My office phone doesn’t ring that often anymore. It seems like more and more people communicate via email now. But late one afternoon about a month ago, the phone rang, and I answered it.
It was Steve Mendoza, a member of the staff at the City Council of Los Alamitos — the small town in which our business is located.
Apparently the city council was well aware of our company’s recent 49th birthday, and wanted to give us special recognition at a city council meeting to be the first to recognize and celebrate our 50th year in business.
So, on Monday, May 16, my mom (Frieda), my sister (Jackie) and I arrived at City Hall. Although I grew up in Los Alamitos, I had never been to the actual City Hall, and it is very quaint.
When we walked into the council chambers, we were greeted personally by several local business owners and of course Mayor Ken Stephens and the various city council members.
It turned out to be a special evening, as also in attendance were about 30 high school students. As part of their government class they had to attend a city council meeting and report on the happenings. Since their writing assignment was due this Wednesday, of course they were all there that evening. Seated in the audience was our own intern from Los Alamitos High School, Rachael.
The mayor was so proud when he read our proclamation. It almost brought tears to my eyes to hear him read about Mom introducing the kiwifruit to America, about being the first woman to start a wholesale produce company in the United States, and about all the difficult-to-pronounce products we have introduced and marketed. Cherimoyas, feijoas, and habanero chiles… to name a few.
When we got up to accept this honor, it was very special to share with the audience of students and community members, that my parents, Al and Frieda Caplan were original home buyers in Los Alamitos back in 1958, and that Mom still lives in that house. And that Jackie and I attended the local elementary, junior high and high schools. And that it truly was serendipitous that we moved our business from downtown Los Angeles to Los Alamitos 17 years ago.
As I finished my remarks, I turned to each of the five city council members and thanked them for their community service. Unlike some of the local cities who have highly paid council members (and have been in the news recently), our leaders are compensated less than $5,000 per year.
I believe many of us live in communities whose elected leaders do so because of their love of the community. Have you taken the time to get to know them and thank them for all they do? Although I had never before met any of the members of our city council, I sensed that they do not get a “thank you” very often.
And, it was lovely that their acknowledgement back to us was that they appreciated our company’s support of the local community.
Win-win… That’s how it should be!