|Holyoke Chamber recognizes public|
|Written by Chris Lee|
Eighty-seven members of the community gathered at the Vet’s Club while Holyoke Chamber of Commerce recognized individuals and groups for excellence at its 17th Annual Gala, Monday, Feb. 8. The program was emceed by Chamber president Casey Blake.
Honorees were Kaylee Groshans, HHS junior, Youth of the Year; Darci Tomky, Holyoke Enterprise, Employee of the Year; Gary Sperber, Outstanding Citizen of the Year; and Regent Park and Carriage House, Business of the Year.
In the final recognition of the night, Jolly Dozen Family, Community and Education Organization was recognized as the 2009 STAR of the Year award winner.
“Although they are few in number, they provide much,” the Chamber Board of Directors said with regard to Jolly Dozen FCE.
In June of 2009 they hosted the State FCE Convention. This brought 70-plus women to Holyoke to not only enjoy the convention activities, but to spend time shopping—leaving funds in the community. The group worked very closely with the Chamber in order to roll out the red carpet.
For several years they had booths at both Community Night and Dandelion Daze. They held various contests at several Country Christmases and utilized Holyoke scrip as the prizes.
Another big boost to the community is Holly Daze. 2009 marked the 47th Annual Holly Daze Craft-Gift Show, coordinated by Jolly Dozen. Not only did the visitors make purchases at the show, many were seen downtown with packages from retailers and enjoying lunch in the restaurants.
The group has sponsored numerous small projects including the art and essay contest in the grade school, a high school senior scholarship, free family movies and a recycle day working with the school and community—just to name a few.
Providing entertainment Monday night was the HHS Select Choir. A duet was sung by Kaylee Groshans and Ella Stewart titled What is This Feeling. The choir then sang Love Potion Number Nine, Hallelujah and The Best Years of our Lives.
Numerous local businesses donated items for a silent auction that was held throughout the evening.
Youth of the Year
“Groshans is a beautiful, talented, intelligent young woman with exceptional morals and values,” said the letter of nomination.
Groshans is involved in the Zion Ringers hand bell group, pep and marching bands and flag corps.
In addition to being an honor roll student, she is very active in many clubs in school including Cadenza Club and FCCLA. She is also very involved with basketball, is a manager for the football team and works part-time at the pool as a lifeguard.
“She has done nothing but impress me with her talents, good works for our community and her school,” said the letter of nomination. “She is definitely setting a good example for others in our community.”
Employee of the Year
Tomky was nominated not only for her dedication to her job at the Holyoke Enterprise, but also her commitment to the community. “Tomky serves as a positive role model for youth of the community,” her nominator stated.
In representing the community newspaper, she also represents the community. She’s creative, interviews with compassion and interest and provides the community with personal looks into many local personalities through her feature stories. She researches thoroughly and accurately, giving perspective to the present with historic-type articles for the community’s reading pleasure.
She is a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization for high school youth, she coordinates the music for the weekly Saturday evening worship service for her church, serves as publicity chair for Relay for Life and plays her saxophone in the HHS Pep Band on occasion.
“I believe she is a fine example of our quality Holyoke youth returning to the community to make a difference for us all,” said Tomky’s nominator.
Sperber was commended for his kind and compassionate heart and his caring nature for people. He talks to everyone he sees.
“It would take a book to cover all the lives Gary has touched in his lifetime,” his nominator said. “Certainly Holyoke is a better place because of him.”
It was also mentioned Sperber is a man of integrity. He has impacted young people’s lives as a coach and teacher. Throughout his many years serving off and on as both a coach and science teacher, Sperber has touched and been touched by many lives. “I’ve been blessed by being around kids,” he said.
Through the years he has served as a football and wrestling coach, science teacher and managed the swimming pool. Today he works full-time on his farm/ranch operation.
“To know Gary is to love Gary,” his nominator said. “He has more energy for a 60-some-year-old man than I’ve ever known.”
Regent Park and Carriage House
Business of the Year
A caring and helpful staff was cited as one of the reasons Regent Park and Carriage House was nominated for Business of the Year.
“Bill Johnson (Regent Park Director) has worked on many situations and made many changes that are only for the good of the patient care,” said the nomination letter.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance, meals are of good quality and they always have plenty of help on hand to help those who need it. Activities for all to choose from is another positive expressed in the nomination letter.
Whenever any changes or concerns take place with patients, a phone call is made to family members to keep them updated.
The nomination letter also stated many changes, all for the good, have taken place in the last two years.
Quick to give credit at Monday’s program, Johnson acknowledged director of nurses Julie Kotch. She, in turn recognized employees Shirlee Patten, director of activities, and nurse Joannie Taylor, who were nominated independently for Employee of the Year honors.