Time is our most precious resource.  Organizations depend on people who agree to spend time working, usually in exchange for compensation. 

In today’s competitive environment, margins are thin.  There is less money available to pay staff.  A Fortune 500 company may have highly paid management or rich corporate dividends that might better go to pay workers. In local independent business, however, the owner already is the last to be paid and only when there is money left over.

Similarly, in small nonprofits, there is no excess payroll.  If revenue sources dry up, people are let go. The credit markets rarely loan money to tiny businesses or nonprofits to help with payroll.

Yet, the services are still needed and the work is still there, without anyone to do it.  Small businesses rely on family and friends to help when things are tight or especially busy.  Nonprofits rely on part-time workers and volunteers.

The Chamber is not immune to these challenges.  To leverage our small business community, we count on volunteers for events and committee work.  In a bygone era, we could hire help.  Today, our success depends on our volunteer engagement.

We try to align opportunities to match volunteers with professional development or potential customers. We provide incentives to volunteers who are willing to take leadership roles.   Our website has a link to an online sign up form listing various opportunities.  When I see you I may ask you to spare a few hours for our cause.  We are excited about participating in the Community Foundation’s “Volunteer Meet and Match” event on April 12 at the Oak Park Public Library.

Time is our most precious resource.  Fortunately, we live in a community where people are willing to donate time to issues that matter to them.  This is how we thrive in an era of tight margins and a challenging economy.

So – an opportunity: if “small business” and “health and welfare” resonates, consider volunteering at our Community Health and Wellness Fair on Sunday, April 10 at Ridgeland Common.  Or help out at the Good Life Race that morning.  We could use you!

Join the discussion on social media!

Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...