BRISTOL -- Retiring from the Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce is bittersweet for Linda DiMatteo after 21 years, three different locations, four presidents and colleagues that became her family.
DiMatteo, a lifelong Bristol resident that raised her two kids here, is the executive assistant to the chamber president and vice president of events.
She started working with the chamber in 1996 as an employment and training representative partnered with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and worked on the first Welfare to Work program in the state.
“From there, John Leone brought me in and decided to do the membership directory in house,” DiMatteo said. Now, DiMatteo is the longest standing chamber employee and since she began, the staff has “grown together” and become family.
“We’re coworkers, but we’re friends,” said Cindy Bombard, president and CEO of the chamber who has worked with DiMatteo for 14 years. “Linda retiring from the chamber leaves a big hole to fill; nobody will fill her shoes. There will be a definite void; not only for our staff, but for our members.”
“We’ve had great years together,” Bombard continued. “The way I look at our chamber, we are very much a family. We get to know each other’s personal lives, so we seriously have gone through everything together; deaths, marriages, grandchildren and change - the chamber world changed - and Linda just rolled with the flow.”
DiMatteo’s goal was to always make sure no matter what they did as far as changes, that it was a smooth transition - that’s what she strived for.
“Bristol is a very close-knit community and a lot of people don’t realize the amount of individuals that give their heart and soul to the city,” Bombard said. One of those “giving people,” Bombard noted, is DiMatteo, who has done a lot for the community in her personal time.
“Linda walks around Bristol and they look at her as part of the chamber, and she is definitely devoted as a chamber ambassador - the best chamber ambassador that one could ask for. Even though she was an employee, she is also a devoted citizen of Bristol - that’s how I look at Linda, she’s a giver,” Bombard said.
DiMatteo is a staple in the Bristol community, which is why many might have thought that because she helped organize an event or played a part in it, that is was chamber-related, though Bombard said, “A lot of that was Linda in her personal time. She has done a lot for the City of Bristol.”
DiMatteo has been a part of an array of boards and volunteer groups, as well as helped organize fundraisers in the community. She has also been previously awarded the Jerry Murphy Mentor of the Year award, the Fred Soliani Award and the Bristol PLUS award from the Bristol Boys & Girls Club.
Though, DiMatteo added, “I thank the chamber, because I don’t know that I would have been able to do these things without the chamber.”
Upon retirement, DiMatteo plans to spend time with her family and said, “It’s about family now, but I’m going to miss a lot of people.”
DiMatteo’s last day is Dec. 28; however her retirement will be announced and celebrated at the chamber’s holiday party on Dec. 7.
“We are asking people to come and give her well-wished. It’s a great way, while we are all together, for our members to wish her well in her new venture,” Bombard said.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-973-5088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Lorenzo Burgio on Twitter @burgioBP.