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OH, TO BE CHRISTY BURNS?? Trying to keep up with the new Chamber of Commerce Director

By Scott Jester, 03/30/22 2:39 AM

Have you ever seen a travelling circus? Ever seen one rolling in a Chevy Tahoe?

Meet the newest Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce Director and Super Mom Christy Burns.

She’s the ring leader of her own personal “Family Circus” coined after the famous cartoon, but now Burns is throwing her passion and enthusiasm into the new position downtown at the corner of Main and Second Street.

The reason for the question marks in the title is meant with the utmost respect because not many readers would attempt what she’s accomplished.

That’s not only personally with her family of four girls and one adopted son, but also professionally, rising from the ranks to now be the face and more importantly, the voice for Hope and Hempstead County.

And, I, for one, knows she will succeed.

Bank on it.

Burns joined me for a brief interview held on her second-to-last day on the job with Heather Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in which she flourished and that was hard to leave.

When that call came with the life-changing news of becoming the new Director, what happened to the Office Manager of the Year Christy Burns?

“Well, I’m so tough on myself, I prepare for the worst, so it was going to be ok either way,” she says to start.

“What I never realized was I didn’t apply for that position by myself,” Burns states.

“I had a lot of people that were in my corner telling me ‘You have to do this’. But, to me, there are many other qualified people in this city. This town is full of genius.”

Burns’ tenure at Heather Manor was very special as she was launching into a job located in a new setting after an eight-year run, wearing numerous hats at Rainbow of Challenges here in Hope.

“I started at Heather Manor as Activity Director and really not where I thought I needed to be since finance has always been in my background, but I rolled with it,” Burns recounts.

“While I had one eye on the business office there, I fell in love as the activities director.

“I learned a lot in that position that later helped me when I did get to the Business Office because I didn’t just go in and look at names and numbers on a spreadsheet. I knew the residents first. I absolutely loved my time at Heather Manor.”

Before we dive too deep into the present, we have to visit the past a bit with Burns. She’s a homegrown product of Hope. She is the daughter of David and Sherrie Satterwhite and Gary and Cathy Aaron, and a 1999 graduate of Hope High School.

Upon leaving high school, she attended UCA for a spell, then returned home and graduated from UACCH with a degree. When she returned home after a five-year stay in DeQueen, finding a job wasn’t so easy for Burns at first.

“I applied for 26 jobs in 28 days,” she says.

“I think I got one phone call.”

“The job I actually got, I didn’t really apply for,” she recalls. Actually, it was through personal recommendations and the good people of Rainbow of Challenges (ROC) to open a door that would change her life.

And, she did it with a smile and a genuine laugh for just about anyone she met, stranger or not.

“My first position there was supposed to be temporary in the Finance Department under Teresa Porter to start with, but I thought to myself ‘Y’all are going to keep me,” she exclaimed.

“Although I never worked one-on-one with the clients there, I was around them so much through daily work interactions, that to this day, many of them recognize me and we talk a lot.”

It was during her second year at ROC that Burns was willing to accompany me to a Chamber of Commerce Contact Committee meeting of which I was the Chairperson.

Asking her to come to the lunch was done with a purpose as one could see untapped potential in my co-worker, who represented the next generation in my eyes.

The next generation of leaders in Hope.

“Coming back to Hope, it was time for me to meet new people,” Burns states.

“By joining the Contact Committee, I definitely met new people, plus I enjoyed the socializing, the networking, and it was my first thoughts of ‘What can I do for my community’,” Burns says like it was yesterday.

“That is when I was a captain for ROC Relay for Life, and later joined Civitan, but it all started with that Contact Committee.”

Zoom to the present and the number of those “contacts” she made along the way, including Judy Watson, CEO of ROC and yours truly who knew she was a perfect fit in the Chamber office.

“Judy reached out to me and text-messaged, ‘You know that job is for you, right?’, Burns retells.

“And then YOU said you’d block my number if I didn’t put my name in the hat,” she throws out at me.

So, while waiting to hear back on her director interview, Burns continued to keep the family circus in full motion between dance contests, beauty pageants, soccer matches and cheerleading.

“Right now, we are in the middle of varsity cheer tryouts for the oldest daughter Adison,” Burns starts while getting up a big breath.

“I have three of them that dance including Kenzi, who is a competition group and competition solo dancer.

“Daughter Sawyer could play soccer all-year-long,” Burns says of the next oldest.

“And, Piper, who is only four, loves to dance too. She’s mostly just along for the ride right now,” Burns finally exhales.

See what I mean?

That is quite the full family plate which also includes school events, homework, church and the rest of the responsibilities of raising a Burns family member.

Many also know adopted son, Gage, who is now in his 20’s and has quite a story himself.

“I really love Gage, he is just wonderful,” says Burns, who gained the son when she married her terrific and quiet associate ring leader Kris in 2012.

“I just got through filling out Gage’s application for an occupational therapy program after graduating from SAU with his Bachelor’s Degree. He has an amazing future in front of him.”

That’s quite impressive and inspirational for many readers, seeing that Cage spends most of his days in a wheel-chair, overcoming obstacles while remaining a great example of what it takes to be a good human being.

“I know my plate is going to get fuller when I’m really in this new position. It already is full,” she rejoins.

“I’ve just got to adjust, I have to know what to do to be prepared for my kids and what they need, and somehow it all gets done.

“I get us into all this stuff, so I have to get us through it, right?” Burns concludes with a hearty laugh.

Imagine if she takes this kind of outlook for our city? I’d sort of like it.

“It’s hard to actually think about a ‘vision’ because I want to get in the job and try to follow someone who I look up to in more ways than she could imagine and that is Beckie Moore,” Burns says of her predecessor, who now serves as Executive Director of the Klipsch Heritage Museum Association.

“I try to tell her that all I want to do as Chamber Director is to be as good as she was and she quickly comes back to me and says ‘Christy, be better’”.

Remember readers, Christy Burns doesn’t work for Christy Burns in this position, she works for you and me.

She WELCOMES you, your opinion and most importantly your TIME.

Time to spend in the community volunteering at the numerous events throughout the year.

No groaning about how things are done are allowed until you have invested some of your personal time and something of yourself to our city and its surrounding area.

You can start by joining the Contact Committee or recommend a friendly co-worker from your business.

Look back at the headline and remember the question marks?

They are there on purpose, because while many readers may not want to change places with this new Chamber Director, at the end of the day, you will surely be glad that Christy Burns is on our team.

 

Burns is also the ring leader of a busy set of girls and an adopted son while becoming the smiling face and more importantly, the voice of the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce.

Christy Burns hits the ground in her new position as Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Director.