The Ambassador Team engages members through a variety of programs including events and personal contacts. Team members of the West Coast Chamber turn ideas into action. Ambassadors work with the Chamber staff to enhance member value and retention through planned activities that benefit our diverse members and community. The Ambassador Team is made up of members who volunteer their time and efforts to make our organization stronger, and participation is a great way to network, share ideas, and build lasting professional relationships.
2018 Ambassador Award Winners
Nolan Kamer joined the Chamber in 2010 but really ramped up his involvement in 2015. It’s safe to say the Ambassador Leadership Team Chair, Chamber Gold Sponsor and Zeeland Affinity Group (ZAG) board member is firing on all cylinders. “When I became an Ambassador, I really got to know the Chamber,” Nolan said. “I jumped right into the role and went to every event I could fit into my schedule.” In fact, that level of involvement is a big part of why Nolan pursued the Ambassador role. “I knew that Ambassadors were involved in all the events,” he said. “They’re looked upon as leaders within the Chamber and opportunities that Ambassadors have, elevates the impact that the Chamber has on a small business.”
Nolan pointed out that businesses aiming to make a difference in the area are part of the Chamber, and he has valued the fact that event networking has led to friendships first, business relationships second. “I’ve experienced the depth in the community that my office impacts, and this wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t become an Ambassador,” he said.
When asked how being an Ambassador has helped other Chamber members, Nolan cited his passion for the Chamber and its programs. “I feel my enthusiasm toward the Chamber and the Ambassador program permeates the people that I’m in contact with,” he said.
The fact that his fellow Ambassadors voted for him to receive the It’s all About You awards makes it that much sweeter for Nolan. “I’ve never won an award where your friends, colleagues and peers vote,” he said. “It’s an honor to be recognized.”
The Insurance Group President Stacy Segrist Kamphuis recognized the value of Chamber membership early on. “I have been part of the West Coast Chamber for close to 20 years,” she said. “As a young business, I knew that we needed to be a part of the big picture, and the Chamber gives you a short cut.”
Stacy spoke highly of West Coast Leadership, pin-pointing it as her favorite Chamber program. “If your heart is in your community, becoming a trustee is the icing on the cake,” she said. “The class equips you with the bits of knowledge to become further involved in your own passions, or know just enough that you can turn to those that are passionate about that piece of the community that keeps us all running so smoothly.”
A born cheerleader, the role of Ambassador was perfect for Stacy. “My mom and dad taught me that you should always invite everyone to the party. I love to be invited to a party,” she said. “I can’t think of anything more fun than going to parties, welcoming the new guy, learning about their business and taking a picture. It’s a dream role.”
With her level of passion and enthusiasm, it’s easy to see why Stacy was voted to receive the Contagious Energy with a Positive Attitude award. “I turned 50 shades of red when I won; I was surprised,” she said. “To be appreciated for making the effort made me feel like a rock star.” The acknowledgement came at the same time as another set of awards for The Insurance Group. “We just won the Best of the Best for Insurance Agencies and 2nd place for Customer Service, so I am flying high right now,” she shared. “I feel like I’m living up to my nickname of ‘Queen,’ so it’s time to spread the cheer. You CAN be successful, happy and encourage others along the way!”
If there were an award for years of Chamber membership, Kevin O’Keefe would surely be in the running. A member for 21 years, Kevin has served as Ambassador Committee Chair, Golf Committee Chair and Leads Group Chair to name a few. Throughout the years he has grown his business through getting to know Chamber members. “I have built many relationships,” he said.
Kevin became an Ambassador because he viewed it as a great way for him to serve the community and meet a lot of people. “The Ambassador Program serves the Holland/Zeeland area by bringing the business community together through events, networking and seminars,” he said. “It is an easy way to connect with other businesses. I have grown a couple of businesses thanks to being an Ambassador.”
Like our other award winners, the relationships formed through the Ambassador Program are what Kevin values most. He, in turn, has enjoyed giving back through his work in the program. “I would like to feel that I have helped other Chamber members by answering their questions, guiding them in an appropriate direction for them and their business, by being someone who can make them feel welcome,” he said.
That welcoming spirit didn’t go unnoticed. “Winning this award was an honor. I am so grateful that my fellow Ambassadors recognized me in the way that they did,” he said. “It makes me feel very valued and special. The best part is that I wasn’t trying to win an award, I was just being who I am.”
