column in October 2000, and I’m happy to be on board as Sanitary Maintenance celebrates its 70th anniversary.

I have been motivated and challenged by all of the wonderful jan/san industry folks who do something special in their free time…individuals who are committed to being better, healthier, more interesting, more giving people through their volunteer work, artistic ventures, athletic pursuits and other various quests. Here are some of my favorite moments from the past 13 years:

• One of my favorite, “Aha! — now there’s an idea for a column,” moments was a story about Peter Holt herding sheep across the London Bridge.

• It’s inspiring to hear the stories of unselfish charity in this industry, such as J.D. Mirto who worked with the YMCA of Spain to keep its kids in camping programs.

• I couldn’t believe that Collin Carney, one of the industry’s kindest, most soft-spoken guys, had an Ultimate Fighting alter-ego.

• I laughed like crazy when Chuck Ill talked about the bag of tricks he used as a hockey referee to diffuse anger on the ice (props like false teeth, a siren and some other things I can’t mention).

• I got tears in my eyes when I heard what went through John Treat’s mind as he watched his daughter win the Miss Oklahoma crown, then leave the next day on a year-long educational program.

• I have a fear of heights, so I was in awe during my conversation with Ken Ossian about his mountain climbing adventures.  

• At the end of the year I like to feature a holiday-related column. One of my favorites includes Santa-playing Dan Betlock who revealed that he told a young boy Santa would not bring a pet cobra to the kid, just in case the snake ended up at the wrong house.

• The people I write about enrich my life and push me into unfamiliar territories. Since I started writing the column, I became a swimming teacher, entered the Senior Olympics, volunteered in hurricane evacuation shelters, and most recently, started yarn-bombing.