Tell someone you live in Seffner, and you just might get this response:
What's a Seffner?
As far as names go, Seffner doesn't exactly connote glitz and glamor or fun and excitement. Tampa residents who have never ventured east of Ybor City usually say, "Wow, you live all the way out there?"
I explain it's only 11 miles east.
When I first moved into the community nine years ago, my friend said I should just tell people I live in North Brandon and reduce the need for explanations. Every time I say it, one friend says, "Where do you live again? Zephyrhills?"
But no, I don't hesitate to tell folks where I live and I proudly say, "I'm a Seffnerian."
My friend asked, "Are you sure it's not Seffnerite? Seffnerian sounds like a disease."
Well, that question halted my plans to trademark "Seffnerian" and have some "I'm a Seffnerian" T-shirts made up, but it can't dent my affection for the simple charm of the town I call home.
We don't have the fancy restaurants you might find in Hyde Park, but we do have a Bob Evans that graciously agrees to feed the Armwood High football team every game day for a nominal fee.
We don't have a skyscraper hotel, but we have a Hampton Inn that looks quite nice from the interstate.
No, we don't have a Starbucks or a Panera Bread (and a Panera would be nice), but we do have Hungry Harry's barbecue that just added "red neck nachos" to the menu.
Yes, we're excited (well, I'm excited) about getting a rebuilt McDonald's and a brand new 7-Eleven at the corner of Parsons and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — what some call "downtown Seffner."
For whatever Seffner may lack, however, it compensates with lots and lots of heart.
Consider the monthly lunch meeting of the Greater Seffner Chamber of Commerce I attended last week. Each business owner received a few minutes to give an introduction and talk about his or her business.
But many in attendance stood and forsook the quick sales pitch opportunity to speak about charitable efforts in the community.
Did you know the Seffner Relay For Life, scheduled for next spring, kicked off its fundraising efforts Tuesday? SeffnerFest, celebrating the community and its veterans, will be held Nov. 13 and the Cookson Hills Toy Run will be Dec. 5 and wrap up at Evans Park near U.S. 92 and Kingsway Road.
For each event, attendees solicited help because they know a Seffnerian is reliable.
"We really back each other," said Gloria DeVare, a Seffner native who now works as an event coordinator for Lenna Hall, an event facility in a refurbished church.
"When people say they're going to show up, they show up. I haven't found that everywhere."
You find Seffner's heart in such organized efforts as the I Am Hope Cafe at the First Baptist Church of Mango, which serves the homeless on a weekly basis.
And you find it in random acts of kindness. A large party entered the Pizza Hut on Sunday night and waited for a table. With the server clearly busy tending to a few other customers, a woman in the group smiled and said, "If you hand me a rag, I'll be glad to wipe down the table for you."
The server politely declined and hustled to help seat them at a clean table, but understand the point. In some other town, the customer would have stood and stewed, tapping her feet and loudly sighing. If she didn't receive an immediate acknowledgement and a profuse apology, she would storm out.
In Seffner, it's the exact opposite. Most folks approach life with a courteous calm and exude a kindness you don't find in every burg.
But don't just take my word for it, come to the Seffner chamber's second annual Community Business Expo Saturday at the Brandon Family YMCA from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sure, the folks there will be peddling their wares, but they'll also be wearing a smile.
In Seffner, that's how we roll.
That's all I'm saying.