I tell friends often, and have written in this column before, that we’re all so busy going in our many directions that we don’t take enough time to recognize the great things as they are happening or be thankful for all that we do have. With some growing divisiveness on social media, I think it’s more important now than most years to recognize what is good in our lives and share those observations that may not be newsworthy but should be noteworthy. Here are my thankful observations from both a business and personal perspective for this Thanksgiving 2019:

Cornerstone Memberships

On the surface, this may appear purely an observation about business but it’s in fact more personal than that. Cornerstone memberships were something created by the chamber about this time last year. Essentially it’s a new membership-sponsorship hybrid package in which Chamber dues are tied into a larger marketing package where the Cornerstone Members get a sponsorship level for every major Chamber event all year long, and other benefits too.

These are more expensive packages but the five businesses who registered for this level of membership did so in order to help the chamber and to show they believe in what the chamber does. That’s where it becomes personal for me. As the Executive Director, I’m the leader of this organization along with our Board of Directors and to have these businesses say, “We believe in you and the work you’re doing to the point that we want our name tied to everything you do” is very humbling and rewarding. They’re literally putting their money where their mouth is. It’s quite overwhelming and something to definitely be thankful for. Thank you Mid Coast- Parkview Heath, RE/MAX Riverside, Bath Savings Institution, the Priority Group and Sitelines.

Collaborations

If I begin to list the numerous community organizations we partner with annually and describe the projects we partner on, I’d run out of the 1,000 words I get weekly for this column. We’re part of dozens of collaborations ranging from statewide workforce teams and tourism initiatives to joint ribbon cuttings and social media posts for partner organizations. This region of the state is very collaborative and I think our recent business growth is the result of these collaborative efforts. One great example of collaboration is the one I’m currently involved in with the Midcoast Tree Festival. Both All Saints Parish and Spectrum Generations have been incredible collaborators — in fact it’s one of the best collaborations in my career. What makes it so great? Clear communication is the basis of the relationship, but it also includes a division of workload, defined roles, consistently offering support and being willing to give of your time for the team. We haven’t had a single argument, and when we disagreed on how to tackle a part of the project, we talked through it until we found a consensus. Each group has put the success of the project above our own self-interests and we’ve been deferential to the needs of each other. We make a great team.

Increased Engagement

There are many examples of increased business engagement in the region, but here is just one. In my first two full years at the Chamber, we had over 100 attendees at our monthly Chamber After Hours open houses once. When I first came here a typical turnout was 35-50 people- which is middle-of-the-pack for chamber turnout around the state for these events. This year we’ve gone over 100 attendees five times and we haven’t been less than 50 at any event. That’s important.

It’s important because our lives are not getting less busy. We are all stretched so thin with our schedules that it’s invigorating to see that many business leaders engage. Time is our most valuable commodity, and these business leaders have chosen to spend it with us. Like they did last week at Independence Association, with co-host Ouellet Construction, as we had a joint ribbon cutting and After Hours with the Brunswick Downtown Association. Nearly 100 business people attended that event and we’re expecting a similar turnout at our final After Hours of the year at Bar Harbor Bank & Trust in Topsham on Dec. 5, 5 p.m.

Little Moments of Light

These happen all of the time if you’re open enough to recognize them when they occur. I’ve made an effort this year to try to notice these and share them with others when they happen. These little moments of light- these random acts of kindness or unselfishness or gratuitous warmth — are things we smile at, while the things we share are too often about the woes of this world. What if we shared these light moments as often as the dark ones? How could it change our outlook?

For instance, at the ribbon-cutting last week, rather than the chair of the Independence Association Board or the Executive Director cutting the ribbon, they asked one of their clients to cut it.

A woman at the Midcoast Tree Festival found a tree ticket lying on the ground that someone must have dropped, instead of putting into a tree pole to win a tree. Did they throw it away? No. The woman went to the ticket booth, found the person’s name and called them to ask which tree pole they could put it in for the person so they had a chance to win.

A different woman won the 50/50 Friday night and worked with the St. John’s staff to identify a mother who had been there with her two children. The 50/50 winner didn’t know the woman, but saw her being a good mother and wanted to help- and they did end up connecting.

Beautiful things happen every day, and we should share them with the same zeal we share all other news. And those beautiful little moments- those moments which no one expects to be recognized for- those are the moments we can all be thankful for this season.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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