To the editor:

I don’t often share details of my personal life - not because I don’t share (God knows it’s hard to shut me up) but because I was not raised in a tight-knit, small town like Britt. The circumstances that brought my family and I back to North Iowa were not the best, but I believe I am blessed to find myself in Britt. I’ve worked for small, privately owned businesses and large, publicly traded corporations. Not one of my previous positions (other than my other career as mom) has brought me the sense of pride and accomplishment that being the director of the Britt Area Chamber has. 

I’ve spent most of my career working with and/or for committees. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with our past and current Board of Directors. Not because we’re all friends. Because we’re NOT, and we still accomplish goals and work together for the greater good, in spite of and because of our differences, similarities and what each of us brings to the table. 

Whether I stay on as executive director of the Britt Area Chamber or whether I secure employment elsewhere, I will always consider this position one of my finest moments.  From asking our board three Hobo Days ago if we could have a Dunk Tank (thank you for being so enthusiastic, Chuck Hunt) or trying to understand how an Omelet Breakfast could be pulled off using only volunteers (I could not get my head around that) or how can a town of our size have so many active service organizations? 

With very few exceptions, I have always felt welcomed by the community of Britt. Jeanie Purvis and Darcy Eisenman up at city hall have never laughed at my relatively inept questions - and helped me navigate the intricacies and uniqueness that is Britt. Bill Eckels is the best friend the Chamber has ever had - filling in before my arrival (and during other vacancies of this position), and will be helping out immensely for the hours and days when our small but mighty chamber office will be dark. When Bill Eckels isn’t available, I can always just fly next door to ask Jon Swenson (he may have considered putting a lock on that door). Pat Trulson has fielded my never ending questions as well. Renee Diemer always made time for my quirky questions and explained how/why/when with patience.  I cannot thank these, in addition to many other people, enough.

While this may seem like a goodbye letter, it isn’t. I have no idea what the future holds for me other than I am so proud to work and live in Britt. Hopefully, we can rectify, in a short time, our financial challenges that face us. If not, Angie Wirth, you are a treasure to your company and this board and community. Maureen Ahern-Oppy, your ability to persevere and carry on with a smile is an inspiration. Jenn Bourg-Vrieze, you are such an asset to this community and to our board. Sarah Freesemann, your enthusiasm and willingness to jump in are an example to be followed. Cait Hamilton, your sense of humor, community and humility are refreshing and wonderful. Curt Gast, thank you for serving our city and our board with honesty and consistency, which I have a high regard for. Steve Barber, you are truly one of the smartest people I’ve worked with, and your common sense approach is to be emulated. Gary Gelner, your passion for service is amazing, as is your ability to think out of the box.

I joked when I first arrived here that I would probably move back to Arizona after the high school graduation of my youngest. In all seriousness, I probably won’t. I am proud of my work at the chamber, I am proud to live here and I am privileged to call it my home.

Warm regards,                                                                                   Kathie Smith                                                                                Executive director of the Britt Area Chamber of Commerce

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