One morning in 2000 while Nancy Stearns was having coffee with a few Carrollwood Village residents, the idea came about to provide the Carrollwood Players with a community center that would serve as a local hub for theater.
The plan also involved using the center as a central facility to provide events and activities for the Greater Carrollwood area.
"It would have been a win-win for both parties," recalled Stearns, who served as president of the Carrollwood Players.
But Stearns, a working mother who was active with the Northdale Civic Association, got sidetracked with life. The idea got shelved.
Eight years later, the Carrollwood Cultural Center opened its doors on Lowell Road.
"It's a dream come true," said Stearns, a center volunteer. "Everybody worked very hard to get us up and running."
Stearns had an interest in theater that began in the Midwest, where she did community theater for about eight years.
By the time the divorcee moved to Northdale in 1979, Stearns and her two sons had become one of the 400 original families in the community of Northdale.
Stearns worked for First Florida Bank as a property manager before retiring. She also got involved with the Carrollwood Players, and was active with the Northdale Civic Association.
When 2009 rolled around, Stearns, no longer on the board of the Carrollwood Players, found the time to join the board of the Friends of the Cultural Center, a nonprofit that runs the center through a partnership with Hillsborough County.
At the time, the center - which opened where St. Mark's Episcopal Church used to be - had been open for a year.
Stearns, now president of the Friends of the Cultural Center's board, now volunteers regularly. Last week, she served as an usher for a concert at the center.
Paul Berg, the Center's executive director, said Stearns is a key component to its success.
"Her enthusiasm for the Center is truly infectious," he said. "Nancy is the bridge between myself and the board, and also provides leadership and sets the example to the rest of the board."
Stearns, an avid reader with a preference for spy thrillers, said she wants the community to know why the center, and the arts, are important.
"It can be rewarding when you realize that you have a talent that can be developed here, whether it be singing or playing an instrument or throwing pottery," she said. "It allows you to develop your pleasures."
For more information about getting involved, visit the center's website.