It was my honor and pleasure to Chair our Chamber’s 15th annual New Educator and Hero’s reception last Thursday evening. It’s such a lovely tradition that as far as I know is only held in Santa Monica. We gathered at the gorgeous Le Merigot hotel courtyard to welcome all of the new educators, firefighters and police officers to our community. The food was generous and hearty and absolutely delicious. Each new person was recognized and welcomed by our Chamber members, and City officials. When you take a look at all of the people who are dedicated to our children's education and our safety – it’s quite impressive. I’ve been involved with this event for the past 14 years, and every year I’m reminded again of my gratitude for these amazing people. We raffled off about 40 fabulous gift items, from video games to gift certificates for dinners and hotel stays. Items like this are meaningful as most of our guests don’t have the opportunity or the funds to be frivolous. We collected countless items from fellow chamber members and handed out “goodie bags” to each guest. The bags were filled with everything from discount coupons to water bottles, key chains, pens, and amusement park passes. Our members really stepped up with their offers of support. Our school Superintendent, Fire and Police Chief were thrilled and excited to participate. These people are the role models for all of us and our children's futures are in their hands. This is what it’s about my friends. Giving back to your community and honoring those who selflessly give of themselves is exactly what the term “paying it forward” means. There’s no better sense of satisfaction than contributing to others. I left feeling proud and full of pleasure that I was a part of something so meaningful. Yep – I still have a huge smile on my face and a light heart just thinking about what a great evening we all enjoyed!