South San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board
• President: Patrick Rabelo
• 1st Vice President: Michael Reichgut
• 2nd Vice President: Jay Kadavallare
• Secretary: Jacob Naven
• Treasurer: Judy Jiminez
• Board Members: JoAnn Gould, Carmen Colunga, Julie Ramirez, Suzanne Roberts-Clemens, Francene Escobar
Additional information including membership applications and upcoming events can be found at www.hispanicchambersjc.org.
Dozens of people were in attendance Wednesday night at the organization’s February mixer featuring the installation of the chamber’s 2010 officers. It provided an opportunity for members of the local business community to meet those who will be steering the non-profit over the course of the next 12 months.
Held at downtown florist Floralicious Designs, the evening gave Rabelo and other incoming officers the chance to get acquainted with new members while at the same time strengthening bonds with longtime supporters.
And while the organization’s goal is to promote the growth of Hispanic businesses, membership is open to anybody in the business community with bridging the divide between the two the main focus.
“I think that this organization helps promote diversity and link people of different ethnic backgrounds that share a common interest in business,” Rabelo said. “It educates people on the culture of Hispanic businesses and moves us towards our goal of being able to share it with the rest of the community.”
It has been three years since Rabelo – an associate at Keller-Williams Realty – first got involved with the South San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber as a Board Member at large when he first came on.
With a large Hispanic community in Manteca, Rabelo saw the organization as a chance to help promote not only the businesses that cater to that community but also an opportunity to help those businesses gain acceptance from non-Hispanic businesses.
In the current economic climate, Rabelo says that membership and outreach provides another avenue for all businesses to unite in the quest to find help in the most trying of times.
“It’s an opportunity to meet people that have similar interests and it gives us all a chance to help each other in these challenging times,” he said. “It gives every business that is involved a chance to network with other members and that’s something that proves to be invaluable.”
While membership costs vary depending on the number of employees, the average annual rate runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 and provides those listed on the register not only camaraderie but also financial discounts from fellow members.
Incoming First Vice President Michael Reichgut – a Tracy-based website designer – sees the organization as another tool for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic businesses looking to forge a bond and help each individual member grow here in the South County.
“The exciting thing about this organization is that it includes people that are anxious to help businesses that are just getting on their feet regardless of who the actual owner is – it caters to everybody and is open to everybody,” Reichgut said. “And since we’re the South San Joaquin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, we represent businesses in Tracy, Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, and Lathrop, and give people a place to turn when they need help or they need advice.”