2021 Award Recipients Recognized at the Annual Awards Gala
Photo (left to right) Susan Bilich, Jada Grissinger, Madison Troha, (second row) Mike Simone, Travis Kylor and Brad Bumgardner.
Last evening at the Annual Awards Gala we celebrated our 20th Anniversary of presenting awards. Here’s a little history……many years we had an Annual Dinner instead of an Awards Gala. When we started presenting awards at that dinner it became way too long so we created the Annual Awards Gala and the Annual Membership Luncheon. We began recognizing outstanding businesses and individuals in the fall of 2001 at our Annual Dinner. Our community is truly blessed to have so many businesses and individuals to celebrate.
Our first award of the evening was the Educator of the Year Award sponsored by Juniata College. Juniata College President Jim Troha presented this award to Susan Bilich. The Educator of the Year award recognizes an active educator in our community who has demonstrated "above and beyond" commitment and service in the field of education. Susan is the Choral Director, and Guitar and Music Theory teacher at Huntingdon Area High School. During her 16 years as an educator, she has sought out ways to seek responsibilities outside of her general music teaching job. Among other things, she has been the Backpack Committee Chairperson, has assisted with providing gifts and holiday meals for families, ran the school video news program, and has volunteered at school events.
The David K. Goodman Jr. Community Service Award is sponsored by Huntingdon Elks Lodge #976. Jim Angelo, past president of the benevolent and protective order of the Elks presented the award to an amazing young lady, Madison Troha. This award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated exemplary dedication of time or resources for the betterment of the community. One of her accomplishments was starting ACT (Achieving Community Together), a nonprofit which strives to meet the needs of kids in our community. Since 2015, ACT has been able to help over 750 local children! Most of them were helped through their Christmas initiative, Project Joy, which provides gifts and necessities to children that otherwise may not receive anything around the holidays. Last year, they helped 248 kids through Project Joy. During COVID, they also responded to the growing issue of food insecurity among many of our community members and assisted in raising and managing funds for the Blair Building fire tragedy.
The Entrepreneurial Success Award was sponsored by Keller Engineers. Diana McClure joined Yvonne Martin at the podium for the award presentation. The purpose of this award is to recognize a business owned by a community member, that has been in business for a minimum of three years, initially launched as a small business, that has shown innovation and aided in the advancement of the community. The 2021 Entrepreneurial Success Award recipient was The Colonial Florist and Gift Shop. This business was established in 2007 and is a three-time recipient of The Daily News’ Reader’s Choice Award. The owner has professional training and is a Master Floral Designer with over 25 years of experience in the floral and retail industry. This business chooses only the freshest, highest quality flowers, with the goal of exceeding customers' expectations with quality, value, and creative design. You can see their passion for floral design by visiting their gift shop along William Penn Highway. They also support many organizations throughout Huntingdon County. Travis Kylor accepted the award.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was sponsored by Arize Federal Credit Union and was presented by Chamber Vice-Chair, Amanda Jenkins to the current Board Chair, Mike Simone. This award recognizes a Chamber member for “above and beyond” service in support of the mission and the goals of the Chamber. This individual must be a Chamber member or work for a member business. Mike is so dedicated to the Chamber that he is now serving his third term as Board Chair. This is unprecedented. Since becoming a Chamber of Commerce, Board chairs have served two consecutive one-year terms. Due to special circumstances, he volunteered to serve the third year. He also chairs the Executive Committee and the Event Committee.
The Customer Service Award was sponsored by Bonney Forge Corporation. Chamber Event Committee member, Mary Jane Smith, presented the award to Bumgardner and Flasher Oil. This award is presented to a business for its excellence in providing quality customer service. The person who nominated this business couldn’t say enough about the friendliness of the employees and how pleasant they always are during phone conversations. This business goes above and beyond for its customers. They take the time to really listen and talk with them about whatever they want to talk about. These employees laugh with them and sometimes shed a tear with them. Sometimes customers just need someone to listen. They always treat their customers with respect.
