Sometimes mere chance can lead to finding a place to call home.
Debbye ValVerde has been working at the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce for 20 years and looks forward to even more. After being at the Big Spring Herald for 10 years and having just married her husband, Larry, she decided the housewife role wasn’t exactly what she wanted.
“I saw an ad in the newspaper and answered it. At the time I had no idea what a chamber did,” ValVerde said. “I came in and I was told I’d start tomorrow and well, I’ve been here ever since.”
She started her chamber career as a receptionist, made a couple rounds as a bookkeeper and an event coordinator. In 2001, she stepped into her role as executive director and has been pushing forward ever since. She graduated from the Institute of Organization Management in 2006.
“Big Spring is home. I could have moved to Austin or Dallas, but I chose to stay in Big Spring,” ValVerde said. “I want to see our town progress and grow.”
Being involved in the community is what the chamber is all about and the life ValVerde lives reflects that. She takes part in the numerous activities supported by the chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau, including Ag Appreciation, Health Fair and Pops in the Park, just to name a few.
“I’m not only representing me when I take part in these events, but I am representing each of the chamber members,” ValVerde said.
She is involved in Relay For Life and has been named Hero of Hope for 2012, as well as a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Parish. She is on the board of the Texas Plains Trail. As for her moments of free time, she and Larry enjoy escaping on one of their two Harley Davidsons, watching the New York Jets and listening to music.
“I am a diehard Beatles fan. I absolutely love their music. Most importantly though is spending time with my husband and my family,” ValVerde said.
It is through the support of her husband, family, friends and newly acquired friends at the chamber that she has been able to reach the point where she is now.
“I have made some really good friends at the chamber and they have all been very supportive,” ValVerde said. “I owe a big thank you for what the chamber has done for me. They were there for me and my family when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and they have seen me through my treatments.”
ValVerde said she has seen community events grow in the past 20 years, but there is still more growth to take place.
“Progress does cost money. Anything you are going to do to make change is going to cost something,” ValVerde said. “I want people to start thinking about taking pride in our communities and see what we have to offer right here in our own backyard.”
According to ValVerde, she has heard from numerous outside sources how much potential Big Spring has. She wants to encourage people to “step outside of the box” and see what Big Spring has to offer and the potential it holds.
“We are very lucky because we have so much that a lot of little towns don’t have,” ValVerde said. “We are very lucky to have a health fair which offers the community free screenings compared to other places that charge for the screenings or an entrance fee to their health fairs.” “We have a symphony. a lake in the city limits of town, the new aquatic center; and many others.”
She also pointed out the importance of having a hospital like Scenic Mountain Medical Center, the new health center; VA Hospital and state hospital in the community. Another aspect she has come to appreciate, by working with the Ag Appreciation Luncheon, is just how important farmers and ranchers are to the community.
“I had no idea what they go through. After being involved with the ag appreciation I understand just what they are dealing with, especially this year. I really appreciate them and all they do,” ValVerde said. “I’m hoping we will be able to show appreciation, like we do with the Ag Appreciation, to the industry and other businesses in the community in the future.”
Every aspect of the community is important and that is one of the main points she wants to get people to understand. She hopes to see more shops, restaurants and growth come to Big Spring in the future.
“We need to move forward and leave something for our next generation,” ValVerde said.
In addition to being honored locally by her fellow chamber members this month, she was also honored at the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executive annual conference in June. Tenure awards are presented to recognize the service to the profession at an honors luncheon at each annual conference.
Contact Staff Writer Amanda Moreno at 263-7331 ext. 234 or by e-mail at email@example.com