Thursday, April 24, 2008

Saipan Chamber Keeping Me Hopping

I'm the Vice President of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce this year, and it's been one of the more active Chamber years in quite a while. Part of the Education Committee, Kathryn Barry, Kanae Quinn, Jim Arenovski, Jay Santos, and myself have been putting on seminars for high school seniors on Saturday mornings lately. The topic is, "I'm about to graduate from High School, now what?" We teach them about career choices, budgeting and finances, filling out resumes, going through a job interview, expectations on the job, how to balance family and work responsibilities and communication. We put them on 3 weeks in a row, first at Saipan Southern High School, next at Kagman, and finally at Marianas High School. The students who came out for them seemed to really enjoy them and get a lot from them. I wish somebody had put on seminars like that when I was still in high school. In the picture above, Kathryn is talking about communications.
We provided pastries and fruit each morning and then fed the students lunch at the end of the program. Here you see Chamber President Jim Arenovski carving up the 6' party subs from Subway.
The Saipan Chamber has also been very busy with military ship receptions. We believe if we go out of our way to welcome these sailors and show them island hospitality, they will be much more likely to choose Saipan as a R&R stop the next time they are in the area. We had a reception for the 2 ships and sub that were in port last week at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was very well attended. This week we had a reception for the USS Higgins beachside at the Hyatt. Every sailor I've talked to said that we've made a huge impression on them, and that Saipan has been their favorite liberty port on their deployment. That's also why I take sailors from the ships out diving when they express an interest. I want to make sure that they have the best time possible here, and want to come back again next time. There have been those who have done nothing but criticize the Chamber of Commerce this past year, but where are they and what are they doing? How are they giving back to the community? I believe our actions speak much louder than their words. In the picture above, Doug, Kyle and I are sharing a laugh at the beginning of the reception, while JoJo is interviewing Commander Smith as Judge Wiseman listens in.
Here are some of the sailors who came to the reception enjoying free appetizers provided by the Hyatt and some drinks while watching the sunset.

Grant Dunn, the XO of the ship came up next to me on the beach as I was taking some sunset pictures and said it must be a great sunset if even the locals are taking pictures. Honestly, it wasn't one of the better ones, I just try to never take a sunset for granted, no pun intended. I try to remember how blessed I am to live here every chance I get and to continuously soak it all in. Kelli had kidnapped my camera and was the official photographer of the night, which is the only reason you're seeing any pictures of me. I much prefer being the one behind the lens of the camera, not the one in front of it. Here I am chatting with Chamber President Jim Arenovski during the reception.Here you see Judge Wiseman presenting the Chamber plaque to Commander Winton Fred Smith as Jim Arenovski and Doug Brennan look on. Here Chamber President Jim Arenovski receives the plaque of appreciation from Commander Smith, as Judge Wiseman, Doug Brennan and XO Grant Dunn all look on.And one last shot of me for the night, here I am with Esther Pinzon, who has been one of the people spearheading the Invite-a-sailor program for the last several years. Esther has a special soft spot in her heart for our men and women in the military and goes way out of her way to make sure they truly enjoy their time here.