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Ayden Chamber of CommerceMNI ASSOCIATION

  • Wed, January 17, 2024 9:06 AM | Anonymous

    Dr. Cheryl Meola's Journey in Equine-Assisted Therapy

    In the heart of Ayden, a town that seamlessly blends charm with the graciousness of Southern hospitality, Dr. Cheryl Meola, the visionary behind Mane Source Counseling and Coaching, welcomes us into her world. A journey of passion, dedication, and unexpected turns unfolds.

    Dr. Cheryl Meola's story commences in East Freetown, Massachusetts, a place that laid the foundation for her venture into the realm of equine-assisted therapy. With almost a decade of calling Ayden home, she shares her life with her two boys, Chris and Austin, alongside a lively menagerie comprising two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, two horses, two chameleons, and one leopard gecko.

    Beyond her role in equine therapy, Dr. Meola's life is a tapestry of diverse interests. Finding solace in walks through the woods, nurturing her creative spirit as a writer, and embracing the empowering journey of self-defense, her multifaceted approach is a testament to her dynamic personality.

    A Serendipitous Start: From Riding Lessons to Equine-Assisted Therapy

    Dr. Meola's journey into the field of equine-assisted therapy is nothing short of serendipitous. Formerly immersed in teaching riding lessons and training horses, a chance encounter at a university's open house introduced her to the world of counseling. The realization that equines could be incorporated ignited a spark, giving birth to Mane Source Counseling and Coaching.

    Blossoming Growth: From Solo Venture to a Team of 15

    The growth of Mane Source Counseling and Coaching is truly remarkable. Starting as Dr. Cheryl Meola's solo venture in 2018, it has blossomed into a team of 15 clinicians and 2 interns in 2024. Notably, Mane Source stands as the exclusive provider of equine-assisted therapy in the Ayden/Greenville area, offering a unique blend of counseling and the therapeutic power of horses.

    Guiding Growth: Mission and Values

    The mission of Mane Source is clear: to guide those seeking growth to find their unique path. Dr. Meola emphasizes that growth takes various forms, and her team is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for learning, change, and transformation.

    Diverse Offerings: Beyond Therapy

    Mane Source is far from a one-dimensional venture. Specializing in equine-assisted therapy covered by major insurance companies, the business extends its reach into wellness coaching, group immersions, board retreats, and various other wellness services. The picturesque farm location adds an extra layer to the therapeutic experience.

    Keys to Success: Transparency, Expertise, and Compassion

    Dr. Meola attributes the success of Mane Source to open and transparent 

    leadership, expertise in their field, and unwavering compassion and love for what they do. This trifecta forms the cornerstone of a business that values both professional excellence and heartfelt connection.

    Motivation in Care: Fostering Community and Belonging

    What motivates Dr. Meola most is caring for others, the horses, clients, and staff, and fostering a sense of community and belonging. This deep sense of responsibility toward the well-being of both humans and animals drives the heart of Mane Source.

    An Invitation to Explore: More Than Just Therapy

    Dr. Cheryl Meola extends a warm invitation for everyone to check out Mane Source Counseling and Coaching. It's not just about therapy; it's about a community that thrives on holistic well-being, growth, and the connection between humans and horses. With a team of 15 clinicians, Mane Source operates as a collaborative force. The diverse skills and talents brought by each team member contribute to the holistic approach the business embraces.

    In Ayden, Dr. Cheryl Meola's Mane Source Counseling and Coaching stands as a beacon of innovation, compassion, and a commitment to creating a space where people can find their unique growth path. Whether you seek therapy, wellness coaching, or a transformative retreat, Mane Source is more than willing to welcome you into its vibrant community.


  • Mon, May 15, 2023 3:59 PM | Anonymous

    How the Chamber Can Help Members With "Know, Like, and Trust".

    You’ve probably heard about people wanting to know, like, and trust those they do business with. And maybe you heard how social media is a great way to make that happen. After all, posting to social media brings out your business’ personality.

    But some businesses have difficulty being themselves or simply don’t have the time to dedicate to social media consistently.

    Luckily, social media isn’t the only way to put a more personable face on your business.

