The Dunwody Lodge was alight Tuesday night as Clewiston’s business society gathered for the 67th Annual Chamber Dinner.
The dinner acts not only as a fundraiser for the Clewiston Chamber of Commerce but also honors the community’s volunteers and business leaders who impact the region every day.
After the installation of the Chamber’s 2015/16 officers and directors, Mayor Phillip Roland presented the city of Clewiston’s Outstanding Community Service Award. The community service award is presented to a member or members of the community who have worked tirelessly for the betterment of the community, whether through fundraising or volunteerism.
This year’s recipients have worked behind the scenes to raise money for the community and are members of numerous philanthropic organizations.
The Outstanding Community Service Award was presented to Robbie and Sissy Castellanos.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Clewiston has been good to me. Clewiston has been good to us and I hope that we’ve given back to y’all,” said Mr. Castellanos as he and his wife received their plaque.
U.S. Sugar employee and newly instated Chamber First Vice President Matt Kindermann presented the next award, the Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Membership Award.
This year’s recipient has lived in Clewiston most of his life, working as a chiropractor, a welfare director and serving as the county’s first administrator for nearly 20 years.
The Lifetime Membership Award was presented to Lionel Beatty.
Commissioner and director for the Chamber Kristine Petersen presented the last award of the night, the Business of the Year Award.
Nominees for the award included Ace Hardware, MCM Paints and the H.E. Hill Foundation.
This year’s Business of the Year began as a one-woman show in the closet of the building it now fully occupies. It now boasts a 10-person team and offers a vast array of services to the community with the motto that the people of Clewiston deserve to be pampered right here in the community.
This year’s Business of the Year was Bella Vida Day Spa.
Owners Cameron Moss and Joy Llossas received the award and thanked the community for its support.
The Chamber Dinner is organized by Executive Director Hillary Hyslope, assistant executive director Tabatha Ralston, as well as other Chamber staff members.
The dinner is truly a community event, bringing together organizations that help make it so successful.
The H.E. Hill Foundation, which helps low- to middle-income families find affordable housing, sponsored social hour from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Clewiston High School’s Criminal Justice students not only served dessert and cleared plates throughout the night, they opened the night’s event with a Presentation of Colors. Cracker Cookin’ and Caterin’ served prime rib and chicken cordon bleu with all the fixings.
The many sponsors made it possible to give away five cash drawings, host a silent auction and provide dinner and beverages to more than a hundred guests.
Those sponsors include the H.E. Hill Foundation, Sugar Festival Committee, Five Star Youth of America/Sugar Dolls, Roland and Mary Ann Martin Marina, U.S. Sugar Corporation, Everglades Federal Credit Union, Hendry County School Board, City of Clewiston, CenterState Bank and First Bank.
A previous version of this article stated Matt Kindermann was president of the Chamber of Commerce, he is in fact vice president. The article has been corrected.