I always am amazed by those I interview, but when I got off the phone after my first interview with Kim Hubbard, CERP, owner of Unforgettable Event Planning and Party Rentals in Altus, Okla., I was simply blown away.
Kim is truly the Energizer Bunny — on steroids. Not only is she pure energy in motion, but she is also a person who moves with an open heart, continually driven to make a positive difference for those in her community, no matter what obstacles stand in her way.
I quickly learned that Kim is used to walking into fires — both literally and figuratively.
Not only does she own her event rental operation, but for the past 40 years she has served with civilian and military fire departments, having just recently retired from the Altus Air Force Base department. She has a real knack for finding challenges and creating solutions that benefit her community.
Kim simply calls it “mentoring the future.”
“I believe in empowering women and helping my community. I always have,” she says.
That became evident shortly after she started her rental operation in 2017. When she saw those in her farming community of 22,000 did not have an affordable venue in which to hold wedding receptions, parties and other community events, she purchased and completely remodeled an event center that would fill that void.
When she saw there weren’t enough fun activities for youth, families and other members of her community, she challenged the Altus Chamber of Commerce to address that issue. In record time, she pulled off the Altus Pop Expo, a Comic-Con-style event like the entertainment and comics convention that is held annually in San Diego. She held it in her newly purchased venue, even getting the Oklahoma City chapter of the 501st Legion, which is a Lucasfilm-approved group of character actors who portray the Storm Troopers from the ‘Star Wars’ movies, to attend. This first effort pulled in a record attendance of teenagers and their families as well as vendors.
The third Pop Expo was held this past February, and she is planning a fourth in August with all expectations that another record crowd will be in attendance.
Then when her daughter saw that a 6-acre Christian family campground that sits adjacent to Lake Altus might be for sale, Hubbard immediately drove by the 10-mile-wide reservoir on the North Fork Red River and saw its potential.
Without hesitation, she bought the site, which has two buildings — one of them 14,861 sq. ft. with sleeping quarters, an auditorium and a dining room with a full commercial kitchen and the other a 5,100-sq.-ft solid-floor concrete structure.
Why purchase it? “There are not enough places for people to go and be near the lake and have a party at the same time. It is very scenic. The opportunity was there,” she says.
If that wasn’t enough, last summer — in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic when her business came to a standstill as no weddings or other events were happening — she bought an older amusement park that had been a staple of the community and now shared a fence line with the large campground/rental space she had purchased the previous year.
Of course she purchased it. Why? Well, another person wanted to buy it and turn it into an adult marijuana recreational area — an idea that Hubbard did not feel was in the best interest of her community.
Just recently she brought a small grocery store into the amusement park, which is right next to the state park. The grocery store is for the rangers and others in the area to purchase items they need, everything from sandwiches to cold drinks. “It’s busy every day. We even have a suggestion board, and every day people write down their special requests,” she says.
Whether it has been fighting fires or creating gathering opportunities for those of all ages, Kim has been there to help. Those in her community have responded in kind.
“All of our venues are booked through October. If you want our help for a wedding, we might have a Tuesday or a Thursday open,” she says with a laugh.
Kim also just started a program in which her long-term employees can earn ownership shares in the company. Her plan is to one day “turn over the keys and actually retire. Investing in them brings me a tremendous amount of joy,” she says.
That is just Kim. She finds ways to make things better for others. “I never plan anything. Things just fall in my lap and I run with it.”
That might be true, but only she can look at every challenge as an opportunity and, with sheer grit and determination, turn that obstacle into something wonderful for all involved.