The Business of the Year Award was sponsored by Valley Rural Electric Cooperative. Valley Rural Employee and Chamber Board Member, Doug Roles presented the Award to Sheetz. MacKenzie Huntsman accepted the Award on behalf of the company since no one was able to attend the dinner. They will receive their Award next Monday at the Chamber office. This award recognizes a business that has contributed to the economic growth of the community and which has helped to develop Huntingdon County. Sheetz has been part of the Huntingdon County community since the opening of their first store on Moore Street in June of 1972. This was only their 10th store location – representing part of their initial growth outside of Altoona. Today, they have four stores in Huntingdon County, including that original store location. These stores employ approximately 100 people. They support numerous non-profit organizations and programs through corporate donations. This business is a longtime partner of Special Olympics Pennsylvania, helping Special Olympians from Huntingdon County and across Pennsylvania compete in events throughout the year. Sheetz For The Kidz, is an employee-operated charity that helps children have a brighter holiday season. Employees shop for, wrap and present gifts to children in need each year. This program supports 16 children per store location.
The last award of the evening was the ATHENA Award sponsored by TEAM Chevrolet, Buick, GMC; Bumgardner & Flasher Oil.; Grier School; Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks; MJEM’s Photos; World Marketing of America; MiCamp Solutions; Hickes Associates; and the Stern Insurance Agency. Ann Dunlavy was the 2006 Award recipient and she presented the Award to Janelle Grissinger. The ATHENA Leadership Award celebrates exemplary leadership. Over 7,000 recipients have been honored with this award since the program’s inception in 1982. Presented to leaders across professional sectors, the ATHENA Leadership Award’s rich history, international scope, and focus on mentorship distinguish it as one of the most prestigious leadership awards one can receive. Award Recipients have achieved the highest level of professional excellence, contributed time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and actively assisted others, particularly women, in realizing their full leadership potential. Janelle embodies all the qualities identified in the ATHENA Award. She contributes time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, through leadership, encouragement, and volunteerism. She saw a need in our community and created a 501 (c) 3 non-profit to help children and families who have been struggling. Their mission is to help create a kinder world where no child is hungry or excluded due to financial hardship. This has assisted in providing food for the backpack program and enabled them to purchase shoes and coats for children in need. They have created a Christmas for kids that wouldn’t have had one and set up the Angel Fund to help pay unpaid lunch balances so kids don’t have to worry about not being able to have lunch while at school. The non-profit that she founded has mainly women on the Board. Each one of these women have taken a step to better our community and their lives because of this award recipient. This non-profit also created a Junior Board with several members that are now going above and beyond for our community. She works closely with each of these young women and gives a fantastic example of Leadership and supporting our community. Janelle owns a travel company that has team members that are all women. She works closely with these twelve women to help them become the best at what they do. She has assisted them with receiving special certifications related to their jobs and to enhance their knowledge and careers. She is not only a very successful business owner, non-profit founder and leader within our community but a mother as well. She is demonstrating to her daughters every day what a great leader looks like. Her daughter Jada, along with Madison Troha accepted the award. Janelle is out of the country but wrote down an acceptance speech in case she was chosen as the recipient. The ATHENA Award recipient was notified that they are among the finalists prior to the dinner.
This dinner would not have been possible without the support of our Awards Gala sponsors:
Our Premier sponsors this evening are:
Arize Federal Credit Union
Mutual Benefit Group
Our Gold sponsor is:
Our Reception sponsor is:
Our Silver sponsors are:
Community State Bank
First National Bank
Senator Jake Corman
Valley Rural Electric Cooperative
Our Centerpiece sponsor is:
Bumgardner & Flasher Oil, Inc.
Our Patron sponsors are:
Huntingdon County Career & Technology Center
MDB Drafting & Design
My Benefit Advisor