Linda Melody: the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce’s secret to success

The Carmichael Chamber of Commerce has experienced high and low points since its establishment 46 years ago. Among its high points was the hiring of Linda Melody.

LINDA MELODY has experienced much success as the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce’s executive consultant. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance

LINDA MELODY has experienced much success as the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce’s executive consultant. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance

Linda, who has served as the chamber’s executive consultant since December 2009, said that she began working for the chamber at one of its lowest points after its then-president and Arden area resident Trish Harrington, who owned A Leap Ahead Information Technology, was contemplating the possibility of discontinuing the chamber’s operation.

A chamber in trouble

“The president at the time wanted to close the chamber,” Linda said. “She said, ‘I just don’t know what we’re going to do.’” And I said, ‘You can’t (close the chamber). You’ve got these great businesses and your role in the community.’ And she said, ‘Well what are we going to do?’ And I said, ‘What if I agreed to come and help part time?’ And that’s what I did.

“When I came in, (the chamber was) broke, they had lost a lot of their memberships, they had few activities and they just really needed to be revived and that was my goal. (Improving the chamber’s status) was a team effort. At that time, we had like five board members. We now have 11 board members, which is a full compliment. We have added many, many new programs and activities, more opportunities for our businesses to advertise, more exposure for them. We’re getting more involved in all the community stuff that’s going on. So, how people view the chamber has really changed (during the past two years) and that’s important.”

Chamber turned around

When asked about Linda’s contributions to the chamber, Harrington was quick to praise her accomplishments.

“She saved the chamber, basically,” Harrington said. “I solicited her. I knew she could help us. She’s been incredible. I don’t know how she did it, but she was open to innovative ideas and came up with some (ideas) herself and implemented them. She didn’t need a lot of supervision and she was self starting. She just took it and flew with it. We started a constant contact account and started doing our newsletters via e-mail, instead of having them printed and having to take them to the post office. It not only saved a lot of expense, but a lot of time. (Linda) has worked diligently with boundless energy. (The chamber) was terribly disorganized and she brought organization and made some real cost effective changes and even made it look better, as she followed up on remodeling it. She’s marvelous.”

Linda said that the chamber, which is presently led by its president, Chris Meyer, has become more “cutting edge,” as opposed to its former reputation as the “old folks’ chamber.”

But to avoid a misunderstanding, Linda said, “We love our senior citizens.”

A chamber for all

Linda explained that a unique aspect of the Carmichael Chamber of Commerce is that it is one of the few chambers that include both business and residential members.

“We feel (residential members) are important to the community,” Linda said. “A lot of (the older residents), they don’t work, so they’re able to volunteer more time and they’re very loyal to the chamber. It’s a good balance of residential and business members. We focus a lot of our programs to our businesses, because after all, we are a chamber of commerce. But the two can work together.”

Linda said that she is excited about the current status of the chamber, since during the recession the chamber had lost about 20 percent of its businesses.

“My joy is to see the chamber be on solid financial footing, see our members growing and even the membership retention,” Linda said. “We want to grow the chamber even more. We’ve added a lot of events that we didn’t have before.”

Community events

LOCAL GIRL. Linda Melody, who recently attended the 40th reunion of Mira Loma High School’s Class of 1971, has spent about 80 percent of her life residing in the Carmichael area. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

LOCAL GIRL. Linda Melody, who recently attended the 40th reunion of Mira Loma High School’s Class of 1971, has spent about 80 percent of her life residing in the Carmichael area. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Among these events is the chamber’s “Shred Days,” which will also include opportunities to properly dispose of e-waste and automobile batteries. This year, the event will be held in the parking lot of the La Sierra Community Center at 5325 Engle Road on June 16.

Another recently established event is Carmichael Day at a Sacramento River Cats’ game at Raley Field.

Last year, the River Cats held a competition between different chambers, in which the chamber that sold the most tickets won a suite for a separate River Cats game. The Carmichael chamber won the competition by selling 250 tickets.

In a joint event with BeMoneySmartUSA, which operates the farmers’ market at Carmichael Park, the chamber will host a fundraising night at the Sacramento Kings-Oklahoma City Thunder game at Power Balance Pavilion on April 20.

The chamber has also added Person of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Veteran of the Year and Patriot of the Year events.

Most recently, radio and television personality Kitty O’Neal was named Person of the Year, Jim Warrick and his mother Lola were the Patriots of the Year and Earl “Ranger Jack” Koobs was named Veteran of the Year.

Orientation Coffees

Last year, Linda implemented the chamber’s “Orientation Coffees” gatherings, in which people are introduced to the chamber and given a presentation of how it works and how to take advantage of certain opportunities that assist local businesses and organizations.

Chamber sponsorships were also introduced during Linda’s time with the chamber.

Linda said that the chamber appreciates the work of District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters, who has contributed toward the success of the chamber, and Carmichael’s honorary mayor, Esteban Nava, who Linda describes as “a real go-getter who is not just excited about the chamber, but the entire community of Carmichael.”

Local girl

Linda expressed her own love for Carmichael and said that part of this love derives from the fact that she has spent about 80 percent of her life residing in the Carmichael area.

After being born at Mercy Hospital at 4001 J St. in East Sacramento, Linda grew up in the Carmichael area with her father and mother, Vahey and Nellie Jenanyan, her sisters, Charmain Jenanyan (now Ferguson) and Cheryl Jenanyan, and her brother, Ron Jenanyan.

Linda’s father died in 1978 and was survived by Nellie until she passed away last year.

After graduating from Mira Loma High School in 1971, Linda attended American River College, where she was a writer for the school’s newspaper, and San Jose State University.

Linda initially planned to become an English teacher. Her love for radio broadcasting, however, took her to assignments in radio in Sacramento for KNDE 1470 AM and for a Christian radio station, and for radio stations in San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Iowa.

Linda said that she also served as a tour guide at The Sacramento Bee for about eight months in about 1975.

“There would be school groups (on field trips) and things that came through (The Bee’s headquarters at 2100 Q St.) and we would show them how the newspaper presses ran and all about the history of The Sacramento Bee,” Linda said.

Linda worked in the development department of Victory Christian Schools at 3045 Garfield Ave. in Carmichael, handling fundraising from 2001 to 2008.

In addition to her work with the chamber, Linda, who has a husband named Michael and a 24-year-old daughter named Rebecca, enjoys cooking, following politics and watching Sacramento Kings games.

As Carmichael approaches its 103rd anniversary, its chamber of commerce, with the assistance of Linda Melody, appears to have a bright future in the community.

lance@valcomnews.com