Julie Thompson is the 2013 winner of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s Service Award.
“I was totally honored. I was really surprised,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”
Thompson, a native of Waupaca, is a residential mortgage lender at Community First Credit Union, in Waupaca.
She has worked in finance since 1979, and this June will mark her four-year anniversary at the credit union.
Thompson first became involved in the Chamber in 1986.
“My parents always loved the Chamber,” she said of her decision to become active in the organization.
Her parents, the late Fred and Marion Mannel, supported the Chamber and by their own examples, taught Thompson the importance of community service.
“My parents got me involved in volunteering,” Thompson said. “Dad was on city council, school board. They were active in church, Scouting.”
They also always told her to “give more than you take.”
Thompson has followed their example.
She is a past chairman of the Chamber board. She served on the board of directors from 1987 to 1992 and then again from 2011 to 2013.
Thompson’s involvement in the Chamber also includes being an Ambassador, chairing the organization’s golf outing and its tourism board and helping with the Chain O’ Lakes Blues Festival and Appleton Christmas Parade.
She worked at some of the very first Fall O’ Ramas.
“We would get up early to cook soup. I learned how to coordinate things, what it takes,” Thompson said. “I learned a lot in my early years from the veteran volunteers. They were dear friends. I think of the Chamber and the boards as family.”
Thompson was honored for her service during the Chamber’s annual awards program, held Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Waupaca Ale House.
Chamber President Terri Schulz said Thompson is well deserving of the Service Award.
“She has been a strong advocate of the Chamber for many years,” Schulz said. “Whether Julie is serving on the board, or a committee or just out in the community, she always has something positive to say about the Chamber and her community and is always willing to help. She is what makes the Chamber the great organization it is.”
Thompson sees being involved in the organization as a way to learn about new businesses coming into Waupaca and about what is happening in the business world here and beyond.
In addition to her involvement in the Chamber, she is on the Waupaca Fine Arts Festival Board of Directors, Tomorrow’s Children Board of Directors and the Waupaca High School Scholarship Board.
She has served on each of those boards for about 20 years.
Thompson also served on the local American Red Cross Board of Directors for two years and has been an active member of Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church. There she has been a Sunday School teacher, member of the council, as well as chair of it, and a member of the choir.
She also sings in the Waupaca Community Choir and has done so for about 30 years.
From 1989 to 1990, Thompson and her husband, Ted, hosted an exchange student from Norway. “It was the best experience we ever had,” she said.
Thompson credits Community First Credit Union for promoting community service and volunteering to its employees.
“They’ve made it very easy in the last four years to get involved,” she said.
Thompson encourages those not involved in the Chamber or another organization to consider doing so.
“Find something you’re interested in and go for it,” she said. “It’s the only way you learn about the community and what it does. I have learned so much from Chamber events. You do have to give of your time to grow in any type of business.”
Thompson believes giving back is part of her Christian background.
“Make it an effort to get outside of your comfort zone and get on committees, or volunteer for all the wonderful things the Chamber offers,” she said. “I just love Waupaca. It was a great community to grow up in and participate in.”