The Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce has a new president and chief executive officer. Ralph Staffins comes to us from the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce to fill the slot created by the retirement of Woody Woodside.

As once a newcomer myself, I would like to offer Ralph some advice/guidance/rules that I have picked up that might help with his transition to, and his future success in, the Golden Isles. I know he will do well but as a fellow newcomer, I want to share some things I have learned.

First, driving around our community is pretty easy. But if you need to ask for directions, you need to pronounce street names correctly. The first is Gloucester, like the town in Massachusetts, not GlowChester. It is Delegal pronounced Del-a-Gal, not De-legal. The l goes with the first e, not the second. It is Demere, pronounced Dem-merie, not Du-meer. I have learned that mispronouncing street names is a sure way to let folks know that you were not born here.

Next, it is not true that the city government and county government don’t talk to one another. They do talk. One might just not like what the other is saying. This is to be expected under self-government. At times however, they act like they love their grandchildren more than they dislike each other’s respective positions. When this happens, the results are usually pretty good.

Third, the people in our community are wonderful. I learned that they want you to be successful. These best wishes occur most often, and are the greatest, when you realize that all the work we do is about “us” — the community. We have this community vision statement that starts with “Working together.”

So, here is my Rule 1 to be successful in the Golden Isles: It is not about you or me. It is about the community. It is about the collective meaning of ‘us’.

If Rule 1 is a bit hard to understand or embrace, Rule 2 comes in handy. Rule 2 reads: “See Rule 1.” Former residents — and the operative word is former — never embraced Rule 1, overlooked Rule 2 and are now happier, if you can believe it, living elsewhere.

Once again, the people of our community are wonderful, and they want you to be successful. No doubt, a few may whisper — “You know, he is replacing Woody.” I know, and I feel certain that your biggest supporter will be Woody. See, Woody lived Rule 1 and never had to refer to Rule 2. So, all is good.

Lastly, there are some residents you just missed. One is Roy Hodnett, founder of the current Hodnett-Cooper Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate. You will learn quickly that anyone who is anyone has a Roy Hodnett story. Half of the stories might be true and half might not be true. I have yet to figure out which half is which half. I know, however, as you hear a few of them you will feel like Roy might walk into your office at any moment and say “Welcome to the Golden Isles.”

Ralph, Roy speaks for all of us. Welcome to the Golden Isles.

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