But the Chamber could not function without the support of its community — the organization always encourages residents to shop locally. “The people that have small businesses in their community … they have pride in what product or service they provide to the community,” said Bivone, who owns RMB Drafting on East Meadow Avenue.
“The business owners that are in East Meadow, we’re your neighbors,” added Skinner, the owner of A&C Pest Management, also on East Meadow Avenue. “It’s neighbors doing business with neighbors.”
Many Chamber initiatives combine business networking with the community, like Culinary Delights, an event where local restaurants bring their specialty items to a food tasting to promote their business. Last year marked the 10th anniversary of Culinary Delights, which was held at the Carltun at Eisenhower Park. The event, commenced during the presidency of Alan Hodish, sends its proceeds to several charities. “It’s really grown from that first year,” said Hodish. “It’s a major fundraiser.”
Pride Day, which is in its 22nd year, is another major event that combines business and community. Founded in the mid-‘90s by East Meadow resident Greg Peterson, who was the Town of Hempstead Supervisor at the time, the annual June event brings local groups — service, religious, business — together to showcase their organizations. Thousands attend the event at Speno Park each year. “A big part of the success is the participation of the business community,” said Peterson, who turned the event over to the Kiwanis Club in 1998 when he left office. “It puts a real smile on your face. It’s showing the pride that we have.”
The Chamber also works in conjunction with the schools to benefit local children. They distribute annual scholarships to the local high schools, have donated scoreboards to Woodland Middle School and Merrick Avenue Little League fields, and each year they conduct mock interviews with high school seniors to prepare them for their careers. The Chamber also donates to local camps, as well as Boy and Girl Scout troops. “The youth of the community is the future of the community,” said Skinner.