- By: Anna Borgeas, Chamber Vice President/COO
Like most stewards of the community, The Fresno Chamber of Commerce is working to leave a better place for the next generation; but we believe the best way to ensure long term success is to get the next generation involved NOW.
In its second year, the Fresno Chamber Jr. Board is proud to have nearly 25 students representing 8 high schools in this program that instills in them the need for community involvement through advocacy, volunteerism and business stewardship. Aristotle once said “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” While we may not have been quite so eloquent in explaining why we wanted to develop the Fresno Chamber of Commerce Jr. Board, his pithy saying can be the program’s motto.
Not nearly as legendary, but more influential in my life than a dead philosopher, my mom would always say, it is just as easy to form a good habit as it is to form a bad one.
So what good habits is our ‘youts’ (who doesn’t love a reference from the movie My Cousin Vinny) learning? Here’s a sampling:
- All Politics Are Local: In February, the Jr. Board met with Fresno City Council members Oliver Baines, Clint Olivier and Blong Xiong. During the candid 90 minute meeting, the Council members revealed the many idiosyncrasies involved in political life, including the toll on family, the wild characters of the citizenry, the long hours and deep honor involved in public service. But most important, these Council members demonstrated how they can remain friends and maintain relationships even when they disagree, because the betterment of the whole is more important than the individual.
- Volunteerism is Good for the Organization and for the Soul: In March, nearly 20 Jr. Board members volunteered their morning at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The students helped coordinate the Frogs & Fairytales breakfast for dozens of children and their parents (I mean really, wouldn’t you want to spend a Saturday morning with a bunch of stimulated toddlers?). The group had a great time and even enjoyed some board bonding with Zoo time fun together.
- Fill the Need and Fill your Pocketbook: Also last month, the Jr. Board heard from Irma Olguin and Jake Soberal of Bitwise Industries. The brains behind 59DaysofCode, The Hashtag, Shift3Technologies, Bitwise Mural District and Geekwise Academy explained to the group that being in business can be a win for the business owner, the industry and the community. These self-proclaimed geeks are starting a revolution: they are educating people to fill the gaps of the software and design industry to help develop the region as a hub of “geek” talent. They are unabashedly taking on Silicon Valley and winning battles as their army grows.
Through the Chamber’s Jr. Board program, these students are learning early on that working towards the betterment of your community – be it though political office, volunteerism or business creation – is rewarding in more ways than one.
Here’s to forming lots of good habits.