While she may not have imagined living in Newton when visiting her aunts in her childhood, once Pam Stevens officially became a part of the community she quickly grew attached.
Not only is Stevens involved as Executive Director of the Newton Chamber of Commerce, but she also holds active roles on various boards (i.e. Newton Rotary Club, YMCA, etc.) and coalitions throughout the city — activism that recently led to her being named one of three Newton Women of the Year honorees (along with Jennifer Vogts and Marilyn Wilder) for 2018.
Stevens has a history of assisting the business community through the chamber since 2005, but her interest and passion for helping really started to take root through her kids.
Upon moving to Newton, Stevens and her husband would welcome their two children within a couple of years. Staying at home during that time allowed Stevens to join in many community initiatives — helping the medical society, hospital and, eventually, the Newton schools.
"Really, when I got involved once my kids started school and got involved in PTO and all that, it really kind of helped move me further along the line of being a volunteer," Stevens said.
Working with the chamber, Stevens has a very specific role to play in promoting and uplifting the Newton community — a role she loves, and one she said fits well with her personal motivations.
"I think I've always kind of had that service above self mentality since when I was young, so I think coming back to the chamber when I did in 2013 gave me an opportunity to continue," Stevens said. "I realized when I was gone for a couple years how much I missed serving the community. I just feel like I have this need to serve the community. I love Newton."
Highlighting the business community is something Stevens is dedicated to, noting the chamber is focused this year on getting Newton classified as an e-commerce community (which would allow the chamber to offer loans to local businesses), and she is committed to doing whatever is in her power to assist those establishments.
Retail in particular is near and dear to Stevens' heart, stating she would love to grow the market of niche stores in downtown Newton, but she knows strategic collaboration will also help in that — collaboration that she is more than willing to be a part of, as evidenced by her other involvements.
Stevens and staff are working with the Harvey County Economic Development Council to address the business needs of the community, but uplifting the community doesn't stop there for Stevens.
Additionally, Stevens has been involved on the Carriage Factory Art Gallery board, while she has also recently taken an active role in the drug abuse prevention coalition being spearheaded by Mirror Inc.
Pride in the community is another driving factor for Stevens, as she is quick to point at all that Newton has to offer for those outside the community. She is also intent on spreading that pride and getting the community to enhance and accentuate those facets even more, like the weeding crusade she took on this past summer to help beautify downtown Newton.
While Stevens enjoys shining the spotlight on Newton, she is quick to deflect if from herself, though she couldn't help but recognize how much of an honor it was to be named one of the Newton Women of the Year based on her contributions to the community.
"It does mean a lot that people think I'm worthy of that. It really means a lot ... that people really notice some of the things that you do and that you truly do love your community," Stevens said. "I'm just very humbled and will continue to do what I'm doing. That's just who I am. It just seems like there's never enough time in the day to do all the things that you want to do."
All of this year's honorees will be recognized at a brunch on April 14 at the Meridian Center.