HAWARDEN—In celebration of “Support Your Local Chamber Day” today (Wednesday, Oct. 17), Hawarden Chamber Director Cathie Brown encourages citizens to call the chamber.
“Surprisingly, it’s as simple as a phone call,” Brown said. “Just contact the chamber and we will provide information.”
Whether citizens choose to sit on a committee or assist with one or any of the community events throughout the year, the Chamber has a variety of opportunities and will always use extra help.
Next year, the Hawarden Chamber will celebrate its 100th anniversary. At its birth in 1919, and throughout the years, the name has seen a fair share of change. In 1928, the name became the Hawarden Chamber. In 2001, it was renamed HAPP which stood for Hawarden Area Partnership for Progress and in 2010 the name was reclaimed Hawarden Chamber.
Brown took over chamber director duties from Wendy Lubekman in 2003.
“Apprehensively, I accepted and the rest is history,” Brown said. “I have had the opportunity to get acquainted with many amazing individuals who care a great deal about the betterment of the Hawarden community. They, in turn, have taught me the important role the Chamber plays in the community.”
Although many changes have occurred for the small town chamber Brown feels they must continue to reinvent themselves. One of the biggest concerns the chamber faces is reaching out and involving the next generation. Brown feels the chamber has been fortunate to have many community-minded citizens lead the organization with much success and knows in order to continue that legacy, they need to encourage future generations to become involved.
Joining the Retail Community Events Committee is one way to support the chamber. There responsible for conducting year-round events and promotions from the Labor Day Celebration to several holiday promotions. They also hold several fundraising events which help support promotions.
The Organization/Membership Committee is responsible for maintaining the organizational structure to the chamber. This committee is accountable for elections, the annual banquet, and chamber social events, like Chamber Coffee & Chamber After 5.
“A key part of this committee is to recruit and welcome new chamber members,” Brown said. “An important part to remember is you that don’t have to be a business to belong to the chamber. We have several membership options available which include non-profit organizations, family and individual memberships.”
Brown’s favorite Chamber events are the ones that happen around Christmas. She believes photos with Santa and sleigh rides spark the holiday season.
“Santa takes time from his busy schedule to fly in for photo shoot,” Brown said. “I love watching the kids’ faces as they wait to sit on Santa’s lap and share their Christmas wishes. Of course, there are smiles, eyes full of excitement, and even some tears and trembling lips, but it’s such a fun, family event.”
Brown has fond memories of one family in particular who have taken a family photo with Santa for as long as she has been involved in the chamber. The annual Festival of Trees is also a highlight of Brown’s Christmas season.
“I am amazed at how many creative people we have in this community,” Brown said. “Each year, volunteers step up to display their talents and decorate Christmas trees for our annual Festival of Trees. It always amazes me how they turn a dark, empty room into a festive holiday wonderland. It is a must see!”
Over 125 different individuals have served as president of the chamber and at all times it has been the goal to run the organization like one would run their own business while continuing to be a service to the community. The Hawarden Chamber is a 501C3, non-profit organization, operating under a Board of Directors who are volunteers elected by the chamber members. Serving under the board are the following committees: Development, Retail Community Events Committee, Organization. Each committee has their own responsibilities and duties. Regardless of the committee, level of membership, or event, the Hawarden Chamber’s common mission is to keep Hawarden economically strong and to make Hawarden a better place to live, work, worship and play.