SK Chamber director leaving after 18 years

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

After 18 years, Sheila House is leaving her post as the Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce executive director in July. House will be working for a new assisted living and memory care facility in Shell Knob.

"It's a great privilege to help new residents learn about the community," said House. "It is an awesome opportunity to help a new business or new business owners develop their legs and become a viable part of the community, and when tourist season comes and the town fills, the Shell Knob Chamber executive director knows they played a big roll in making that happen."

House, who was born and raised in northern Indiana, spent her teenage years in the Chicago area and then moved to California at the age of 19.

"California is where I met my husband, Lawrence," said House. "After spending a few years in clerical positions in the travel trailer manufacturing industry and in public transportation, I pursued medical training and decided I was best fit for a medical administrative roll."

House ran an ophthalmic medical clinic in California for eight years. After she and Lawrence welcomed home their first child, they decided they were ready for a change.

"We wanted to raise our children in the Midwest because of the good work ethic that exists here," said House, "and I missed having four seasons."

Lawrence's father helped build Table Rock Dam and the Kimberling City and Highway 86 bridges. In 1987, House's in-laws decided to relocated to Shell Knob.

"Lawrence and I vacationed with our then 8-month-old son in Shell Knob in 1988 and fell in love with Table Rock Lake and the green hills," said House. "In 1993, we decided to put our home on the market in an area of California that had 16 percent unemployment at the time, but the house sold quickly and we loaded up the truck and moved to Shell Knob."

After arriving in Shell Knob in October of 1993, House decided she wanted to take some time off from working outside the home.

"But every time I went to the Bridgeway Plaza and saw that chamber of commerce sign and nobody inside I thought, 'Now that is what I want to do,'" said House. "I wanted to contribute to the area I was now calling home, and I couldn't think of a better way than by working with the chamber."

In March of 1994, House saw an advertisement in a local newspaper. The chamber was looking for a new executive director.

"I readied and submitted my resume," said House. "Much to my delight, I got a call and with fire in my belly I managed to secure the position. It was new, and it was mine to make of it what I felt I could.

"In fact, the budget at that time was so low I was told that if I wanted to get a paycheck I had to find a way to make it happen," said House. "I did, and I have never missed a paycheck."

Over the last 18 years, House has enjoyed watching the Shell Knob community grow and change.

"My favorite part is the friendships that have been created," said House. "Shell Knob is full of wonderful people with a wealth of knowledge. I have had so many learning opportunities here, but they pale in comparison to the life-long friendships I've made.

"I cannot imagine calling anywhere else home," added House. "Some of the finest people I have ever known live right here."

House's family and children have also had the opportunity to be a part of every event that has been held in Shell Knob over the last 18 years.

"My children have grown up with me as the chamber director," said House. "They don't know what it's like to have normal Fourth of July because I've always worked on the Fourth and always go out on the water as I oversee the Fire and Thunder fireworks display.

"Their childhood memories consist of attending, working and cleaning up after chamber events," said House. "It's the life of any chamber director as hundreds of volunteer hours go into what people think is an easy job."

House has been supported by numerous volunteers in the Shell Knob community over the years. She said that volunteer spirit is what she loves about her community.

"Shell Knob has a bridge across Table Rock Lake because the local people petitioned the federal government for one," said House. "That's how Shell Knob is. We see a need, and we take care of it.

"We don't have a city to go to for help, and we fall in Stone and Barry counties so if we want something, we had better gather the people and the plan and make it happen," said House. "That's how we have a chamber, a senior center, a library and the list goes on. People jump in to help better this community everyday. It is truly a privilege to be a part of this community."

As she leaves the Shell Knob Chamber, House will be accepting a new challenge. She will begin serving as the administrator for a new state-licensed assisted living and memory care facility in Shell Knob.

"I look forward to serving members of the community in a whole new way," said House. "I am ready for the change and the new learning and serving opportunities that come with it.

"The chamber is ready for change too," said House. "I feel like I raised it from infancy and now it's off to college with a new professor. It will be fun to watch what happens next, and I will stand behind the new director 100 percent.

"Life is exciting," said House. "Climb on board, put your hands in the air and enjoy the ride."

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