Chamber needs help — possibly from you

Sweet Home is known for its volunteerism.

This is a town where residents will step up to make things happen. The Oregon Jamboree, the Boys and Girls Club, the Beautification Committee’s efforts to improve the city’s image — these and other local entities and activities are testimony to the efforts of local volunteers.

Sweet Home is also a town where things need to happen. One of those things is our Chamber of Commerce.

Basically, what needs to happen for the chamber is that people need to step up and help this organization become the effective representative of the community that it should be.

The chamber is on the ropes once again. Hopefully, as we report in today’s news section, this situation is only temporary. But right now, Chamber Director Carla Claason is herself working as a volunteer to keep the office open at least a few hours a week until money comes in to put her back on the payroll.

For a town like Sweet Home, a chamber is vital and this situation is unacceptable.

The chamber represents this community, a community that depends greatly on visitors for its economic vitality. When people think about visiting Sweet Home — or moving here — most will either contact the chamber or visit its Web site. If there is no functioning chamber, that information source is gone and, well, would you feel inclined to visit a place that doesn’t even want to tell you about itself?

Another function of the chamber, one that Sweet Home needs, is support for its businesses.

Claason has a background in marketing, and she has training in business networking. She has a lot to offer, but she can’t even get out of the office to visit the members.

A chamber of commerce is, by its very nature, a group effort. It isn’t supposed to be run entirely by professionals. The professionals are simply the people who facilitate things and put a face on the organization.

An effective chamber is really all about members. Members and individuals in the community are what make a healthy chamber of commerce a vital organization that has ribbon cuttings when businesses open (or remodel), that puts a friendly voice on the line or a friendly face behind the counter when people have questions about the community, that holds seminars to help businesses grow and improve in their sales and service abilities.

Can this happen in Sweet Home? It can and it should.

This it the time for people to step up and volunteer in an organization that can help us all. Are you good with people? Volunteer to help out behind the counter. Are you good at organizing events? Do you like doing things that make a difference? There’s a place for you at the chamber. Do you have expertise in business that could help the local community? Trot on down to 1575 Main St. and offer your services.

It’s clear that there isn’t enough money from chamber members to hire professional staff to do everything that this chamber needs done. It’s also clear that many local businesses could use support from a thriving chamber.

There are a lot of skilled, talented — and retired — people in this community. If only a few of them contribute some of their time and talent to this worthy cause, we predict we’ll see our chamber begin growing into the vital organization it needs to be.

If you’re ready to step up, call Claason at 367-6186.