FLUSHING — Despite not being able to host its annual awards banquet in person, the Flushing Area Chamber of Commerce forged ahead with a virtual event to honor the Flushing community’s finest business and civic leaders.
The 2020 Virtual Awards Banquet, a 20-minute video package streamed on the Flushing Chamber’s Facebook page, featured prerecorded award presentations and interviews between Chamber Board of Directors members and award recipients.
Award winners included Terry Bigelow, who was selected as the 2020 Citizen of the Year. Bigelow, the program manager for the Flushing Christian Outreach Center (FCOC), was chosen for Citizen of the Year in part for her dedication to keeping FCOC running smoothly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring that the center could provide area families with food and basic needs during tough times. Bigelow also sewed masks for her staff and raised funds for new freezers at FCOC to hold donations of meat and other foodstuffs.
Flushing Christian Outreach Center itself received the 2020 Business of the Year award for being a lifeline to the community. As an essential business, FCOC was able to stay open during the COVID-19 shutdowns, providing friends and neighbors in the community in need with food, cleaning/disinfecting supplies, prayer and comfort.
The 2020 Community Spotlight Award went to Upward Basketball & Cheer, a sports ministry sponsored and hosted by Flushing Community Church. Upward has provided basketball and cheerleading for area youth for the past 15 seasons, while also teaching teamwork and life skills to participants. Upward managed to complete its 2020 season before the COVID-19 shutdowns took place last March and is looking forward to ramping up activities this fall.
2020 Veteran of the Year honors went to John Howe, Commander of the Flushing American Legion Post #283. Howe helps to organize his post’s participation in parades and on ceremonies on Flag Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day in Flushing each year. Flushing Chamber Board Secretary Mary Smith, who presented the award to Howe, said that Howe is a great representative for veterans across the country, as he is always “leading the path with speeches and with the American Flag held high.”
For the city/township employee categories, the City of Flushing selected Clerk Michelle King as its 2020 Employee of the Year, while Flushing Township Supervisor Fred Thorsby nominated the entire Flushing Township Police Department as Employee of the Year for 2020. King received commendations from the Chamber for her many years of service to the city, and Flushing Township police were praised for their dedication to public safety on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flushing Community Schools also recognized Flushing Middle School counselor Andy Barger as its 2020 Educator of the Year and Flushing High School custodian Larry Ham as its 2020 Employee of the Year.
The Chamber recognized Mary Smith, owner of I Can Market That.com and founder of the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation, as its 2020 Flushing Chamber Ambassador of the Year. The Chamber also announced Matt Shanafelt as its 2021 President and bestowed outgoing 2020 Chamber President Richie Siegel with the 2020 President’s Award.
To view a replay of the Chamber’s virtual awards banquet, visit the Flushing Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.