Chuck Barkow embodies what a Chamber volunteer is all about. He isn’t the head of a committee or an event organizer or juggling multiple projects. He’s humble and low key and willing to do the stuff that’s not in the limelight. He delivers the magazines, maps, brochures and calendars of events to Chamber-member hotels, working quietly behind the scenes each month to help the Chamber get the word out about local events. “It’s not a big thing, but It’s helpful,” Barkow said. “It’s certainly not rocket science. It’s just going out there and helping the businesses better serve their customers. That’s what I’m trying to do.” What is big is his heart for his part in doing Chamber work. “When you volunteer for the Chamber, you’re helping the local businesses improve what they can offer to their customers. It’s a nickel and dime thing, but the nickels and dimes are important.” Barkow has also taken on the role of Chamber Ambassador and will make attending ribbon cuttings and other Chamber functions part of his official Chamber duties. “I got the blue blazer and the white shirt and tie and the Khaki pants,” he said. “I’ve actually been going to the ribbon cuttings since I joined the Chamber. I thought, ‘Well I’m a member, so I’m going to go.’” Barkow, a retired IT consultant, isn’t a Mount Pleasant native, but he’s embraced his adopted home since moving here with his late wife, Jill, in 1999. She passed away in 2014 after a long battle with cancer. “My wife and I retired from Wisconsin and moved here because she had a lot of family in Texas,” he said. Barkow first joined the Chamber in 2010 and served on various committees, including the Marketing and Business Ser-
vices committees. “I’m not doing those things now. I’m still trying to figure out this widower thing,” he said. He and his wife were married 27 years and shared a passion for traveling and visiting wineries and micro-breweries, so he’s making time to continue those trips as well as soaking in as much knowledge as he can by taking classes at Northeast Texas Community College. “For some reason, I find the older I get, the more I like going back to school,” he said. “I used to hate history. Now, I read it all the time. What has happened to me?” He is also a member of the Leadership Mount Pleasant Class of 2015. “Even though I’m retired, I can always learn something new. It’s been quite enjoyable,” he said. He said one of the highlights of the leadership class has been the panel discussion with local business leaders. “I found that to be incredibly informative because we were talking to real business people about real issues they are having in trying to hire qualified employees,” he said. “They discussed from a leadership perspective what is deficient in the process of educating students to get them to the point of being productive.” Volunteerism for Barkow is an important part of his life. “I think for me, at this time in my life, I want something that is meaningful to me that is going to fill my time, but also not be a time burden for me,” he said. He plans to explore the Texas Wine Trails and other tourist treasures that are touted in the Chamber materials he distributes. “That’s something Jill and I were going to do, but we didn’t get a chance to do,” he said. “We always loved hanging out with other people who enjoyed that.” For more information on Chamber volunteer opportunities, visit mtpleasanttx.com.