8-10-2017: It’s hard to believe that 7 years have passed since Co-Founder Vickie Stevens and I started this little grass-roots Lake Norman Community Organization known as “H.O.H.T.”.
(Helping Others Help Themselves)
The number “7” has always been an important number in my life. I wear “7” on my shirt collar to signify my longtime racing number in both stock cars (I won my very first stock car race by 36” from dead last in the #7 car) and motocross, some milestones of favorite racing heroes who have achieved 7’s , and last year a milestone of being a 7 year and counting Pancreatic Cancer survivor. And in H.O.H.T.’s 7th year, our greatest success ever; the economy is back on its feet and we’ve run out of people to help!
I still have vivid memories of friends and neighbors in our little Lake Norman community struggling to rebuild the pieces of their lives; jobs lost, mortgages foreclosed on, countless bankruptcies, moving back into your parent’s basement with your 3 kids, your car needs repairs you can’t afford, and an endless black hole on the Internet where you send resumes to never to be seen or heard from again.
That was the catalyst that got fellow Ambassador Vickie Stevens and I started on this “H.O.H.T. Idea”. We knew people. People in need and people in business. What if we could put those two together and help Lake Norman in our own little way get back on its feet? It all started with helping fellow Ambassador Vinny Piccano secure a part-time job at Country Inn & Suites. Today, Vinny is the General Sales Manager for that same company. Then came Jack Stevens, Vickie’s husband. I helped Jack get a temporary job at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Seven years later, he’s still there and the undeniable face of the Chamber and H.O.H.T.’s “Poster Child”. And that’s what started it all! Over 7 years, H.O.H.T. has helped so many folks connect with Lake Norman companies that we know of and who knows how many “that we don’t know of”.
In 2011, Vickie and I began recruiting the “H.O.H.T. BOD’s” (Board of Directors). Our Board members helped us develop many ways to “Help Others Help Themselves”:
- Created our own website and a “job bank” where employers could post jobs and job seekers post resumes and then managed them in order to help employers and job seekers connect.
- Through our monthly workshops designed to educate and improve job seeker skills with a strong focus on networking because 80% or more jobs acquired can be attributed back to a networking connection made.
- Encouraging job seekers to attend Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce events as a guest of H.O.H.T. as well as other Lake Norman business groups’ events where H.O.H.T. BOD’s mentor and introduce job seekers within the group.
- Our free bi-annual JNE’s (Job Networking Events) held in a Huntersville business ballroom where employers set up a job fair-like event to meet and network with job seekers that included free lunch provided by local food sponsors.
- All three towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville came on board to help support and promote the cause within their respective communities. Radio, newspaper, and television helped get the word out.
- Developed a You-tube channel to create awareness of H.O.H.T.
And so, in keeping with the premise of “7’s”, it is fitting that in H.O.H.T.’s 7th year,
the economy IS back on its feet and we have accomplished our mission!
Our Board has decided there is no longer a need to continue on-going operations of our job bank, monthly workshops, and Job Networking Events. However, we do plan on continuing to maintain the H.O.H.T. website for the foreseeable future to have a place to continue open visibility and future communications. Interested parties can visit the website and see the history of H.O.H.T., the list of community sponsors, supporters, “Hire H.O.H.T.” employers and past and present Board members.
However, since economies are cyclical, H.O.H.T. may be called upon again in the future by the Lake Norman community to “Help Others Help Themselves”. Maintaining our website ability will be important should a restart ever become necessary.
The Board members of H.O.H.T. would like to thank everyone involved these past 7 years for all your support. Many of them are listed alongside in this communication. However, plans are being made to add all parties past and present to a master list which can be viewed in the future on the website.
Thank you Lake Norman for embracing this program and helping create all the wonderful memories!
THE HISTORY OF H.O.H.T.
H.elping O.thers H.elp T.hemselves is the brainchild of former Chairman of the Lake Norman Chamber Ambassadors, Joe Carbon. Joe, as the rest of the country, has witnessed the decline of our economy and the loss of jobs by the masses. In 2010, Joe heard about a job opportunity available with one of our Chamber members, Country Suites. Knowing that one of his Ambassadors was in need, he referred him for a position as a part-time shuttle driver. A year and a half later, he became the Events Manager for Country Suites in Huntersville, NC. Today, he is the General Sales Manager!
Later that year, Joe met Vickie Stevens, owner of “CONCIERGE of Lake Norman”. While servicing her vehicle he met her husband Jack Stevens, a retired bank president. Jack has a contagious people-oriented personality and a skill set that just cannot be taught. Joe was floored that a man of Jack’s talents, experience, and maturity (age 75) was being overlooked and keeping him from getting a job utilizing his skills and abilities.
Knowing the Chamber office was temporarily shorthanded, Joe referred Jack for a position. Today, Jack is and continues to be the face and voice of the Chamber to all who visit or call. He is the “Jack of all trades” in the Chamber office, sold more Chamber memberships than anyone, and is one of the first faces you see at any Chamber event. Joe refers to Jack as “the Lake Norman Chamber’s secret weapon”, because all who meet him take an immediate liking to him.
As a result, in January 2011, H.O.H.T. was born to help Lake Normanders get back to work. Simply, H.O.H.T. is an exclusively Lake Norman free job bank pairing employers with job seekers. Joe enlisted the help of co-sponsor Vickie Stevens to help facilitate the program.
H.O.H.T. SAFE HAVEN IS BORN
Just as H.O.H.T.’s early beginnings, from something bad came something good. Longtime job seeker Mark Swatik was a regular attendee of H.O.H.T.’s monthly workshops and Job Networking Events. His own frustration with the highs and lows and emotional effects of the job search prompted him to create a splinter group of H.O.H.T. called “Safe Haven”.
Its purpose was to connect other job seekers who were encountering the same frustrations and give them a place to “vent”, exchange ideas and experiences, and lend support to each other through its own monthly meeting held at the Huntersville Waterbean coffee house. Along with other longtime job seeker Terri Genshock, they both held and managed the meetings helping many job seekers to cope. Happily, both Mark and Terri re-entered the work force but continue to “Help Others Help Themselves”.