At its annual awards ceremony in early December, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce – the oldest established business organization in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, representing over 600 members in various industries – commemorated its 90th year of serving the community, making it part of an elite group of U.S. chambers that have reached the 90-year mark.
“Peer through the looking glass” was the dinner theme, but the underlying theme – as evidenced by each awardee’s and guest speaker’s speech – was how important it is to have a well-trained and developed workforce, and specifically, how critical it is for every business with a local presence to contribute to that development.
It is this underlying theme that made the award Williams received from the chamber that much more gratifying. Williams was given the Workforce Champion Award for its many contributions to workforce development efforts in the community, with the chamber citing the Williams Fluid Power Challenge and support of the Fayette Business Education Partnership as key reasons for the recognition.
“Businesses in Fayette County continue to change and grow. Employee demand is huge as the majority of the baby boomers have now retired out of the workforce. Skilled, educated, trained employees with the soft skills necessary to ensure good communication are desired in every aspect of our area,” said Muriel Nuttall, Executive Director of Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. “(Williams) understands and is committed to the premise that the business community needs to be deeply invested in the training and education of our future workforce, standing as a role model to the business community.”
Unexpected individual recognition
As the awards portion of the dinner wound down, Ms. Nuttall came to the podium to provide Williams employee, Leigh McIntosh, a very special – and completely unexpected – recognition. Thanking Leigh for being a tremendous hands-on chamber partner, mentor and friend, Ms. Nuttall said Leigh was like “Thelma to my Louise.”
While this acknowledgement of Leigh’s community and chamber support was most appreciated, what happened next is what really moved Leigh and everyone in the room: Ms. Nuttall announced a donation to the American Heart Association in the name of Leigh’s daughter, Shannon, a 12-year-old heart survivor.
In accepting the gift, Leigh spoke of her love for serving the Fayette County community in her role at Williams, calling it her “second home.” She recalled driving up the mountain on her way to the dinner, and feeling a sense of pride and comfort as she thought to herself, “I’m home.”