Dozens of residents of Orange, California, gathered in the town’s historic square to celebrate the Chamber of Commerce’s centennial anniversary on Aug. 17. The chamber also recognized the city’s gold medal volleyball Olympian Annie Drews.
The Orange Chamber of Commerce, founded on Aug. 17, 1921, is a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of businesses and focuses on boosting the city’s economy. The chamber’s president, Al Ricci, cut the opening ribbon outside of the chamber’s new office location.
“I’m here to tell you that the Chamber has been at the table for the last 100 years, and we will be at the table for the next 100 years,” Ricci said.
Officials also praised Drews for being among the first in this county’s history to achieve a gold medal in volleyball.
“This team accomplished something no other women’s U.S. [volleyball] team had to date, and that is bringing home a gold medal. We are so fortunate that one of the members of that team made the wise choice of looking for a place to live out here in Southern California and coming from Indiana,” Mayor Mark Murphy said during the event.
Drews moved to California from her small hometown in Indiana in 2017 to train with the U.S. women’s volleyball team in Anaheim.
She recalled living in a small apartment she shared with six teammates and visiting the Orange Plaza to destress from her intense weekly training.
“On Sundays, I would go to church, and I would get a coffee, just walk around, and it felt like a little slice of my small town in California,” Drews said at the event.
“Fast forward to now, 2021, and that Olympic dream has come to fruition with the US Women’s National Team, but also my old town Orange dream has also come to fruition. We’re now residents in this community and love it here, and so this is also just very surreal and very special.”
Murphy congratulated Drews with a proclamation and announced Aug. 18, 2021, to be “Annie Drew’s Day” in Orange.
Supervisor Don Wagner offered Drews a certificate of recognition for her accomplishment.
“Not only were you competing at the highest level, but competing under circumstances that are genuinely unprecedented in the history of this planet, and for you to accomplish what you did, bring back the gold the way you did, and come back as such a model for America is truly inspiring,” Wagner said.
Wagner congratulated the chamber with a proclamation from the county for supporting the city’s business community for a century.
Murphy praised the chamber’s contributions, saying, “The city lives on the prosperity of business, and small businesses especially, and the chamber is an integral role in all of that.”
Murphy added that the quality of the city’s public services, such as the fire and police departments, along with the city’s quality of life, are dependent on the “prosperity of the business community and the revenues that they generate.”
Congressman Lou Correa recognized the Orange Chamber of Commerce during the event.
“It’s good to be back on Main Street, Orange, California,” Correa said.
“A lot of things happen in this world, a lot of things [are] going on in Washington, D.C. But at the end of the day, we come back, and we answer to you on Main Street. So, keep talking to us, keep screaming at us, make sure we listen and we do what’s right.”