Above and Beyond: A new feature recognizing area citizens who go above and beyond in our community
To Char Gafkjen, home is the word that best defines Hinckley, Minnesota.
“One thing I can say about the community is that this area has felt like home since I was a child. I came up here as a child. My grandparents actually lived in Hinckley when I was a little girl. So we would come up and eat at Tobies and Cassidy’s all the time.” Char said, “Hinckley is home. It has always felt like home here.”
As Executive Director for the Hinckley Area Chamber of Commerce, Char has put her heart and soul into making Hinckley a better place. Not only that, but Char goes above and beyond in her job by taking on endless volunteer hours.
Before she was even a member of the Hinckley area community, Char was asked to take on the executive director position. Her response was, “Don’t talk to me until I move here.” Eventually she did just that. A year and a half ago, Char and her family, two cats and four dogs moved to Hinckley.
As soon as she was settled, the Chamber asked her to put in a resume. After writing up her first ever resume, Char became the executive director.
Char came into the job with plenty of prior experience. In Sandstone, she used to coordinate Quarry Days and chaperone the East Central High School marching band trips. Since taking over the position, Char has really come to love her job. She said, “I love this job. I mean from the beginning I said this is the job that was created for my type of personality. You’re supposed to find the job you do for free. This job is the coolest job. I get to go around and meet a bunch of people. I think that’s why I like the community and people so much. I got to get in and get my hands dirty right away, and I had to meet everybody.”
Every year the Chamber puts on 10 major events, including the Easter egg hunt, Santa Days, the Corn & Clover Carnival, Rib Fest, Wine Tasting and the Widows Weekend Craft Show. Char works with different committees within the Chamber to plan each detail of these events.
Char is passionate about her work in the community. She strives to improve the businesses in the area, bring new opportunities to the people of Hinckley and fill the gaps in the community. Currently her desire is to see the Hinckley community grow by helping to create a thriving downtown with a fresh new look. “I would like to see Main Street built into something where we have much more activity downtown.” If this is accomplished, she believes it will benefit all businesses in the community and bring people to town more often and for longer periods of time. Char is actively working towards this goal and has started having conversations on how to make this happen.
When asked about her hobbies and interests outside of work and the community, Char said, “I’m a workaholic, I don’t know.” Eventually she was able to come up with a few: teaching essential oil classes and projects, selling doTerra essential oils and singing. She is also a part of the Hinckley Evangelical Free Church worship team.
Dedicated to working hard, she even included starting a new career in real estate, which she hopes will become a full-time job. She commented that she doesn’t mind working 80 hours a week to accomplish all of this with her soon to be two full-time jobs. Char has fallen in love with the Hinckley community. She said, “The people in this town are so awesome, so welcoming. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people in Hinckley.”