Chamber welcoming junior members
Monongahela businessman and Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce president Anthony Bottino is admittedly in a place in his professional career that he didn't envision while growing up. And he's glad he is back home.
Bottino grew up in Carroll Township before earning a bachelor's degree in economics from Penn State University.
“I never thought at the time that I would be back here,” said the owner of his own All State Insurance agency in downtown Monongahela.
“But I can't think of a better place to be. If you had asked me as a kid if I would be back, I'd have thought not in a million years.
“A lot of times, you never know where you're going to wind up. There are so many opportunities and exposure is better for the kids.”
In a program envisioned more than a year ago by the chamber president, the chamber is creating a program inviting high school and college students to become junior members of the business organization.
“Our main goal is to get people thinking about their community and what they can do to make it better,” Bottino said. “There's value in the small communities and what better place to start than with the youth.”
Bottino said the program gives students an opportunity to participate in community and business.
Interested students must maintain a minimum 2.5 grade-point average. A parent or guardian must sign permission for their child to participate.
Junior members would be required to participate in at least two chamber meetings and two community events a year.
Chamber dues would be waived for junior members, Bottino said.
The chamber this week sent a letter to Ringgold High School announcing the junior chamber membership program. Chamber members are also being informed about the initiation of the program, especially those business operators who have eligible children.
Ultimately, chamber officials hope to offer a scholarship and professional job shadowing for junior members.
“There are so many things we can do when we tap the community youth,” Bottino said. “We see so many opportunities.”
Some details are still be ironed out, but student chamber members will be welcomed as soon as applications are completed. The chamber will consider whether to hold some evening meetings to accommodate the students.
Having the students volunteer for such events as the Easter egg hunt or the Halloween parade will have lasting benefits, Bottino said.
“When the kids can experience that people who work and own businesses have civil responsibility and enjoy giving back – that's the specialness of a small community,” Bottino said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.