APOLLO BEACH – The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce gave members a “three-hour tour” last Friday aboard the “S.S. SouthShore” during its Island Getaway annual awards banquet. The evening was reminiscent of TV's “Gilligan's Island,” as many of the 250 members and guests came dressed as one of the seven castaways from the 1964-1967 show.
Lynne “Mary Ann” Conlan of The Tampa Tribune and The South Shore News emceed the mostly casual event, which included the awards presentation, two special commendations from Hillsborough County, passing of the president's gavel and remarks by the new president.
The 2013 award winners were introduced by their 2012 counterparts immediately following dinner:
Ambassador of the Year – Charlotte Clark of American Momentum Bank
Small Business of the Year – Legal Shred, Jason Fredricks
Large Business of the Year – St. Joseph's Hospital South
E.G. Simmons Award – Tony Zipperer of Zipperer's Funeral Home
Volunteer of the Year – “Magic” Mandy Burdick of Mandy's Mendings
The E.G. Simmons Award goes to the person or organization most exemplifying the meaning of selflessness in supporting the needs of the community each year. Past recipients have included Don Pearson of Pearson Capital, Don “Beanie” Tichy of Beanie's Family Sports Grill, Deb Adams of BMO Harris Bank and the South Shore Anglers.
The chamber recognized John Smith, co-owner of the local H&R Block, for his long-time support of the chamber and membership on the board. Ron Simpson of Weichert Realtors – SouthShore said Smith had held every board position except that of executive director. Executive Director Melanie Morrison followed with a special commendation to the Paul and Glen Dickman family for its “laying the foundation for the proper development of much of South Shore” and its “continued commitment” to the success of the community. Morrison thanked the Dickmans for more than five decades of support for the chamber, as well.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman gave the Dickmans an additional commendation from the county commission for the family's longstanding contributions to South Shore, and then another to the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce for its efforts to represent and unite the entire South Shore community.
“The chamber has advanced the quality of life, promoted economic development and enhanced the natural character of the South Shore area,” the plaque read.
Next Simpson, the chamber's outgoing president, passed the gavel of leadership to Carrie Elwell of Kids R Kids Southshore.
In her remarks Elwell talked about how exciting a place the community has become and will continue to be.
“South Shore is bursting with opportunity from jobs to real estate to medical to retail,” she said. “The community is filled with savvy and generous business people.”
Elwell encouraged members to become more active in the various networking events and chamber committees that benefit not only their businesses but also the community at large. For example this past year, its education committee, with the help of chamber members, supplied books and clothing to underprivileged kids at under-performing South Shore schools; provided supplies to the Lennard High School Robotics Club; and most recently – in the space of one day – outfitted 10 second-grade classrooms at Ruskin Elementary School with vocabulary books to help students with their reading skills. Shannon Brown, the 2014 honorary mayor of South Shore, thanked members for their support. Her opponents – Anne Madden, Smith, Burdick – were acknowledged and given checks for the 50 percent of their campaign proceeds earmarked for their charities of choice.
The announcement of silent auction and 50/50 raffle winners ended the “tour.”
“This was a great year for the chamber,” Morrison said after the banquet. “Interest in the chamber has always been high, but with the coming of Amazon, the YMCA, St. Joseph's Hospital – South and Waterset, it's become greatly magnified. South Shore is on everyone's radar now and definitely the place to be.”