FRANCONIA — Chatter filled the room as mascots from some of the businesses sauntered among the attendees at this year's Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

"We're having a fantastic day as usual," Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steven Hunsberger said about an hour into the Oct. 1 expo at Indian Valley Country Club.

"There's really a lot of nice energy in this room," he said. 

Before opening the doors for the expo, about 120 people were on hand for a young entrepreneur's forum, followed by a buffet lunch, he said. 

"It was a conversation among four entrepreneurs that the audience participated in," Hunsberger said. That was followed by a question and answer period, he said.

The topic was VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) and how to deal with it, he said.

This year's expo had 50 exhibiting local businesses and organizations, he said. 

"This continues to be a well-attended expo. There are lots of good connections that happen, lots of good networking," Hunsberger said.

This was the first time Keystone Opportunity Center had an exhibit at the expo, Alan Raisman, Keystone's manager of advancement, said. Someone donated the space to the organization, he said. 

"We've come before as a participant, but we're really excited to be here as an exhibitor," he said. 

"We're seeing familiar faces," Raisman said. "We're meeting new friends." 

The expo is another way for Keystone to reach out to the community, he said. 

"Our goal is to inform everybody what Keystone Opportunity Center does in the community and how we can expand our outreach," he said.

One of the things Keystone was talking about at the expo was Sleepout 2019, which will be Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25 and 26 at Zion Mennonite Church in Souderton, he said.

"This unique event is a compassion-building program where youth learn the truth about poverty and privilege. It is a great platform for groups to learn about the needs of our neighbors. Groups will rotate through a number of activities that include a forum where local community members talk about homelessness, hunger and poverty, how it can happen, its impact, and what can be done to help. They participate in activities that directly help those in need and frequently find a new desire to participate in projects long after the event is over.

"Groups arrive Friday night, have some fun constructing the cardboard shelters (or their own tents) in which they will sleep, then share a 'Soup Kitchen' type meal, play some high-energy games, and hear from people who will share stories that make homelessness and hunger real and personal. At 'lights out,' the groups return to their tents, cardboard camps, or cars to experience what a housing crisis might be like. In the morning, breakfast is provided while they pack up," information at https://keystoneopportunity.org/sleepout/ says.

Information to register or donate to the sleepout is available at the website or by calling 215-723-5430.

Upcoming Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce programs include the annual Tastings of the Indian Valley, which will be 5 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Franconia Heritage Restaurant Banquet & Conference Center. The event highlights local restaurants, breweries and wineries. Admission is $30 in advance; $40 at the door. Registration and information are available at the indianvalleychamber.com website.   

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