By Becky Maxedon
Friday night was the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Business – the Lake Havas Area Chamber of Commerce’s premier event for its members.
About 200 members were expected to gather to review accomplishments and look ahead to the issues and opportunities facing Lake Havasu City, the region, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Outgoing and new board members are honored.
The highlight of the event, however, is the Chamber’s annual awards for outstanding businesses and Chamber volunteers.
Nominations were submitted by Chamber members culminating in the evening’s honors.
The following list was compiled by the Chamber detailing winners of the awards.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVEMENT AWARD – Havasu Area Public Art (HAPA)
This award recognizes the development and improvement of real property in Lake Havasu City and this year’s recipient has hit that one out of the ballpark, with more amazing things on the way. Have you noticed the extra color around town in the past several months? HAPA has been busy bringing new life to otherwise boring and dull surfaces all over our community. The group has developed and completed numerous murals on local businesses. The nonprofit is responsible for helping to create “Share the Road” located at 585 N Lake Havasu Ave., “Classic Cars” at 2079 McCulloch Blvd., “Cupcake Mountain” at 2139 Swanson Ave., and its latest project finished in May 2021, the “Art Academy Kids’ Murals” located between Havasu Hardware and Jersey’s Bar and Grill. While the efforts of the organization are often a collaboration, the mission of the organization is to “bring art to the city though wall murals, sculptures and community events.” The organization is volunteer led with a small board of determined individuals that make a huge impact in our community through improving existing business structures.
HAVASU BOOSTER – Judge Mitchell Kaulali
Judge Mitchell Kaulali is someone who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of a special population of Lake Havasu City residents. He is someone who saw a need in the community to assist men and women who were brave enough to defend our country in the armed forces, but who also struggled upon their return to a civilian life. Former Mayor Mark Nexsen and “Judge K” created the special program that gives U.S. veterans a new chance for a successful life, assisting them in transition from legal offenses into a better life.
Current Mayor Cal Sheehy, the City Council and the Lake Havasu Marine Corps League continue to support the Veteran’s Treatment Court. But let’s hear it from a vet who’s been through the process: “Veteran Court is a good program, and I had a great experience. I will not lie, I pushed the rules and, like teaching an old dog a new trick, it took time, but I eventually learned. What makes the program a great success is Judge K. He is a good man, and the staff was always helpful. Being in the program, I made a lot of friends along the way, and I would recommend Vet Court to everyone who finds themselves in trouble and in need of services.” (From the Veteran’s Court website) And from the man himself, who says “There has always been a need for Veteran’s Court in our Community. Our Veteran’s Treatment Court aims to assist Veterans in overcoming any roadblocks they may encounter in the Justice System by providing them with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed”, said Judge Mitchell Kauai (from website).
OUTSTANDING YOUNG PROFESSIONAL – Regan Ross-Robertson
Regan Ross-Robinson was nominated in multiple categories and for several reasons – but the “WHY” factor on all the nomination forms were the same. She just works constantly to make Lake Havasu City a better place, and in the process sets an example for all others in business. She was born and raised in Lake Havasu City, and even though spent some time in the Phoenix area to attend ASU, and then back a few years later to manage a restaurant or two, Regan came back home to continue her good deeds in Havasu. When she made the decision to close her Havasu restaurant, she thought long and hard about what to do with the large property on Main Street that was now vacant. Lots of research and sometime later, Ross-Robertson brought a new food concept to our community and opened KAWS – Kitchen, Art, Work, Space where she found her niche with shared and ghost kitchens, creating a home for smaller food entrepreneurs to prepare and sell their delicious offerings. After some more research, collaboration, and work, she brought the Lake Havasu Farmer’s Market to life, closely followed by the Community Youth Market. Another creation was the Havasu Food Symposium. Much of this work was done during the pandemic’s hardest months and due to her Regan’s role on the board of the Lake Havasu Hospitality Association, she helped create, implement, and give a home to the Hospitality Association’s meal voucher program that fed hundreds of displaced hospitality workers during the stay-at-home order, when the majority of local restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms. On top of this, she is a loving daughter, wife, and dog mom to adorable pups and yet she still finds time to excel as Go Lake Havasu Tourism Bureau’s Director of Community Programs and Relations.
SPIRIT OF HOSPITALITY – Joelle Dickinson
Joelle Dickinson loves to have fun, is always smiling, and brightens the day of everyone she encounters whether at the London Bridge Resort where she is employed officially as the “Director of Fun”, or when volunteering for the Hospitality Association’s Certified Tourism Ambassador program, or the Chamber Foundation’s leadership program. Joelle came into our Havasu world a few years back but has put her stamp on fun with a contagious spirit when we watch her run from one activity to another. We know Joelle is an innovator when it comes to keeping the guests at London Bridge Resort entertained with special activities. Once the weekly, British themed teas begin again, we look forward to joining in the fun while she presents a fun and educational opportunity on the history of the London Bridge and Lake Havasu City. Joelle is a tireless advocate for the Leadership Lake Havasu program, and is a very active member of the Chamber Foundation’s Board of Directors. She truly embodies the spirit of hospitality with any project or program where she is involved.
Dickinson said, “I’m just so honored to be able to bring so much joy and fun to our community and to our guests at London Bridge Resort.”
