Dear Members of the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce,
As we head back to work after Independence Day Weekend, it feels like the right time to reflect on the first half of a year that has dealt us our share of challenges. Our year as a Chamber kicked off in February with our second annual Influencing Women Awards Gala at the Grand Ole Opry House. As we stood in the famed unbroken circle and honored some of the most remarkable women in our community, we could not have anticipated all that was to come our way in the next few weeks.
The most appropriate quote I could think of to summarize the first half of 2020 comes from the heavyweight fighter Mike Tyson. In an interview prior to one of his title fights against Evander Holyfield, Tyson was asked how about Holyfield’s fight plan and how he would counter it. Tyson’s reply: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Our community took a 1-2 punch in March when an EF3 tornado hit our area in the overnight hours of March 3, followed quickly by the safer-at-home orders issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. So many in our community lost their homes, their businesses, and their jobs.
So we took our old plan, ripped it in half, and re-wrote it from the beginning. For me, one of the enduring images of this year will be hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, including many of you, packed into The Donelson Fellowship on the Saturday morning after the tornado hit. Dozens of teams fanned out that day to help their neighbors begin to clean up and put their lives back together.
Nor have we allowed COVID-19 to temper our spirit. We have quickly transitioned to virtual membership meetings (for now). We have taken extra steps to promote local businesses on social media and encourage the community to support our members who are re-opening. And your Board of Directors and staff are hard at work exploring additional ways to keep you connected to your Chamber community.
And while our community has been battling to recover from these twin challenges, our nation has been confronting age-old divisions and experiencing social unrest like we have not seen in decades. It has been a painful reckoning with the fact that, for many, the ideals of liberty and equal justice that we espoused when we declared our independence 244 years ago remain painfully out of reach.
I want to close with a second quote, from the psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She said: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” We will emerge from the tragedies we have experienced more compassionate, more kind and more beautiful.
Thank you for your continued support of the Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce, and know that we are always here to help as we recover and rebound.