SUMMIT, NJ - The Suburban Chamber of Commerce, celebrating their 100th year in the community, held its Seventh Annual Awards Dinner on Wednesday, March 22 at The Grand Summit Hotel where service awards were presented in seven categories. More than 200 guests attended the event which celebrated businesses, individuals and organizations in Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights..
"We are proud to continue the tradition of recognizing and paying tribute to prominent individuals and companies for their far reaching activities on behalf of our communities," said Suburban Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Michael Shapiro.
Honored were: Prestige Diner with Business of the Year; Peter Twill with Silver Service Award; David Dietze with Citizen of the Year; Ted Romankow with Good Neighbor Award; NJ Sharing Network with Organization of the Year; Mountain Valley Joint Dispatch Center with Public Safety Award; and Marin Mixon with President's Award.
Each recipient was presented with a glass plate provided through GlassRoots, a regional non-profit that provides multiple opportunities for at-risk youth to realize their potential through the creation of glass art.
Mort O'Shea, as Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the audience and invited veterans from Berkeley Heights VFW Post 6259 Commander Tom Lombardi and Post Adjutant Stephen Falk to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and then O'Shea, led the entire room in singing "God Bless America."
Patricia Swan, Director of Lantern Hill, spoke on behalf of the chamber and walked through the 100 year history of the chamber from its 1917 beginnings as the Business Men's Association to 1940, becoming the Chamber of Commerce of Summit, and finally to the Suburban Chamber of Commerce in 1981. Today, it continues to serve the business interests of Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights.. The Chamber remains focused on small business issues and offers various programs to its members, including the "First Friday" Breakfast series of speakers and a new monthly networking event "Wine Down Wednesday" and annual events such as the Golf Outing and the Annual Awards Dinner.
Beth Welsh of Bassett Associates introduced the Citizen of the Year Award winner, David Dietze, Founder, President and Chief Investment Strategist at Summit-based Point View Wealth Management, Inc. Dietze, actively involved in myriad local community and charitable activities, accepted the award and commended the many leaders of the Chamber including Welsh, Karen Hadley, Joe Steiner and Bob Davies who have given countless hours.
Dietze credits the organizations that he has worked with for giving him a lot more than he has given to them. He recognized the many organizations by saying, "I am so thrilled to recognize Overlook Hospital and the Overlook Foundation. We have world class help right down the road, and The YMCA has given so much to the lives of seniors and kids." He added, "I spent more hours with the Board of Education -- municipal finance and give a shout out to the Business Administrator Lou Pepe." He also hailed the Summit Public Foundation -- Jack Cooper; the Boy Scouts of America; and Greg Drummond, "who embodies the heart of soul of downtown,"
Dietze concluded by saying, "We are so lucky to have this type of Chamber of Commerce in this town - please take advantage of all it has to offer."
Former Summit Mayor Ellen Dickson introduced Marin Mixon, who received the President's Award in recognition of her 11 years as Executive Director with Summit Downtown, Inc. Dickson noted that Mixon is passionate about the Summit community and how it continues to grow and change to keep it desirable and unique for businesses, residents and visitors. "She approached her job with enthusiasm and vigor," said Dickson. "Always courteous, crisp, professional with a high energy level and always full of good ideas. But most of all, she loves Summit, and has a fantastic knowledge of the city. Everyone knows her and she is well respected in the community."
"Summit regularly shows up on the top of the list of towns in New Jersey in good measure because of our beautiful walkable downtown," said Dickson. Mixon implemented the Ladies Night Out promotion and "her biggest success is the Farmers Market - one of the best in the state where people mingle, shop and catch up," said Dickson.
Mixon personally thanked all of the people -- and saluted residents, shoppers, and visitors for their support and loyalty to Summit downtown and community. She also acknowledged the many volunteers, staff and leaders currently serving on the SDI board.
Gary Kapner of Creative Wallcoverings and Design introduced Doug Marvin, New Providence Borough Administrator, on behalf of the Mountain Valley Joint Dispatch Center to receive the Public Safety Award. The governing bodies of Summit, New Providence and Millburn worked together to bring all emergency services dispatching for the three communities into one facility. Faced with extraordinary expenses to replace aging and antiquated 9-1-1 equipment, the emergency service partners and stakeholders saw a potential to save taxpayers money by consolidating and sharing the equipment, technology and personnel.
