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It’s All About The Volunteers

September 2012

By David Zaslawsky

The co-chairmen of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Total Resource Campaign (TRC) made it quite clear that the campaign is about the volunteers and not about them.

Those volunteers call on local businesses to sponsor the Chamber’s programs, events, publications, electronic media and aids in recruiting new members.

When TRC co-chairmen Lee Ellis, chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors; and Larry Puckett, president of Larry Puckett Chevrolet in Prattville; sat down for an interview they said in unison that this story should be about the volunteers.

They have a good point. Without the 30 to 40 volunteers there would be no TRC and the first six have raised a combined $4.2 million, including last year’s record-breaking $860,076. Without the TRC, the Chamber could not function, Ellis said.

“It’s all about those people,” Puckett said about the volunteers. “I don’t sell one nickel. We are going to ride on their shoulders. These are the people that are making a difference. These are the people investing in our community and making it a better place.”

Ellis, who called the volunteers “the cream of the crop,” said it was his responsibility as a co-chairman to be “the organizer and the motivator and help bring that whole group working together and reminding them why this is so important.”

The inaugural TRC was modeled after the corporate team concept that was being utilized nationwide. That was replaced with selected teams.

“What we have evolved into, leads to this cohesive group,” said Patsy Guy, vice president, Member & Investor Relations, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “We now say we have one team with one goal.”

Puckett said that the chairmen need to be supportive and recognize the efforts of the volunteers. “People will usually live up to your expectations if they are realistic – if you keep them focused and let them know how important this is and how much their individual contributions mean,” he said.

While the TRC is about the volunteers, it is also about the chairmen and for the first time there are not only co-chairmen, but Puckett is a chairman for the third time and for the second straight year.

“When Larry Puckett calls a fellow at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night, it doesn’t matter what he is doing – he feels important,” Ellis said.

“A phone call from the chairman at anytime is a good thing,” Puckett said.

Having co-chairmen means a lot more than having two heads. It means two people thinking about the TRC, which began in August and is scheduled to end in mid-November. “You have two people to do everything that needs to get done,” Ellis said.

The goal this year is to top last year’s figure so the chairmen have already spent months thinking about expanding the business community’s participation in the TRC.

Why should companies sponsor the Chamber’s programs, events, publications and electronic media?

“It’s because we truly want this to be the Capital of Dreams,” Ellis said. “We want to continue to have better education; better economic growth; better quality of place; better engagement from the community to make Montgomery a special place. The momentum is here. You aren’t starting the train. You’re helping the train go faster.”

Companies should participate in the TRC because “it brings positive awareness” to their firms, Puckett said. “You’re helping your community and you’re helping yourself. You make a difference in your community.”

For more information on the 2012 TRC Volunteers CLICK HERE.