OPINION: Chamber generates more than good will

A monthly column about life in McCleary

Historically Speaking

By Linda Thompson

The Chamber of Commerce, in general, dates back to 1599 and started in Marseille, France. About 65 years later a few more began to pop up here and there. Here in the states the Jersey Chamber and New York City Chamber were founded in February 1768.

The Chamber is a non-governmental institution and has no direct role in writing and passage of laws and regulations that affect businesses.

Taken from the McCleary Chamber website: The McCleary Chamber is organized to advance the general welfare and prosperity of the McCleary area so that its citizens and all areas of its business community shall prosper. All necessary means of promotion shall be provided and particular attention and emphasis shall be given to the economic, civic, commercial, cultural, industrial and educational interests of the area.

Dee Velasco, current president of the McCleary Chamber has been president for three years. Before that she was treasurer for two years. Our Chamber is strictly a nonprofit organization. This is an important distinction, because other towns, like Elma, our nearest neighbor, has paid employees that facilitate chamber meetings.

We average about 25 members annually with a large portion of that being local organizations, not just businesses. It is a great opportunity to share upcoming events, generate new ideas and feel the real connection with the community in which you are working. We can learn so much more in the face-to-face situation and the human contact is lost in webinars. Webinars have become popular in recent years, and they most definitely have their place, but in a small community an hour a month does not seem like a lot of time to spend getting to know your fellow business partners. Notice I slipped into the ‘we’ mode. I am an active member, representing the McCleary Historical Society, attending meetings as often as the situation allows. But then I back out of that mode back into ‘they’ mode. I don’t feel I can take credit for 1 percent of what they are involved in.

We would encourage more representation from businesses and organizations as we meet the third Wednesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the Timberland Regional Library in McCleary.

When asked what all the chamber was involved in, Dee rattled off several and admitted there were even more, but they fly under the radar often. A big event is the beautification of McCleary. Plants are purchased from the Elma FAA group and sold to businesses and organizations in town. The city waters the plants all season long to keep them looking their best, thereby we look our best.

The chamber is doing the Fun Run on Bear Festival weekend, second weekend in July, again. They are responsible for publishing the maps for the city-wide garage sale the third weekend in September and also organize the dinner to recognize the business of the year and the volunteer of the year. This year the business that was voted best in town was Gordon’s Select Market. Who can argue with that? The volunteer of the year was none other than Susan Carrol. She was surprised at the honor, but she shouldn’t have been. She’s one of the most involved people around.

There’s the tree lighting the first Saturday of December with free hot chocolate (with whipped cream) and cookies handed out just before the tree lighting. A group of children from the school come to sing Christmas carols as everyone gets into the spirit of the season.

Dee said she is going to become involved in the Steering Committee that has newly formed for the City. It is hoped that someone from the City would then join the chamber meeting to share with other chamber members what is happening with that.

Current officers of the chamber are: Dee Velasco, from Our Community Credit Union, president; Stacy House, of House Brothers Construction, vice president; and Destiny Frahm as treasurer. The secretary position is vacant. Election for that office will be held during the next chamber meeting. Destiny Frahm has a private business as does Holly Pierce and Karen Waddington. Holly Pierce also represents the Bear Festival Committee. Others representing your community are Larry Peterson, representing the Food Bank, Jennifer Mooney representing Summit Pacific Medical Center and Clinic. We recently lost, and greatly miss, a representative from the school.

The chamber wants to thank everyone who makes everything possible and would encourage more people to become involved in your community Chamber of Commerce.

Linda Thompson is the editor of the McCleary Museum Newsletter. She has been a volunteer at the museum since 1990. Research provided by Charles H. Fattig.