The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce will present its top awards this year at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when it airs its annual awards gala on television station KCOY. The Chamber will also be posting the full broadcast, along with the individual award recipient recognition videos, on their website and social media platforms.
In celebrating business, leadership and community, the Chamber will showcase some of the Santa Maria Valley’s movers and shakers, active volunteers, supportive small and large businesses and all-around stellar citizens as nominated by community members and selected by the Chamber’s board of directors.
“One of the great things about our annual awards is that the community helps us decide who we should recognize,” explained Glenn Morris, Chamber President/CEO. “This year, we saw a wide range of nominations and we think the recipients are a great reflection of the impressive work our community members, organizations and businesses are doing in our community.”
The year of COVID-19 won’t slow down the Chamber any more than it has slowed Hugh Rafferty, winner of the Robert P. Hatch Citizen of the Year Award. While most people seem to have chucked their calendars aside for 2020, Rafferty still has to check his to squeeze in a lunch date or photo shoot.
The U.S. Marine veteran (1955-1960) retired in 2002 after careers with IBM and Lockheed-Martin. Since then, he’s served on more than 15 boards and committees.
Today, Rafferty volunteers concurrently as a director at Coast Hills Credit Union and on the boards of Luis Oasis Senior Center, Leadership Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, and Committee to Improve North County. He’s an elected member of the Santa Maria Public Airport District board, and serves on the leadership and advocacy committees for California Credit Union League, as well as on the board of the California Special Districts Association.
His volunteer service has included board membership with the Chamber, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Bond Oversight Committee, and on the boards of the Hancock College Bond Oversight Committee, and Coastal Business Finance. He is also a founding and charter member of Coastal Valleys Detachment 1340 Marine Corps League.
“If I didn’t enjoy volunteering, I wouldn’t do it. I’ve met a lot of really great people through volunteering, and I know we probably outshine most cities for volunteers, but there’s always a need for more,” Rafferty said.
This year’s award recipients have expressed a mix of surprise, excitement and appreciation for the recognition.
“It’s an absolute honor. It was a complete surprise,” said Nancy Crawford, president and chief executive officer of Care Connection Central Coast, which was selected as Small Business of the Year.
The local, specialty transportation service provides non-emergency medical transportation to individuals with disabilities, injuries and the elderly. Crawford strives to collaborate with other transportation providers, healthcare agencies and community organizations “to connect the dots, adjust to fit what the community needs while being cost effective and flexible,” she said.
Services run the gamut from grocery runs to discharging patients in gurneys between facilities. In the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Care Connection Central Coast also provided free pharmaceutical pickup for immune-compromised, disabled and elderly residents throughout Santa Maria Valley.
“As a small business, being chosen means a lot because we are definitely community focused and do our best to contribute as much as we can. This is a validating honor,” Crawford said.
The Chamber also recognized Krista Delia, chief operating officer of Santa Maria Valley Y, as its 2020 Young Professional of the Year, an award she called “an absolute honor.”
“I pride myself on my work ethic and the fact that it is being recognized and celebrated by the community is a true gift. My advice to young professionals is simple; remember your value and worth, speak up and lean in at the table, learn from your mistakes and make more, create a work environment you want to be a part of, and most importantly work hard and stay humble,” Delia said.
Dr. Michael Moats was named the 2020 Robert F. Grogan Public Service Award winner for his years of service to the community personally, professionally and politically. Moats, who has served as a Santa Maria City Council member since 2016, has also provided his professional dermatological services during the Santa Barbara County Stand Down for military veterans. He’s a long-time member of the Santa Maria Breakfast Rotary Club, the Santa Maria Kiwanis Club, an outspoken supporter of Santa Maria Fairpark, and long-time president of the Santa Maria Valley Republicans Club.
Other award winners who will be honored during the televised gala include: Tourism Partner of the Year Gary Burk, Costa de Oro Winery; Nonprofit of the Year Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County; Large Business of the Year CoastHills Credit Union; and Chamber Ambassador of the Year Paula Fuller of American Self Storage of Santa Maria.
“It is an honor to represent such an important organization of our community,” Fuller said. “Being an ambassador has made me more aware of how there is strength in numbers and by working together we can help build a stronger Santa Maria business community. I am so happy to be working alongside my great group of leaders in our beautiful city.”
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