The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut's annual year-end breakfast honoring the region's social service agencies brought together a banquet room of do-gooders on Friday, fitting for the time of year.
"This is a sold-out event," chamber president Tony Sheridan said in his opening remarks at the . "That speaks to the value of the work you all do in eastern Connecticut."
Sheridan noted that nonprofits are not only critical to the area because of the work they do helping people, but also because "they are one of the largest employers collectively in the region."
Chamber Board Chairman Matt Nick, of J.H. Cohn LLP, said that the chamber organizes many events throughout the year "and they are not all about the economy or politics. There a few that honor local heroes. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They are police and fire. But this room is full of heroes, and on behalf of the chamber I want to thank you for the great service that you have given to our community."
and William W. Backus hospitals were co-sponsors of the breakfast, and spokespeople Michael O'Farrell from L&M and Janette Polaski from Backus recognized all the social service groups in attendance.
"This is the season of giving, and what you give is pretty extraordinary," O'Farrell said. "I stand in awe of what you do. L&M is proud to honor that."
Polaski said that there is much grim news in the world today, but "this is a room of optimists. You are people who feel you can and must make a difference. You represent all that is right with the world."
Following the recognition of all the agencies, Michelle Jacobik and Donna Yother of Sava Insurance Group presented the awards:
- Board Member of the Year: Beth Camassar, Waterford Country School
- Staff Member of the Year: Janis Davis, United Community Family Services.
- Executive Director of the Year: Carol Mahler, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut
- Volunteer of the Year: Henry Rianhard, United Way