I started working when I was 13 years old in my grandmother’s rural café. I did dishes, swept floors, cleaned counters, tabletops and occasionally delivered hot coffee and breakfast to customers. By the time I was 17 years old, I had dreamed of owning my own restaurant someday. I loved the hospitality part of the business and quickly learned that delivering excellent service paid very well.
I married young, had a baby but I still had my eye on a career in the restaurant business, working part-time in a few different establishments, improving my skills by learning all aspects of that business, interacting with customers, waiting tables, cooking, cash reconciliation, and conflict resolution. I learned that what I loved most was really the interaction with people, building relationships, encouraging people, and fulfilling a need. I knew my longtime career goals would include serving people, to be in control of my financial goals, utilize my strengths, fulfill my entrepreneurial desires and enjoy quality time with my family. I have spent my whole career doing just that.
I was an independent decorating consultant for almost ten years, owned Awards Etc. for ten years, served as the CEO of the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce for ten years, and now am employed as the VP of Community Relations for Heritage Health. During this time, I operated my own event planning business and worked as a wedding planner for almost 20 years. I am a Fire Commissioner, a Rotarian and serve on a variety of committees and non-profit boards. I am a lifelong learner, a combination of classroom and life experiences, but the best advice I ever received was to “surround yourself with really smart people, watch them, listen to them, ask questions, learn from their mistakes, their successes.” I have had the honor of learning from the best and brightest in our community. This investment in myself and others has helped me adapt to change, embrace challenges, and become the leader I am today.
I found my passion early on (or it found me) mostly out of heartache, choosing to be a warrior instead of a victim. I found that in my darkest moments, if I focused on doing for others, I experienced healing rather than hurting. Oh, I have my moments, I cry, I get frustrated, I get my feelings hurt, but I don’t spend much time there. I recover, refresh and return to an attitude of gratitude.
As I mentioned, I married young and was a widow after only 11 months. Due to this tragedy at such a young age, I learned a very important lesson: tomorrow is not promised. Pay attention to your words and actions as they might be the last you share with a loved one. I made most of my life decisions with this in mind… love what you do, love who you’re with, work hard, play hard. I remarried and shared my life with my husband, Rich, for 39 years, raising three children and enjoying five grandchildren before becoming a widow once again in 2020.
I have had my share of disappointment, financial struggles, loss of relationships, conflict, and deep grief. My faith sustains me in good times and bad. I wake up each morning asking for guidance, strength, and the ability to make good choices. I pray that God will put someone in my path that needs a word of encouragement or a connection to a community resource that I can assist with. This is my passion, connecting with people and giving back to my community in a way that makes a significant impact.
I’ve never worried too much about the job title or the salary. It has been my experience that if you are a person of integrity, you work hard and just do the right thing, promotions and money automatically follow you. For most of my career, I was self-employed, so the harder/smarter I worked, the more success I experienced. Be your best self, always.
Like most people, I prefer to focus on my strengths, but If I had to give my younger self some advice, it would be this. Be courageous. Listen to understand, not to react. BE STILL; it’s okay to take a day to read a book or go fishing…to really do nothing. If you’re going to have a family, a full-time career, and volunteer in the community, you must have scheduled time to relax and refresh. Write down your personal goals and your family goals, prioritize, pin them to the fridge, let everyone participate. Make a new list often. Celebrate with ice cream.
P.S. I still might open a cute little bistro when I retire.
Blog Written by: Pam Houser
Pam Houser has called north Idaho her home for 50+ years. Pam is a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, and recent Widow.
Her professional titles include entrepreneur, business owner, Event Planner, VP of Community Relations, CEO, Board Chair, Fire Commissioner, and 2018 Citizen of the year.
In her spare time, she enjoys glamping, floating the river, cruising in the Caribbean, reading good books, and painting rocks.
Pam considers herself a lifelong learner, a risk-taker, and a mistake maker, but she knows that hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. She is passionate about her faith, her family, and encouraging others to be their best self.