Members of the Valrico FishHawk Chamber of Commerce brought lunch to a group of workers at Twin Creeks Assisted Living and Memory Care.

By Jadon Khor

Support comes from the heart, where families, friends and even local businesses find the compassion to selflessly help others. In a time when doling out such help would be imaginably drawn out and weary, it comes as a welcome reminder of the strength of the Valrico/FishHawk area that the community still, despite recent struggles, has the will to continue doing so.

There is no better example of this collective strength than the Valrico FishHawk Chamber of Commerce (VFCC), whose efforts in the promotion of the local business economy reflect the efforts of the community to not only stay safe but to also support one another.

Abi Merkle, VFCC chairman of the board, said that even though they are a smaller chamber compared to other, more overreaching ones, the Valrico FishHawk Chamber of Commerce was committed and dedicated to remaining a “source of information” and help to businesses to combat the struggles arising from COVID-19.

“We wanted to ensure we were a resource of information,” said Merkle.

To do this, she said the group uses websites and social media outlets to spread critical information about the local ordinances and businesses as a way to create one coherent message to the community residents.

For example, the VFCC provides details about if a restaurant is takeout only or if they are dine-in. Information is accessible through Facebook @ValricoFishHawkChamberOfCommerce.

To help local businesses, also on its Facebook page, the VFCC continues to expand upon digital networking through weekly Wednesday meetings via Zoom that allow local businesses to network and talk to other business owners. The group also intends to hold a guest speaker sometime this month, where they will talk about PPP loans and loan forgiveness.

In doing everything by Zoom, Merkle said they hope to “keep our members in mind and keep them safe.”

One more recent event of the VFCC’s dedication came as a relief to a group of workers who have tirelessly worked through the pandemic in providing care to senior citizens. The chamber delivered a meal from the local Chick-fil-A to the staff at Twin Creeks Assisted Living and Memory Care in order to show thanks for their hard work and to give them simply a happy meal.

“We felt that, why not, and thank them and give them a lunch from Chick-fil-A,” said Merkle.

But to help even more, Merkle encourages residents to do more. “Right now we are seeing a push for supporting local,” Merkle said, and that momentum is encouraged.

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