Congratulations to Bobby Ray from the North Bay Granite Club for not only being nominated for a prestigious award, but for also winning that award on Saturday evening.  The Chair person for the Young Professionals of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce, attended the gala dinner for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Annual General Meeting & Conference and was recognized by the Provincial Chamber for his outstanding work in our Chamber and community.

Bobby was the recipient of the Richard Dolphin Community Service award. The award, bestowed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, recognizes a chamber board member whose dedication to community service and the chamber network has led to chamber success.  As the Chair of the Young Professionals group of the Chamber and sitting on the Board as well, Bobby felt that the young professionals (those under 40 years of age) needed to be re-engaged. Tasked with that challenge, he came up with a unique and novel way of accomplishing that.

Utilizing his past experience of organizing curling bonspiels, he used the same format as though he would be setting up a draw for curlers.  The change was that he engaged 80 Chamber members as his teams and challenged them to meet for one hour, once a week and share a coffee. That was the birth of 52 Cups of Coffee and one that would gain instant popularity and the re-engagement, that he wanted to achieve. The real only requirement was to meet your scheduled coffee meet up person, learn something about them and post it on social media to share.

It has been an over-whelming success and has spurned many a request to expand this program to other member groups within the Chamber and outside as well.  Something as simple as talking with someone that perhaps you did not know or knew very little about.  That is really what this program was based on…communicating with a peer and making a contact with someone that you may work with, do business with or strike up a friendship in the future.  Regardless of the concept of how it might playout in the future, the basic premise of networking within a group of your peers has been with civilization, since the beginning of time.  This is what engages communities and what a great group to start with. Congratulations Bobby as the recipient of this prestigious award and your Chamber cannot wait for “52 Cups of Coffee 2.0. version”

Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.