Cranbrook Chamber wraps up 2013

Chamber of Commerce announces turkey drive totals, names 2014 executive, and celebrates the past year in Cranbrook

Cranbrook business people took part in a busy Christmas tradition on Wednesday, Dec. 11, for the final Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon of the year.

Before hundreds of people gathered at the Heritage Inn, the Chamber announced its 2014 executive, Jason Wheeldon and Warren Bedell wrapped up the Turkey Drive, Barry Coulter gave the annual “Chamber rant”, and Mike Adams and Laura Kennedy honoured Chamber manager Karin Penner for her 30 years working for the organization.

The luncheon was sponsored by Nutter’s Bulk and Natural Foods, and owner Denise Pallesen chose to recognize three up-and-coming local businesswomen: Krista Birch of Glow Yoga and Wellness, Stephanie Moore of Stephanie Moore Photography and Jan Stone of the Painter’s Crate.

Pallesen also congratulated outgoing Chamber president Mike Adams.

“You have done an amazing job at being president of the Chamber for 2013 and I would just like to thank you very much from the businesses,” she said.

Next, Chamber director Lana Kirk announced the 2014 board of directors. Next year, Dave Butler, Canadian Mountain Holidays, will be Chamber president; Dave Struthers, Vast Resource Solutions, will be vice president; Avana Gjendem, St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, will be second vice president; Jeanette Sissons, CIBC, will remain treasurer; and Mike Adams, Taylor Adams Chartered Accountants, will be past president.

Next, Jason Wheeldon and Warren Bedell gave a run-down of the fourth annual Chamber Turkey Drive, held on Thursday, Dec. 5.

During the turkey drive, community members pledge donations to the Salvation Army and Cranbrook Food Bank to provide Christmas dinners for the community’s less fortunate.

This year, Wheeldon explained, the drive’s goal was $28,000, which he admitted “may have been a bit lofty of a goal”. However, the drive raised $27,600, just $400 short of its goal.

Seven celebrity pledgers brought on to seek donations for the drive raised a total of $13,000 towards that goal.

“A great big thank you to everybody, from our Chamber membership, to the community, to the service clubs and organizations that really rose to the challenge. Every pledge counted, and it was heartwarming to watch people come in off the street and pledge a turkey to the larger donations coming in – it was just a wonderful event,” said Wheeldon.

Cranbrook Food Bank manager Jackie Jensen accepted the donation at the luncheon.

“I’m proud to be involved in this Cranbrook community to see people from all walks of life caring about those who for whatever reason need our help in their lives,” she said.

The Salvation Army’s Captain Kirk Green said he had spoken to a woman who donated to the drive, which prompted her nine- and six-year-old children to ask about giving. As a result, the children decided to pool their piggy bank savings to sponsor a child.

“You are not only building community, you are building character,” said Capt. Green.

Townsman editor Barry Coulter gave the popular Cranbrook rant at the luncheon. The satirical, irreverent commentary on current affairs in the city this year touched upon the controversial brick building behind city hall, the addition of a medical marijuana stall at the Cranbrook Farmer’s Market, Cranbrook’s introduction to beer through the opening of the Heid Out, and an innovative approach to daylight savings time.

A touching tribute to long-time Chamber manager Karin Penner wrapped up the celebration.

Outgoing president Mike Adams and Chamber admin assistant Laura Kennedy gave tribute to Penner, who began working for the Chamber in 1983.

In that time, the Chamber’s membership has grown from less than a hundred to 460.

“In the beginning I would say, okay, we aren’t going to make payroll, Karin, would you go out and get some members? And she did,” said Kennedy.

Since she began working at the Chamber, Penner has been instrumental in bringing the BC Summer Games to Cranbrook, bringing about the annual Awesome Auction, now in its 18th year, and taken part in committees for the Cranbrook centennial celebration, the Hockeyville pitch, and participated in the Olympic Torch and Rick Hansen Man in Motion 25th anniversary relays.

“She is well known throughout the B.C. Chamber world. She has been president of the B.C. Chamber executives. Many people throughout the B.C. Chamber look to Karin for her words of wisdom,” said Adams.

Kennedy said that the Chamber’s staff and volunteers share a total of more than 100 years of service to the organization. They are a family, she went on.

“In all of the letters of congratulations I have received for Karin there is not one that doesn’t talk about her dedication to the Chamber, her love of Cranbrook and her willingness to get involved to make our community a better place to live. Cranbrook is a better place because you are in it,” said Kennedy.

In accepting the tribute, Penner pointed back to the many people she works closely with.

“I have been blessed and you are part of those blessings,” she said. “It’s been a journey that I would never have dreamed would be so rewarding, so much fun, and something I loved so dearly.”