I started my job with the Terrell Chamber of Commerce on June 10, 2019. I was familiar with the Chamber and had worked with them in some capacity over the course of seven years in my contracted role with the City to promote events at Terrell Municipal Airport. When the opportunity arose to apply for the newly created marketing position, I jumped on it. I could think of no role that I would love more than to work with the Chamber to support local businesses and coordinate events.
I just passed my one-year mark and I must say that I am so thrilled with the decision I made. I love this job and I love our community. But as I reflect on my first year, I realize there are so many major firsts that I missed out on due to COVID. The last four months of my first year didn’t look at all like was planned.
What I did get to participate in was a record-setting Civic Auction in the fall. This is the Chamber’s primary fundraiser and one that allows us to award scholarships to seniors, put on a community fireworks show for the Fourth of July, contribute to community beautification and more. I knew this was an event of significant importance when it was a major point of discussion during my interview in April 2019.
I also got to experience the Stanley Ballard Annual Christmas Parade and other community holiday events, as well as our 112th Annual Membership Meeting & Industrial Recognition Luncheon in February. But that’s about when things took a significant turn. We were in the throes of planning for the 39th Annual Terrell Jubilee, coming off a great year with nearly perfect weather all four days. We were looking forward to welcoming more arts and crafts vendors and trying to break records. Then we had to make the dreaded decision to cancel due to COVID. Of course, the decision was the right one to protect our community and citizens, but disappointing nonetheless.
Since March, the Chamber world has looked much different than planned. Like everyone, we had to adapt to a “new normal.” Executive board meetings and other business has taken place virtually, multiple annual events have been canceled with no real idea of when we’ll be able to have in-person events again. We switched gears in a season when we would normally be heavily involved with planning and executing those events, to becoming a go-to resource for our members. Our day-to-day changed, but our goal remained the same – to support the businesses in our community.
So, while I am sad to have missed out on so many firsts, I am happy to know in my job I get to witness and be part of a community that is resilient. One where our citizens want to see our local businesses survive these uncertain times. One where our local leadership is pro-business and doing what they can to ensure these businesses can remain open. One that I believe is going to come out on the other end of this stronger than ever.
It’s okay that my rookie year didn’t pan out the way I expected. We are all in this together and will get through it together and I can’t wait to experience all those firsts with my Terrell Chamber family in 2021, Lord willing.