Visitors can ask oddest questions
By NIKKI WILEY The Brunswick News
Jeannie Deffie Velazco has answered a lot of unusual questions during her career, including a request for directions to a place she had never heard of, Cucumber Island.
As manager of the Welcome Center, she explained to an out-of-town visitor that Cucumber Island did not exist on the coast of south Georgia.
She suggested to the visitor that the barrier island he was looking for, accessible only by boat, was probably Cumberland Island, in Camden County.
It's just one of the many strange questions encountered during her 35 years at the Welcome Center.
"When Jekyll's slogan was 'Come to Jekyll and Hide' people would ask where to find Hide Island,'" Velazco said, laughing when thinking about some of questions she was asked during her tenure.
Velazco is now ready to enter the next stage of her life, a journey she started after completing her last day at work Wednesday.
"We met so many nice people over the years from all different countries, not just the U.S.," she said. "I have more good memories than bad."
Through the years, Velazco has been involved with many different aspects of the Glynn County's welcome centers.
She began greeting customers at the U.S. 17 Visitors Center in 1974 each day after she left high school.
It wasn't the career she envisioned following the completion of her education at Valdosta State University.
"My background was really in education, and I thought well, you know, during the summer I would help them out," Velazco said. "It just evolved, and I decided just to stay and really was glad I did. I totally enjoyed it."
Eventually, she saw the opening of a Welcome Center on St. Simons Island and on Interstate 95 and the closing of the U.S. 17 facility.
"I really couldn't imagine doing anything else," Velazco said, looking back over her career.
Scott McQuade, executive director of the Brunswick Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, has worked closely with Velazco and said she has been a fixture in Glynn County for many years.
"She has seen a lot of changes through her dedication and time that she's spent here," McQuade said. "We couldn't thank her enough."
Although Velazco says she will enjoy the newfound sense of freedom that comes with retirement, she isn't going to disappear. She expects to stay in the Golden Isles and keep in touch with her former co-workers.
"They're like my family," Velazco said. "We grew really close."