Michael J. Limas learned early on that when you show yourself willing to roll up your sleeves and go to work for the community, pretty soon everybody wants a piece of you.
The Brownsville native, an independent financial adviser for nearly 14 years and co-owner of Las Ramblas at Market Square cocktail bar, which opened a year ago, chaired Leadership Brownsville for three years, and that’s when it started.
“That was really what everybody said: Hey, we want you on our team,” Limas said. “It becomes sort of an addiction at some point, when you start volunteering and you see the progress.”
At one stage he was chairing the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation board and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board Consumer Advisory Panel while also serving on the board of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce.
“At some point you do have to learn to say no,” Limas said. “That’s one of the things I’ve learned over the last seven or eight years of doing community work: It’s OK to say no.”
It didn’t work out that way when Traci Wickett, president and CEO of United Way of Southern Cameron County asked him to come aboard as 2020 campaign chairman for the organization. Limas accepted earlier this month, partly due to Wickett’s powers of persuasion and partly because, while he still chairs BCIC, Las Ramblas isn’t demanding as much of his time these days as it did during the bar’s formative period, he said.
Limas said he knows the position with United Way will be uniquely challenging, especially now, with the hardship people are suffering because of the pandemic. Wickett described it as “a job that requires true grit in these uncertain times.”
“Within two days they had me working, so they mean business,” Limas said.
The campaign chairman is essentially the lead volunteer for the United Way’s campaign to bring in large amounts of money for distribution to various charity organizations in the area, he said.
“Every year we need support but this year is unique,” Limas said. “We’re going to need even more support, and so we’re going to be a lot more aggressive in reaching out to folks. … We don’t know what the future holds, so I think this year’s campaign is extremely crucial to our community. We’re going to work it as hard as possible but we’re going to need a lot of help. We’re hoping that the community can dig a little deeper in the pocket this year and give back.”