About Us
About Us
The Ocean Community One Fund is an initiative of the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, registered in Rhode Island.

COVID-19 Committee

This special committee has been established in response to the Covid-19 health and economic crisis. It consists of the 7 members of the OCCF Board as well as 4 others from the community.

Board of Directors

Name Role Affiliation Residence
Jennifer Brinton Chairman Grey Sail Brewing of RI Westerly
Maria Allen Vice Chairman    Bella Vita Salon Westerly
Michael Benevides    Treasurer Benevides & Turano CPAs Westerly
Beth D'Amato Secretary Dime Bank Westerly
Beth Frenette Past Chairman Washington Trust Company Stonington
Lisa Konicki President OCCC & OCC Foundation Stonington
Bruce Morrow 2nd Vice Chairman    Valenti Family Auto Dealerships    Stonington

Committee Members

Name Role Affiliation Residence
John Bellone    Member    "Bring Back the Beach" Grant Recipient    Westerly
Suzanne Giorno    Member    Westerly Town Council    Westerly
Brian McCuin Member Westerly Town Council Westerly
Diana Serra Member Bring Back the Beach Committee 2012    Westerly

A Message from our President

Dear Friends,

The Covid-19 health epidemic has led to unprecedented government policies and widespread public concern. This is proving to have extreme economic fallout for our community. As the trajectory of the virus continues, businesses are faced not only with a severely diminished customer base that is bunkering down, but equally daunting issues such as the lack of available employees who are now forced home to care for school aged children, employees who are unwilling to work in a place that has interaction with the public, and for some businesses, a disruption in supplier chain and potential financial obligations from the expanded Family Medical Leave Act. All businesses, but especially small businesses, are being severely, negatively affected by the rapid speed of this sharply declining situation.

The Hospitality Industry was the first, and arguably, the hardest hit, but many other industries are experiencing sharp declines in sales, are being forced closed, and/or are being forced to lay off staff who live in our community. We have been able to verify that over 575 hundred people, probably much more, have been laid off in this industry alone, just in Westerly. Stonington has similar staggering figures. Many others in retail, service, and amusements, are hurting - such as the Mystic Aquarium, Alley Katz Bowling Center, and others in the region.

Simultaneously, this grim situation has greatly amplified the need for services of our terrific social services. They need your support.

The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce needs help as well. Their role becomes more vital than ever in times like these as businesses need help in ways they never anticipated. The OCCC has shifted efforts from keeping the economy GROWING to keeping the economy GOING. The OCCC has compiled a comprehensive resource gallery for businesses in the two state region we serve. The clearinghouse has information on SBA loans and is updated daily. https://www.oceanchamber.org/covid-19-resources

On 3-16-20 The OCCC launched a campaign to support member hospitality businesses, the first wave of businesses forced to close doors on regular service and a huge part of our local economy. They kicked it off with "Take Out Tuesday" and are promoting on WBLQ and social media daily. They created a comprehensive table of businesses that are offering take-out/curb-side and delivery foods. They've added breweries that can sell take out and package stores that can deliver or mail beer and wine. You can download this comprehensive table here. The OCCC is infusing small amounts of money that yield the greatest traction in social media. They are encouraging people to photograph their delicious take-out/delivery/curb-side meals, tag the restaurant, deli, chocolate factory, brewery or vineyard take out and share with their friends on social media. They are awarding up to five $10 Chamber gift certificates each day to say "thank you" to the public for supporting small businesses during these challenging times. The OCCC is promoting other delivery businesses such as florists and fruit baskets. For retailers, they crafted an "Ideas list", giving them tangible tools to stay connected to their customer base, expand it and be creative in generating sales. The Chamber staff is available to Face-Time business support services, provide social media assistance and for general brain storming. They are encouraging creativity with business models.

The OCCC is producing weekly Facebook Live "Shop Local" programs that support retailers by featuring them in 45-minute live segments. This creative new programming format allows for a personal connection with the small business owners and gives insight into each shop's history and product offerings. Most importantly, the shows generate significant and critical sales by allowing viewers to shop each store from home, similar to a QVC show. The One Fund is helping support this important initiative using some of the undesignated donations to the general fund. The Chamber of Commerce gift certificates contributed as incentives help buyers "pay it forward", support other small businesses in the community, and keep our local economy moving.

Working in tandem, the OCCC and the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation will do everything possible to infuse enthusiasm in the community with equal doses of tangible business support services. We thank you for anything you do to assist us along the way.

Lisa Konicki

Ocean Community Chamber Foundation

Lisa at the town hall

Mission Statement: The Ocean Community Chamber Foundation, Inc. exists for charitable and educational purposes, and specifically for the purpose of assisting in the economic development and tourism promotion of the community and the revitalization of historic downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck and the greater region that we serve. Our efforts and contributions have included Stonington CT, and Richmond, Hopkinton, Charlestown, and Westerly, RI.

Execution of Our Mission: Ocean Community Chamber Foundation, Inc. is active with historic, civic, arts/cultural, public safety and economic development projects, and any other endeavors as may be approved from time to time by the Board of Directors. The Foundation is designed to develop and sponsor community improvement projects, educational programs regarding the history, strengths, weaknesses, problems, and potential and current issues pertaining to the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck region, and particularly the historic downtown. We collaborate with other organizations, public and private, to produce and promote projects and special events that enhance tourism and contribute to the economic vitality of the community.

Samples of Past Disaster Response Efforts by the OCCF

2010 Jump Start Small Business Recovery Program - The OCCF launched an extensive campaign to aid businesses that were devastated by the Flood of 2010. In 4 weeks, over $64,000 was raised through fundraising. Funds from the OCCF, the Town of Westerly, Town of Stonington, private businesses, and residents were contributed. OCCF Board members acted as celebrity bartenders donating their tips, held yard sales, and conducted other activities to raise funds. 100% of all proceeds were donated as grants, not loans, to the flood victim businesses.

2012 "Bring Back the Beach" Campaign - Launched as part of the Jump Start Small Business Recovery Program. In 6 months, we raised $420,000 and gave 100% of it to the businesses in Misquamicut as recovery grants, not loans. Many credit these funds for keeping them afloat and being able to rebuild in time for Memorial Day 2013. A member of the Westerly Town Council and a member of SCORE served on the Administration Oversight Team to review grant applications and make determination of grant awards. This significant and effective community response was featured as an "Exemplary Model" at the New England Area Chamber of Commerce Executives annual conference, alongside with a Chamber from NYC that dealt with the aftermath of 9/11.