    Another way to do that is through chamber membership. Here’s how the chamber helps members like your business become more known, liked, and trusted.

    Getting Your Name Out There: The Chamber Helps People Get to Know You

    If you want people to do business with you, they must think about you. No matter what you sell or what service you provide, you won’t do any business if people don’t think about you when they’re in the market to buy what you offer.

    Chamber membership helps businesses become more recognizable in a variety of ways. These include:

    • Referrals. As the voice of business, visitors and people who are new to the area, often call on the chamber for suggestions. Best of all, these suggestions are considered extremely valuable because they’re not swayed by the business’ marketing.
    • Networking Events. The easiest way to get to know more people is by meeting them in person. We offer a number of networking opportunities. .
    • Introductions. The Ayden Chamber wants to introduce you to the kind of people who will be helpful to your business. Tell them us you want to meet and we will help arrange it.
    • Hosting. The Ayden Chamber holds events that could be hosted or sponsored by your business. This is the perfect way to help people get to know you better by visiting your store or business or sampling what you have to offer.

    Increasing Trust

    Sometimes the community knows what you do but doesn’t know enough about you to trust you. In these cases, being an Ayden Chamber member is invaluable. According to the Schapiro Study, “Chamber membership has consistent and powerful benefits for small business members—if consumers are aware that the small business is involved with its local chamber.”

    In that study, they found that if respondents knew a small business was a member of its local chamber, the business saw a 49% increase in its consumer favorability rating (like), a 73% increase in consumer awareness (know), a 68% increase in its local reputation (trust), and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.

    The chamber can also help people trust you when you choose to associate or sponsor a well-loved community/chamber event. For instance, our Christmas Parade has a large following, and your business as a chamber partner or naming sponsor for that event, the reputation of the event spreads to your business as if you were hosting it yourself. It improves the trust people have for you.

    Become More Likable Through Chamber Membership

    Likability is probably one of the easiest parts of the “know, like, and trust” formula for more sales but it is also the one most businesses feel awkward about. They often go about it through social media and their attempts to become more friendly come off as just being salesy.

    Getting more involved in the social opportunities at the chamber can give you a lot of time to build on the likability factor. People must first know who you are to later be able to like you. Multiple chances to meet in events through the chamber can make networking easier and less awkward because you’re not playing to an unknown crowd. You learn a little bit more about them–and they about you–each time you meet.

    Other ways the chamber helps members to improve the likability factor include:

    • Asking Questions. When you run into fellow chamber members for the second and third times, ask questions about things they mentioned before. People will feel good about you following up and taking an interest.
    • Looking to solve problems and make connections. As you meet and get to know people through the chamber, with each interaction look to how you might help them with something or connect them with someone you know. People tend to like and admire helpers. Look at every interaction as a way to help.

    If you want more business and are struggling with just how to do that, the issue may be that people either don’t know you, trust you, or know you well enough to like you.

    Maybe you’ve been working on those things and trying to humanize your brand on social media. While that’s a great idea, connecting online can be difficult for some people. If you’re one of those people, or if you’ve tried connecting online and it’s not giving you the traction you’d like, consider how partnering with the Ayden Chamber may help you become better known and trusted–and thus liked–in the community.

    As another bonus, the Ayden Chamber can show you how to connect online as well. While social media may not currently be working for you, that doesn’t mean it won’t. We can help in many ways.

    You can talk to the Executive Direct, Bailey Harris, or to any of our board members to understand just how the Ayden Chamber can play a role in helping you get more business. The options might surprise you.

  • Fri, April 28, 2023 10:21 AM | Anonymous

    The Ayden Chamber partnered with the Pitt County Educational Foundation and sponsored  a day of professional development for the Teachers Executive Institute. 

    The Teachers Executive Institute program provides teachers opportunities to learn leadership skills and acquire resources through Pitt County Businesses. 

    The day started with breakfast provided by Andy’s Grill and Recreation and Gwendy’s Goodies. Commissioner Cindy Goff then lead the 18 teachers on a walking tour of downtown Ayden.  The tour included stops at the Ayden Library, Coltrain Hardware, and Happy’s Emporium. Commissioner Goff lead the teachers through the pocket park where she spoke to them about the importance of community and how the businesses in Ayden connect with the community by providing fundraising, community events, and partnering with other local businesses to support each other. 

