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We Found the Helpers

September 8, 2020Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

If you’re as old as I am, you remember Mister Rogers. Not the Tom Hanks version of Mister Rogers, but the original.

I think back to the aftermath of major traumatic events like 9/11 and remember seeing the quote that accompanies this article and it’s been indelible in my mind ever since.  It isn’t difficult to get wrapped up in the negativity that often accompanies trauma at any level. But there’s also a silver lining in many dark clouds – the helpers and the doers.

While much of 2020, a year that many of us will never forget, has been traumatic to all of us, there exists a silver lining. It’s often hard to see beyond the impact of economic shutdowns and the impact of government mandates coupled with a flood of news that’s often difficult to navigate.

But it’s there.

Over the course of the year, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside the helpers. And I’m not talking solely about the Chamber’s professional staff.  While my staff has performed in spectacular fashion, it’s those who drive our work that have made the impact.

Many people who are less than familiar with the work of Chambers of Commerce assume, rightfully, that it’s the staff who does all the work. Not true.  The staff often becomes the face of our work because we’re charged with carrying out the vision of our members.

In fact, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce is driven by the leadership of its investors.

I shared a statistic with you recently that was eye-opening to many. Over the course of a single year, more than 2,200 volunteer business people logged more than 60,000 hours working on behalf of our business community. And while more recent numbers are yet to be assembled, suffice to say that our volunteer engagement most certainly hasn’t gone down.

And once a year, we stop to say thank you. And thank you seems hardly enough.

That thank you is delivered through the Chamber’s annual meeting, an event we refer to as our annual Membership Meeting & Awards Celebration.  And through all the dark clouds and struggles of this year, there’s more to celebrate than ever before.

This year’s annual Celebration will be held on Thursday, September 17 – just a short week and a half from now.

It will look and feel a little different than years past. But the content will be better than ever.

Starting with a reception at 5:30 pm at the Abilene Convention Center, helpers from all across the Chamber’s membership will assemble to recognize those who’ve contributed much over the last 12 months. From time to treasure to encouragement to support, Abilene businesses have once again proven their resiliency.

And by golly, we’re going to celebrate it. We’re calling it Back to Basics – Recovering Together.

The event is presented by our friends at Taylor Telecom, and the scaled back event will no doubt sell out.

What do I mean by “scaled back?”

This year it’s about those who’ve endured what many may consider the single most difficult year for business in recent memory.  Thanks to the event’s co-chairs Alex Russell (The Local) and Terri Black (wife of Chairman Darrin Black, Black Plumbing) and a tremendous committee of helpers and doers, we’ve reduced the cost to ensure its affordable to all of our members.

Featuring a five-point safety protocol which includes social distancing, the event will feature a business casual dress code, and a great meal provided by Texas Roadhouse and Life of Pie.

I want to thank our friends at Reed Beverage, Republic Services Abilene Landfill, Black Plumbing and America’s Small Business Development Center/Texas Tech University for their support in making this year’s celebration one to remember.

I also want to thank Chem Station, the official hand sanitizer provider of your Chamber’s Signature Events.

We’ll pack a lot into the evening, which will be capped off with music provided by the band Free Ride who will perform on the Abilene Regional Airport/United Airlines stage.

But most of all, we’ll present awards that are not only the tradition, but very well deserved.  Among them?  The Outstanding Citizens of the Year, the Chairman’s Volunteer Award, the Small Business of the Year, and roughly 15 others as celebrate those who once again worked mighty hard to maintain Abilene’s reputation as the best place to live and work anywhere.

I hope I’ll get to see you there and to let you know how much you’re appreciated, each and every day, for your contributions to our business community and our great city.

Onward!

Doug

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