I was so honored for the recognition. Many people thought we were crazy to close our brick & mortar storefront and go 100% online, but I am so glad that we made that decision. Our store is doing very well and continues to grow each day. And very soon we will be moving in to our new warehouse/shipping home.
When they announced that I was the winner I had to walk up to the podium to be handed the award. I was so nervous, my heart felt like it was going to get stuck up in my throat. I am not a public speaker at all, so standing in front of a room full of business people was a bit intimidating to say the least. Here is a picture of the actual award I received.
|1/24/2011 11:00:00 AM|
Chamber of commerce recognizes contributions to community during annual banquet
Journal Staff Writer
The character of a community is evident in the lives of those who give their time to causes greater than themselves. Often, the effort of such residents goes unnoticed and unmentioned.
Saturday night, the work of ordinary citizens was recognized at the 72nd Annual Cortez Chamber of Commerce banquet and awards ceremony when the volunteers for the Bridge Emergency Shelter were awarded the Cortez Journal Citizen of the Year award.
"Each one of us in this room gets to go home to a warm shelter tonight," said Cortez Journal Advertising and Sales Director Mark Drudge, who presented the award. "There are a lot of people in our area who aren't that lucky. The volunteers for the Bridge Emergency Shelter provide vital support."
The shelter has served the Cortez area since January 2006, relying on the support of an army of volunteers. In the 2009-2010 shelter season, the shelter was open 184 nights and had 211 unduplicated clients, serving approximate 15 clients a night.
MB McAfee, chair of the shelter's board of directors, estimates 65 local residents give of their time on a daily or weekly basis to keep the shelter running. Roughly 2,500 volunteer hours were donated last year alone.
"It is a huge honor to receive the award," McAfee said. "I appreciate that the community sees the value in the shelter and the effort of those who make it work."
Volunteers at the shelter treasure the work they do and don't seek recognition for their efforts.
"It is a need in the community," said Deb Keel, a four-year volunteer. "Someone has to fill that need."
Hal Brown, who has been a volunteer with the shelter for four years, noted the learning experience that comes from reaching out to others in the community.
"In a community you don't like to see people passing away in the streets," Brown said. "You learn a lot from the people you meet."
Other awards presented Saturday night were the Small Business of the Year award, the Green Business of the Year award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Anna Dreyfuss, owner the The Baby Store Plus, was honored with the small business award. The store's selection was based on Dreyfuss' radical decision to abandon the brick-and-mortar business on Main St. and establish a web-based business.
"(Dreyfuss) has shown a tremendous amount of adaptability," said Joe Keck, director of the Fort Lewis College Small Business Development Center, who presented the award. "She took lemons and made lemonade. When she realized the market wasn't large enough, she went ahead and went online. It is still a community store, but in a different form."
Dreyfuss expressed gratitude and surprise for the selection.
"Thank you very much," she said. "I don't feel that this is deserved, but I appreciate the recognition."
Local construction company Skanska was recognized by the chamber of commerce as the green business of the year, an award presented by Empire Electric Association in recognition of a business that strives to conserve energy and support the use of gentler energy sources. Skanska has recently constructed one of the largest photovoltaic systems in the state to offset energy usage.
The $1.5 million photovoltaic solar array, set in 15 rows and comprising 1,260 individual panels, sits on 2.5 acres of property adjacent to Skanska's office and equipment shop, according to a press release from the company. Power generated from the project is forecast to be equivalent to annually burning more than 670,000 pounds of coal, using 352,000 gallons of water, offsetting more than a million tons of carbon emissions, driving 12 million miles and planting 2,500 trees.
The final recognition of the evening, the Lifetime Achievement award, went to Kelly Wilson in honor of his years of dedication to Cortez and Montezuma County.
Wilson was raised on a family farm in the county and graduated from the local high school in 1953. His resume includes work as a Colorado State University Extension agent, Montezuma County commissioner and an economic development specialist for Southwest Colorado. Wilson helped establish the Four Corners Regional Commission, which led to the establishment of San Juan Vocational Technical School, now Southwest Colorado Community College.
Wilson has served on various boards and was instrumental in developing the original Cortez Farmers Market. He is currently working with the local historical society to gather and publish a written history of the area.
"He has a long list of accomplishments," said Chamber President Doug Yearout. "Certainly beyond measure is his heartfelt kindness and consideration for the well-being of the community."
Wilson accepted the award with great humility, noting that he did "sleep once in a while."
"There are always many things to do," Wilson said. "I haven't worked to be recognized, the opportunities to be involved just came along and I did what I thought had to be done. This is a great and very diverse area, and we can do almost anything we want if we just gather together and do it."
Wilson also acknowledge the strong leadership present in the community.
"I look at the people in this room and I know the future of Cortez and Montezuma County is in good shape," Wilson said.
Cortez Chamber of Commerce board members are Doug Yearout, Byron Maynes, Jack Schuenemeyer, Bob Scott, Don Bain, Chris Caciagli, Stacy Houser, Kelly Kirkpatrick, Denis Boon, Brian Shoults, Neal Stephens and Executive Director Dena Guttridge.