quot;It#039;s the people.quot;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

That's the simple message that is repeated often by Jenniffer Barner, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, and Dr. Jean Laliberte, chairman of the Chamber's Board of Directors.

The people, of course, are the volunteers who make the Chamber a success. From business owners to loyal employees to community residents, the volunteers are the men and women who serve on the Chamber's committees and its Board of Directors. They are the drive behind the Chamber's many varied activities, from its award-winning Farm City program to the revitlization of Downtown Troy to boosting education throughout Pike County. They forge the partnerships between business and the community, and they provide the heart and the energy that make the Chamber what it is - a vital, growing service.

Barner says she knows well what the Chamber gains from their efforts. "The volunteers make the Chamber a success."

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And for the men and women who choose to volunteer, the reasons are as varied as their backgrounds and their rewards are immeasurable.

Earl Ellis

Ellis is a member of the Downtown Revitalization Committee and, as a member of the downtown business community, he realizes how important it is to promote the downtown area so that it remains a vital part of Troy.

&uot;The purpose of the Downtown Revitalization Committee is to promote business, spur growth and keep a high standard, as far as beauty and architecture, in our central business area,&uot; Ellis said. &uot;The central business area is the heart of any community and reflects how the citizens think of their community and their pride in it.&uot;

The Downtown Revitalization Committee has a number of upcoming events, including the Troy Fest in the spring. The Troy Fest, formerly the Jean Lake Festival, will be a high-quality arts and crafts show and will be held on the downtown square, Ellis said.

&uot;The committee is always looking for ways to improve the business climate in the central business area and to promote the area,&uot; he said. &uot;We're also continuing to spruce up the central business area and make it an even more attractive place to do business.&uot;

For Ellis, serving on the Chamber's Downtown Revitalization Committee is an opportunity to be a part of the good things that are happening in Troy.

&uot;Having a good Chamber of Commerce is vital for our community, but it's the way the community improves and grows,&uot; he said.

Jewel Griffin

Jewel Griffin is a longtime member of the Agriculture Committee. She takes great pride in being able to serve on a committee of such great importance to the people of Pike County.

&uot;The purpose of the Agriculture Committee is to make people aware of the important role agriculture plays in our community. The committee is especially important today because so many people are so far removed from the farm. A lot of people - especially young people - don't know what it takes to produce our food and some people don't even realize where their food comes from.&uot;

Griffin said bringing awareness about the farm is an important aspect of Farm City Week, which is sponsored by the agriculture committee.

&uot;We stress the importance of the farm and the farm family, but we also emphasize the importance of the farm and city communities working together,&uot; she said. &uot;The two communities must work together because it takes them both for the world to go around.&uot;

Griffin said the award -winning Agriculture Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce - has been successful because of the hard work and dedication of its members.

&uot;The committee is always working to promote agriculture and to strengthen the relationship between the farm and city communities,&uot; she said.

The committee won four state awards in its division in 2002 - the Best Farm City Committee, the Proclamation Award, the Best Media Coverage and the Best Special Activities.

Griffin said all of the time and effort she puts into the committee is time and effort well spent.

&uot;It is satisfying to me to think that maybe something that I have done will make a difference in the lives of the younger generation,&uot; she said, &uot;and, that the work of the committee will foster a better understanding between the farm and city communities and appreciation for each other.&uot;

Mike Davis

Mike Davis wears two volunteer hats with the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. He is chairman of the Chamber's Pike Leadership Alumni Board and also serves on the Golf Committee.

The purpose of the Alumni Board is to be a guiding tool for the incoming Pike Leadership class.

&uot;The Pike Leadership class is made up of 12 to 15 citizens who come together to learn more about their community,&uot; Davis said. &uot;They are educated on everything from history to industry to farming and government. We have one Pike Leadership class each year and the class meets seven times and the goal of the class is to make the participants better leaders.&uot;

Davis is a Pike Leadership graduate and he said he was amazed at how much he learned.

&uot;I learned a lot about the history of Pike County and about how the other cities do business,&uot; he said. &uot;I was surprised at the diversity of Pike County businesses and I think I developed much better leadership skills. But, the most enjoyable part of the class was the friendships that I made. To this day, I still count on those friends and treasure them. That is the biggest thing I took from the class.&uot;

Davis is also on the Golf Committee, which is a fundraising committee for the Chamber.

&uot;This is the third year the committee has been in existence,&uot; he said. &uot;Its purpose is to raise funds to help the Chamber meet its needs. The tournament is a four-man scramble and it is held in April. We usually have between 25 and 30 teams, so it's an opportunity to play golf and mix and mingle with people you don't see on a day-to-day basis.

Davis believes that any time one gives something back to their community, they always reap more than they gave.

&uot;I feel like if I can help my community I should,&uot; he said. &uot;I should give back a portion of what my community has given me. I should pass it on. For a while I thought I didn't have the time to volunteer. Once I made the time, it has been a time of great enjoyment for me.&uot;