By Michael Anderson, Content Development Specialist SI Chamber
The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce is home to countless devoted and caring members who strive to make the borough a wonderful place to live and work. They understand that small businesses serve as the backbone to our local communities, but they often face significant challenges. That became even more evident when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses into shutdowns and restrictions.
In the face of the hardships caused by restrictions, closures, and reopening guidelines, the Chamber created the Pay It Forward campaign to allow businesses the opportunity to provide funds for another member’s Chamber dues. Several local businesses heeded that call to lend a hand. Through their generosity, they provided relief to businesses in a diverse range of industries, including design, retail, hospitality, and non-profit.
To date, the campaign raised nearly $16,000 in donations toward Chamber Memberships across 16 members. Donors included Northfield Bank, TD Bank, Verizon, Empire State Bank, Williams Eye Works, Tekie Geek, Think Mortgage, and Holly’s SI Buzz Realty.
“Supporting businesses of all types and sizes is fundamental to helping Staten Island to recover and move forward. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the way we live our lives and do business,” said Philip Guarnieri, Chief Executive Officer at Empire State Bank. “We remain fully focused on helping our business communities and economy recover, in collaboration with the Staten Island Chamber.”
“We have a clear ongoing purpose of helping businesses move forward, and given the considerable impact of the pandemic, the current focus is to help our customers, clients, colleagues, and communities get through the crisis and back on their feet,” added Jeanne Sarno, First Vice President, Business Relationship Manager at ESB.
Some smaller businesses also did their part to provide assistance.
“At Williams Eye Works, we have received much support from our fellow Chamber members over our 26-year history. Being in an industry that was less affected by the restrictions and reality of the pandemic, we wanted to help to see our community overcome this unforeseeable tragedy,” said optician Chris Williams, owner of the Castleton Corner business. “The Chamber’s Pay it Forward program was a perfect vehicle, allowing us to help our business community to continue to benefit by participating during these trying times.”
“From the moment that I saw the Pay it Forward campaign on the Chamber newsletter, I wanted to do my part to help another business in need. I contacted the Chamber, and they immediately paired me with the Staten Island NFP Association as an organization in need who was going to be unable to join the Chamber without support,” said Mike Bloomfield, President Geek at Tekie Geek in Eltingville. “I immediately accepted to sponsor their membership for 2021, knowing that the SINFPA is so important for other NFPs on Staten Island, and without them, how many other members would struggle. Thank you to the Chamber for this great program!”
“During these trying times, we should join together to help our fellow Chamber members. I feel the Staten Chamber of Commerce membership is an important tool for all Staten Island businesses,” said Holly Wiesner-Olivieri, of Holly’s Staten Island Buzz Realty Inc.
“Verizon recognized how the pandemic impacted businesses on Staten Island. The opportunity to support our fellow member companies on the Staten Island Chambers of Commerce was a win-win. The Pay It Forward initiative reinforced one of the many ways that we in the business community can step up for one another,” said Tavonia Davis, Regional Director of Government Affairs at Verizon.
“We love to see when members of the Chamber can help other members in need,” said Chamber President and CEO Linda Baran. “We are fortunate to have so many great members at the Chamber, and this is another example of how we support one another in difficult times.”
If you would like to contribute to our ongoing Pay it Forward campaign, visit: https://www.sichamber.com/pay-it-forward