By SUE VANATTA
As a teenage girl growing up in Gainesboro, Tennessee, many times I traveled Highway 70 to Nashville, passing through Lebanon and Wilson County. Sometimes we stopped to shop on the square, ate at Snow-White Drive In, or drove on the campus to check out the cute boys in uniform at Castle Heights Military School.
I never thought one day, I would call this city and county my home. I never dreamed my four children would graduate from the local schools, and I certainly could not have imagined I would be working for the Chamber of Commerce.
From the first day we arrived, I knew this was my home forever. We started a State Farm Insurance Agency, and we worked day and night to build that business. Getting involved in the community was never a doubt. My parents taught me to give to others to the best of my ability, to have good work ethics, and be a person of my word.
One of my first experiences here was a little sad, but when I look back it was probably the best lesson I could have had in a new community. I was invited by a friend to play bridge, a game I had heard about but had never played. I was very excited to be invited and have the opportunity to become a part of this new community. Knowing absolutely nothing about the game, but wanting to fit in, I attempted to play. Oh no, I quickly found out this wasn’t for me, I made a wrong move and was informed unless I learned to play I would not have any friends in this town. I went home that night and told my family, I will never play another game and I will make friends. I have played other card games and I have made many friends, just chalk this up to one bad experience in life. I have a lot of great friends that play bridge, they love it and they know how to play, this game just wasn’t for me. I knew then I would have to find other ways to become involved in my new community.
Moving to Wilson County truly has been a great life for me. I have four children, three daughters and one son that have been a blessing. Like most families we have had our share of trials and tribulations. When my children were growing up and especially during their teenage years, our front and back door was always open. I have had my children’s friends run away from home and come to our house, saying they wanted to live with us. From the outside looking in, I guess they liked what they saw, but if you ask my children they would say living there wasn’t always full of fun. As a family we laugh together, we cry together, and we love to sing and dance together. Our theme song is “We are Family”, and we enjoy being a 20 member family.
Being in the right place at the right time opened the door to the Chamber of Commerce for me. I cannot believe I have had the honor of serving in my present position for twenty-one years. When we opened the State Farm Business, the Chamber Director Laura Bentley came to see us and invited us to become a member of the Chamber.
The Chamber of Commerce, what is that we asked? Laura quickly explained the organization mission statement and the benefits it would bring to our business. We were sold. I quickly got involved; I attended Chamber events and met a lot of wonderful people.
A couple of years later I was asked to serve on the Membership Committee and that gave me the opportunity to talk to other business owners and tell them why they should be a Chamber member.