Communication, volunteers critical


I was fortunate enough to see the results of a survey in which downtown business owners had participated.

The survey was developed by members of S.H.A.R.E., SHEDG and the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce. I was truly surprised at some of the results and actions decided upon by the participants of this survey – both those who filled out the survey and those who conceived it.

I would like to go on record to say that I believe the survey and the results of it should be printed in The New Era for the community as a whole to read. Whereas the above- named organizations are in place to serve the community businesses, they are also in place to serve the citizens of the community.

The most important issue addressed was that of “communication” or the lack there of, between businesses and the organizations and the community. The survey responders all agreed that it needed to be improved upon.

The results of the “events” section of the survey is of most interest to me. I have been involved in community events either as a participant or organizer for more than 20 years.

Communication has always been the biggest problem in most of the events. No one knows when anything is going on. Part of this is lack of a timeline in which to get things done. Another thing is the lack of advertising concerning the events.

Addressing these matters would greatly improve on making the community aware of events. The Jamboree is great at this!

Included in the events section was the action to “look” at several regular Sweet Home events to see how they affected community interaction with the downtown businesses.

I was very surprised to see Sportsmans’ Holiday as the event with the least impact. I know that the community citizens look forward to this summertime event and many people attend the parade, fireworks and bazaars held that weekend.

Restaurant business booms after the parade. If no organization continues this tradition, then citizens will be greatly disappointed and possibly lose interest in other events.

I was even more surprised to see that “Christmas in Sweet Home” events were not mentioned as a whole. Parts of this event have, over the years, included the lighting of an annual Community Christmas Tree ceremony, Caroling on the bridge, and the Lighting of the bridge in holiday lights in the last few years.

During the weekend the Sweet Home Singing Christmas Tree is held, the East Linn Museum annual Bazaar, the SHHS alumni Tree Auction and several other community bazaars happen.

To me, it is one of the most important events in our town. As I write this, we are four weeks out from that weekend with no parade planned or even a decision as to whether there will be one.

How did our town get into the situation concerning events that it is in?

As I have mentioned, part of the problem is lack of a timeline to plan events. A huge problem is lack of volunteers and how to encourage people to volunteer.

Most of our volunteers are 50 years old or older. It is time for younger generation to step up to the plate. I am soon to be 64 years old and began my volunteering when my 41-year-old son was 6. For many years I volunteered for four organizations at a time. I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home parent and could do this.

Today, although most parents both work, I believe it is possible for them to volunteer for at least one, if not two, causes close to their passions.

And again, we go back to ommunication. Sweet Home is a small town and the most effective tool for communication is our local weekly newspaper.

Sadly, to place an advertisement in the paper is quite costly. In the past, most of the editors of the paper have written articles concerning upcoming events as well as covering them after their happening. Currently our paper does not do this effectively.

Reasons would be, space, newsprint cost, lack of advertisers and the ever-going high school sports reporting.

Our local editor has tried to address this by beginning the “around town” section in the paper. This works to a degree but not everyone who reads the paper reads this section. It is so much easier to scan the headlines and read the article that catches your attention.

I have no fantastic idea of how to solve the issues the chamber, SHEDG and S.H.A.R.E. are facing. But cutting community events is not the answer. If these organizations were to combine efforts instead of going their own ways, it would help. SHEDG makes the money with the Jamboree. S.H.A.R.E. benefits under their umbrella.

I feel the chamber should also benefit in this manner. And perhaps S.H.A.R.E. and the chamber should be combined as The Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce, as S.H.A.R.E. is not a recognizable entity outside of Sweet Home, let alone within the community by the citizens.

The chamber deserves to continue sponsoring events, communicating with people interested in our community and also be able to do its job with and for the businesses of Sweet Home.

Sue Olson

Sweet Home

Singing Christmas Tree

Asst. Manager,

A&W Restaurant

Chamber Parade volunteer