Deliver Remarkable Experiences Tying with Kevin O’Keefe for the Deliver Remarkable Experiences award is a familiar face— Kim Vandermolen. Kim, who is on the Ambassador Leadership team, was also Ambassador of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she relishes the opportunity to be at every event to help, guide and answer questions for members who are not as familiar with the Chamber.
When Kim became an Ambassador, the main reason was to attend ribbon cuttings. “It is a great way to support new businesses, celebrate milestones and make deep connections,” she said. “I also feel Wake Up West Coast, networking lunches and Power Breakfasts are great, and of course the monthly meetings are top notch!”
Kim’s involvement with the Chamber has been instrumental in her role as Practice Representative Director for Lakeshore Family Chiropractic. “Connections that I have made through the Chamber and being an Ambassador have been huge!” she said. “These people have not only helped me with booking appointments and building our practice, they have become great friends.”
When it comes to her favorite thing about being an Ambassador, Kim couldn’t pick just one. “The relationships I have built through being an Ambassador are priceless!” she said. “I am proud to call the Ambassadors my friends and enjoy the time I get to spend with them. I also love being on the Leadership Team and part of something even bigger. I am proud to be called an Ambassador!”
Kim is also proud to have been recognized by her peers for the Deliver Remarkable Experiences award. “I have been extremely honored to have earned the Ambassador of the Year Award the past two years,” she said. “Winning this award is a whole different feeling because I was nominated and awarded this by my peers. I have a hard time finding the right words to describe the feeling! I’m humbled, proud, and so thankful.”
Learn Innovate Share
Sarah Fuhs joined the Chamber three years ago when she started her own business, Benefit Resource Partners. “Joining the Chamber was a way for me to network, learn more about our community and grow my business,” Sarah said. “It was through the Chamber that I connected with Westwind Construction; they became a client of mine and eventually hired me full time in December 2017 as their Operations Manager. I would not be in my current role without the Chamber.”
Sarah came to know the Chamber through attending events, then by completing West Coast Leadership, and is now an Ambassador. “I like to connect people with other people, services, opportunities, etc. and the Ambassador program has allowed me to do this,” she said. “It has helped me to become a better steward of our community.”
When asked how being an Ambassador has affected her business, Sarah said, “The Ambassador program has afforded me the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with others, through which I have learned more about fellow Chamber members and their businesses. In turn, they have been able to get to know more about me and Westwind. I now have a network of individuals who I can lend an ear to, reach out to for advice and refer others to as they need help personally and professionally.” She went on to say that it’s through these relationships that Chamber businesses thrive. “The impact cannot be valued in dollars and cents—it is so much more than that,” Sarah said.
As someone who loves learning and facilitating learning for others, Sarah truly embodies the ideals of the Learn Innovate Share award. “Often, we don’t have the opportunity to see what ripples we may leave behind or how we may have influenced others,” she said. “This award affirms for me the positive impact I have had in others’ lives. I am humbled by this.”
Aris has been involved with the Chamber on various levels over the years but really dove in when she became a realtor in 2013. “I participate in the Wake Up West Coast Breakfasts as an attendee and a volunteer and in addition to being an Ambassador, I am the former Chair for the Ambassador Committee,” she shared.
“I am a member of one of the Connect Groups and am currently serving as chair for my group and on the Leadership Committee for the Connect groups.” Aris is another West Coast Leadership grad and recently started participating in the new affinity group for leadership class alumni. “I’m looking forward to the work of this group!” she said.
In addition to her desire to invest more time into her community, Aris became an Ambassador to become more connected, network and develop relationships to help grow her business. “I have met so many great people and built some wonderful relationships,” she said. “We help to promote and support each other.”
Aris is grateful to be part of a group that brings people and businesses together. “The Ambassador program serves the business community by bringing awareness about new and existing programs, marketing opportunities and new businesses to those that may be a good connection,” something Aris has experienced firsthand. “Becoming an Ambassador has helped me to grow my network in ways I couldn’t have done otherwise.”
Aris received the Think Big Be Great award for her work as an Ambassador. “I am honored to have won an award that was voted on by my Ambassador peers; it means a lot to me,” she shared. “It means the conversations I had are meaningful. It means showing up makes a difference."