Wow – What a Year
Wow – what a year
This past year has to go down in the history of the Chamber as being one of the most perilous of the last few decades. And, if I can be very honest and candid, not a resemblance of what I has envisioned when I took this position.
Except for this: Abilene is strong!
Even during unprecedented times, our Chamber, our community, our citizens, and our leadership persevered. Pardon the old cliché – “we made lemonade out of lemons.”
During the past several years of being mentored by great chairmen such as Seaton Higginbotham, Scott Hibbs and for a very short time Jack Rentz, I thought I was ready for “my year.” Little did we know, there would be this little pandemic thing hit us called COVID-19. Amazingly, we were ready and didn’t even know it.
Our 2019-2020 Chamber Program of Work unveiled a plan of action we titled “Back to Basics.” I truly believe if not for that, it may have made this past year more difficult.
The plan involved us getting back to our members and boy howdy that’s exactly what we did. We pulled up our bootstraps, knocked off the dirt and climbed right back onto that horse after being tossed off like a rag doll.
If definitely wasn’t easy, nor am I saying it didn’t come without a price. Some things just couldn’t be avoided. What I’m saying is this, you folks showed me week after week just how steadfast, loyal, hardworking, and supportive our chamber members, staff and community are and will always be. You taught me how to be a better leader, a better listener, and overall a better person.
I personally owe each of you a huge debt of gratitude. We have a Chamber president and CEO, Doug Peters, who also mentored me. And I’m most proud to say has become a dear personal friend.
Isn’t that what this is all about? Building our network of relationships while growing personally and professionally?
We did get to end the year on a more positive note. We were able to have Business Expo and our Chamber Celebration. And unless something changes, Business Mercado is still scheduled in October.
With that being said, as many of you know, yet another challenge faces Terri and me as I write this. Her diagnosis of cancer was a shock to us and for the next several months my attention and efforts will be reserved towards her needs. Once again, I’m being taught how to deal with an unfortunate situation by my wife. She has shown me how strong and positive one can be even when faced with something as evil as this. For her, I am thankful and blessed. Please keep her in your prayers. We’re not going anywhere, we’re still here, and we’ll be reengaging in a short time with you all after we kick this cancer goodbye.
It’s humbling how God places people in our lives and how he puts things right in front of us. Recently while at a small group gathering with our church family from Zion Lutheran Church, a passage was read that I’d like to close with. It speaks volumes and resembles what we went through this past year.
Exodus 17: 11-13
“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed, but Moses’ hands became heavy so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and one on the other side, and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”
Battles are fought and won every day. We all have battles and when we support one another our battles are less arduous.
I’ll go to battle for you, and with you, any time you’re in need.
God bless each of you and thank you for bestowing upon me the honor of serving you as your chairman this past year.
2019-2020 Chamber Chair