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Evergreen chamber honors community volunteers

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By Sandy Barnes

The Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce presented several awards to those who serve the community and the organization during the annual Honoree Celebration at the Evergreen Elks Lodge on March 6.

“This was a special occasion for us because we would not be able to provide the level of services we do without the commitment and devotion of these generous people and organizations,” said Lin Browning, chamber president.

Evergreen residents Ken Carlson and Bruce Thoms received the Volunteer of the Year award for the employment program they developed at Evergreen Christian Outreach.

Carlson and Thoms designed a one-day workshop for people seeking employment that provides basic information on job-search skills.

“Our proudest accomplishments are those of establishing both the monthly job-search workshops, as well as what is becoming the semi-annual job fair in Evergreen,” said Thoms.

In partnership with the Evergreen chamber, Carlson, Thoms and other EChO staff and volunteers held Evergreen’s first job fair last November.

“Through our EChO workshops and the assistance of great coaches, we have been able to find work for half of the participants since the program started in 2012. We feel we're making a difference in peoples live's,” said Carlson.

Working with EChO and the Mountain Resource Center, Thoms and Carlson also are beginning to structure a program to help military veterans who live in the foothills cope with stress, family adjustment issues, health issues, job searches, and other areas of concern.

The Center for the Arts Evergreen received the Non-Profit of the Year Award for its service to the community through large festivals, the CAE gallery, classes, workshops, Art in the Park for preschoolers, craft classes for adults with developmental disabilities, and support at community events.

“We impact individuals in many different ways, both as spectators of art, teachers of art, and participants in actual hands-on art activities such as art classes and

camps,” said Steve Sumner, CAE director. “It’s within our classes, camps and workshops where we can see the impact of individual participants.”

The arts organization’s extensive volunteer base comes from a variety of local organizations such as Evergreen Rotary, Blue Spruce Kiwanis and Evergreen

High School students, along with many individuals who offer their time, Sumner added.

Heather Galaska of Social Media Maiden received the Young Professional of the Year award. Galaska is a business-level member of the chamber, an active participate in the Early Edition Leads Group, a new chamber ambassador, and serves as chair of the organization’s workshop committee.

During the past year, Galaska has provided online marketing classes on a monthly basis and has served as a volunteer during mixers and other events for the chamber.

“The most valuable lesson I learned was how to trust my intuition and the knowledge I have in both my profession and running a business in a small community,” Galaska said.

Mali Holmes of Evergreen is the Chamber’s Youth of the Year award recipient.

“My favorite thing about Evergreen is our pride and sense of community," said Holmes. “Whenever there is a crisis in Evergreen, the community comes together to make sure the entire community is safe.”

During the past year, Holmes also has worked on issues of social acceptance among students at her school.

“I have played a large role in our school’s Diversity Day, a day at the high school dedicated to broaden students’ perspectives. I am also currently helping the school create an anti-bullying committee,” said Holmes. “My efforts have helped me with personal improvement, as well as changing the perspectives of many people within my school.”

Philip Levy of Heartland Payment Systems was selected as the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year for his representation of the organization at business and community events.

“I believe in helping our local businesses feel good about belonging to a community where everyone really cares about their growth,” Levy said. “There is a strong sense of camaraderie with my fellow ambassadors. … It is wonderful being part of a group that accepts everyone for who they are, sharing in both misfortunes and triumphs.”

“We are a community made up of many amazing people who do extraordinary things, often without any acknowledgement,” said Browning. “Each year we have the privilege of recognizing individuals and organizations that stand out for their exceptional contributions to both our organization and our community.”

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.