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The Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Board of Directors poses for a photo at Tuesday’s Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event in Dimmick Park. Pictured from left are Ken Solt, Kim Rosario, Affiliated Chambers Manager Lauren Bertucci, Kendra Snyder, Affiliated Chambers Executive Vice President Jessica O’Donnell, Mayor David Heintzelman, Ricky Gower, Chris Snyder, Jim McIntyre, Tom Rieger, Kenny Rampolla and Rob Reilly. Nearly 200 people attended the sold-out, semi-annual ceremony.
There was much to celebrate at the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber of Commerce’s semi-annual Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event, at which local businesses and organizations were recognized for persevering to serve the community during a difficult period.
Held Tuesday under the pavilion in Hellertown’s Dimmick Park, the sold-out soiree featured light bites and an open bar. It was also attended by nearly 200 business and civic leaders, along with elected officials, family members and friends of the recipients.
The 2021 award recipients included: Black River Farms & Winery, Small Business Leadership Award; Dewey Fire Company & EMS, Lower Saucon Fire Rescue & Steel City Volunteer Fire Company, Community Partner Award; David Heintzelman and the team at Heintzelman Funeral Home, Community Lifestyle Award; Westley Morris of Saucon Valley Massage Therapy, Good Samaritan Award; Saucon Valley Community Center, Champion Nonprofit Award; and Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Chairman Ricky Gower Jr., Outstanding Achievement Award. All of the recipients were praised for their unique ability to lead during the coronavirus pandemic, which created unprecedented economic and other challenges.
Lower Saucon Fire Rescue Chief Ty Johnson recalled the anxious uncertainty that the volunteer fire crews felt during the early days of the pandemic, when they responded to accidents not knowing how vulnerable they might be to the infectious respiratory disease.
“Thankfully we had very little impact on our members with COVID,” he said.
Gower, who will step down from his leadership role with the chamber at the end of June, was recognized for his commitment to service during an extremely challenging time for many local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, due to unforeseen circumstances, he retook the reigns of the organization, which he had previously chaired.
Outgoing Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber chair Ricky Gower of BB&T now Truist, right, received the Outstanding Achievement Award at Tuesday’s Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event, which was held under the pavilion in Dimmick Park. The award was presented to Gower by immediate past chair and Hellertown Borough Council President Tom Rieger, left, and incoming chamber chair Kim Rosario, who also works for BB&T now Truist as the manager of the bank’s Hellertown branch.
Gower, of BB&T now Truist, will be succeeded by his bank colleague Kim Rosario, who was on hand to help present him with the award along with immediate past chair and Hellertown Borough Council President Tom Rieger.
“He has been a true champion for many, many years,” said Rosario. “He just continues to be a great mentor, leader and friend.”
Gower noted that he will continue to have close ties to the chamber, since he is engaged to Jessica O’Donnell, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Vice President for Affiliated Chambers. (Hellertown-Lower Saucon is an affiliated chamber.)
“There’s so many more people here that are more deserving of this (award) than I am,” he said, adding that Hellertown-Lower Saucon will always have a “special place” in his heart.
Another award recipient, Saucon Valley Community Center Executive Director Roberta Blackwell, spoke to some of the difficulties her team has faced due to COVID-19, which she said had seriously impacted young children, both emotionally and educationally.
“Children are our future,” Blackwell said. “We are doing everything every day to keep children learning.”
The Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event was presented by numerous local business sponsors, including Hellertown’s Steel Club.
“Steel Club is honored to support the recognition of this year’s well-deserved awardees,” said the club’s general manager, Grace Spirk. “These businesses demonstrate resilience and dedication while continuing to have a positive impact on our community.”
Other Honors & Hors D’oeuvres sponsors included Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors Inc., Lost Tavern Brewing, Heintzelman Funeral Home, Saucon Valley Massage Therapy, Steelhouse Abstract Inc., Hellertown Auto Wash, Quest Termite & Pest, Brooklyn’s Catering, Sam’s Club of Allentown, ASR Media Productions, Black River Farms, Evoke Solar, Saucon Valley Bikes, Farmers Insurance-The Wimbish Agency, Reilly Entertainment Group, Bux-Mont Awards, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Rita’s Italian Ice of Hellertown, Clusters Handcrafted Popcorn, Working Dog Press, Mike Robinson Productions, Gary’s Custom Cuts, Action Party Rentals, Lindsay O. Albert EA and –ts PR & Event Planning.
Photos below by Chris Christian
Brooklyn’s Catering owner Bobbie Gianguzzi presents some of the delectable hors d’oeuvres she prepared for the event.
Local Mama Catering Company owner Beth Anna Raynock busily plates hors d’oeuvres during the well-attended event.
Guests had the opportunity to enter to win a variety of raffle prizes donated by local businesses. The proceeds from the raffles benefited the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber’s high school scholarship fund.
Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Affiliated Chambers Manager Lauren Bertucci helped emcee the Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event, introducing many of the speakers throughout the ceremony. DJ Rob Reilly of Reilly Entertainment Group provided plenty of high energy beats to help keep the mood festive and fun during the intros.
Hellertown Mayor David Heintzelman, with his team from Heintzelman Funeral Home, was the recipient of the 2021 Community Lifestyle Award presented by the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber of Commerce.
Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Chair Ricky Gower addresses event attendees. Gower, who is stepping down from the chairmanship at the end of June, was also the recipient of the chamber’s 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award.
Hellertown’s First Lady, Nancy Heintzelman, awaits an hors d’oeuvre plating by Brooklyn’s Catering owner Bobbie Gianguzzi.
