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Rockwall Chamber Programs: A Year of Opportunity

(ROCKWALL, TX – January 1, 2018) Looking for more ways to get involved in your community in the new year? The Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce offers five excellent programs providing opportunities for you to support local businesses, give back to the community and experience personal growth. Read on to learn more about each of these programs and the successes they celebrated in the past year!

Leadership Rockwall

Each year, Leadership Rockwall brings together a group of emerging leaders in the community to enhance their leadership skills, as well as to deepen their knowledge of the area’s opportunities and challenges. Beginning in September, the selected class members go through nine monthly full-day sessions. Through the sessions, they meet with Rockwall’s leaders and explore the area’s needs through panel discussions, presentations and experiences. The class then completes a community project based on their findings throughout the year.

Leadership Rockwall Class of 2018 graduates (from left): Megan Riddle, E.J. Pipkin, Patricia Mejia, Jean Laswell, Melody Hail, Lacy Deckward, Daniel de la Torre, Kevin Clark, Bethany Browning, John Beaman, and Tommy Baugh. Not pictured: Garrett Bothun. Photo by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

The Leadership Rockwall Class of 2018 consisted of 12 diverse and strong community leaders. Having three senior level nonprofit individuals among the group, the class decided for their project to install information resource hubs at area nonprofits Helping Hands, Women and Need and the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). The resource hubs are specifically designed to assist local families that find themselves in the middle of a crisis or transition. They provide families in need with the ability to apply online for housing, work, education, SNAP, WIC and Veteran’s Assistance. Each station comes equipped with a refurbished laptop courtesy of Atmos Energy and a stable internet connection.

To cap off their successful year, the Leadership Rockwall Class of 2018 received their diplomas during their graduation ceremony on May 16 at the San Jacinto Plaza in downtown Rockwall.

The Leadership Rockwall program welcomed members of its Class of 2019 in September with a ropes course and retreat in Commerce, Texas. The Leadership Rockwall Class of 2019 members are:

John Arrowood, City of Rockwall | Debbie Branch, Ebby Halliday Realtors | Junnae Campbell, Boys & Girls Club of Rockwall | Lacy Fletcher, Republic Title of Texas | Charisa Hauser, Young Chefs Academy | Susan Holt, Capital Title | Jessica Larson, City of Fate | Christopher Lynch, Rockwall County | Ross Matthews, Alliance Bank | Jaclyn England, Ebby Halliday Realtors | Tori Owens, Baylor Scott & White Medical Centers – Lake Pointe | Laura Perez, City of Rockwall | Dani Prater, Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce | Mary Stringer, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall | Bobby Vaughn, Rockwall ISD

For their project, the class chose to focus on improving the living standards and quality of life for residents of Reese Manor, a low income public housing facility located just south of downtown Rockwall. In the coming months, the class will conduct much-needed improvements such as lighting, furniture and paint throughout four floors of the facility. The class will also host a Health and Wellness Fair, where the senior residents can learn ways to stay healthy and get pampered with hair styling and manicures.

“This project is a testament to the great heart of this group,” said Leadership Rockwall Alumni Chair Sylvia Sotelo Kidd. “We are honored that this class is enhancing the lives of some of the most forgotten citizens in our community.”

For more information about the Leadership Rockwall program visit rockwallchamber.org/leadership-rockwall.

Professional Women’s Alliance

The Professional Women’s Alliance seeks to empower and unite local professional women through a plethora of exciting networking, community and social events. This year, PWA hosted a Heart Health Awareness Luncheon in February during American Heart Month, another education luncheon in April titled “Change Your Life, Change Your Thinking,” a couple of networking mixers to connect area local women in business, and a highly successful “Power Your Presence” Women’s Conference in October at the Hidden Creek Events center in Heath. The conference saw more than 120 attendees enjoy a day of learning and empowerment, with 15 vendors and a terrific lineup of seven powerful guest speakers.

PWA ended the year with its signature event, La Tee Da Ladies Night Out. The 4th annual event held at The Landing at Chandlers centered around a holiday theme this year – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – and boasted the highest registration numbers of any La Tee Da event in years past, with over 120 attendees. Ladies kicked off the holiday season with music, spirits and shopping from 18 vendors, as well as four Pampering Stations from Rockwall’s best salons.

The Rockwall Professional Women’s Alliance held its most successful La Tee Da Ladies Night Out event ever on Nov. 29, and recently donated a portion of the proceeds to the Rockwall Boys and Girls Club. PWA presented the BGC with a $750 check during the Rockwall Area Chamber of Commerce Holiday Partnership Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 12. Photo by BRN Media.

