Windham Chamber of Commerce

Company: Windham Region Chamber of Commerce

Location: Willimantic, Greater Windham Region

Community Builder

Tell us about your community building activities in 2020?

When COVID hit we began to help hundreds of small businesses/entrepreneurs/artists apply for assistance, grants and loans. We shared info on unemployment to their employees. We worked with owners and residents to teach them to use technology like zoom to communicate and apply for programs. We hosted 52 webinars educational and with legislators, answered 3950 help calls and sent out 224 newsletters with guidance on reopening, covid and founded Latinx Business Coalition with bilingual mentors.

What community building goals did you accomplish or milestones did you hit in 2020?

Our goal was to help our towns thru this crisis and then rebuild in the summer. It was important to include our minority, women and vet communities and we were able to work with 586 businesses apply for assistance, reopen, create new policies and start their businesses during the pandemic. Our newsletters were sent all over the country and across CT because of their complete, easy to understand and timely nature--information needed for business to survive and take care of their employees.


Describe your program

TAP-technology advancement program. We discovered so many people and businesses did not know how to operate virtually, some did not have internet or email addresses which made it impossible for them to apply for relief programs or receive important info. Our volunteers worked with them to teach them how to use zoom, update Google Business, send e-newsletters, create social media platforms, etc. This helped business but it also enabled seniors and veterans to keep in touch with family, doctors.

What are the coolest, most popular features of your program?

A local business donated 7 i-pads that we programmed and gave to veterans who were at risk of suicide due to ptsd. They were able to talk to their doctors and nurses, participate in group therapy, talk to counselors, apply for benefits, talk to family/friends, apply for employment. We could see any physical changes or warning signs that would not have been detected over the phone or if they never came to the office. When a vet made it thru their crisis the ipad went to another in need.

What impact did your program make in 2020?

Our VA social worker said that we prevented almost certain catastrophe by "connecting" our vets. They were all at high risk of suicide and without the ability to reach out to their doctors, psychiatrists, friends and family there would most likely have been several tragedies. 20 veterans a day die of suicide. These folks do not have transportation to get out of the house or had medical issues that prevented them from being in public during the pandemic. All of our vets are still with us today

Nominator Justification

Diane has been integral in helping small businesses through the Windham Chamber during the Covid shutdown(s) By establishing a "Business Help Line," Diane has aided small businesses with the PPP loans, worked with banks and financing companies, and distributed accurate, up-to-date, critical information to Chamber members and non-members. Her assistance was paramount in saving several businesses from closing altogether. The Windham Chamber AND Diane Nadeau have both been outstanding. In COVID Chamber volunteers integral helping businesses and employees get thru pandemic: 52 educational webinars, 224 electronic newsletters, 586 businesses helped with applications, 3950 phone assistance, 98 people helped w/unemployment, food delivered and ipads provided (telemedicine, therapy) to shuttered veterans with wellness checks, worked on municipal re-opening teams, founded Latino Business Alliance-minority businesses get info/help, Technology Advancement Program (teach technology). Diane and group of volunteers work to support local Veterans. The Chamber of Commerce and foundation's Military Srvc Council work to raise funds for 300+ wreaths at local cemetery (Wreaths Across America program), have weekly (now virtual but still vibrant) Veterans Coffee House, serve as the town's Veterans' Liaison, deliver dozens of homemade meals at holidays for Veterans, support Vet-owned new businesses, and raise awareness for programs and services that support aging Vets.

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