Meet Joy Stump, the new director of the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce. She may have just moved here in March, but for Joy Farmville has always felt like home.
A New Jersey native, from Hunterdon county in the western portion of the state, Joy’s first acquaintance with Farmville began when her daughter started attending Longwood University in 2007. She was immediately struck by the similarities between Farmville and Hunterdon, down to the small but picturesque downtown area and the rich tapestry of local history.
“It already felt like home,” Joy says, “well before we moved here.”
Joy fell in love with Virginia when she was attending Roanoke College. And the state wasn’t the only thing she fell in love with. She also met and married husband Andy who currently works for an insurance company in Glen Allen. After graduating, the couple stayed in Roanoke briefly before returning to spend the past 28 years in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Virginia, much like Ray Charles’ Georgia, stayed on their minds.
“The plan was always to come back,” says Joy. With Andy’s family living in the Roanoke area and a daughter attending Longwood University, they had already established traditions centering around Farmville, including Thanksgiving at Charley’s Waterfront Cafe.
But it’s not just the family traditions and familiarity that seem a perfect fit between Joy and the community. Her new position with the Chamber is also a natural transition career-wise.
While in Hunterdon, Joy worked as the volunteer coordinator for Hunterdon Hospice, overseeing over 160 volunteers and wearing numerous other hats throughout her time there.
“Basically anything the medical staff wasn’t able to do, I did,” she says with a laugh. From interviews to press releases to speaking at senior centers and other community and education initiatives, Joy did it all. And did it well. In 2011, she was awarded the title of “New Jersey Volunteer Coordinator of The Year”
But despite the recognition of her work, Joy insists the most powerful part of her job was working with the volunteers themselves.
“The volunteers really changed my life,” she says, “working with people who were so giving changed who I was as a person”
It is this people-focused enthusiasm and optimism that has Joy excited to start her new chapter with the Chamber. Grateful for the legacy left her by previous director Lisa Tharpe, Joy hopes to continue the upward trajectory.
“The Chamber is really thriving now,” says Joy, “I’m hoping to look at what we have and see what we can enhance. I don’t want to change anything that’s working.”
She hopes to implement more small-business centric programs and add an educational component, while strengthening the web presence of the Chamber. And she’s not stopping with those ideas. Joy is eager to hear from members and the community about what the chamber can do to better serve the area.
“I want people to contact me and tell me what they think is working well and what they’d like to change. If I think it’s a good idea, I will do everything in my power to make it work,” Joy says. From a woman with such a natural gift for coordinating and working with people, this is no small promise.
Ultimately, Joy is just eager to start returning some of the love she has experienced from the Farmville community.
“I love this community that has welcomed me so warmly,” she says. “This job gives me an wonderful opportunity to give back to this community and help support it.”
Story submitted by Ilsa Loeser