By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council
This is always a special week for us here at the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, this Monday, September 21, 2015 we celebrated annual accomplishments, our board of directors and the outstanding support our volunteers provide. We are blessed with a group of talented and dedicated volunteers who enrich our Chamber work, making it more effective and relevant to the entire breadth of our community. Their commitment to giving back to the community is unsurpassed and through this recognition, we hope to make you more aware of their selfless generosity.
The Young Professionals Advocate Award recipient for 2015 is Joe Nugent, Young Professionals Steering Committee Chair, Director of Sales for Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport @ Town Center, and Owner of Inspector Gadget Homes, LLC. Joe has spent hundreds of hours working to network the young professional community with a passion and drive that is second to none.
Recipients of the 2015 Young Professionals Development Grants are Kelsey Balmer, Catering Manager for Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport @ Town Center, Jaime Hewitt, Attorney with Adamczyk Law Firm, PLLC, and Edward Smith, Owner and Managing Partner of Southwest Florida Estate Planning, PLLC. These grants were presented in recognition of exceptional community involvement and will be used to help recipients pursue opportunities for professional development training.
The winner of our Director of the Year Award is Lisa Portnoy, Vice President of Bank United. Lisa has shown dedication to our mission and provided her time and talent to every aspect of our program of work.
The Chairman’s Award recipient is Gerard Sola, Hotwire Communications. Gerard has gone the extra mile, month after month, to organize and champion a new generation of engaged community members.
The Chamber Appreciation Award to the Outstanding Small Business of the Year goes to Atilus. This innovative young company has been rapidly growing and receiving many community accolades. We applaud their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to giving back to the local community.
The Chamber Appreciation Award to the Outstanding Large Business of the Year goes to EverBank. This organization is dedicated to personalized service and they are active in the community which is part of their corporate culture. Their employees volunteer, serve on boards and they have donated countless hours of volunteer service to the Chamber as well as financial support.
The Honorary Pat Lord Award recipient is Tim Carson, Pastor at Estero United Methodist Church. Tim is an amazing community volunteer to say the least. His passion for helping others and life-long commitment to leadership is evident the moment you meet him.
And finally, the 2015 Bonita Springs Citizen of the Year, presented by Naples Daily News/The Banner and The News-Press Media Group is Kathy McGrath. Kathy has resided in Bonita Springs since 1967 and she has volunteered at City events, with the YMCA, and at the Middle and Elementary Schools. She has served on several city committees including the Street Light committee, the Special Events Committee and the West Coast Inland Navigation District Waterways Advisory Committee. Kathy truly deserves this recognition for how unselfishly she gives of her time to the city she has called home for over 48 years.
We salute these outstanding individuals and businesses for their time, talent and treasure. We are richer for their service to our region.