From the moment Jodie West moved her optometrist practice, Texas Family Eyecare to Leander in 2008, she knew she wanted to get involved with the humble community.
So later that year, West joined the Chamber of Commerce as a member of the board and now serves as an ambassador. This past year, her dedication earned her the title of Ambassador of the Year.
Besides being a member of the chamber, West is also involved with several other organizations that serve the area, including Hill Country Community Ministries, where she serves on the board.
By building connections and being engaged in the community, West grew her business and, as a result, saw that together local businesses could help improve the quality of life for all residents. As an ambassador, West welcomes new businesses making them aware of the positive aspects of being involved with the Chamber of Commerce and giving back to the community.
Hill Country News spoke more in-depth with West about her business and the work she does in the community:
HCN: How did you get started in optometry?
WEST: I decided very young that I wanted to be an optometrist because I couldn’t see and I wanted to know why. So, I volunteered in my own optometrist's office when I was in high school and college, which led to a job opportunity in his office and then that just solidified that that was what I wanted to do. It’s a good job because it’s easier to balance family and work in my current position. I haven’t always owned my own business. I did work for other doctors, but I realized very quickly how I want to do things and I like to do them the correct way. So it was better that I was my own boss so I could dictate how things were done and to ensure we were giving the highest quality of care and the best products out there.
HCN: What led you to getting involved with the Leander Chamber of Commerce?
WEST: When we opened the office in Leander in 2008, I knew I wanted to be involved. I actually saw another chamber member who knew everyone and was doing a lot of things. I wanted to be more like her. So, I went and told the chamber president at the time that I wanted to get involved and they asked me to be on the board. I interviewed, and was accepted. So that’s how it started. I got to know more about the community, about the city, what schools were here, what developments were coming and that helped me grow my business because we got to know where we should be advertising and those types of things and what types of families were moving in so we could be prepared for offering that healthcare.
HCN: What charities are you involved in?
WEST: I am involved with Hill Country Community Ministries, the local food bank and clothes pantry here for northern Williamson County. This is my fourth year on the board and they have grown tremendously. One of my favorite things that they do every year is a shoe program in the fall for underprivileged children. They get donations of new shoes, and children within the community can come in so they get free pairs of new shoes to go back to school with.
This past year they collected over 800 pairs of shoes and distributed 600 of those at the event. Then, throughout the year the school counselors will call when they have a family in need and they are able to come and get a new pair of shoes throughout the year as we have them available. I also volunteer in the school district. I’ve been a part of the literacy partnership, which is adults who go in and help the younger kids read and get a better fluency for reading. The statistics say that if we can get our kids to be more fluent in reading by the third grade they’re more successful in school, so they typically do this with first and second graders. So, I’ve done that in some of the different schools and that’s been a lot of fun just to get to read with the kids and see their excitement.