Goodwill builds great relationships

Just after Christmas, I realized that technology has not improved one area of my life. While staying in touch is easier, using cellular phones and e-mail, nothing can replace the good old-fashioned note written by hand and sent by snail-mail. You probably think I’m talking about sending Christmas cards, but no, I haven’t done that since the birth of my first child.

Before that fateful day over nine years ago, I was sickeningly prompt. My hand-written Christmas cards were stamped and addressed before Dec. 15 each year. It was a feather in my cap, and I was proud. Then came my two daughters and nary a Christmas card has been sent since.

It’s not the Christmas card I’m proud of, but the good old-fashioned thank you card that is the feather in my cap today. I just can’t rest until they are signed, sealed and delivered. (Must be well-placed guilt from my mom, which I am dutifully passing along to my daughters.) Nobody rests until the thank you cards have been sent.

I was determined to send out thank you notes before we returned from Christmas break. The tree was down, decorations were put away, and it was time to express our gratitude on paper. After 32 note cards were written and addressed by hand, and $11.84 in postage was spent, the Heistad family thank you cards hit the streets. Some people, for instance grandparents, received up to four thank you cards from us (we also have December birthdays in our family). It may seem silly, but each and every recipient must write and send a thank you note. That’s the rule. There might still be one or two stragglers, for whatever reason, that did not make the first mailing. It might take me until February, but every gift giver will receive a personal thank you card.  

So reserve “thankful” for November? No way, once the gratitude starts flowing after Christmas, it’s easy to be thankful all year long.

So what’s the point? The chamber business is built on relationships. To accomplish anything, you have to involve people. Sometimes it involves business owners, sometimes elected officials, sometimes community members, and sometimes resources from outside the community. It is a business built on the goodwill of people, and it is the collective goodwill that makes Oak Harbor a better place to do business. While serving as the executive director for this organization, I have a lot for which to be thankful. And I’ve written hundreds of thank you notes over the years at the Chamber.  

And while on the subject of gratitude for the year past, it is time for awards to be broadcast over the airwaves. The Golden Globes. The Grammys. The Oscars. And the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards. That’s right, next week the business community takes out an evening to honor the accomplishments of last year. Chamber members have nominated their peers in categories such as Business Community Service Award, Best Remodel Award, Quality Award, Business of the Year and more. On Friday, Jan. 27, the recipients will accept their awards over dinner at the Yacht Club. A fabulous evening is planned and great food will be served. 

On a side note, it’s not too early to start thinking about the Old Fashioned 4th of July. Each year, the Chamber raises $10,000 to put on a fabulous fireworks display at City Beach Park. The fundraising kicks off at the Chamber’s Annual Awards Banquet. With the rising costs over the past 10 years, the bang for the 10,000 bucks has slightly diminished, and as a community, we might want to add to that total for a grand show in 2006.  Any ideas and contributions are welcome.

Here’s to an attitude of gratitude in 2006!

Priscilla Heistad is director of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. For information, or to make reservations, call 675-3755.


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