    Bailey Harris, Ayden Chamber Executive Director, then lead the group to the Ayden Museum where Andrea Norris and her staff of volunteers shared Ayden’s history with them. 

    The day ended with lunch at Bum’s Restaurant with a presentation by Dr. Cheryl Meola with Mane Source Counseling and Coaching and Malaika Albright with Freckles Farm. The teachers learned various breathing techniques they can teach their students or for their own mental health needs.  

    To view a video of the day, visit the Ayden Chamber Facebook page. 

  • Fri, April 28, 2023 9:34 AM | Anonymous

    On Saturday, April 22, 2023, chamber member, M.E.D. Community Thrift Store held its grand opening and ribbon cutting in partnership with the Ayden Chamber. 

    The event started at 10:00 am with around 10 vendors, bounce house, and free hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone! 

    The ribbon cutting was attended by family, friends, and other community members as well as Mayor Tripp, Commissioner Cindy Goff, and the chamber director, Bailey Harris.  

    We are honored that Alma and Larry Richardson chose Ayden to open their businesses. M.E.D Community Thrift Store provides much needed services to Ayden and surrounding communities and is a positive influence in our community. Welcome M.E.D. Community Thrift Store! 

  • Thu, March 09, 2023 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    Friday, February 24, 2023, Coltrain Home and Hardware kicked off its Grand Opening with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.  The ceremony started at 4:30 as friends, family, employees, Ayden Chamber representatives, town commissioners, and the Mayor gathered in front the the hardware store. Kona Ice was set up serving snow cones while Sam Jones BBQ and other vendors were handing out samples.  

    Gwendy Yiznitsky, owner of Gwendy's Goodies and Chair of the Ayden Chamber opened the ceremony on behalf of the Chamber by saying, "Thank you (Sarah and Shane Coltrain) for taking the steps to bring your hardware store here to Ayden and making an investment in our community...We feel like you guys are just another piece of the puzzle of what's an amazing downtown for Ayden." 

    Sarah Coltrain, owner of Coltrain Home and Hardware went on to thank everyone for coming out. "Thank you for welcoming our little hardware store into Ayden. We expect to be here for many many years growing together...", said Sarah.   She and her husband Shane, with their staff standing behind them, and their town, friends, and family watching,  went on the cut the ribbon and officially open Coltrain Home and Hardware. 

    Ayden is very excited to have Coltrain Home and Hardware. The staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly. They have more than tools and hardware supplies. Coltrain's carries local honey, seasonings, giftware and more! So stop by, say hello to their bunnies, Mr. Wilson and Scooter, grab a cup of coffee and browse around. I promise they will make you family!

  • Tue, December 13, 2022 4:41 PM | Anonymous

         What comes to mind when you think of a Christmas Town? Snow? Presents? The smell of freshly baked gingerbread? Well for the Ayden Chamber we think of STOREFRONTS! Who can resist walking by a twinkling display lights paired with images of Santa, snowmen, candy canes, and ornate Christmas Trees?

         A beautiful and fun Christmas decorated storefront can mean a lot to current and potential customers. It is a chance to lure customers into your store while adding Christmas cheer and a festive site to your community.

         This year the Ayden Chamber held a Christmas Storefront Decoration Contest. The community voted during our Christmas Town in Ayden and Parade of Lights event on December 1, 2022 and voted CAROLINA HEAT MARTIAL ARTS as this years best Christmas Decorated Storefront! Congratulations to them and make sure to stop by and see their decorations!

  • Tue, May 24, 2022 3:43 PM | Deleted user

    On May 7, Welcome Waggin’ Animal Hospital celebrated the grand opening of their new facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Ayden Chamber of Commerce.

    While the building may be new, Welcome Waggin’ has been providing veterinarian services for 13 years. It all began with a mobile truck – the Welcome Waggin’.

    “My daddy found it. It was an ambulance that he found in a salvage yard. He retrofitted it and put in cages and a countertop. He fixed it up so we could do surgeries in there,” said Welcome Waggin’ owner and veterinarian Martha Worthington.

