HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 1,000 volunteers from Holland and Zeeland plucked the spotlight from tulips by dedicating their time to give back to their communities Wednesday.

The volunteers were part of the West Coast Chamber of Commerce’s Community Impact Day.

“We believe in what we’re doing, and we know that part of our purpose as an organization is to make a positive impact on our community,” said Jodi Owczarski, president and CEO of the West Coast Chamber of Commerce. “How much more tangible can we be than to provide hands and feet to go out into the community and actually do work that needs to be done, that these organizations just can’t manage to do on their own without some assistance?”

Community Impact Day started four years ago during the chamber’s longstanding Leadership Program. It has grown into a model for cities across the country.

“I hope that it means that we live in a remarkable place,” Owczarski said. “This doesn’t happen in other communities. (But) it’s going to, if we have any say about it.”

She said they were sharing the program with other chambers across the nation. “We hope that this is gonna be something that becomes the norm for other communities,” Owczarski said. “There’s no better place than Holland and Zealand really to demonstrate what it looks like to be involved.”

What happens in Holland and Zeeland could have a ripple effect, according to Owczarski. “I think we’re gonna have a tidal wave of impact that we can have from this day,” she said.

On Wednesday, over 900 volunteers committed three hours of their time from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to help 60 different nonprofits in the area.

Sixteen organizations, including the event’s sponsor LG Energy Solution Michigan, gave their employees part of the day to give back.

“The people here in Holland, like whenever they hear LG Energy Solution, then (they say), ‘Oh yeah, they are good, we know them and they are here, not only just as a company, but they care for us and they try to like make good impact on the community,'” Abby Kwak of LG Energy Solution Michigan said. “That’s kind of what I want to see more.”

Kwak and a group of her team members were at Camp Sunshine, a camp in Holland for adults with developmental disabilities. They helped the organization prepare for its first 14-day program of the summer.

West Coast Chamber Community Impact Day in Holland. (May 17, 2023)
LGESMI team members help with name tags at Camp Sunshine during Community Impact Day.

“There are only four staff (members) at Camp Sunshine, but the rest of hundreds, hundreds people who make Camp Sunshine successful are actually volunteers,” Kwak said. “Not one person or one company can make the whole community, right? We all have to work together.”

Collaborating for positive change is part of West Coast Chamber’s mission. It’s why their Community Impact Day will extend beyond May 17. The chamber is preparing to launch an online tool to help connect community members to areas of opportunity where they can give back.

“We’re working on a platform right now that you’ll be able to see online by the end of the month called West Coast Connect,” Owczarski said. “That will continue to highlight opportunities to serve and lead throughout this community, because it doesn’t end in one afternoon. There’s ongoing needs, and it’s gonna take all of us to fill those opportunities.”