West Coast Chamber hosts 4th annual Community Impact Day

Months in the planning, the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce is launching its 2023 Leadership Week on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Jodi Owczarski
The goal is to create events that will have a profound impact on the Holland and Zeeland communities. The two-day event kicks off with Marcus Allen, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, who will deliver his keynote address, “Stop Trying, Start Doing.” 

Following Allen’s inspiring presentation, hundreds of community members will gather for the Chamber’s 4th annual Community Impact Day to serve the greater Holland and Zeeland communities. Dozens of nonprofits have identified service opportunities, and volunteers are eager to flood the community to make an impact.  
Several area businesses — including Volta Power Systems, LG Energy Solution of Michigan, and Macatawa Technologies — are taking part by having staff spend the day volunteering.  
After spending the day at volunteer locations, attendees and organizations will gather at Windmill Island Gardens to celebrate a remarkable day with food trucks, live music, and games. 

The Lakeshore asked Jodi Owczarski, President & CEO of West Coast Chamber, to share more about the effort behind this community event, and the goals. 
The Lakeshore: What inspired the 2023 Leadership Week events on May 16-17? 

Jodi Owczarski: Community Impact Day was born out of the Chamber’s long-time Leadership Program. At the final program day in May of 2019, we set up some volunteer experiences for the class and their family and friends to go serve for the afternoon. It quickly became apparent that there was potential to make a more significant impact, so the planning began to expand this opportunity beyond the leadership class to our broader community.  

TL: What will take place during these two days?

JO: The West Coast Chamber serves as a catalyst for business growth and development, a convener of leaders and influencers, and a champion for a thriving community. Leadership Week aligns directly with our mission.  
  • Marcus Allen, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, will kick things off by sharing inspiring stories while challenging listeners to act in their personal lives and careers to make a positive impact.  
  • Leadership Launch — This will wrap up this year’s leadership program cohort. A community blood drive will be held at the chamber office on Monday, May 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Community Impact Day — On Wednesday, May 17, from 1–4 p.m., we have put together over 900 opportunities at 58 different locations for people to serve throughout our community. We currently have 860 volunteers signed up.
  • Community Impact Day Celebration — After taking time to volunteer, we are going to come together to celebrate the impact that we’ve made together. We will have food trucks, live music, yard games, and more.  

TL: What do you hope participants will take away from speakers and activities? 

JO: Our theme this year is “Stronger together,” and Community Impact Day is a perfect example of that sentiment. With just a little inspiration and intention, anyone can make an impact. Take advantage of the opportunities we’ve set up. When we all work together, we can make great things happen. 
TL: What has been the response so far to 2023 Leadership Week? 

JO: We have been absolutely blown away by the response from our members and the community at large. Last year, we had just over 200 volunteers. This year, we have 16 companies that have provided sponsorships for us to build this remarkable day. We have numerous organizations sending large groups to serve. Organizations continue to send us more volunteer opportunities, and people continue to step up to meet those needs. Right now, we are at 90% of all opportunities filled.   

TL: How can those who haven't signed up yet get involved? 

OT: They can sign up to volunteer here.  

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.