Year One

July 27, 2020Veronica Fuentes, Director of Committees for the Abilene Chamber

Now that I have a full year under my belt, I’d like to share with our valued partners what it has been like to serve you all during the past year.

On Monday, July 8, 2019, my professional life officially took a 180. I was excited and nervous, but ready to take on whatever this new chapter of life was about to throw my way.

I had been active in the Chamber’s young professional program, and thought I had a good grasp on how the Chamber serves our community, but I quickly learned that it was so much more than what I had previously thought. Honestly, my first six months are still a blur. There was so much to learn, so much new information to soak in, and I was repeatedly given the advice of, “Get a few events and programs behind you – you’ll know what to expect.”

And just when I thought I had a solid grasp on how to navigate this new position something unexpected happened.

Enter COIVD-19. News was beginning to come to us from across the globe, about a pandemic. But this could not affect us here, right? We live in Abilene, Texas, these things just don’t happen here, right?

Wrong.

Then came Friday, March 20, 2020, when our team huddled in the Chamber boardroom and were told to pack up whatever items we needed to be able to successfully work from home. All of our normal events and programs had been rescheduled or paused and our work kicked into overdrive.

Immediately, as someone newer to this field and a social butterfly, I began to panic.

How would we be able to help our members while we were at home? What does work from home, for those of us who need fellowship, even look like?

I was so confused, and a bit upset, because I felt cheated out of part of my first year serving our business community.

Were these events telling me I made the wrong choice?

The following Monday, our team gathered for our first Zoom meeting. Our fearless leader, Doug Peters, encouraged us to speak our fears out loud, ask the questions that were weighing on us, and then gave us the encouragement we needed.

Doug told us this was the perfect time to show our members and the business community exactly what the value is of our organization. He said now’s our time to show those who may never have previously understood the value of our 112-year-old organization just what makes our Chamber stand out across the state.

And we did. We went to work.

We reached out to our members to ask how we could help. Some wanted to talk about their concerns, others were requesting help to understand what local/state/federal governments were saying, and some wanted to know how they could help others.

We offered a listening ear. We contacted our partners in Austin on behalf of the business community. We pushed out valuable, meaningful content to our members. We let people know how they could give back and volunteer their time to help others. We worked to make shopping local a priority. We made sure that your questions were answered.

Through the least favorable of circumstances, I learned just how lucky I am to be on this team. This year wasn’t what I expected it to be, but having the opportunity to see and work behind the curtain on how your Chamber works for the betterment of the community has been nothing less than a pleasure.

I know these events are part of a bigger plan and that I serve the best community in the state of Texas.

Abilene Chamber members, your heart is made of gold. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you. I wouldn’t have made it this far without your help.

 

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