SOMERS, N.Y. - Somers businesswoman Karen Merritt was named the Businessperson of the Year last month at the annual Somers Chamber of Commerce holiday party.
“Karen Merritt: Luster, brightness and sheen. These are the words gemologists use to describe the characteristics of pearls,” said Steve Delzio, the owner of The Mexican Shack, during a speech introducing Merritt, who owns the Merritt Allstate Insurance Agency. “As these adjectives can also describe the best pearls, they can also describe the best in characteristics of human beings. The guest of honor who I’m going to introduce tonight is the embodiment of those qualities and more.
“Her love of life and her success in living is unparalled...She is dedicated to understanding the needs of the people in this community in order to provide the customers with an outstanding level of service. I met Karen many years ago and my first impression of Karen was very high. Karen was a fresh breeze of friendliness and enthusiasm and we struck a friendship that has endured time.
“Fast forward to today and little has changed of Karen’s personality or my first impression of Karen. However, what has changed is the history of her life that can only be admired.”
Delzio went on to praise Merritt’s commitment to her family, including daughter Abigail.
“Along with the long hours and hard work to run a business like Karen’s, Karen commits time to her family...Karen is a community leader of the highest caliber through her involvement in a host of civic, charitable and business activities and organizations in Somers.”
Delzio listed the fact that she is a past president of the Somers Chamber of Commerce, becoming president in 2013. She also serves on the board of Friends of Karen, an organization in memory of Karen MacInnes that provides support for families living in the New York region who are coping with the catastrophic impact of their child’s life-threatening illness.
She has also been a supporter of the Somers Education Foundation, local Little Leagues and teen driver programs, the Somers Lions Club and Play for Pink, which is a breast cancer charity.
Merritt grew up in North Salem and lives in Somers. She started her business almost 25 years ago and joined the Chamber board almost 20 years ago.
At Allstate, she began work on the National Advisory Council and was then promoted to Agency Executive Council, working directly under the President of Allstate. She’s also spent many years on the New York Advisory board including as co-chair of the Women’s Executive Council for the State of New York.
Karen was emotional in her acceptance speech.
“My best job here is my daughter. And I hope someday we actually see her up here. She is a wonderful young lady. She has been my rock and she has been my best partner. So, I love you for that Abigail. As I look around this room, my heart is filled with joy and love. And all of you are the reason that I have stayed in this area and make it the best place on earth to raise children, build our businesses and grow old and happy to know that we have each other to support the good times and rough times.”
Merritt also thanked the audience for an integral part of her recovery and healing from breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with a couple of years ago.
“I did not expect the entire community to come together and support me,” Merritt said in a previous story about her disease. “The Chamber, the Lions...it was overwhelming. There were so many flowers and food, it was just amazing.”
In that same story, she also credited her daughter with being so supportive.
“The bond between Abigail and I was amazing,” she said. “She is mature to start with, but she has just been amazing and has been there for me all along the way. She really stepped up to the plate...I don’t think she thought she would ever have to help me through anything because I am such a strong woman. We have a bond that is irreplaceable now.”