I grew up in Ridgewood, NJ. It was – and still is, a beautiful village 22 miles from Manhattan. There are two major similarities to Ridgewood and Charlestown that jump out at me. Ridgewood businesses and Charlestown businesses actively support local charities and both communities support local athletes, which in turn supports the community as a whole.
As a business owner, I get asked literally almost every day to participate in a good cause. Giving product or money, gift cards, etc. to help the charity raise funds to continue to do good work. It is very difficult to say no to any one charitable organization. I have found here in Charlestown, and much like Ridgewood, very few business owners ever say no.
Last week at my store, Olivia Browning, we hosted a shopping event for the people of Japan, with part of the days proceeds going to the American Red Cross. It was a huge success, but not just because of money raised, but because consumers, businesses and other charitable organizations came together to make sure it was a success. For that event alone, MaryLee Trettenero of Boston Intuitive donated all of her psychic readings proceeds to the American Red Cross; Christie Melene Kent and Art on Tour donated product, held trunk shows and spent five to six hours working the event, the American Red Cross sent a representative to speak with our community, Raspberry Bouquet generously donated tulip bouquets to those that gave (25!); and local residents came into shop. It felt good for all of us.
Well, that was last week. Last night, I walked into the Community Center on Medford Street and saw more local business owners, families and other charitable organizations cheering on Charlestown’s Youth Basketball Team Playoffs. Citizens Bank was playing Haven by Lindsay Hill Design. Folks representing the Charlestown Mothers Association, Johnny’s Foodmaster, Jenny’s Pizza, CHAD, The Revs, Sal LaMattina and the other teams were all there too.
Karen Sullivan and Ginny Mansfield (local residents) worked hard together to organize a wonderful basketball season for our youth. Like all the other sports teams and organizations in town, they relied heavily on local businesses and other organizations to help make the entire program work. Which brings me to my point today: teamwork – and what we as a “Charlestown Team” can accomplish for the community as a whole.
No matter where one comes from, where we want to go, and what we want to be (as a person, business, community) – it takes teamwork, giving and time to get there. Those of us who live in Charlestown are all on the same team, regardless of our differences personally or in what type of business we own, or charity we work for, or the school that we go to.
As a board member of the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce, I have found that our direction is working. Together we’re broadening the board, growing committees and resurrecting the membership directory. As a team, we’re holding the membership drive, sponsoring the Brown Bag Luncheon Series that focuses on relevant business related topics and working hard to deliver valuable, tangible services for membership. It is a completely all volunteer board.
Over the last few weeks, local business people, individuals and those wanting to get into business have reached out (and we are still getting back to emails and phone calls!) – wanting to help in the Chamber’s effort to grow and prosper. There is an awakening that suggests that the more we all give in terms of time, one’s expertise, ideas, sweat equity, the more we all will receive. It’s an age-old concept that never goes out of style. This is not to say that those before us have not worked equally as hard -- just the opposite. The foundation has been built and it is perfect to go to the next level because of the efforts of so many over the last 10 plus years. So many people have clearly given so much.
Over the course of the next year, the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce will work hard to publish an all encompassing membership directory which will benefit each individual because it will list all Charlestown merchants, restaurants, service providers, companies, schools, real estate agencies/agents, charitable organizations, doctors, etc. The directory will be available to individuals, local businesses, schools, charitable organizations and relocation companies. Perhaps it will be the basis for resurrecting the “Welcome Wagon” or the New Mom Gift Basket (local businesses provide a gift or service to the new Mom/family).
In order to produce this directory both in print and online, we are going to have to work together, buy advertising, commit time to proof and make sure no one has been left out. It will serve as a wonderful resource for our community and a go to guide to all of us.
The Charlestown Chamber will also be working hard in the next weeks on the Annual Open Market. We need help organizing this effort as well. We have gotten back to many and are working on the list of those wanting to volunteer – and please understand that we are volunteers too, so we work it into the fabric of our days.
If you’d like to meet to talk about committees and how you can assist, please email me at Abby@oliviabrowning.com. I can meet this coming Monday at 9 a.m. and provide an overview and bigger picture. Followed by our board meeting on Monday night, we should be able to move ahead further next week. For Membership in the Chamber or information on programs or anything else, please contact email@example.com.