When Gil and Margaret Zank moved into their new home they joined the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce. They wanted to meet people. In 1981 Gil and Margaret became two of the first ambassadors for the chamber.


"I got involved and I liked it. Being an ambassador helped you network with people," said Gil. "You have to get involved," added Margaret.


At first, the chamber had very little money or members. When an office position was vacated Gil would fill in until a replacement could be found. They sold chamber memberships, had fundraisers, car washes - anything to make some money. Margaret would sell raffle tickets at the mixers, by the hundreds.


Before too long Gil was volunteering so much that he wasn't tending to his own business. Afraid of losing his benefits, he took an early retirement at age 63.


Gil and Margaret have been such an intricate part of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce. Gil started the golf tournament in 1984, in addition, to the annual Christmas party at the Perry Bakker Center.


Gil founded the coffee club which in now called Zank's Coffee Club in 1994/95. At first, every Friday, Gil would invite 50 to 75 people. In the beginning only 10 to 15 people showed up at the old chamber office. Gil would make the coffee and set-up. Margaret would collect business cards from the members. She knew their names and faces. In two years they ran out of space.


"He was the committee and I was the half behind the committee" said Margaret.


They moved to another location before finally settling in at Hesperia Christian, through Steve Hamm's invitation. The school graciously provided the tables and chairs. Soon it was too much for Gil to handle alone. Help came. Today 70 to 100 members attend every Friday morning at 7 a.m.


Zank's Coffee Club is now known as "the best in the High Desert," he said.


"I always tell people, I'm most proud of the coffee club. That's my baby," said Gil.


Gil and Margaret have been with the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce for close to 30 years now. They retired in 2005.


Reflecting on today's Chamber of Commerce Margaret said, "Oh, it's great."


Gil added, "With so many members, it feeds on itself now. Word of mouth."


The Hesperia Chamber of Commerce is located at 16816 Main Street, Suite D. Their phone number is 244-2135.


Sharon Strickland can be reached at 956-7827 or at sharon@hesperiastar.com.