Our staff, my family, and I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Carmi Chamber of Commerce annual dinner. This dinner is held each fall, with highlights including the mayor’s state of the city address, a keynote speaker, and awards for business and citizen of the year.
The Chamber dinner is usually an upbeat evening of celebrating what is right with the Carmi area, and I always look forward to it. To be honest, though, I was concerned this year. Our local economy is struggling, we have lost some businesses, and some others are barely hanging on. As a result, some families in White County are truly hurting and I wondered if the mood at the Chamber dinner would be more somber than usual.
When we got to the dinner, however, I saw a packed house of people who are proud of and invested in our community. The room was absolutely full – I’m not sure one more person could have fit in that room. And the mood was far from somber. Folks were talking to old friends and making new ones, and laughter filled the room. You can be sure the attendees were fully aware of our recent economic issues, and were not being insensitive to those who are hurting. Rather, they reminded me of an athletic team at halftime of a hard fought game. Everything hadn’t gone perfectly during the first half, but the game wasn’t over yet and the people in that room were anxious to get back out on the field for the second half. They believed they could win, and that’s vitally important.
The evening’s speakers, including Chamber executive director Holly Healy, Mayor Jeff Pollard, CEO program facilitator Tracy Orr, outgoing Chamber president Andy Acord, and incoming Chamber president Caleb Hughes, did an outstanding job. The large business of the year and citizen of the year awards were deservingly given to Little Giant and Tim Gholson, respectively. And our office was honored and humbled to receive the award for small business of the year.
You can’t prepare to receive an award you don’t know you’re going to win. I walked up to the podium, accepted the plaque from the outgoing president, and stepped up to the microphone to address the 250 or so people in attendance. Thanks to nerves and adrenaline, I don’t remember what I said. But I hope I thanked my staff members, who make my job easy. This award is as much theirs as it is mine, and they are truly a pleasure to work with every day. I also hope I thanked the City of Carmi, who have made our move to our new location as easy and seamless as possible. I hope I thanked my wife, who deals with me being gone for long hours at the office and at optometric meetings across the country. Most of all, I hope I thanked our patients. My promise to our patients is that we will never take you for granted. We will continue to learn new ways to provide the best eye care anywhere, and will do our best to care for your eyes and for you as a person. Our goal is to treat every patient like a member of our family, and I hope we are meeting that goal.
Until next time –
Clint Taylor, OD