June 2019 CityMaker:

Alyssia Totten

By Jonathan Camargo

There’s a quote by Mr. Fred Rogers that says we should “look for the helpers” in our times of need. Luckily for us, in a community like Lakeland, the helpers don’t just wait around; they do.

Alyssia Totten is one of these doers. Born and raised in Lakeland, she’s grown up with the values of our town woven into the very fabric of who she is as a person, as a mother, and as a friend. It’s a family thing, after all. From her grandparents to her parents and her sisters all the same, Lakeland is home – no doubt about it.

Yet, our home is so much more than just a home. We’re a community that puts people first. We see a need and we become the solution. It’s the very same for Alyssia, just perhaps on a different scale.

The Gift of the Present

Alyssia’s life in Lakeland is anything but predictable. She juggles the duties of motherhood with the responsibility she owes her clients at Lanier Upshaw, an insurance and benefits agency where she works as a commercial insurance agent. It’s in this manner that she bridges the gap between her passions and her livelihood by helping others achieve success in their own lives and endeavors.

Yet, her day job is just part of who she is as a person.

Alyssia’s a member of the Lakeland South Rotary Club, a group “dedicated to making Lakeland a better place to live, work, and play.” She’s formerly served as both the club’s secretary and president, titles only reserved for those that willingly and consistently go beyond their call of duty.

In Alyssia’s case, that means toppling mountains with a shovel, a pail, and a dream much bigger than herself.

A Community Made Through Music

Alyssia comes from a musical background. Before her work at Lanier Upshaw, she was a music major with a flair for all that the art form had to offer. Be it performance or production, the thrill of live music is one that Alyssia shares with many in our community. It’s her passion for the craft that’s connected her with her husband and her community at large.

Alyssia is married to musician Scott Totten, and they’ve been together for nearly 20 years. The two met when Scott was touring with the Broadway show Rent, about a year before he joined the iconic rock band The Beach Boys. Now a mainstay, Scott serves as the group’s musical director and lead guitarist.

His talents as a musician may be great, but they’ve inspired something even greater with Alyssia’s involvement. In 2015, Alyssia was presented with a challenge as a member of the Rotary Club: help raise funds for a new addition to the park at Hernando’s Landing.

“I got excited about that,” Alyssia shared. ‘The playground is up in Lake Parker park, which is a playground that I love.”

Eager to start, Alyssia just needed to know how much they were aiming to raise.

“The number was $300,000,” Alyssia said. “So, I just started thinking of different ways of how that could be done as quickly as possible.”

Although she and her team brainstormed some six different fundraising options, only two would see the light of day, with one standing out above all else: the Rotary Benefit Concert Series.

An Evening in 2015

Through careful coordination with Joker Marchant Stadium and its hosts, Alyssia and the Rotary Club were able to stage the first event of the series, featuring none other than The Beach Boys themselves. That’s not to say it was an easy feat by any means, though.