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Could this be the best of times?

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” Thanks to Charles Dickens for a quote that sums up daily life in March 2020. Considering it was written in the 1700s, it can serve as a reminder that history repeats itself, and we will get through these times, too.

Serving as president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber, I have a unique view into the challenges facing local businesses. We’re all keenly aware of restaurants and small retailers that are struggling — they’re promoting curbside pickup and delivery options to try and keep some revenue coming in. Thankfully, our community is rallying to support them and try and keep them afloat.

However, I’m just as concerned about the local businesses that are invisible to the naked eye. Many of these are service providers that are tucked away in small strip malls or in-home offices. They provide the name tags for corporate conferences. They rent the tables and tents for weddings. They print the T-shirts for youth sports. They provide the entertainment for birthday parties and the flowers for an anniversary celebration. With every gathering planned for the foreseeable future canceled or postponed, these invisible businesses are seeing their 2020 sales revenue drop to zero.

When there are no events, no parties, and no baseball games, we can’t buy what these businesses sell. So, how can you help? The Wake Forest Area Chamber Foundation has created a Small Business Relief Fund. Donations made to the fund will allow grants to be awarded to help local small businesses stay in business. A committee of community leaders will review all the applications, and we will make grants that we hope will help them hang on until the situation improves.

A strong business community directly impacts the lives of everyone in our community.

Businesses that are open mean employees are receiving paychecks. People with paychecks support other businesses, feed their families, and give to charity.

Together, we will get through this. Please continue to get takeout and buy local. Please continue to donate to the food banks. Please check on your neighbors and do what you can for them. And, please donate to the Small Business Relief Fund. When we all work together, amazing things can happen. We can show that although it may feel like the worst of times, it is also the best of times as the Wake Forest community comes together.

To donate, visit

Ann Welton is president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber.