Today, June 1, marks my third anniversary with the DCBA. What a fun and interesting ride it has been, even now, when the “scenery” is so different from what it was a few months ago. I must say that I am again just trying to figure out how to best serve our members. That was also exactly my goal when I started on June 1, 2017.
To reminisce a little bit, I walked into the office and was met by the smell of coffee. Doris, Mary Jo and Vicki were the first to greet me. Mary Jo looked a little nervous. I was probably less nervous because I had attended a board meeting a few weeks earlier and was given a copy of the bylaws. A description of my duties was included in there. The board had not given me much advice. They had simply told me I needed to “steer the ship.” I figured I could do that, especially since I was just wrapping up 22 years of “steering the ship” with teenagers (and you know that’s like nailing Jell-O to a tree). When I told them about some of my goals, they were not so sure, and they told me why. In the end, I feel like it all worked out.
I had basically decided to take what worked and continue it, and to fix or change what did not work. I have never been a fan of the phrase “we’ve always done it this way.” To me, that does not mean that everything has to change, but if you do something over and over and you aren’t getting good results, it’s time to change.
That first day, Mary Jo asked me how I wanted it… Should she give it to me straight or sugar coat it? “Give it to me straight,” I told her. You see, the volunteers who staff the office are the front lines of the operation over here. The Chamber absolutely cannot be successful without volunteers and boy, we have some good ones! I am so grateful for the advice I got when I first got here. I could not have done it without “the girls.”
So together we tried some new things and rebuilt some old things and we made it work. And not just made it work; we started to make it really work; we made it thrive.
One of my favorite words is momentum. Just saying that word motivates me. This is the word I use to remind myself that there is always work to be done; forward movement always needs to happen.
What’s funny is that I had some plans that I had hoped the Chamber would accomplish sooner that have not yet been completed, and other things were finished much more quickly than I ever expected. It’s also funny that when I wrapped up teaching, I really had no idea how long I would be here at the Chamber. I just figured I would take it day by day, and when the next right person for the job came along, he or she could step in and I would be off to something else. I knew for sure that I would never again spend 22 years working in the same place.
So here it is three years later and as many times as I repeated that “next right person” thing to folks, I still have lots to accomplish, especially now that we need to stick together and figure out new ways to serve our members in today’s world.
When the virus happened, I saw so many different ways people deal with the stress of the unknown. For
me, I have the utmost confidence in OUR COMMUNITY. This confidence led me to an unbelievable calm. Everything will be okay because we live in a place where we support each other in so many ways. We will regroup and recover.
In closing, I want to list the things I am grateful for:
Our volunteers: wow, you have kept this place running in the best shape possible as we wait for building repairs that I had hoped to have completed long before now. We no longer have many of our original “Chamber Chicks.” Doesn’t mean I don’t think of you every day. Some of my favorite memories of the last three years have been with YOU! We managed to surprise Doris on her birthday three years in a row! Thank you so much for everything.
Our members: because without you there would be no Chamber. I especially miss having dinner with you. If you ever have any ideas of how we can help our businesses and organizations, please share. You can pitch me any idea, rough or polished, and we can talk it out. I am looking to you to be my brain trust!
Our board: thank you for trusting in me and knowing me like you do. You all have a pretty good idea who I am and where my heart is. I am looking forward to continuing to your leadership as we continue to fine tune our procedures and be the best investment our members could make!
Our community: if you ever wanted to step up, now is the time. I would like to see us not only “get through” our challenges, but thrive. We have openings for volunteers here at the office, plus there are numerous other groups who would love to have some new volunteers, especially because they lost some who are vulnerable and cannot continue volunteering. Call us, and we will help match you with the right volunteer opportunity.
It’s probably not easy for those of us who like to plan ahead to know what the plan is now, but it is still important to have a plan. My goal for the Chamber is to continue to serve our members. What that entails may be different from what it was a few months ago, but we will still do our best. I have said all along, “Tell us how we can help you.” I learned that some of you really do not know the answer to the question. I don’t either, so we will just keep trying things until we develop a new set of best practices.