AUGUSTA — When the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce honors its members at the annual Kenney Awards on Friday, the winners of three awards — President’s Circle, Community Service and Cynergy Professional — will be determined by live voting by attendees.
Katie Doherty, president and CEO of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, said nominees for these awards are often surprised and a little embarrassed to be singled out. But in each case, the nominees, who are chosen by their peers, deserve attention, she said.
“It’s nice to give them that recognition,” Doherty said. “They deserve it.”
The exposure they receive at the Kenneys and after also opens up opportunities for them to meet and work with new people and organizations.
“We cover 23 different communities, from small business entrepreneurs to larger employers, and all different industries, and we highlight and bring it all together, which is great,” she said.
This is the first time since 2020 that the event has returned to its traditional, formal format at the Augusta Civic Center.
PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE AWARD
The President’s Circle Award recognizes companies active in the region whose impact results in the creation of income and employment; nominees are leaders in their industry and maintain an exemplary corporate image.
For more than 40 years, the family-owned American Awards has created awards and trophies to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of people in Central Maine.
“We know that many of our awards will be a source of pride and gratification for their recipients, both for children involved in sports or in school, or for adults recognized for their professional milestones,” said American Awards owner Justin Wing, “and because of that, we build each award with the utmost care and diligence.
Wing said that because it’s a small company, he’s involved in every product and he’s proud to have a store in Augusta where people can see the quality of the products for themselves.
When Dave Tracy moved to Augusta to work for Hershey’s Ice Cream over three decades ago, it was only natural for the ice cream wholesaler’s branch manager to be part of the community while supplying ice cream products. schools, hospitals and nursing homes. , retail stores and other locations in Maine and northern New Hampshire.
“We play little league; we still have a Hershey Ice Cream team and I coached for about 10 years,” said Tracy, who has been at Augusta for 37 years.
Hershey’s Ice Cream participated in the annual 4th of July Parade, with people dressed as clowns handing out popsicles, and provided ice cream for a range of other events.
“I never thought of myself as a spearhead doing things, it was just fun,” he said. “If anyone needs help, I’ll get involved, usually with ice cream.”
At One River CPA, business leaders are committed to being part of the communities where they work and fostering the next generation of accountants through student internship opportunities.
He has raised funds for organizations such as Special Olympics and Camp Sunshine with the One River CPAs 5K & Kids Fun Run and gives time to his employees and interns to volunteer for local nonprofits such as the Augusta Food Bank.
“(We) believe that active involvement in the community through volunteerism and community service allows employees to have a full work experience while learning the importance of giving back and being part of a rewarding community. and thriving,” said Alison Lorenz, Managing Director. .
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
Nominees are recognized by their peers for their ongoing efforts to improve the Kennebec Valley.
Carrie Arsenault, fundraising director of the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in Gardiner, was a member and past president of the Augusta Kiwanis Club, serving children in the community and helping connect people seeking local initiatives to support with organizations that need help.
She is one of three presidents of the Gardiner Area Thrives Coalition, which works to make Gardiner a place where young people can thrive. She also sits on Gardiner’s Economic and Community Development Committee.
“We live in a very favorable region,” said Arsenault, 47. “People who serve do amazing things and keep nonprofits uplifted.”
Rebecca Pushard, a personality on WCTB’s True Country 93.5, believes people have different gifts and talents and it’s up to them to find out what they are. About a decade ago, Pushard discovered she could sing, and she uses her talent to sing the national anthem at local and out-of-state events.
“I just let it rip,” she said, noting that she’s performed in over 60 events.
Pushard, 52, takes speaking engagements and serves as emcee at a range of events, including the Mrs. Maine America and the Sexual Assault and Crisis Center Celebrity Dinner, among others. With some of her family members serving in the military, she also works to raise funds for veterans programs in the community and at VA Medical Center – Togus.
“It’s our obligation to give back,” she says. “I live in Manchester and grew up in the Kennebec Valley. I’ve always felt so supported and think any opportunity to give back is important.
The first time Chris Vallee, a Hallowell realtor, held a fundraiser with Dawn Gallagher, they were able to raise $100,000 for Slates, the Hallowell restaurant that burned down in 2007. Since then, has he Said, he’s held fundraisers at the Quarry Tap Room “pretty much for anyone in need,” from individuals to nonprofits.
He also started the Central Maine Idol contest which brings together Maine musicians to compete for a cash prize at the end of a weeks-long elimination.
“I’ve always been a small business owner and the community has always been good to me,” Vallée, 58, said. “I think it’s people’s duty to give back as much as possible. I think the more you give, the more you get. It is rewarding.
CYNERGY PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR
This award honors chamber members who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to the betterment of the Kennebec Valley.
Heather Allen, Associate Realtor at Sprague & Curtis, served as Co-Chair of the Cynergy Steering Committee, which focuses on providing networking opportunities, community contribution, and professional growth and development.
“I was born and raised in Augusta, and I want to see the city prosper,” Allen, 36, said. “I lived out of state for many years and am happy to be back in central Maine. I have a niece and nephews and hope to have children one day I want to have opportunities in the area.
Allen is also an active volunteer for United Way of Kennebec Valley, a recent graduate of the Kennebec Leadership Institute and designed one of the sturgeon sculptures that was displayed on Water Street in downtown Augusta as part of a public art project.
Michael Hall, 39, came to Augusta in 2016 as executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance, an organization dedicated to building a vibrant downtown neighborhood by showcasing its assets and attracting people in the historic section of the state capital.
For Hall, who has formed working relationships and friendships through his position with the Downtown Alliance and Cynergy, working to better the community comes down to this: He lives in Augusta and he’s put down roots.
“I think the work is important to try to make it an even better place, the best it can be,” he said. “There’s so much potential here, and I think everyone should work to make it a better place.”
Hall said he attributes his nomination for this award to the entire Augusta Downtown Alliance Board of Directors, as he could not do his job effectively without them.
Matt James, 35, an on-air personality at WMME,92 Moose, said that while he loves his job, what motivates him is knowing that he and his colleagues are among some of the most major central Maine events.
James has participated in the Maine Special Olympics Request-a-thon and annual Camp Out Hunger food drive with 92 Moose, but has also worked with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, United Way of Mid-Maine, Maine Children’s Home , American Lung Association, Little Pink Houses of Hope and serves on the committee for Kelly’s cause for brain tumors.
“I want to leave a community legacy,” he said, “to give back in any way I can to those in need. I have a soft spot for young people in the region and I want them to understand the importance of volunteer work and generosity. I want them to grow up with community involvement as part of their DNA.