Jonathan Varner

Jonathan Varner

I cannot help but marvel at how different my life is today compared to three months ago. As I attempt to write this article, I’m tucked away in my bedroom while my son is on a Zoom meeting with his first-grade class at Englewood Elementary in my home office.

Obviously, many things have changed and will be done differently from now on. For instance, my 74-year-old grandmother excitedly told us how she successfully ordered groceries from Instacart and they arrived with relatively few issues. For her, it was a ridiculous proposition to ever have groceries delivered to her house. After all, she had been retrieving her groceries the old-fashioned way her entire life. But this virus disrupted her life enough for her to try to do things a little differently.

Monday, I had the opportunity to go out and present health benefits to a business for the first time in two months. I introduced myself to the CEO, and he instinctively extended his hand to me. Reluctantly, I began to reach for it, before he realized his error and drew his hand back. As a society, are handshakes gone forever? If so, what standard greeting will become the new norm?

Last Thursday, Jonathan, my oldest son, turned 7. My wife and I were apprehensive at the thought of not being able to celebrate his birthday in the traditional fashion, so we followed the lead of Facebook friends and peers and had a “drive-thru birthday party.” I was apprehensive at first, worrying my son would be left unfulfilled because it was not how we “normally celebrated” birthdays. I was wrong! It was an amazing experience. It was great to see people again, even if it was through their passenger windows and only for a few minutes. The most impactful part was seeing how many people were willing to take a few minutes to make sure a 7-year old felt special for his birthday. It was heartwarming and powerful and extremely memorable for my family. It is also typical — for Englewood at least, a community bent on being friendly and involved with one another.

As our community, state and country prepare to open back up, we at the Englewood Chamber are excited. Our intention is to serve as a resource for you through this strange time in our history and be there as the community figures out the extent of all those changes. We do that through ReliefHotSpot.com, EnglewoodTakeOut.com and our new youth explorer’s club, “EYE on Nature.”

Our lobby opened Monday, and we have mostly resumed operations. We are still waiting for developments from the state before we start hosting gatherings. We hope to have our monthly lunches and after-hours events soon enough.

In the meantime, we have had some successful lunch meet-ups utilizing social media and local restaurants’ take-out. You can join us this Thursday at Prime Time Steak & Spirits for our next Biz@Noon drive thru-style lunch. Registration is required.

We have hosted monthly “virtual” Lunch & Learns, to educate members on doing business online and changes in state regulation surroundings and other topics. You can expect to see more of this type of information from us. It is needed and the need is a by-product of how business is changing in response to this pandemic. Register now for our next webinar on May 28.

There is no doubt that many business practices will be inherently different than they have been in the past. We will continue to serve as a resource to our members, and do our best to keep you up to date in all of the happenings going on in Englewood, the regulations coming from the state and our interpretation of changes in business happenings around the nation. We are here to help you Get Back to Business!

As always, we are here for you!

Jonathan Varner of Wampler Varner Insurance Group is president of the Englewood Florida Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at Jonathan@WamplerIns.com.

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