12/12/2012 10:27:00 AM Young Professionals aim to network, serve Quad Cities communities
Several of the core group members of Prescott Area Young Professionals met this past week to plan for upcoming events. From left, they are Kimberly Bierschwale, Kelly Soldwedel, Janelle Hicks, Bree Hinkel, Elizabeth Schroeder, Chelly Herren and Mike Sarti.
Photo courtesy Matt Hinshaw
Heidi Dahms-Foster Special to the Tribune
A group of young business people is rapidly gaining membership and interest in the Quad Cities by providing networking, friendship and community service opportunities for professionals age 21-40.
Started by the Prescott Chamber of Commerce in 2010 as Prescott Young Professionals, the organization has expanded into the greater Quad City area and changed its name to reflect its wider reach. Prescott Area Young Professionals now has 68 members, and has added a host of opportunities for young business people.
When Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Publisher Kelly Soldwedel took the helm as president of PAYP in 2011, the organization also became affiliated with the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce. And just this year, PAYP has joined up with the Chino Valley Chamber to serve the community's young professionals.
"PAYP's mission is to build a strong network of career-driven individuals who share the same passion for business and community service while striving to provide leadership for the next generation of business leaders," Soldwedel said.
The organization also provides support for young people navigating a difficult job market.
"Young professionals face a tough workplace environment here in the Prescott area. We lack jobs and a broad industry base," she said.
The organization's popularity with young business people is in its plethora of opportunities for networking and service.
"People have expressed interest in PAYP because of the mixers we have and the service projects we conduct throughout each year," Soldwedel said.
Programs include quarterly educational luncheons that feature speakers with messages geared to young professionals, business mixers for networking, and "Beers for Careers" social mixers for people to make friends in a lighter, more casual atmosphere.
"It has been crazy to see how many young people just pop out of the woodwork here. It shows me that young professionals are in need of a group like this to mingle and communicate with others in our same age range," Soldwedel said.
She said members will assist in one or two service projects each year to benefit local non-profits. This past year, the group helped Prevent Child Abuse for the second year with the Summer Party in the Pines in Prescott, and this fall, participated in the Meals on Wheels golf tournament. Upcoming plans include assisting with the Boot Drop in Prescott on New Year's Eve.
"We raised thousands of dollars for both Prevent Child Abuse and Meals on Wheels, and we're very proud of being able to do this. We also will continue to have social and business mixers each month," she said.
A core group of PAYP members handles all of the behind the scenes work for the organization's activities, including the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, social, service, education and membership chairs, and a volunteer coordinator. This group meets monthly to discuss upcoming plans and events, Soldwedel said.
Dues for young professionals who are tri-city Chamber members are $25 annually, or $50 for non-Chamber members.
Contact interim membership chair Chelly Herren at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on joining PAYP, or visit the website at www.prescottareayp.org.