    “We did a lot of spay and neuters for rescues.”

    Welcome Waggin’ began by making house calls in Ayden and surrounding areas. As Worthington garnered more patients, the “waggin’” became stationary sitting at her home with clients coming to her.

    While Worthington was still able to meet the needs of all her patients, she desired for a bigger stationary space.

    “I wanted to have separate spaces for dogs and cats, so that we could keep cats calm in the clinic. We have two cat exam rooms and two dog exam rooms. We don’t always manage to keep them separate, but we try to,” Worthington said.

    “We also have an isolation suite now, so that I can isolate sick animals.”

    The new facility also provides a safe space for cats, who are waiting to be adopted.

    “The cat adoption room was very important,” Worthington said.

    “If someone is interested in adopting a cat they can visit our Facebook or they can come in and visit.”

    For the location, Worthington did not have to look far, as Welcome Waggin’ is now siting on her family farm.

    “My family has been here for generations,” Worthington said.

    “I like this area. I like the people here. We work with a lot of rescues, and I like to be close to the rescues. I like that it is rural, so I can serve more people that really need help.”

    The clinic provides services to all animals including cats, dogs, birds, squirrels, chickens, exotic animals and more.  Worthington also provides services to wild animals in need of care and works with rescues to assist. Services include general wellness exams, vaccinations, spay and neuter, x-rays and some emergency services.

    Quality care is guaranteed with Worthington’s passion for helping animals shinning through.

    “I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I never considered anything else. I don’t know why,” Worthington said.

    Her determination to providing quality care at an affordable rate is what inspired Worthington to start Welcome Waggin’ in the first place.

    “I worked at another practice, and I learned a lot there, but I couldn’t make my own decisions. Especially on how to treat animals. There were people who did not have the funding to take care of their animals. I didn’t have the option to give them a discount to help them,” Worthington said.

    “Now that I’m here, I can help in those situations more. I can set my own policies. I just feel more useful when I can make my own policies.”

    Through the years, Worthington has worked with multiple rescue organizations. She desires to continue to provide services and assistance with these organizations.

    “I always loved rescuing cats. I love working with the rescue groups,” Worthington said.

    Worthington desires to provide the best care possible for all her clients and hopes to be able to offer more services in the future.

    “Possibly boarding or grooming or becoming a 24-clinic,” Worthington said, adding she would like to eventually hire another veterinarian.

    “We designed the building with the intention of being able to expand later.”

    She also plans to convert the “waggin” which currently sits stationary into a mobile vaccine station, she said.

    Welcome Waggin’ is located at 949 Old Snow Hill Road. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 252-565-3291. 

    Article Credit: Donna Williams

Carolina Heat MArtial Arts

Carolina H.E.A.T. Martial Arts Academy fights to make a difference

Having opened in 2008, Carolina H.E.A.T Martial Arts Academy has proven taekwondo is more than a fighting style. Taekwondo is a discipline used to shape spirit and lives through the use of body and mind. It is a way of bringing people together, enhancing confidence, and creating community. 

“Taekwondo is not just fighting. It’s not just exercise. It is who you are and who you will become,“ said Caroline H.E.A.T. owner Allison Croom.  

“I see and enjoy seeing the confidence taekwondo builds in my students. At their starting point they may have low grades or may not have that many friends. They may lack the confidence to jump up in front of everyone and make their presence known. Taekwondo builds students up and teaches them these life lessons.”

Croom is a fourth-degree taekwondo black belt and knows first hand the impact and importance taekwondo can play in a child’s life. Croom began taekwondo when she was four years old. Through her studies, she built confidence in herself and developed life skills at an early age. 

“When I was a kid, I was very much bullied. I know how that feels and I also want my kids to know there is a way out of that. There is a right way to correct a bully,” Croom said. 

“Fighting is not the answer, but through taekwondo they will learn how to have confidence, stand up for themselves and use their words to tell that person no. You learn that you are special and important. Plus you have the skills and the know-how to protect yourself if you need to.”

Having watched Croom and her younger brother grow and develop through taekwondo, Croom’s parents opened a taekwondo studio under the name Carolina H.E.A.T. Martial Arts Academy in Kinston. 

“As I got older, I started to develop the business side of the dojang. I began to flourish as a business owner,” Croom said. 

This led to Croom opening up her first dojang or taekwondo training academy in Grifton when she was only a senior in high school.

She began with only eight students and would pick the students up after her classes each day, take them to the dojang and instruct them on the practices of taekwondo. 

Croom then had the opportunity to expand from her small dojang into a larger facility in Ayden. The building now houses The Doghouse Tavern, but for several years it served as a safe place for children to learn and develop. 

The business and students thrived, leading way to an even bigger facility. WIthin seven years of relocating to Ayden, Carolina H.E.A.T. moved from Second St. to its location at 249 West 3rd St.

As in the beginning, Carolina H.E.A.T. continues to offer an affordable after school program, weekly classes and a summer camp program for students eager to learn the practice of taekwondo. 

Pick-up from Ayden Elementary, Ayden Middle and Grifton Elementary schools is available and offered by Carolina H.E.A.T. 

Once students arrive at the dojang, they receive homework assistance and tutoring which also help enhance the student’s grades. At four o’clock, and after a snack break, students then begin to train in taekwondo until dismissal at 6 p.m. 

Students also have a chance to participate in a variety of taekwondo tournaments, held from Virginia to South Carolina. This includes the state’s Body Armor State Games in Raleigh, where Carolina H.E.A.T. 's demo team has earned the rank of state champions for the past three years, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic which canceled the tournament for two years.

“We just started our demo team back up. It’s a smaller group of kids that participate in it. They travel doing different performances like breaking boards and a choreographed weapons routine,” Croom said. 

The dojang’s motto “Fighting to Make  A Difference,” is more than nice words for the students. They are words students strive to live for. Before each tournament, students work hard to raise money for fees and costs. All extra funds are then donated to a cause or non-profit chosen by the students. 

“The kids research where they want to donate to. The kids really love picking the organization and want to make a difference.  This passion helps them fight harder to try and raise that money,” Croom said. 

In the past, the students have garnered $600 for the ENC Pet Food Pantry. 

Carolina H.E.A.T. 's summer program also helps expand both mind and body with students partaking in crafts, a multitude of activities and taekwondo training. Students also have the opportunity to participate in weekly field trip activities. In the past, Carolina H.E.A.T.  has taken students to the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Asheboro Zoo, WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach and has even participated in a week-long trip to Grandfather Mountains for the older students.

Through their offered programs, Croom has watched students grow, prosper in school and in life, and has watched friendships develop. For her and her students, Carolina H.E.A.T. is more than a training facility or after school option. It’s a second home filled with caring family members. 

“You know that everyone here is your best friend and you have people to talk to and have role models that can help build you up. “I hope that every kid knows that this is their family and that no matter what they are going through they have someone they can talk to and we can work through it together. I hope I can teach them the skills to grow in life and as they go through life and struggles happen they can reflect back on the things I taught them,” Croom said. 

“I hope they can hear me telling them that they can do it and to keep going. I hope they know how proud I am of them that they never quit. I push them very hard here to be a good athlete, good person and good kid. I want them to know that if they did that here, they can do it even when they get older and become an adult.” 

Its training model helps facilitate this familial feeling with students of all levels and ages training together as one. 

“ We put them together on purpose so they can be with each other so they can be with each other and see each other. When you break them up, sometimes they never even know who is in their dojang with them,” Croom said. 

“Here we are very much a tight, close-knit family.”

“The older kids are able to learn how to be leaders and mentors to the younger and beginner kids. Those younger and beginner kids may be nervous coming in. They have the older kids right there and they can watch and learn from them.”

Carolina H.E.A.T. is open Monday through Friday with after school available. Registration for its summer program, weekly taekwondo classes and after school program is available. For more information find Carolina H.E.A.T. on Facebook or call 252-746-0775. 

Carolina H.E.A.T. Martial Arts Academy    

Article and Photo Credit: Donna Williams

Ayden Chamber of CommerceALUMNI ASSOCIATION

Address: 528 E. Third Street, Ayden NC 28513

252-746-2266 ,

Ayden Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

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