LEADING WOMAN: A Passion for Small Business
BY ASHLEY COOPER | PHOTO BY JENNIFFER MERIDA
Author Frederick Buechner once remarked, “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. ”
Although compassion may be deemed an exceptionally rare trait, it’s the first quality I noticed in Dr. Bonnie Chudyk, President of Fairport-Perinton Chamber of Commerce. And it wasn’t exactly inconspicuous either—she was positively brimming over with it.
Compassion is behind Chudyk’s every deed, whether it’s championing the economic success of a local businesses, promoting local events to attract tourism, or working as a naturopath, eager to listen to her patients’ concerns.
Chudyk, a native Rochestarian, originally became involved with the chamber of commerce as a small business owner (she owns and operates Soulitudes Wellness Center located in Fairport). Chudyk has served in the chamber as a board member and secretary before becoming president earlier this year.
“I have a passion for small business owners since I’m one myself,” said Chudyk, “and working in the direction of revitalizing the chamber to be the ‘watchdog’ of local businesses. We’re sort of like the reputation center for the area.”
In a day and age where small businesses are consumed by uncertainty, owners must strive to be especially circumspective in order to maintain economic stability. Chudyk mentioned that most small business owners do not have an educational background in business or related fields. The chamber seeks to ensure that owners are aware of the resources available to them. She explained that the chamber serves as a liaison between small businesses and larger assets, such as the Rochester Business Alliance.
According to Chudyk, “There’s a lot of things for major corporations, but a small to medium-sized business owner is so involved doing 60 to 80 hours a week in their own business that they just don’t have the time to research everything.” She stressed that through the “latest and greatest” trend of networking and establishing personal connections with consumers in the community, the chamber is able to aid in small business owners’ ability to market themselves.
Interestingly, Chudyk finds more similarities between her two professions than differences. She sees the practice of naturopathy as a wellness program, as opposed to a symptom-management program and applies that same school of thought to advocating the surrounding community.
“Help the community stay well and become prosperous and full of vitality, and it will continue to grow and blossom if you keep nurturing it,” she said, “But if there’s not the availability and the opportunities in the area and everyone’s not on the same page working together, you have a disjointed, dysfunctional, disintegrating, diseased community.”
Clearly, Chudyk wears many hats; her time and attention is directed toward a variety of venues. I probed Chudyk for her secret in successful time management. “Teamwork,” she replied, “It’s not about me. It’s surrounding yourself with great people that are responsible and are of a common belief system, with a passion for the area and for in life in general.”