YARMOUTH, Maine — After almost two decades of clam festivals, community events, and working with local businesses, Carolyn Schuster is resigning as executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s just time,” Schuster said last week. “After 17 years, we’ve accomplished a lot.”
Schuster will leave the post after this year’s clam festival, which is set for July 17-19. She said she is looking for a new job, but doesn’t know what she wants to do.
“I’m open to a lot of different things,” she said. “I like nonprofits, but I’m open to anything.”
Schuster said she might like to continue working with businesses, one of her favorite aspects of working for the chamber.
“I have gained a huge admiration and respect for small-business owners,” she said. “They have to do it all and it’s a daunting task. That’s one reason I love this job. I hope I’ve made it a little easier by providing them with resources.”
Schuster said the No. 1 goal in her job has always been to support businesses in Yarmouth.
“Everything is seen through the lens of ‘how will this help businesses succeed?’,” she said.
But Schuster said she also keeps residents in mind when working on projects.
“I always try to have a community piece with everything I do,” she said. “It’s all very interwoven.”
Schuster said it’s important for the chamber to have a community aspect because strong communities attract more business, and vice versa. She said Yarmouth’s sense of community is one of her favorite things about the town.
“There’s this sense that everyone’s here together,” she said.
Schuster said her favorite projects have been the Spirit of Excellence Awards program, scholarships for high school students, and the Wellness Fair.
Schuster said there are many other projects she wishes she could have done over the years, but she never had enough time.
“There’s not enough hours in the day to do all the events we want,” she said. “You want to do them all, but you can’t.”
Having a strong team has helped.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve had a great board of directors behind me with great ideas,” she said.
Schuster also said the volunteers the chamber has had have been very helpful. She said she hopes more people in town will get involved, by going to town meetings, participating in events, or joining local organizations.
“Get involved in the community,” she said. “I think everyone has something to give back to the community and make it a better place.”
Schuster said she’ll miss the chamber, but she knows someone great will be found to replace her. She said that person will have to have a few important qualities, including passion, time, relationship-building skills, and the ability to multitask.
Schuster said she will always look back fondly on her time with the chamber.
“I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve had over the years,” she said. “I’ve loved every minute.”