Tonia Stephenson Chamber Chat
January 29, 2014
We celebrated our 75th Annual Membership Meeting on Jan. 23. Maria Bingham and her committee did a fabulous job in putting together a great evening for the Chamber’s membership. The night began with a reception, a time to reconnect with old friends, make new contacts, and enjoy each other’s company. Leading us through the night was our Master of Ceremonies, Judge John Horne. We celebrated and thanked our past leaders, who were once titled “presidents” and who, now are “chairmen” of the Board. We looked back on some of the functions of the Chamber throughout our 75-year history and recognized our dignitaries who are always so gracious to support the Chamber of Commerce.
It was a special night for David McLamb, our 2013 Chairman of the Board, and Nick Sojka, our 2014 chairman. David was a great leader for our chamber during the past year and supported every effort. We are very grateful for his leadership and commitment to this Chamber and all of our community. Looking forward, we know Nick will bring that same type of dedication and we look forward to what he will do as our leader. Those of you who know Nick, understand how passionate he is and we are grateful the Chamber is one place where he uses that passion to better our community.
A highlight every year is recognizing the great work of the people of our Chamber and this community. The first award we presented was the Volunteer of the Year. Leroy McIntyre won this award and was celebrated for all of his hard work on the Green Committee. From the day that I started with this Chamber, I have seen his passion first hand, heard him speak to groups about helping make our community cleaner and greener, and I enjoy his Facebook and website postings. His goal is to get every person in Scotland County to work on the beauty of their surroundings and if anyone can do it, Leroy can. As a Chamber, we are very grateful for all of our volunteers and Leroy epitomizes what a great volunteer can accomplish.
Our second award of the night was the Dormagen/McLean Community Youth Service Award. Josh Dormagen and Chris McLean were exceptional young men when they were in an accident that claimed their lives. Each year, the Chamber recognizes a young person who exemplifies the qualities that Josh and Chris possessed. This year, our award winner is Adam “Kendall” Romaine. Kendall has an infectious enthusiasm that anyone who is around him catches. During the football season, my husband and I would talk about the young man who runs the flag for the touchdowns during the game and just watching him, we knew he was a special young man. After reading the six nominations for him for this award, I am truly grateful to have him in our community. I know he will blossom into a wonderful young man and will do great things. To watch his face during the presentation when he realized he was at the dinner to win an award, not to watch his mother receive an award, was priceless.
We ended the night with presenting our Dunbar/McCoy Quality of Life Service Award to Virginia Ray. She is the founder of Project Inasmuch. This is a non-profit, providing snack bags to over 600 students a week in the Scotland County School system. These bags contain nutritional snacks to help these children get nutrients throughout the weekend, when they are not receiving the hot meals from the schools. In turn, on Monday, they are able to concentrate and increase learning. Virginia is an 84-years-young woman who gives tirelessly of her time, talents, and energy. She spoke to the crowd at the Dinner and won everyone’s heart with her spirited personality.
I would like to extend a special thank you to Earl and Beverly Bowling of Bowling Eye Clinic. They were our first presenting sponsor of the Annual Meeting. In addition, they gave away a pair of Rayban sunglasses to one of our attendees. It was a nice touch to add to the night. We are very grateful for Bowling Eye Clinic for their support, as well as all of the companies and individuals who invested in this event. I also want to thank each person who attended the Dinner. This is one night when I get to see so many of our Chamber members, meet new people, and make new friends. I am grateful to be a part of this caring community and it is an honor to serve the people of our county through my role at the Chamber.
As we looked back and celebrated our successes of 2013, we also look forward to 2014 and know that our community is destined for greatness.