The GC Chamber awards recognize organizations and individuals that have significantly impacted the quality of life in Gates and Chili.
By CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN / firstname.lastname@example.org
It's time again to recognize those exceptional people who make Gates and Chili a more economically robust, vibrant, culturally enlightened place to be.
The Gates-Chili Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of its 2005 Community Awards.
"The purpose of the awards ceremony is to honor people in this community who have tried to spearhead the economic development of this community and also the well-being of this community," said Chamber President Bill Gillette. "It's a tremendous honor we're able to honor these people."
The chamber solicits nominees each year from the community, and the chamber's board of directors votes by secret ballot to determine the winners.
The ceremony honoring the winners is Wednesday, May 25, at Brook-Lea Country Club. The evening's keynote speaker is Sandra A. Parker, CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance.
This year, the Outstanding Citizens Award goes to Lt. James VanBrederode of the Gates Police Department and members of the Gates Keystone Club Police Pipes and Drums Band.
This award honors those who have contributed to the betterment of the community. VanBrederode is one of the band's founders, which has a growing statewide profile. The band plays at festivals and any community gathering or event to which they're invited, has accompanied school musicals, and plays at funerals - including a funeral for a Buffalo soldier killed in the Iraq war.
"Obviously, I'm very thrilled by this," said VanBrederode. "We don't expect to get acknowledgment like this. When you volunteer your time you do it because you want to do it, not because you're anticipating an award."
The band was founded in 1998 as a small, ceremonial, police/fire/community band, VanBrederode said, but has never stopped growing. There are about 28 members now, he said, and only 40 percent belong to the police or fire departments. The rest are community members.
The bulk of the Community Awards are business-driven, but thrown into the mix is the Culture and Arts Award, to be presented this year to John Barthelmes.
A significant presence on the Rochester theater scene, Barthelmes has directed shows for the Gates Community Theater: "Here's Love" and "Annie." He directed "Oklahoma!" at the Roberts Wesleyan College Community Theatre in January.
Barthelmes also holds acting and auditioning workshops through the Gates Recreation and Parks Department at Town Hall or Lions Park.
"I'm thrilled and honored and surprised. I actually knew nothing about the award," he said, explaining that a parent of a child in one of his workshops told him he'd won earlier this month.
Barthelmes said it's important to recognize the arts along with the industries in a community.
"It doesn't always get the same recognition as things like sports and retail," he said. "So it does need time in the limelight."
The chamber created a Special Recognition Award this year to honor Wegmans, which was recently named Fortune magazine's top workplace in America.
"Wegmans brings tremendous economic growth to this area," Gillette said. "They're a tremendous part of our community."