Navigating the nonprofits: Chamber celebrates Valentine’s Day by highlighting local organizations

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Christine Brown, left, explains the purpose of the Westfield Youth Assistance Program.

The Westfield Chamber of Commerce celebrated Valentine’s Day by spreading love to local nonprofits at its Feb. 15 luncheon.

For the second consecutive year, the chamber put on the Share the Love luncheon. A total of 24 nonprofits set up display booths highlighting their organizations.

Open Doors of Washington Township returned this year, and Treasurer Jerry Rosenberger said last year’s “Share the Love” event drew several volunteers for the Westfield-based organization.

“The main reason we came the first year and continue to return is there’s extra exposure here,” Rosenberger said. “We’ve learned over the years that people in the community don’t know what we do, and there’s a lot of members of the community here, and it allows us to spread the word about what we do in Westfield.”

City leaders, business professionals and local residents attended the event. Chamber President Jack Russell said 165 people attended. Last year, 135 attended.

“This was our second annual ‘Share the Love’ event. We put this luncheon on because two years ago we had heard from nonprofits that they were looking for volunteers and different businesses interested in giving money,” Russell said. “The interesting part was that we were hearing from businesses that they wanted to have their employees give back their time and the businesses wanted to donate money. With our goal of connecting people with people, we felt it was a perfect event.”

Four new nonprofits joined the display this year, including Highlands Latin School, which plans to break ground in Westfield this summer.

“We were hoping to introduce ourselves to the Westfield community,” Treasurer Susan Wible. “Also, the school is involved with community projects where the whole school participates in a project to service Westfield, and we were hoping to get businesses to support us in that.”

Other new ‘Share the Love’ participants were The O’Connor House, American Cancer Society,  and Corporate Chaplains of America.

Last year, Jill Doyle attended the event as a nonprofit vendor with the Hamilton County Leadership Association, but this year she attended as a luncheon guest from Westfield Washington Schools. Doyle said her mission last year was to showcase HCLA’s program.

“It’s great to see all of the nonprofits in the Westfield community in one space,” she said. “It’s nice to highlight all of the nonprofits together as they are separate from the business community.”

Russell said his goal at the Westfield Chamber of Commerce is not only connecting businesses with businesses but people with people.

“We want the chamber to be a place where if someone wants to know what’s going on in the community and how to get involved, we are the place to go,” he said.

Nine nonprofits presented during the luncheon, including Westfield Youth Assistance Program, Westfield Youth Sports Inc., The O’Connor House, Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County, Trinity Free Clinic, Hamilton County Leadership Academy, Heart & Soul Clinic, Janus Developmental Services and Student Impact.

“The nice thing about this is, to understand the business community thinks enough of the not-for-profits in our community that they have a special day for us, and it really links us with the chamber in ways we really appreciate,” Rosenberger said.

“Share the Love” isn’t the only innovative thing the Westfield Chamber of Commerce is doing to unite the community. Russell said more events are planned this year, such as a June 11 golf outing at Chatham Hills.

The next Westfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon is set for 11 a.m. March 15 at The Bridgewater Club. State Sen. Jim Merritt will be the speaker. He will address the opioid crisis. For more, visit

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Open Doors of Washington Township Treasurer Jerry Rosenberger attends the Share the Love event. (Photos by Sadie Hunter)

Nonprofits taking part in “Share the Love”

Habitat for Humanit;, Westfield Youth Sports Inc.; The O’Connor House; Hamilton County Leadership Academy; Highlands Latin School; HAND, Inc.; Trinity Free Clinic; Westfield Playhouse; Westfield Education Foundation; Rotary Club of Westfield; Secret Families of Hamilton County; Corporate Chaplains of America; American Cancer Society; Open Doors of Washington Township; CRU; Riverview Foundation; Westfield Youth Assistance Program; Student Impact; Janus Developmental Services; Heart and Soul Clinic; Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County; Prevail, Inc.; Legacy Christian School; and Grace Care Center.