Lost Tavern Brewing co-owner Kenny Rampolla applauds for an award recipient during the Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event. Lost Tavern, which has locations in Hellertown and Bethlehem, was a gold sponsor of the event along with Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors Inc.
A pensive Tom Sondergaard coolly takes in the evening’s excitement from the comfort of a shaded picnic table. Sondergaard’s wife, chamber board member Tiffany Sondergaard, presented the Community Lifestyle Award to the Heintzelman Funeral Home team at the Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event.
Affiliated Chambers Manager Lauren Bertucci, left, and Executive Vice President Jessica O’Donnell were a dynamic duo all throughout the event, making numerous introductions, helping to keep the energy level high and engaging attendees with their contagious zeal for all things “local business.”
Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Tony Iannelli is known for his sense of humor. His remarks at Honors & Hors D’oeuvres did not disappoint.
Black River Farms Vineyard & Winery co-owner Andy Warner speaks after accepting the chamber’s 2021 Small Business Leadership Award.
Black River Farms Vineyard & Winery co-owner Andy Warner is presented with the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber’s 2021 Small Business Leadership Award by Executive Vice President of Affiliated Chambers Jessica O’Donnell. Black River Farms, through its distillery business Wardog Spirits, assisted numerous volunteer fire departments, police officers and hospitals with donations of hand sanitizer it began manufacturing during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber board member Kendra Snyder co-presented the Community Partner Award to the Saucon Valley’s three volunteer fire companies: Dewey Fire Company, Lower Saucon Fire Rescue and Steel City Volunteer Fire Company. Snyder’s husband, Chris Snyder, is Steel City Fire Chief and co-owner of their family pest control business.
Lt. Matt Simkovic of Dewey Fire Company in Hellertown accepts the chamber’s Community Partner Award on behalf of the fire company.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Affiliated Chambers Jessica O’Donnell presents Lt. Matt Simkovic of Dewey Fire Company with the company’s 2021 Community Partner Award.
Lower Saucon Fire Rescue Chief Ty Johnson, left, and fire company President Scott Krycia accept the Community Partner Award on behalf of Lower Saucon Fire Rescue. At right is presenter and chamber board member Kendra Snyder.
Fire Chief Ty Johnson and Fire Company President Scott Krycia, of Lower Saucon Fire Rescue, accept the Community Partner Award from Executive Vice President of Affiliated Chambers Jessica O’Donnell.
Steel City Fire Chief Chris Snyder, left, and Assistant Chief Scott Nocek accept the Community Partner Award on behalf of the fire company and its volunteers.
Executive Vice President of Affiliated Chambers Jessica O’Donnell presentes the Community Partner Award to Assistant Fire Chief Scott Nocek, left, and Fire Chief Chris Snyder of the Steel City Volunteer Fire Company.
Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber board member and owner of –ts PR and Event Planning Tiffany Sondergaard presents the 2021 Community Lifestyle Award to the team at Heintzelman Funeral Home.
Presenter Tiffany Sondergaard hugs Mayor David Heintzelman, who accepted the Community Lifestyle Award on behalf of his team at Heintzelman Funeral Home in Hellertown. “It is an honor, first of all, to be a part of this community,” said Heintzelman, who noted that 37 years ago he and his brother began doing business in Hellertown “basically knowing no one.” He thanked his staff for helping the business grow over the ensuing decades, saying, “without them we are nobody.”
There were ample opportunities to mix and mingle while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks both before and following the awards ceremony.
Guests prepare to pick up some hors d’oeuvres prepared by Local Mama Catering Company.
Steel City Assistant Fire Chief Scott Nocek and his family enjoyed the event together.
Wendy Shaffer, center, and Kim Rosario of BB&T now Truist talk to Jim and Karen McIntyre, owners of McDonald’s franchise locations, including the Hellertown McDonald’s.
Jill Kilian and Scott Jones of Black River Farms attended the event. The Lower Saucon Township vineyard and winery was the recipient of the chamber’s 2021 Small Business Leadership Award.
Rick and Regina Gower sit at a table with their son, Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber Chair Ricky Gower, at the Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event in Dimmick Park. Gower, who is Vice President/Retail Area Leader with BB&T now Truist, was the recipient of the chamber’s Outstanding Achievement Award for his organizational leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hellertown Mayor David Heintzelman accepts the chamber’s 2021 Community Lifestyle Award on behalf of his team at Heintzelman Funeral Home. “They deserve the accolades, because they afford me the time to do what I love to do,” said Heintzelman of his staff.
Jessica O’Donnell, Executive Vice President of Affiliated Chambers, presents Mayor David Heintzelman with the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber’s 2021 Community Lifestyle Award.
Westley Morris, co-owner of Saucon Valley Massage Therapy, received the Hellertown-Lower Saucon Chamber’s Good Samaritan Award in recognition of his selflessness as a business owner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Morris, who gave back to the community instead of focusing on his own fears, said he challenged himself during the crisis by asking, “How can I do better every day?” He added, “I’m very grateful for the chamber, who showed up when things were bad.”
CAPO Leadership Consulting President Michael Barrovecchio introduces award recipient Westley Morris.
Paul Kane of Steel Club, left, and Steel Club owner Dave Spirk listen to a presenter during the Honors & Hors D’oeuvres event Tuesday. Steel Club was the presenting sponsor of the event.
Westley Morris hugs presenter Michael Barrovecchio as he accepts the chamber’s 2021 Good Samaritan Award on behalf of his business, Saucon Valley Massage Therapy.
Attorney Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and Hellertown Borough Council President Tom Rieger mingled at the event.