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Chamber of Commerce celebrates community at annual awards dinner

  • 2 July 2019
  • Author: Dan McNiel
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Chamber of Commerce celebrates community at annual awards dinner

The Marlboro Chamber of Commerce celebrated some of the county's most integral people and businesses at its recent annual meeting.
Chamber President Janelle Bakagiannis said the event was a way of thanking members for supporting the chamber during the year.
Awards were given to Northeastern Technical College, Business of the Year; Sully Blair of Sully Blair State Farm Insurance, Business Person of the Year; S.C. House of Representatives member Patricia Henegan, Community Leader; and Marian Wright Edelman Public Library, Non-profit of the Year.
Chamber President Janelle Bakagiannis said the hurricanes in 2018 were a large event in the community.
She added in deciding the recipients for the awards, they decided to  look at members who stood out for being amazing examples of businesses and persons in the community.
"We looked for companies and individuals that took such a bad situation and decided to let it influence their deeds and giving," Bakagiannis said.
NETC received the Business of the Year award. Bakagiannis said while the ribbon cutting for the new campus on Oakwood Street was in February, the NETC opened the campus before it was finished to allow the National Guard, the Red Cross, FEMA, and others to use the facilities during the hurricanes.
"They provided much-needed donations of various kinds, coming alongside those in our community who had a need, and those helping them," she said.
Blair was named Business Person of the Year. During the hurricanes, he and his team stayed in their boarded-up office so they would be available to file claims for customers.
In addition to donations and help during/after the hurricanes, Bakagiannis said, Blair held a breakfast to honor first responders who worked hard during the events.
Blair has started the Quotes for Good Program where each month a nonprofit or organization is selected. For every quote, he will donate $10 to the nonprofit or organization.
Henegan earned the Community Leader Award.
Bakagiannis said in the past, the award has been called the Community Involvement Award but felt Community Leader was more appropriate for Henegan.
After the hurricanes, Henegan turned the chamber building into a one-stop hub for people who needed help. In the space, there was water, cleaning supplies, food, clothing, and information on resources available.
"She worked tirelessly to make sure no one left empty handed or in need of food or water," Bakagiannis said. "She kept her finger on the pulse of the community, meeting needs before true hardship was felt by many."
It was noted that Henegan didn't just focus on the hurricanes. In the past year, she helped to provide health fairs, fish rodeos, and other events to give access to resources, education, healthcare, and entertainment.
MWE received the Nonprofit of the Year. After the hurricanes, FEMA's Disaster Survivor Assistance Team provided a central spot at MWE so the community could receive help.
"After the hurricanes, they continued to support the community through their various programs and provided workshops and information to help everyone recover," Bakagiannis said.
The current facility, named after a children's advocate and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, has served the county since 2010.
Bakagiannis noted that in addition to its own programs, MWE also promotes programs and events happening in the community.
During the meeting, chamber officials talked about how during 2018-19 they scaled back on events but focused on membership.
Bakagiannis said it gave them a renewed sense of purpose. Several new members have joined the chamber along with ribbon cuttings for various new ventures.
"We are now excited to forge ahead with renewed enthusiasm," she said.
Upcoming events in 2019-20 include Cinema in the City, the Taste of Marlboro, Holiday Sip and Shop, Chamber After Dark, Legislative Breakfast and Wine and Food Pairing.
Two new events will make their debut — Antique and Vintage Festival in the fall and a Spring Cupcake Crawl in 2020.
The 2019-20 Board of Directors are Leslie Herndon, chairwoman; Dr. Michelle-Ann Petrone, secretary; Matt Haynie, treasurer; and board members — Sully Blair, Glenn Bunch, Mark Bunch, Deborah Dease, Herbert Gould, Caraline Harpe, Stacey Herndon, Joe Hunsucker, Amber Oxendine, Trina Speight, Cam Stone, Tracie Stubbs, Ed Taner, Rich Urquhart, Gailon Wisdom and David Johnson.

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