Chamber volunteer takes on new adventure

October 3, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Jean Kearns, who’s served as a faithful ambassador and volunteer to the community for the past 50 years, is off to a new adventure in Texas.

Her next stop, in early October, will be closer to her daughter and grandchildren. The move takes her to Boerne, Texas. Pronounced “Bernie,” it’s in the San Antonio area.

“We’ve been thinking about trying something different,” Kearns said. “The last time we visited our daughter, we took a look around. So we decided to take the adventure.”

When Kearns and husband Jack moved to the area in 1968, they took over the Swank Tire Store on 27th Street. It didn’t take long for them to get involved in the community.

An orthopedic medical recommendation for their son brought them to the local YMCA.

“While we were down there in about 1970, we started talking about starting a swim team,” she said. “The YMCA swim team was called the Torpedoes. Eventually, it became the high school swim team.”

From there, Kearns and her husband got involved in a little of everything, from Boy Scout leaders to the Lions Club.

By about 1980, Kearns had made contact with the Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Downtown Scottsbluff Association.

Chamber Ambassadors is another group where Kearns has been active. From First Dollar certificates, ribbon cutting openings and years of service honors, ambassadors are out in the community to recognize the businesses that help keep the local economy rolling along.

“I like to be involved in volunteering for the community’s sake,” Kearns said. “Anyone who’s on a board or with the chamber needs to be active. That’s where you meet new people and other businesses. It makes the community grow.”

She said if younger people would join the chamber, they’d find out a lot about the community and the large number of businesses that are here.

In addition to Chamber Ambassadors, Kearns has been involved in Leadership Scotts Bluff, was a board member for the Chamber, where she served as chair in 2011, and has also volunteered with the United Way of Western Nebraska.

And for about 26 years, she’s been both a consultant and a director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Plus, her daughter was No. 1 in the nation for the company two years ago.

After observing a changing community for the past 50 years, Kearns is optimistic about our future.

“I see kids leaving the area after high school, but many of them are coming back to start businesses and raise families. They miss their hometown because it’s a lot harder living in a big city,” she said.

Once settled in Texas, Kearns and Jack are looking at semi-retirement and spending time with the kids and grandkids. But Kearns said it won’t be long before she’s volunteering again because she can’t sit still on the back porch.

The Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Ambassadors will host a reception for Kearns on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5-7 p.m. in the Bluffs Business Center. Please RSVP to office@scottsbluffgering.net.

Kearns said the next day, the moving truck is being loaded.

“Jean has been such a great asset to the community,” said Karen Anderson, executive director of the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce. “It’s hard to see her go because she’s made such a big difference by giving to so many different organizations. And through her volunteerism we became good friends. She’s the true spirit of what a volunteer is.”

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