By Ed Harris
The Chamber Women’s group, an association within the Southington Chamber of Commerce, is celebrating ten years as a business and social organization and other chambers are looking to the group as role models.
“It’s not typical for chambers to necessarily have a women’s group, but we have seen the number increase,” said Julie Chubet, Chamber Women chairperson.
Other chambers looking to form women’s groups are looking to Southington for help. Chubet said that the Southington Chamber Women was asked to speak to the New Haven Chamber of Commerce and a few other chambers three years ago to explain how the group came about and is run. Chubet is unsure if the other chambers followed through in creating a women’s group.
The number of women involved with the Chamber Women varies, usually ranging from 15-25 members. To be a member, one must only be a women involved in a Southington Chamber of Commerce member business.
The Chamber Women volunteer time in the community, helping to host various fundraisers and events. To date, the group has raised over $85,000.
The group helps to host the annual pizza and wing fests and Girl’s Night Out, the group’s biggest fundraiser.
“We try to make it fun,” said longtime group member Denise Roy, talking about Girl’s Night Out. “It has grown significantly.”
Girl’s Night Out, hosted at the Aqua Turf, involves shopping, food and drink and other activities. Roy said the recent event, held in May, included 300 guests.
The money raised is used to fund various projects, including scholarships and the group adopts a family during the holidays.
For the last five years, the group has selected the Chamber Woman of the Year award. This runs in conjunction with the awards the Southington Chamber of Commerce gives out at its annual dinner every year. Past winners include Erika Stinson, Rachel Potter, Chubet, Rose DeFeo and Roy.
“We want to recognize strong women in our organization, as well as in our community,” Chubet said. “All of the winners have done a great deal for our organization as well as for the community.”
Southington Chamber of Commerce President Art Secondo praised the Chamber Women and said the group has added to the overall chamber.
“The Chamber Women are another component of our organization that has produced a strong, vibrant Chamber of Commerce,” said Secondo. “We are deeply proud of all their members.”
The Chamber Women meet the first Thursday of every month, typically at the Chamber of Commerce offices at One Factory Square, but sometimes at local businesses. The meetings start at 9 a.m. and usually run for about an hour and a half.
Anyone interested in joining the Chamber Women can call Kathy Zalaski at the Southington Chamber of Commerce at 860-628-8036.
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By Ed Harris