On Friday, March 20, SNJ Today 99.9 FM radio hosts John Salvatore and Yamira Velez talked on-air with Dawn Hunter, executive director of the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce, each from their remote locations.
SNJ Today: What would you like for people of our community to know?
Hunter: One of the most important things for people to understand right now is that businesses are still open, they’re open for business, if you practice all the things that the CDC says we should do with social distancing and washing hands, you can still go out and shop. And it’s so vital, businesses are really hurting, and it’s the fear of the unknown, we don’t know how long this will go on, and you can’t plan if you don’t know… they’re also worried about their employees and having a viable business after all this is over…. Buy gift cards, I know there’s an app for that.
SNJ Today: What’s your message for the small business owner?
Hunter: I would say, try to keep calm, don’t panic. We’ll all get through this, we’ll get through this together, no doubt about that. Honestly, it’s going to be rough for all of us, we’re a non-profit organization, so cancelling our events is going to hurt our fiscal year. So we’re all taking a hit. Just stay informed, I suggest you visit our website at vinelandchamber.org. I have a special spot on the home page that lists all sorts of information for the community as well as for businesses. There’s legislation going on, we’re following that and disseminating that information as well.
We have restaurant members, and that industry has been especially hard hit, because they were restricted very early on, but a lot of them are doing takeout service and deliveries, but calling is a good idea to find out if, for example, a lot of them have shorter hours, and a lot of them have an online presence so that’s a great idea to find out what they’re offering. Shopping online for a smaller business will help.
SNJ today: Can you help clarify information vs. misinformation?
Hunter: People need to understand that we’re doing this for a reason, that we’re following the guidelines, of what’s required of us by the law. And sometimes that’s not a choice, not what we want to do. I’m not an expert, and I hope there’s not misinformation out there, but I hope that people are paying attention and taking this seriously.
SNJ Today: Yes, everyone should make sure that what you’re posting is accurate, positive, maybe creative ideas for our current situation.
Hunter: I couldn’t agree more. I’m a very positive person, so my attitude is that we can get through this, so we will. It’s actually my own personal mantra—I can so I will. So now I’m telling everyone else, we can do this, so we will do this. It doesn’t do any good to point fingers, to point blame, this is so unprecedented for all of us and you can’t blame anyone. You can’t criticize our leaders, because they’re our leaders and we have to trust that they’re making the right decisions for us at this time. It’s that unknown, that uncertainty, that’s so hard for all of us to grasp. Take it one day at a time. Play some music. Honestly, I find that playing music and dancing around the house a little bit gets me out of that realm for five minutes.
One more thing, I think it’s important that we use our technology. I’m learning new skills this week…. I think it’s going to change the way we communicate sometimes. I think it’s going to be a really good thing that comes out of this. And I think people need to reach out to each other in these ways, in the safest ways, by a phone call, someone who lives alone, I can’t imagine someone who lives alone going through this, so call these people, just say hi and check in on them, and reach out to each other in safe ways to support each other.