BY AHMED HAQUE
Chairman of the Board
CARLSBAD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Even greater than the privilege of serving as Chairman has been the privilege of belonging to this community. I credit my service to the Chamber as the foundation from which I have built relationships with hundreds of my neighbors. Increasingly, I identify many of these people by a cause and not by their profession or employer.
A desire to give back is contagious and often times the most difficult step towards helping others is that first step. The Chamber has long served as a bridge between the business community and the hundreds of nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the lives of our neighbors.
Dozens of these organizations are Chamber members who benefit as much from the Chamber’s networking programs as do for-profit businesses. I personally have been introduced through the Chamber to organizations for whom I was able to secure grants or volunteers.
I have been inspired by Beth and Brad Thorp who founded the Mitchell Thorp Foundation in recognition of the tremendous impacts a child’s catastrophic illness can have on the entire family well beyond the financial burden. They provided these families with the comprehensive support they need to feel some sense of normalcy
I admire the wisdom of a then 16-year old named Danielle Gram and the passion of a mother named Jill McManigal whose chance meeting and shared concern for effect of conflict on children drove them to found Kids For Peace. Twelve years later their programs have taught millions of students in over a hundred countries that “kindness matters” and that a “peace pledge” can be the antidote to the ugliness that children are sadly exposed to.
Most are surprised to know that nearly a hundred homeless men and farm workers find refuge in Carlsbad at the La Posada Shelter run by Catholic Charities. Beyond finding food and safety in the mission-style building, these men receive healthcare and job referrals among other services.
Even among the relative affluence of our region, nearly one in six of our neighbors struggle to find sufficient food, even though nearly 2/3 of these households have an adult working – sometimes even serving in the military. The North County Food Bank helps meet this most basic need by distributing food through dozens of nonprofit partners or supplying food backpacks to elementary school children who would otherwise go hungry on the weekend.
When Paula Anderson of First Citizens Bank learned of the magnitude of this need she could not sit on the sidelines. She started what has become an annual “Scare Away Hunger” peanut butter drive, providing a nutritious treat to kids who otherwise would never have it. Paula’s passion for these children is obvious to anyone who meets her and the generous contributions of local businesses and individuals continue to grow this effort.
My introduction to these organizations and Paula’s initiative took roots because of our association with the Chamber. We will always be about much more than just business. In this holiday season and beyond, I hope you will find a way to impact the lives of your neighbors by supporting organizations active in our community.