ETHICS IN BUSINESS AWARD – Hospice of Havasu/Teri Geier
The purpose of the award is to shine the spotlight on a business or organization that illustrates a commitment to business ethics and one who exemplifies honesty, integrity and supports community issues and endeavors. Hospice of Havasu is an organization founded back in 1982 that has literally provided help, care and love for Havasu residents from the cradle to the grave. The organization uses an inter-disciplinary method to assist its clients with several types of counseling, medical care, spiritual care, and social services. Due to the high level of care, the organization has the very highest level of integrity and is a trusted friend to families all over Havasu and across the region. The person that nominated Hospice shared some special stories about one of the team members, Teri Geier, that is an amazing example of why Hospice was chosen for this award. Teri is an amazing and caring leader who always has the best interests of the community in mind. She is committed to doing the right thing for the right reasons and always gives 110%. She has a heart for those who are suffering and losing hope and strives to restore hope in those cases. On behalf of Hospice of Havasu, she constantly champions community involvement, including the #youmatter organization. She’s an advocate for education, youth grief programs, and grief in the workplace programs. A story that stands out about this individual as written by the nominator: “One story that stands out is in seeking to use her resources to support our schools. When a local school was impacted by the loss of a couple of teachers and students, she was quick to send her staff in to offer support. She always puts the crisis and challenge of others above herself.” According to the Chamber the award says Hospice of Havasu, but this one is for Teri.
CHAMBER BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – Mohave Mortgage
Mohave Mortgage is a relatively new business in the community, opening up during the early days of the pandemic, but one that has jumped in with both feet! Since arriving on the scene, owners Chad and Dawn Hansen have immersed themselves in everything Havasu all while growing their business. They’ve supported the Chamber from day one of their membership, offering advice and ideas and even offering sponsorship dollars before the Chamber had to cancel most of its events due to the pandemic. However, that didn’t keep Chad and Dawn from a last-minute commitment to go out in the desert and set up a checkpoint for Desert Bash Off Road Poker Run and helping the Chamber to have a very successful event. Mohave Mortgage has also supported the Hospitality Association and Dawn just graduated from Leadership Lake Havasu and joined the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee. Mohave Mortgage also hosted a complimentary Thanksgiving dinner for local veterans and have been huge supporters of the Farmers Market and Youth Community Market. They also are a welcome sight at many golf tournaments as tee sponsors where we hear there may be Jell-O Shots!
CHAMBER VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Becky Goldberg
Becky Goldberg’s vocabulary does not include the word no – if the Chamber needs help, she is the first to respond to an email, text or raise her hand at a meeting. Becky is also an amazing help in recruiting new members – and has been known to wait out a prospect, application in hand, until the sale has been closed. Additionally, Becky works with her employer to provide special event financial sponsorship to the Chamber and many other organizations – and has more than once landed a mixer host on the Chamber’s behalf. Becky takes her leadership role very seriously and upon graduation from Leadership Lake Havasu, became a co-chair, then an Education committee member, then the co-chair for the volunteer leadership for the program, and then was elected to the Chamber Foundation’s Board of Directors where she proudly works to support business education programs. From the nomination form are these words: “she is a wonderful example of an amazing volunteer. She always talks about the chamber and is always trying to get new businesses to join, she is very dedicated and a Chamber Ambassador.” If this wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Becky is president of her Rotary Club, on the board for River Cities United Way and several other organizations in Havasu. Her dad, Walter Spawr, said: I am very proud of Becky, what she has become, and how she supports our community. Becky has a big heart. Since this is a surprise, you might want to have a large box of tissues handy, as she will be expelling tears of joy and gratitude.”
Goldberg said of her award, “I’m just beyond surprised and shocked. Nothing I would have ever expected.”
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Linda Seaver
The Citizen of the Year Award is a very prestigious honor. The award is presented to someone who just makes things happen in our community. Linda Seaver fits the criteria perfectly – she is an individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the community in service and leadership. The Citizen of the Year also serves as the Grand Marshall of the annual London Bridge Days Parade – although the 2021 Parade will have both Gary Meyers, last year’s recipient and Linda leading the way come October. Linda has worked tirelessly through the pandemic and has kept vital services available to those in need with very few exceptions. There were many challenges and roadblocks that crossed her path, but her passion for helping others has led the way for the Havasu Community Health Foundation to continually expand the service base of the organization, to a whopping 25 different programs. Whether it was a family in need of emergency lodging, keeping the shelves at the Food Bank filled, or being part of the work done by the Lake Havasu Resource Alliance over the past 14 months, Linda does it all with a smile on her face.
Whelan Leadership Award
This year’s honoree, Stephanie Martin, is not only a graduate of Leadership Lake Havasu, she was a former co-chair and is involved in other community organizations, such as the Lake Havasu City Rotary Club and the Lake Havasu K-12 Foundation. She’s the youth exchange officer for her Rotary Club and this year’s Chamber Foundation for Education and Leaderships Chair-woman. Our honoree continually strives to learn and develop new leadership skills and applies them first-hand in our community. She has grown exponentially since graduating from the leadership program in 2018.
“It is an honor because the Leadership Program changed my life and I’m continuing to grow from it,” Martin said.