By Tommy Hartzog, Exec. Dir., HNG Chamber of Commerce

Each of us is capable of finishing that profound challenge uttered by JFK in January of 1961. This was a call to follow the sacrifices of our Founding Citizens and all the men and women who have served our country over the last 240 years. Our country was made free and unique on the backs of people who gave of themselves to honor God and to establish the greatest country in the history of mankind.

That unselfish spirit is very alive and well in our tiny corner of America. I marvel at the number of people here who, without substantial provocation, step up when people need help or there is a worthy cause.

Civic service, the library, outreach, the Flowering Bridge, emergency response organizations, events and economic initiatives all have “community service” as their energy driver.

As a college student in the late ‘60’s I was recruited and trained for a job by a very caring and successful older woman. Her name was Lucille and she was in her 70’s when I met her. She was full of energy and enthusiasm and played the organ at church. She taught me some magic words-“will you help me”.

You see, when people have an objective and they share that goal with others and couple that with a request for their assistance, people respond very favorably.

The recent Chamber Gala is an example of an energetic group of volunteers being asked to help achieve a goal of helping to fund your Chamber with a fundraising event. The Olympiad has for, over 10 years, had a very dedicated army of volunteers. The Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation, HNG Outreach, firehouses, churches, roadside trash pickups by the Lions and the examples go on and on.

The Chamber has to fund operations to survive and we depend on our membership dues and events to accomplish that goal. Members join and pay dues to help the Chamber. Rarely do I, in my contact with prospective members, hear the words “what do I get for my membership”. Businesses and families join our Chamber to help achieve the greater good for our current citizens and those that will follow.

To be sure there are benefits to Chamber membership. Our dedication to economic initiatives that will fulfill essential service needs will provide jobs, boost property values and supply our merchants with new customers. Counting our seasonal monthly ReCharge events, we organize and execute over 10 events a year, and special invitations to these events are extended to our members. Most of these are party type gatherings which are free and fun. Referrals to businesses from our website are commonplace as people want to do business with a business that is engaged and helping the community.

Bottom line is that our membership does ask the question-“what can I do for my community?” That spirit of giving back ripples through our community and is payed forward in more ways than we can know.

You too, can join our Chamber for 2018. Just go to the website and fill out the form. Will you help us?