Chamber executive director Colleen Clark handed off an award to presenter Marlyn Graziano for presentation at last fall’s Business Excellence Awards. (Langley Advance files)

Langley chamber: Reaching beyond its mandate

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce hosts a number of special events, on top other efforts.

Chamber = business.

But for the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce team – both its staff and directors – their organization is about much more than commerce.

It’s about being active and immersed in the community. Sure, it means participating in a few community events and happenings. It also means speaking out about social injustices. It also means hosting several key community functions of their own.

Admittedly, a few of the chamber events may stretch beyond the normal purview of a board of trade or chamber of commerce, admitted Colleen Clark, the executive director for the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce (GLCC).

But, pointing to some of their special events – such as the summer golf tournament at Redwoods Golf Course, the H.D. Stafford Good Citizen Award presentations every December, the business excellence awards every October, and a relatively new women’s luncheon happening in early September – Clark said they’re important in solidifying the chamber’s role as a community partner in Langley.

These are more than special chamber events, they’re important community events, Clark said. And that’s why the chamber has taken the leadership role in each.

Since 1980, for instance, the chamber has picked one worthy volunteer in Langley to be lauded for all he or she does to help others and the community.

“I think if you go back through history of the chamber… the chamber had worked with Harold [Stafford] on different issues, and they really wanted to somehow add him to something the chamber did – and it didn’t really fit with business per say. So when you look at the H.D. Stafford award, it’s not just about being a businessperson. That’s part of the criteria, but when we give out the H.D. Stafford [Award]… it’s about being a good citizen in general… we really look for individuals who are all encompassing… they give from the heart not just the cheque book.”

Speaking of recognition, the chamber will hold its 23rd annual business excellence awards this fall, and while it’s a recognition event for local business operators and entrepreneurs, it’s also one of the premier community events – drawing more than 400 people to help laud the local people behind prize-winning businesses and to recognize the individuals and businesses alike for outstanding customer relations, community service, and quality products.

Then, there’s the long-running chamber golf tournament that’s on tap for June 6.

“The golf tournament gives us a fun event, where people can just get out and network and enjoy a day on the course,” she said, noting more and more chambers are incorporating golf tourneys into their annual calendars.

“[Fun] is one of the main reasons, but we are a non-profit organization and it is one of our largest fundraisers of the year, too,” Clark elaborated.

These kinds of events are key to the chamber’s bottomline, she emphasized. The organization garners most of its funds through membership dues and administration fees through partnership programs.

Money raised by hosting events, like this year’s 33rd annual golf tournament, are also essential to ensuring the strength and longevity of the organization.

And, still relatively new on the chamber calendar is the women’s luncheon. While there are other community events held in and around International Women’s Day, the chamber still wants to recognize “powerful women in business,” Clark said.

So, while details are still being ironed out, the chamber is preparing for the third time to hold a women’s lunch, slated for Sept. 5. It will feature author Darci Lang , an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, a wife, and a mother, and someone who lived with depression and learned how to turn her life around to focus on the positives.

She’ll give the 150-plus women in attendance one simple tool to change the way they view their lives.

Clark was so impressed hearing Lang’s motivational speech at another event, that she jumped at the chance to bring her to Langley and share her secret to finding balance in life.

“As a chamber, yes, we focus on the business community, but our underlying morals are ‘we want our community to be the best community it can be, as a whole,” said Clark, a self-proclaimed “chamber nerd” who’s been involved in large and small chambers of commerce for a quarter century, the past three years at the helm in Langley.

“So, whether it’s a social issue such as affordable housing, or opoiod overdoses, we – as a chamber – need to have a say in that because the business community is a huge part of the community.”

To do so, the chamber has to be active beyond the obvious business realm.

To find out more about the upcoming chamber special events, visit their new website at langleychamber.com.

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