SUMMIT, NJ – The Suburban Chamber of Commerce honored outstanding business and community leaders at its Eighth Annual Service Awards Dinner at the Grand Summit Hotel. Entitled, “Tying the Communities Together,” the event brought together community leaders in all three towns served by the Suburban Chamber – Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights.
Mort O'Shea, the Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the room full of almost 250 business and civic leaders to the annual event. After VFW members led the Salute to the Flag, Chamber Chairwoman Marcella Gencarelli, of Lakeland Bank, gave her remarks on the exciting programs offered through the Chamber that include First Friday Networking Breakfasts, Wine Down Wednesdays, Berkeley Heights Networking Breakfasts, and Lunch and Learn programs, as well as their fundraising efforts through the Berkeley Heights Street Fair and the Super Friday Auction.
“The Chamber is proud to continue the tradition of recognizing and paying tribute to prominent individuals and companies for their rar reaching activities on behalf of our communities," said Gencarelli.
The selected honorees were chosen among their peers and exemplify dedication and efforts to the community presenting noteworthy accomplishments on many levels throughout our area.
Organization of the Year
The Brook Healey Foundation received the Organization of the Year award, which was presented by Gary Kapner, of Creative Wallcoverings. The award is to recognize an organization which has consistently performed services within our communities and has achieved or carried out one or more outstanding events or projects during the previous year. Accepting the award on behalf of the Brooke Healey Foundation were Stephani and Steve Healey. "I'm proud to say because of our amazing community, our foundation has not dwindled away -- but has continued to grow," said Stephanie Healey. "What we are doing for children and what you are helping us to do for these children is so important. We continue to grow and help children in our immediate area with pediatric cancer. Beyond that, we also fund research -- specific targeted research. We have collaborated with other foundations and we have raised $8 million dollars. What we are fighting for is a homerun cure. A cure for DIPG is a homerun cure for all cancers because of the location and the way cancer is in our bodies." Steve Healey said that the foundation would not exist if it weren't for the community rallying behind their family. "We want to help families like we were helped because our community helped us and we want to help others -- and the other part is that we want to provide scholarships to local high schools for civically involved students. -- Our little foundation in this Suburban Chamber of Commerce area has not only a national impact but a global impact from some of the things we are doing," he said.
Silver Service Award
Kassandra Romas, a Civic Member, presented the Silver Service Award to Diane Swett. The award recognizes a person who has demonstrated a long time dedication and devotion to the community. "Diane embodies the concept of volunteerism in a stellar fashion," said Romas. "Diane's volunteerism has spanned many years in many ways always with sincere dedication and the outmost consideration of all." Swett said, “Volunteering is not something taken on for personal gratification, although personal satisfaction is important. --This area has always been a place where opportunities present themselves regularly and are there for anyone to answer 'yes'."
Business of the Year
Gencarelli introduced Susan Barbaglia, owner of Skin Deep Salon and Spa, as the Business of the Year, an award that recognizes a business or business people who has operated a respected business in our communities for at least 5 years. The business should be recognized for outstanding practices, products and/or services. Involvement in the community is looked upon favorably. Barbaglia credits her staff and family for being the pillars that keeps her moving forward. She also thanked her loyal clients. "Their loyalty and devotion are making us who we are today. I consider my clients to be family and this award is a celebration to them as well." As a business owner, she said "I feel that I have a distinct social responsibility to be a leader, not only in my work culture, but in everyway possible. -- I always knew I wanted to give back to my community, and it took Julian to make me realize exactly how I wanted to do that. It was my faith that this client came into my life. -- We have the opportunity in our businesses with our resources to make a differences in peoples' lives and that can start today."
Good Neighbor Award
Reeves Reed Arboretum received the Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes a business, property owner, or organization which through property improvements, or the implementation of a plan, has made significant improvements to a site that enhance the appearance and general look of the property and our community. Beth Welsh, of Bassett Associates, introduced Frank Juliano. "Neighbor means friend, means collaborator. Reeves Reed was voted best garden in New Jersey last year -- it is significant. That happens because our ability to engage people. Our staff is incredibly pationate -- it is who they are, and not what they do that makes a difference -- and that makes good neighbors."
Dr. Patrick Smith, of Smith Chiropractic, recognized Jim DiMaio, of Derco Print, with the President’s Award, which is given as a special recognition by the CEO of the Suburban Chamber of Commerce to a person, business or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in providing services to its surrounding communities. DiMaio said, “I’m the person that I am today because of the people in my life. first and foremost my late wife Ann Marie who was my partner and best friend. My family, friends, and employees past and present have helped me achieve the things I have achieved," said DiMaio. "I flip back in 40 years of business in this community, I think about what I did to deserve this award. It occurs to me that it's not one or two things, it's hundreds of little things over the past 40+ years. It's the little things working with the community, working with the customers trying to be the best that you can be at what you do and share that with your fellow business people and community."
Citizens of the Year
Drew Maldanado and Jude Avelino was presented with the Citizen of the Year award by Kevin Cummings, of Investors Bank. The award recognizes outstnading, well-rounded citizens who live or work in our community and has demonstrated exemplary service by way of volunteerism and community involvement. "Jude and Drew set a goal of $1.5 million [well beyond the targeted amount of $1.2]-- and today thanks for their efforts you can see the beginnings of our community center taking shape. It will be a great asset for all Hilltoppers where our community will come together with pride," said Cummings. "Jude and Drew you have set the bar for our generation and we thank you." Maldanado said, "I came into the project because of my involvement in Summit Junior Baseball. -- The project is something that needed to be done, built in 1954 -- and we are going to finally fix that," he said. "If you go by Morris Avenue, you will see that a lot of good work has already been done. It's exciting to see something come to fruition. -- You can't have a project like this done with out a lot of help and a lot of hands and volunteers." Avalino was next to speak -- "what drove me to be involved in this project, is the 1,500 people a week that pass through the community center -- those people, it's the seniors who have to leave at 3 p.m. everyday for the afterschool kids to come in, it's the afterschool kids who came at 3 p.m. who had nowhere else to go, and it's the special needs children who spend time with Try-Can. That's what really drove me to this project. The fact that we will get a new basketball court, doesn't hurt. -- It bothered me to action. This community is a special community, when you are down, we pick you up. If you are struggling, we chip in. If you are sick, we help out. It is truly special, it's like no other community."
It happens because of all of you, all of you who donate money, who donate your time, who sacrifice time from your work from your families and personal lives. It all happens because of you, said Avelino.
To learn more about the Suburban Chamber of Commerce, visit their website www.suburbanchambers.org.
Photo credit: Bobbie Peer