By Justin Aufdermauer
If I’ve said it once, I say it every year: the night of the annual Chamber Community Awards Banquet and Auction is my favorite night of the year. Not my birthday. Not Christmas Eve; that particular night tops it for me every year.
When we had to go virtual this year because of Covid, I knew it wasn’t going to be the same in all the ways I loved. What I wasn’t expecting though, was the amazing way the Tillamook community stepped up to support the Chamber. The business community supported us through their donations and sponsorships like I’ve never seen. You guys killed it.
Our silent auction brought in a record-breaking $20,315! Just to put that in perspective, our auction in 2020 was also a record-breaking year, bringing in just over $7,000. The silent auction and oral auction combine raised $36,185 for the Chamber and our programs. I am honestly without words on that one.
While we didn’t have the in-person camaraderie that we all enjoy and, quite frankly, miss at this point, we still had fun chatting with everyone virtually and sharing the great work that the Chamber has been able to accomplish amidst a global pandemic. A point of pride for the banquet each year is the buffet that consists of food from over 15 local restaurants, but in true let’s-figure-it-out fashion we once again offered event sponsorship in the form of Virtual Dinner Tables that came with 10 dinner vouchers good at over 15 restaurants. And boy, was our business community ready to support our restaurants and Chamber. We had 23 virtual dinner tables sponsored, raising another $17,250!
It was this same let’s-figure-it-out attitude that permeated the Chamber in 2020. Overall,as soon as the shut downs started happening our philosophy was to try and keep things as normal as possible. We went into it thinking: if we can just keep the community engaged, keep businesses open and moving, and a sense of normality, then we are doing our jobs. Instead of canceling events, we asked ourselves, how can we do this differently? And, apart from the Cork & Brew Tour, we were able to keep all our regular events and programs up and running in some form or another. We wanted to be clear that we had not abandoned the community, and that we were here for them every step of the way.
Which is why we sent out emails weekly, sometimes even daily, breaking down the new regulations, offering information about funding and how to apply, and where businesses could get PPE.
It was this same can-do mentality that launched Tillamook Takeout less than 24 hours after restaurants were shut down to in-person dining – the first time. And let me tell you, it’s all worth it when you hear stories from Jen Malcom, the owner of Downie’s Cafe in Bay City, saying that Tillamook Takeout may as well have saved her business and now she can’t make cinnamon rolls fast enough to keep up with demand. Yeah, we can take credit for coming up with the idea, but we as a community made it happen and made sure our restaurants stayed afloat during one of the toughest times they’ve ever seen. Thank you, Tillamook. You are awesome.
I would be remiss if I didn’t again thank my co-host Brett Hurliman, and my team: Ashley Christensen, Ashley Rushing and Tammy Samagio for their hard work on this event. And a special thank you to Kaylan Sisco, who came in at the last minute to pinch hit on the technical live feed aide and hit it out of the park. Also thank you to our sponsors, and everyone who donated an item to our silent and live auction.
Be sure you go check out the Community Impact Awards video that debuted the night of our virtual auction (posted to our Facebook page and on our website) and have fun remembering all the wonderful things that happened in 2020 – because yes, there were plenty of opportunities to smile through it all.