The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce's State of the Chamber event was unlike any other in the business-promoting organization's history.
First, the entire event held Wednesday, Sept. 16, was shorter in length than any held previously.
Secondly, no food was provided, though guests were encouraged to purchase something from a chamber member restaurant before joining the party.
Oh yes, thirdly, nobody was allowed to physically attend either.
That's of course because the entire event was held virtually via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and restrictions regarding large gatherings.
During the event, titled Fallbrook Strong, presentations were made by chamber directors and county and state representatives.
Fallbrook Chamber Chief Executive Officer Lila MacDonald kicked off the presentations.
"This year has brought us many challenges and continues to bring us changes each week, sometimes each day," MacDonald said. "I am so grateful to have you all with us. I want you to know that we continue to support each of you and the needs of the community. We are indeed blessed for your continued support and recognize the truly unique and spectacular community we are a part of.
"This year, we connected with many organizations and people in our community. We leveraged relationships with other chambers and economic development councils to advocate for businesses, reached out to our state and local leaders, and kept businesses informed on current health updates and COVID information, grant and loan programs, updated permit processes and laws affecting most businesses and community.
"We have also continued working with Jim Desmond's revitalization committee to help preserve the resources that we have and work on solutions for issues that the community feels are important. It's a collaboration between county and community that has helped address issues like homelessness, public safety, housing, and infrastructure. We worked with SANDAG and San Diego County Department of Public Works to bring our shared streets projects to our community where you can visit Friday and Saturday nights and dine in the street."
MacDonald continued to talk about the ways the chamber serves the business community and the community as a whole.
"Our chamber is definitely serving in a variety of ways," she said. "Our chamber, as a nonprofit, we serve beyond the scope of any other active community chamber of commerce. This is all done with the staff, a small staff, and a lot of dedicated volunteers like yourselves who have the heart for the community. So tonight, as we reflect on the last year and look forward to a brighter future, let's celebrate you. Let's celebrate collaboration, resiliency, teamwork, ingenuity. And remember that together we are Fallbrook Strong."
State Senator Brian Jones was next, but before he got started, he announced that the Fallbrook Food Pantry was named nonprofit of the year by his office.
He also gave a legislative update and talked about five bills he has on Governor Gavin Newsom's desk.
"I want you all to know that I am doing everything I can to make sure businesses are surviving during this pandemic and thrive going forward," Jones said. "If you do have some particular challenges with any state agency please don't hesitate to reach out."
Fallbrook Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Martín Quiroz talked about prevailing over adversity.
"Our mission statement is promoting business and building a better community," Quiroz said. "And we had to really try hard to figure out how to do that under COVID. Again, we adjust daily to what the county allows with the ever-changing rules and planning events a real challenge. Being a leader in the community and being town hall for the unincorporated area is a challenge. And I give to those in the whole organization for stepping up and continuing to really lead in our town.
"We're not just members, we're a close-knit group, we're friends, and we're almost like a family and we've gone through this together. And it's been a remarkable journey to be going through this with all of you."
Also speaking during the event was State Assemblymember Marie Waldron and Fallbrook Honorary Mayor Carlos Perez, who will be the honorary mayor again, MacDonald said.
"It's all about the chamber of commerce in Fallbrook," Perez said. "It's been about two years or three since I joined the chamber and to me and my family, it's been a very good ride. I've been creating more friends, and my family and I feel appreciated. I like your smiles when I come into the chamber of commerce to visit for whatever reason I come in. I couldn't do it without you.
"Yes I was honorary mayor last year, but I wasn't able to do what I really wanted to do. I want to continue working for whatever I can minimally do, whatever I can do to represent the town and whatever I can do to represent the businesses."
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected].