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Chamber director recognized by town for her service to the community

Becki Day is well-known around the Friday Harbor community because of her ongoing support of businesses and restaurants on the island.

Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Ghatan recognized San Juan Island Chamber Of Commerce Executive Director Day with a proclamation reserved a few citizens who have been making a huge difference for the businesses and for the community’s general well-being.

“[Day] has risen to the occasion, going beyond the call of duty, going beyond [her] own interests,” Ghatan said.

According to long-time chamber member and Town Council Member Steve Hushebeck, “[Day has] been a hero the entire year.”

Ghatan applauded Day for her wonderful work with local restaurants, such as trying to keep the doors open and helping to advertise.

“We’re just very grateful to her,” Ghatan said. “Becki has done a tremendous amount to keep many small island businesses afloat.”

When COVID began to place a chokehold on the island community, Day jumped into action.

“I’m not sure how or when things are going to recover, but Becki has made a huge effort to meet with people, give them guidance and reassurance” Husebeck continued. “She is probably the most caring person I have known and it’s because she reaches out to everyone.”

The chamber of commerce is composed of members who are the business owners of San Juan. Hushebeck said all businesses on the island have suffered due to the pandemic, with profits down by an average of 40 percent.

Day came to Roche Harbor in 1990 and worked there for 17 years before moving to the chamber. She applied for the Chamber of Commerce executive director position in March 2015.

“I do this because I love my job,” Day said.

Day’s job is not easy, she noted, it takes a lot of work to fulfill the objectives of the chamber, which include supporting and protecting business interests on San Juan Island, according to the chamber’s website. Day added that she has capitalized on the enthusiasm of the people who want to see that the businesses survive.

“Our town has a real sense of community,” Day said.

As the chamber director, Day is busy all day long, answering calls, according to Hushebeck.

“Becki has been a lifeline as far as explaining their options,” Hushebeck added.

Hushebeck stated that Day does her own investigations into resources at the state and local level to find out what is available.

“The COVID protocols have been a moving target. We never know where the funds are and the grants are going to be, and Becki has been very helpful, talking to local business owners about loans and state government grants for Personal Protection and other needs,” Hushebeck added. “Day tries to pull people together and comes up with creative ideas to get people to work together and, on top of that, she runs a really good restaurant.”

Some of the joint efforts Day has spearheaded include the annual Fourth of July Parade and fireworks, the Visitor Information Center, the Scarecrow Contest, which was done in partnership with the Friends of San Juan Library.

“We’ve had a Virtual art walk and a virtual sip and shop that was offered through Facebook,” Day explained. “[And] the restaurant chart, set up in several places around town, was something we created to give the community information on which restaurants were open and what they offered.

The chamber has also been working to offer personal protective equipment to businesses unable to get the materials needed to stay open.

“We are hanging in there. … These 11 months have been different from the past. It’s a great place to be, and I want to help,” Day said. “It’s the customers that are helping businesses stay afloat. … Everybody helps each other out sharing information. We would like people to know that we are here for them.”

The proclamation is as follows:

“WHEREAS, the mission of the SJI Chamber of Commerce is to promote the economic vitality of our community and support its membership through educational programs, networking opportunities, visitor information services and community events which reflect our unique island culture and

“WHEREAS, our island economy, especially our food service and hospitality sector, has been hit hard by recession, been forced to endure months of unknown and been made to pivot again and again because of this healthcare crisis; and

“WHEREAS, the SJI Chamber of Commerce has also pivoted, changed, adapted and fought for all things to help support our business community during this unsteady economic time, and under the leadership of Becki Day, are going to great lengths to support its members and community at-large with creative opportunities and lobbying for economic relief;

“NOW THEREFORE, I, Farhad Ghatan, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor, do hereby proclaim the Town’s appreciation and recognize the outstanding contributions provided by San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce, and especially Director Becki Day.

“We thank you for being by our side, for all the virtual hugs, smiling faces on Zoom, and the commitment to our community as we look ahead to all the hope 2021 brings, and economic recovery and growth that must follow.”