Not only do the women of PWA host amazing events throughout the year to build up and connect women in business, they give back a portion of the proceeds from these events to local nonprofits. This year, the group presented the Rockwall Boys & Girls Club with a $760 donation from the proceeds of their La Tee Da event.

“2018 was an amazing year for the Professional Women’s Alliance,” said PWA 2019 Chair Eva Hummel. “The PWA consists of 11 hardworking ladies on our Board and 96 members who are truly dedicated to the success of this program, and that’s evident by everything we have accomplished this year.”

PWA membership is open to all local professional women in business. For more details, visit rockwallchamber.org/pwa.

Rockwall Veteran’s Business Alliance

Formed in November 2017, the Rockwall Veteran’s Business Alliance (RVBA) helps promote commerce and growth within the area’s veteran business community. The program works to bring together and promote opportunity for veteran-owned or managed businesses within Rockwall, as well as to provide mentorship to veterans looking to enter into the professional business world.

“The RVBA is not veteran-exclusive; it’s just about veteran business success,” said Aaron Withrow, a founding member of RVBA. “Even if you’re not a veteran, we invite you to join us in helping initiate and move forward veteran business, and show your support for our country’s service men and women.”

Over the past year, the RVBA has seen tremendous growth in its membership, going from 17 founding members to over 150 members. One of the RVBA’s recent initiatives has greatly contributed to that success in growing membership: Veterans Business Development Workshops. For the workshops, the RVBA invites local business leaders who are veterans (and even those who are not veterans) to share about their business successes and setbacks in live videos on social media. The workshops serve as an opportunity for veterans in business to learn from their peers as they continue to grow on a professional level.

“We utilize every resource available to us to help get veterans to the top of their professional field, to make them the best that they can possibly be,” Withrow said.

Like all programs with the Rockwall Chamber, the RVBA also seeks to give back to the communities it serves. The program recently celebrated a tremendously successful toy drive, donating more than 800 toys to DFW-area kids.

The RVBA meets the third Wednesday of each month at Woodcreek Brewing Company (1400 IH 30 in Rockwall) at 6 p.m. Bring business cards and a veteran business friend.

For more info on the RVBA, visit rockwallchamber.org/rockwall-veterans-business-alliance.

Senior Services Alliance

This network of Chamber business professionals has one simple mission: to entertain, inform, and engage senior citizens in the Rockwall area. The Senior Services Alliance (SSA) caters to local seniors by offering fun events and activities designed to educate and serve their needs.

SSA kicked off 2018 by treating seniors to its inaugural Painting with a Twist Party. A total of 45 seniors filled the room at Painting with a Twist Rockwall to enjoy an afternoon of painting and wine. Then in June, SSA hosted its first Baby Boomer Senior Expo at The Center in Rockwall. The event invited senior citizens to come connect with companies looking to hire seniors for full time, part time and volunteer positions. SSA also partnered with Rockwall Parks & Recreation this year to sponsor a number of holiday luncheon events for seniors, including the Rockwall Turkey Day Luncheon, Royse City Holiday Luncheon and Rockwall White Elephant Gift Luncheon.

To wrap up the year, SSA joined Meals on Wheels in Rockwall to host a “Boost and Booties” Senior Holiday Drive. The event invited area residents to donate Boost Nutritional Drinks and non-skid socks for seniors at various drop-off locations throughout the community. SSA also gave local businesses and individuals the opportunity to make financial donations to the drive. The successful fundraiser raised $800 to help MOWSS purchase more Boost energy drinks and non-skid socks for area seniors.

SSA meets on the second Thursday of every month at 9 a.m. at the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce Office (697 E IH 30). For more information visit rockwallchamber.org/ssa.

Young Professionals of Rockwall

If you’re a business professional between the age of 21-45 looking to get involved in the community, this is the group for you! The Young Professionals of Rockwall (YPR) actively provides opportunities and resources for young minds in business to grow personally and professionally, while giving back to their community.

This year, YPR members clocked in over 100 hours of community service through its partnerships with local area nonprofits, including Rockwall Helping Hands. In August, YPR collaborated with Helping Hands to bring backpacks full of school supplies to 900 students in need. And earlier in the year, YPR invited area young professionals to make Valentine’s Day and Easter cards to distribute to the residents at Autumn Leaves Memory Care in Rockwall.

YPR also successfully executed its 2nd Annual Young Professional Conference, “Emerging Leaders Conference,” in October. The event saw 70 YPR members and guests spend an afternoon networking and hearing a panel of 10 engaging speakers touching on topics such as community engagement, marketing, branding and much more.

For more information on how to get involved in YPR, visit rockwallchamber.org/ypr.

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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