Every year, the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce’s membership picks the winners of the Chamber’s award for top business, non-profit, volunteer and ambassador. This year’s awards were announced on Friday, March 26, at the Chamber’s annual gala, held this year in the gym at Calvary Baptist Church. It was moved to this location after the Cleveland Civic Center sustained damage during the winter storm.
“These award recipients were voted on by chamber membership and are an exemplary representation of the community as a whole,” said Victoria Good in a preface to announcing the first award.
The first award of the evening went to Diane Mayhew for Chamber Ambassador of the Year. Mayhew is a realtor with Design Realty Group and is a frequent volunteer and promoter of the Chamber. Good said that Mayhew consistently donates her time and energy to the Chamber by volunteering for events throughout the year.
Business of the Year went to Good Promotions, owned by Kristi Warren Harris.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, they organized a T-shirt fundraiser showcasing several local businesses and gave a large portion of the sales back to those business during a time when many others were forced to close,” Good said. “At the same time, they provided free banners to people in businesses around town, displaying uplifting Bible verses in an effort to lift the community spirit.”
The Health Center of Southeast Texas was picked as the Non-Profit of the Year for providing affordable healthcare on a sliding scale payment system, and providing routine care to elderly and nursing home residents and continually giving back to the community in “big ways,” Good said.
HCSET donated 1,000 backpacks to last year’s City of Cleveland Back-to-School event and frequently supports the Chamber through various fundraisers and events.
“We also appreciate that their marketing director, Melanie Strickland, is one of our Chamber ambassadors,” Good said.
The Jean Noble McAdams Volunteer of the Year award went to Raelene Atkinson with Emergency Hospital Systems. She was picked for the award because she attends most meetings, luncheons and events, and is ready and willing to help whenever and wherever she is needed, Good said.
Atkinson helped set up booths and coordinated additional volunteers for the Chamber’s Rock N Ride, Outdoor Expo and other community events.
“Her positive attitude is encouraging to others and she is a wonder asset to the committees she serves on, including the ambassador committee, the Chamber board of directors and the Lions Club,” Good said.
In recent years, the Chamber has adopted a campaign that not only encourages people to shop local, but to worship local and volunteer local. The campaign was the idea of Rev. Brad Dancer, pastor of Rural Shade Baptist Church in Tarkington. Through the church, Dancer has helped organize a regular food giveaway that helps feed hundreds of residents in the community each week.
In announcing Dancer being selected for the Alfred G. Anderson Citizen of the Year award, Good explained that Dancer had created the campaign after Hurricane Harvey.
“The slogan – Buy Local, Worship Local and Volunteer Local – encourages the greater Cleveland community to spend their time and money here in our area to improve the economy and encourage our growth, which was especially needed last year at the beginning of the pandemic,” Good said. “The recipient of this award spends an immeasurable amount of time giving back to the Tarkington community. He and his church give away thousands of pounds of food every week to those in need.”
Outgoing board members Patti Foster, Randy Peery and Charlie Rice were presented with awards recognizing their service to the Chamber Board of Directors.
Good also announced her pick for the Chairman’s Choice Award, which recognizes a person with an outstanding record of service to the Chamber over the last year. This year’s award went to Camille Landry with Full Scope Pest Control.