Finding Purpose

by Lauren Speirs

You might recognize Alyssa Haney as one of Gulfshore Business’ “40 under 40,” or maybe as The Greater Naples Chamber “Young Professional of the Year.” A successful marketing specialist for First Florida Integrity Bank, Alyssa is also a board member for The Naples Players (TNP), President of the United Arts Council board of directors, Secretary of FNBGC Charitable Foundation, and a proud graduate of Leadership Collier.

As if Alyssa didn’t have enough to keep her busy with work and volunteering, she is also a talented actress who enjoys performing with TNP. She reflects on how she was not always so put together and how her relationship with acting runs parallel to her changing course in life…

Both Alyssa and her parents were born in Miami and, growing up, she went to school in Naples but spent summers and weekends on the east coast.

Her first encounter with TNP was when she went with her grandmother to see Grease in the late 90’s. “My grandmother really introduced me to theatre – she made a point to bring me to performances.”

Alyssa had a talent for music in school and played the bassoon. She played in the orchestra pit for her school’s band, and provided music for the school productions of Pirates of Penzance and Into the Woods. When Alyssa graduated high school in 2005, she was thrilled to get her first job on 5th Avenue as an orchestra musician with TNP.

Following the path to become a professional musician, Alyssa went to school to continue studying music. Trouble started soon after. Because she was already getting paid jobs as a musician, she lost the motivation to finish her degree and dropped out of school. Spending all of her time in the music and restaurant industries and losing a sense of purpose, Alyssa started down a slippery slope of substance misuse.

“For a while, I turned to unhealthy things in an attempt to fill an emptiness inside of me. However, the more I spent time at TNP, onstage or behind the scenes, I kept finding new opportunities to fill those voids with purpose and meaning.”

Alyssa’s turning point in life happened around the time she rediscovered theater – this time performing as an actress in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

“There’s a camaraderie when you get on stage as an actress – you don’t want to disappoint this person or let this other person down. Returning to TNP as an actress Alyssa says, “we were working for something bigger than just us. It changed what the word ‘community’ means to me and how I want to spend my time.”

After volunteering with The Naples Players for a while, Alyssa was eager to join TNP’s board of directors. “I represent an important part of the organization. I have all of this experience all the volunteering and the Leadership Collier program.”

Clearly, Alyssa got her wish and is still an important part of TNP’s board to date. Along with all of her time performing as an actress, Alyssa discovered endless opportunities for volunteering in the community.

“Becoming a part of the Leadership Collier Foundation opened my eyes to how much need there is in this community. I might not have huge check-writing ability but I have time and talent- how can I get involved beyond going to galas? I wanted to create opportunities for people just like me to get involved.”

With this objective in mind, Alyssa started planning a new type of event. “I like the idea of fundraising and Bryce (Alexander, CEO/Artistic Director of TNP) helped me with “Laugh For A Change” which featured Stage 2 Improv and aimed to benefit the United Arts Council. It was a lower ticket event that was for younger people who don’t have millions of dollars to give every year but still want to get involved in their community.”

A true leader, Alyssa rolls up her sleeves regularly to get involved in her community. She volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, makes meals for Ronald McDonald House, teaches financial literacy at Collier County Public Schools, and gardens at the Naples Botanical Garden. After all of this incredible work, she’s still eager to find her next passion.

“I started branching out at the same time that TNP did. Bryce (Alexander) was working on- ‘what can a theater do for the community?’ and it was parallel with me branching out and finding out what I could do more for the community.”

There might have been a time when Alyssa lost her sense of purpose but there’s no question she’s found it. Not only did she bring herself back from the brink but she’s also offering a helping hand to all those in her community who need it. Reflecting on her journey, Alyssa says, “It’s taken a long time for me to be proud of who I am in my life, but I’m finally proud.”

Alyssa is excited to be back on stage and looks forward to more of the amazing productions scheduled for the rest of the 68th season at The Naples Players starting in September with Boeing Boeing.

For more information visit our website or call239-263-7990.

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