LEWISBURG — Within 24 hours of shutting its office doors as COVID-19 began to take hold in March 2020, Tea Jay Aikey said her Central Pa. Chamber of Commerce was back up and running remotely.

Citing the organization’s mission statement — to be the preferred resource center for its members supporting their economic and business development — not being there when the chamber’s 500-plus members needed them the most was not an option.

“Closing the building was one thing. Not supporting our members was not an option to consider,” Aikey, the president and CEO of the Milton-based Chamber said Thursday during the group’s annual awards ceremony and meeting at the Silver Moon Banquet Hall.

That perseverance swept through the chamber over the past 18 months, Aikey said. It was the driving force behind the chamber’s decision to honor all of its members with the organization’s prestigious Impact Award on Thursday rather than select a few as is tradition.

“A lot goes into the selection,” she said to the crowd Thursday. “Did they have an impact on the chamber? Did they have an impact on individuals? Did they have an impact on the community? Did they have an impact on the region? Did they display grit and resiliency? Did they persevere?

“We are celebrating you and your perseverance.”

Leslie Temple, representing Fulton Bank at the awards, appreciated the sentiment from the Chamber.

“I love the theme of perseverance,” she said. “It was really creative and a really good idea. We were all in this together over the past year and a half. Put yourself in the chamber’s shoes. How do you pick one person or one business to recognize?”

Temple said the choice to honor all of the chamber’s membership is something that can create a tighter group of partners in the long run.

“It gives everyone that encouragement,” she said. “To give it to the community at large, so to speak, reminds us to be there for each. It’s a really important pick me up, that while COVID’s not over, we are seeing some glimpses of blue sky.”

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