After her first full year of revitalizing and building the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director Terri Kingery is bringing in the awards.
The inaugural Chamber Awards Banquet, scheduled for Jan. 16 at the Ak-Chin Casino and Resort, honors businesses, but also individuals and nonprofits for their work in the community. It is a way, Kingery said, to honor not only businesses that have impacted the community, but also the individuals who have worked throughout the year to make Maricopa a better place to live.
“The Awards Banquet has been an idea of the chamber’s since before I came on board – we just did not have a strong enough organization until now,” Kingery said.
The nomination process was available for community members to vote on and then chamber members finalized the selections by voting for the top three in each category. The awards are broken down into four categories: Business of the Year, Sonny Dunn Citizen of the Year, the Renate Chamberlin Volunteer of the Year and Non-Profit of the Year. Three finalists were selected for each category – a tough choice in the business category with more than 200 members claiming affiliation with the chamber.
“Being nominated is humbling. I am grateful to be part of such a vibrant community and chamber of commerce, with such great leaders as Terri Kingery, who makes every business better through the work she does,” said Kimberly Diedrich, owner of Home is Where the Hound is – which joins Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Resort and DVD and Game Depot in the Business of the Year finalists. “To know that the dream of having a fun job playing with animals all day long could turn into such a successful, well respected business is awesome.”
Added DVD and Game Depot owner Al Ingersoll: “It is a really great feeling to know that people think enough of our little store to put it in the running for this honor, and if we win I look on it as an even greater honor because other businesses in the community feel this way also.”
Joyce Hollis, Peggy Opal and Kim Calderone were the nominees for Volunteer of the Year, an award that praises these three women for “offering to help that comes as naturally as breathing,” as Kingery puts it.
Giants among men
While the caliber of candidates receiving finalist recognition for each award was significant, it could be seen most clearly perhaps in the selections for Citizen of the Year.
Maricopa Police Chief Patrick Melvin, Community of Hope Senior Pastor Rusty Akers and Parks, Recreation and Libraries Director Marty McDonald were tabbed for the 2007 award.
“It was totally unexpected and I was very surprised when I heard the news,” said Akers, who also serves as a chaplain for the Maricopa Fire Department. “I was blown away when I saw my name along with Chief Melvin and Marty McDonald. I have watched both of these guys do such awesome jobs in our community, and I have high regards and respect for both of them.”
Akers’ work was doubly recognized when Community of Hope was nominated along with the Optimist Club and the MASH Coalition as the finalists for Non-Profit of the Year. Akers church has been at the forefront of forming the F.O.R. Food Bank and Resource Center in Maricopa.
“I consider this nomination a great reflection of the people and teams that stand behind all of us,” he said. “Without the awesome people that stand with me, serve with me, and work with me, my dreams and vision do not become reality.”
Like Akers, Melvin’s respect was for those who have helped him and his department get to where they are in the community today.
“I am fortunate to work with a great group of professionals, both the sworn officers and our
professional staff,” Melvin said. “As a result of citizen and community input, I have requested tremendous amounts from (his) staff and they have stepped up to the plate and performed extraordinarily and beyond the call of duty.
“This nomination lets me know that the police department is apparently heading in the right direction as far as our community is concerned.”
McDonald’s role was similar to Melvin’s in building a department from the ground up. In the fall, he received approval from the City Council to contract out for the Parks, Open Space and Trails Master Plan as well as a master plan for the library system, both are ongoing.
“The biggest joy I have is going to the park and the library and seeing both facilities in over-use,” he said. “Building a Parks and Recreation and Library Department from scratch is a very challenging process, more than most people realize. I’m no greater than any staff member so this nomination is shared by my entire department.”