Marcella Gencarelli, of Peapack Gladstone Bank, introduced Peter Twill of Ace-Twill Printing, who was honored with the Silver Service Award. "His passion exudes in all that he does," said Gencarelli. Twill had carried on his family's printing and rubber stamp business which began in his mother's basement in Summit. It has served many institutions in the community and surrounding communities. His passion is giving back to those in need, especially through the Lions Club, YMCA, St. Teresa's Church and Stony Hill Players.
"In my business, we were a very big service business to the community and over the years, we helped businesses out," said Twill. "If my father was here, he would be very happy. It was a family business helping out with furniture, printing and stamps." He added, "My real love was helping the Lion's and helping the blind people. I really enjoy it and I look forward to still helping them out."
Jim DiMaio, of Derco Print, presented the Good Neighbor Award to Ted Romankow for his involvement as chair of the Veterans Memorial Restoration Project. This is a "team effort," said Romankow, who credits his entire committee for working together "like a symphony." His interest in restoring the Berkeley Heights Veterans Memorial stems back to his 40 year friendship with Berkeley Heights native Vito Mondelli, who passed away in 2016. Romankow told a story of how he met Mondelli and credits him for his involvement in politics as Mayor of Berkeley Heights and County Prosecutor. Over their years of friendship, while visiting Vito's nursery and vegetable stand, Romankow noticed the Veterans Memorial Park -- located across the street from Vito's -- was in need of work. An ordinance was passed and more than $100,000 was raised along with donated services to restore the park to pristine conditions.
Patricia Swan of Lantern Hill introduced the Prestige Diner as Business of the Year. Swan has been in the community for two years since relocating to open Lantern Hill in New Providence. She remembers her first meal from town, where she met her first employee, was at the Prestige Diner or "The Diner." "It is the Lantern Hill Annex -- everything still happens at the Diner," said Swan. "Fortunately, I got introduced to Harry and Jimmy -- they are always there." She explained that Jimmy's answer is always yes when it comes to helping the community. "'You are a local business, you are part of the community -- the answer is yes' -- Jimmy says that to everyone. The answer is always yes from the Prestige Diner."
Prestige Diner is a family owned business since 1982, and is a pillar of the community. Harry, Jimmy, Sophia and Christopher Vardas accepted the award on behalf of the Diner. Harry's 10 year old daughter, Sophia, thanked the Chamber and "all New Providence representatives who are here tonight."
"The Chamber has been doing a great job promoting all local businesses and fostering networking among New providence, Summit and Berkeley Heights," said Sophia. We promise to continue as productive and giving members of the community, she said.
Joe Steiner introduced the NJ Sharing Network as Organization of the Year. Elisse E. Glennon, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Director, NJ Sharing Network Foundation accepted the award. "They are dedicated to increasing the number of organ donors and recapture organs available to patients with critical medical conditions," said Steiner. "These organ donations and transplants have saved and enhanced the quality of life for many people young and old. In addition, they are dedicated to educating the public about how organ donation and transplantation can save lives. the number of organs have quadrupled since the NJ Sharing Network has been founded."
Glennon recognized the 180 staff members and the Sharing Network representatives of their senior leadership team, staff throughout all the departments, Foundation Board Members and Board of Trustees, and organ donation families and recipients that were present. "Organ donation provides hope to the 5,000 people in New Jersey currently awaiting an organ transplant," said Glennon. Fifteen of those people currently live in Berkeley Heights, New Providence or Summit, she said.
She reminded the attendees of their 5K on June 4 where 72 teams have already signed up from Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Summit. "We are so proud to be part of this community. -- Thank you for welcoming us to the town and embracing us."
April is National Donate Life Month and Glennon encouraged the room to get involved and help spread the word, sharing the various opportunities to get involved. She dedicated the award to all of the deceased organ donors who made that generous and courageous gift -- "to all of the organ donors and their families this is their award."
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