By LOIS KINDLE
The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce celebrated its own Feb. 4 at its No Place like SouthShore annual awards banquet.
The awards and décor were themed this year around the Wizard of Oz as guests “followed the yellow brick road” to Del Webb SouthShore Falls in Apollo Beach for the festive event.
“The banquet is our way of acknowledging what everyone did last year and of telling the story of the chamber in 2021 leading into 2022,” said Melanie Davis, the chamber’s executive director. “We had our best turnout ever!
“We’re looking forward to everything this year brings and making connections between member businesses, residents, nonprofit groups and civic organizations, which strengthen our entire community,” she said.
Here’s who won and descriptions of the awards they received:
Master Deputy Jon Footman, of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, received the Lion “Courage” Award for leading the chamber’s Homeless Outreach and guiding the chamber in working with the community’s homeless population.
Matt Urbanovsky, of Keller Williams Realty South Shore, was given the Tin Man “Heart” Award for going the extra mile with his volunteerism for a variety of chamber efforts.
Travis and Amber Council, of Council Growers Sod, accepted the Scarecrow “Agriculture” Award for its family’s generational commitment to the industry and to its ongoing efforts on behalf of FFA and its student members at Lennard High School.
Terri Sherman, of the Salty Shamrock, accepted the Glinda, the Good Witch, Award for the restaurant’s continuous efforts to give back to the community by hosting events and creating a safe, outdoor environment to do so.
The Ruby Red Slippers Award went to Tracy Cannon, of South Shore Signs, for her willingness to drop everything when needed to fix or supply last minute chamber needs.
The Firehouse Cultural Center was given the Flying Monkeys Award for providing an accommodating, safe, indoor environment for businesses and organizations to meet during the pandemic.
The Oz Award went to the entire team at Freedom Boat Club for its involvement in the chamber this year and helping with events like the Red Tide Cleanup and providing boat tours for the families of migrant high school graduates.
And, finally, the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Ruskin received the Yellow Brick Road Award for its support of a variety of organizations and businesses in the community and for always seeking new opportunities to help.
The chamber recognized outgoing 2021 board members Kevin Elwell and Joey Henderson and introduced its 2022 board. Its members include retiree Penny Smith, president, formerly of H&R Block; Peter Schwarz, of Schwarz & Baskin Commercial & Residential Brokers, vice president; Wendy Yeo, of Suncoast Credit Union, treasurer; Michael Ball, of Edward Jones, secretary; Khalid Abouelhouda, Pita Kebob; Lisa Birkhead, Frios Gourmet Pops; Chris Bredbenner, Firehouse Cultural Center; Tom Campbell, Flamboozled, VFW 6287, Sea Glass Church and My Warrior’s Place; Trish Ellis, Align Right Realty Southshore; Carrie Elwell, Cigars on the Boulevard; Shannon Hill, Kids R Kids SouthShore and Waterset; and Ray Monahan, Century 21 Beggins Enterprises.
“Rebounding in 2021 after 2020’s strict COVID restrictions, the chamber is on a path of tremendous growth, and we expect to continue it into 2022,” Smith said. “This chamber is unlike others in that it’s so entrenched in the community and in giving back through its Homeless Outreach, Military Affairs Committee, Educational Partnership (and more).
Members of the There’s No Place Like SouthShore banquet committee included Davis, Annafe Coburn, Kathy Eckhart, Mae Engram, Ann Hathaway, Kim Levesque, Lea Manningham, Bonnie Peacock, Deborah Porath, Janet Verdeguer and Kathy Wallin.
Major event sponsors included Fringe Benefits Salon, Salty Shamrock and Mosaic.
“It was a really beautiful event, said Lea Manningham, of Girls of the World Inc. “For someone new like me, (the event) provided an opportunity to meet so many other chamber members and network with them. I had so much fun handing out the awards.”
For more information on the SouthShore Chamber, visit www.southshorechamberofcommerce.org/.