Mary Ruth Snyder is Executive Director of the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce

Our existence has been forever changed by COVID-19. Most people acknowledge we will not be returning to our ‘life’ pre-COVID.

There are many quotes from Mother Teresa to Mahatma Gandhi about improving our world by starting with ourselves, our family and our neighbourhood.

Early last autumn, we renewed our focus with a new executive director and a new board who together, with defined intention, embarked on a path to cement the foundations of our community partnerships.

We took steps internally to ensure we were walking our talk. We began a relationship with Kubera from Vancouver utilizing their payment processing system Bambora based in Victoria. Not only is it cost effective, it’s Canadian and right here on the island.

As we ventured into the community we engaged with our local secondary schools and discovered a grade twelve student who’s brilliant with computer science — he’s building us a new website that will launch next month. A website that will be hosted by a Vancouver Island company. What better way to expand our future as a community than to provide opportunities to the next generation?

North Island College was next on our list. Their post degree diploma in Global Business Management is where we found a student volunteer who has been invaluable. NIC’s array of work experience opportunities is an excellent way for students to gain real world work experience and for businesses to gain youthful insight, enthusiasm and a new perspective.

We also began meeting regularly with our Volunteer Centre as well as the Immigrant Welcome Centre. This led to yet another amazing addition to our small but mighty team.

Our relationship with the other non-profits in our community has broadened our reach but more importantly it has expanded our understanding how intricately we are all entwined — stronger together than apart.

Our renewed focus led us to also examine our outward appearance. Next month we will be unveiling our new logo designed by a local First Nations artist. Reconciliation begins with each one of us individually and organizationally.

Business cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs people. It needs community. It needs relationships. Our path over the last ten months — the enrichment of all our community relationships, the engagement of the younger generations — will help all of us weather whatever comes next.

Mary Ruth Snyder is Executive Director of the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce.