Like clockwork, Jean Ferrara arrives at the Morgan Hill Chamber
of Commerce office every Wednesday to volunteer. She
’s been a regular at the chamber since 1993.
Like clockwork, Jean Ferrara arrives at the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce office every Wednesday to volunteer. She’s been a regular at the chamber since 1993.

From the Taste of Morgan Hill to the Mushroom Mardi Gras, Ferrara has helped out whenever she could, even if she didn’t know anything about job she volunteered for.

As a reward for her generosity, Ferrara was named the chamber volunteer of the year which will be officially honored Saturday night at the Showcase dinner.

When flowers arrived at her door one evening, Ferrara thought they were for her following operation.

But the card said she won the award, which Ferrara thought was a joke.

“I was flabbergasted, I thought someone sent them for me staying over night in the hospital,” Ferrara said. “I thought they’re fooling with me, they’re making a joke.”

The next day she went to the office and was met with big smiles. She really did win the award.

Despite learning the award was for real, Ferrara still couldn’t believes she won.

“I thought why me?” Ferrara said. “I don’t feel like I did that much.”

Chris Guisiana, who was the former director of membership and programs at the Chamber and worked with Ferrara for five years, said Ferrara is full of life and always brings a laugh to the office.

“She has a great since of humor and is a great story teller,” said Guisiana, who is now the CEO of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce.

Ferrara doesn’t stop at bringing a smile and a laugh to the chamber, she also tries to help where ever she can, even if she learning the job for the first time.

In her first Taste of Morgan Hill, she worked the wine tent. There was one problem: She didn’t know anything about wine.

One gentleman approached her and, as she described, tried to show off his wine knowledge to his lady friend.

“He asked me if this particular wine was dry,” Ferrara remembered. “Of course, I had no idea what dry meant. So I raced and tried to find out. Then I went back to the man and told him it was dry. I wasn’t sure if it was or not. He took a sip and said, this is a dry wine.”

Ferrara still has the staff shirt she wore that day and each time she wears it, she is reminded of that person.

Ferrara still helps in the various special events in Morgan Hill. She said there isn’t one job she takes, just where ever she is needed she helps.

Ferrara moved to California in November of 1979 from Illinois when her daughter Gayle Vineyard, who now lives in Gilroy, learned she was going to have a baby.

“I didn’t want the child to grow up without grandparents, so my husband and I moved here,” Ferrara said.

So the couple packed up a moving van and took off. Upon arriving in California, they “fell in love with” the area.

Ferrara went to work for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and in 1983, she and her husband moved to Morgan Hill from San Jose.

“I liked the name Morgan Hill and I said I would like to live there,” Ferrara said.

She still returns to Illinois to visit family, including her son Charles J. Ferrara (named after his late father).

She officially started work in 1992, but she had to stop to care for her late husband, Charles J. Ferrara, who died that year at the age of 63.

Ferrara said she became interested in the chamber after she saw an ad for volunteers.

“The things they told me were interesting,” Ferrara recalled. “I am a people person, so I thought it would be perfect.”

As with any place, employees come and go, and the chamber is no exception.

“Each year I came back, there were different people,” Ferrara remembered. “People come, and people go, but I have liked them all. The chamber is growing up and getting bigger.”

When Ferrara is not at the chamber, she spends her time reading mysteries. She said every three weeks she is back at the Morgan Hill library checking out more books.

The Showcase Awards dinner will be held Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Community Center, 17000 Monterey Road at East Dunne Avenue. The event is soldout.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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