The impact of COVID-19 on traditional Lake Havasu City events and celebrations has forced city leaders and organizations to develop new traditions and innovative solutions to ensure continuity in the community.
In that spirit, The Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce honored 11 chamber members and community individuals this week with surprise visits from a volunteer “prize patrol”.
The Chamber cancelled its Annual Meeting and Celebration of Business earlier this year because of pandemic-related restrictions, “but we didn’t want to cancel our awards program,” said Lisa Krueger, the Chamber’s President & CEO.
“2020-2021 is our 50th anniversary and we couldn’t just let this go when there are so many deserving of the honors.”
“We had a task force working on the original event, and when we realized that couldn’t happen, we pivoted to the surprise celebrations instead,” Krueger said. “As it turns out, the prize patrol really enjoyed the personal visits and we may even weave some of this into our next awards party, even if we get to go back to in-person events.”
Presenting sponsor for the awards program is Anderson Toyota who participated in the prize patrol event. Awardees were also provided with fresh baked pies from Amore Pie and More, a bottle of spirits from Copper Still Distillery, and flowers from Tux and Tulips.
WHELAN LEADERSHIP AWARD – Alison Paoli: This award honors Leadership Lake Havasu graduates that have used the skills learned in the program to become changemakers in the community. Paoli runs an executive consulting company, M III Leadership Enterprises and works as a realtor with Destination Havasu. She is mother to two daughters. Paoli is past chairman of the Lake Havasu Chamber Foundation for Education and Leadership, and currently chairs the Foundation’s Education Committee that oversees the Leadership program. She is also active in the Lake Havasu Association of Realtors and recently joined its Board of Directors. Paoli is a contributing member to the Women’s Network Exchange of Arizona and has been treasurer of the Havasu Preparatory Academy PTSO three times. Paoli’s nominator said, “she has a gift of finding a positive in every situation and works at inspiring others to do the same.”
ART OF HOSPITALITY AWARD – Lake Havasu Hospitality Association: The Lake Havasu Hospitality Association was honored for its work to improve the visitor experience in Lake Havasu City, including the Certified Tourism Ambassador program that helps front line workers become better at singing the praises of our hometown. Also acknowledged was the tremendous amount of work the LHHA performed for hospitality workers during the times when restaurants and bars were closed or had limited capacity, and during the governor’s stay-at-home order and the curfew that followed. During that time, the Hospitality Association came together and provided meals for everyone in the industry making a difference for so many people and their families who were furloughed or terminated due to COVID-19.
HAVASU BOOSTER – Lindley Diskin, 95.7 River Rat Radio: The Havasu Booster award was created to honor a community volunteer, organization or business that has boosted morale, business and community development during the past year. No doubt, Lindley Diskin is all that and more. She has served the Havasu community as a tireless advocate for business and hospitality. Her volunteer work with the Lake Havasu Marine Association and Hospitality Association has resulted in many successful events both civic and charitable. During the pandemic she never once held back on her volunteer efforts despite the loss of several major clients. She was instrumental in helping River Rat Radio keep its employees by helping businesses tailor their marketing to fit COVID conditions. She has been a force of growth of her company and is approaching her 10th anniversary on the job.
HAVASU HERO (a new award created this year in response to the COVID-19 Crisis) – Dr. Ryan Lavene, Dental Specialists of NW Arizona: Dr. Ryan Lavene was/is a frontline healthcare worker, providing much needed medical care during the Corona Virus Pandemic. The American Dental Association asked that any dental emergencies be treated in a dental office and to not send patients to the Emergency Room. Dr. Lavene, a board-certified endodontist, ensured that many dental emergencies were not overwhelming the local ER and treated many dental emergencies right in his Havasu dental clinic. He ensured that patients with emergencies would be seen promptly and not taking up space in our local hospital. Most dental offices were instructed to close during the pandemic, so this became a special issue for local health care providers. Dr. Lavene helped those with severe pain, swelling and infection and because of his works, patients did not have to suffer days, weeks or months in agony. Many doctors, nurses, EMT’s and other emergency workers have been highlighted and thanked in recent days, but the Chamber has not seen any recognition given to Dr. Lavene for his work and was proud to acknowledge him for this service.
CHAMBER BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – Radio Central: Steve Greeley and Traceye Jones from Radio Central are one of those local member-businesses that just keeps giving the Chamber a hand-up. Even though the Chamber tries to stay on top of marketing, things can slip through the cracks. Nothing makes the Chamber day better than hearing from you Radio Central with an offer to post an event flyer on their website, or to ask chamber staff to bring a special guest on to Speak Out, or to remind the Chamber organization we have an event that needs some promotion “so get over here and record a PSA (public service announcement)!” Radio Central is an extraordinary contributor to the Chamber for every circumstance whether it is hosting an intern, assisting with radio coverage or volunteering time to make the Chamber better.
OUTSTANDING YOUNG PROFESSIONAL – Debi Pennington, River Cities United Way: Debi Pennington is an emerging leader that exemplifies grit, excellence, integrity and initiative in her profession and is also a role model for others in business. Identifying people like Pennington can sometimes be difficult but not in this case – she is making a name for herself as the “go to girl” for many of the social service needs in Lake Havasu. Pennington is always smiling regardless of issues that would make others frown. She has faced many obstacles in her young life and overcome adversity like a champion. When the pandemic began, she spoke with Mayor Cal Sheehy and said, my organization can help, and helped form the Lake Havasu City Resource Alliance. Throughout the past 8 months, the girl has done it all – raised funds, counseled those in need, procured PPE, distributed that PPE and continues to find innovative ways to make life better for individuals and businesses.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVEMENT AWARD – The Views at Lake Havasu: This beautiful property, The Views at Lake Havasu, has made a dramatic improvement to the downtown area, the Havasu skyline and the community overall. Innovation and skill created this 5-star property for Lake Havasu City’s seniors. No longer known as “that dirt lot in front of ASU”, The Views has become a vital part of the local business community. The Views at Lake Havasu’s founders are commended for their vision that gives older residents a luxurious, safe and healthy living option.
BUSINESS AND EDUCATION LEADER – Cameron Moses, Cha-Bones Steakhouse: The bond between education and business is stronger than it has been in the past thanks to some local individuals that have worked hard to support local teachers and students. Cameron Moses has been a big part of that growth. Moses is known to follow through with what he promises – and takes an active interest in schools. He was a big part of the override and bond success that was on the ballot four years ago and since then has continued to give time and talent. He is a member of the LHUSD Counseling Advising Team. He supports the Rachel’s Challenge program and exemplifies a small business owner in Havasu and is a dedicated family man.
HAVASU HERO (a new award created this year in response to the COVID-19 Crisis) – Copper Still Distillery, Andrew and Carri Anderson: Andrew and Carri Anderson’s Copper Still Distillery is relatively new to the business scene in Havasu, but have jumped in with enthusiasm for the community. They have an amazing work ethic and are proud to support community events, Veterans and public safety personnel. As the pandemic grew, the two of them stepped up to the plate and produced gallons of hand sanitizer using their innovative skills – a product that was so needed during a time when we could not find the product anywhere locally or online, providing at no cost. The Chamber acknowledges that Andrew and Carri did not hesitate to create the sanitizer because they knew they could make a difference for our city. They also changed the lives of 75 postal carriers with complimentary sanitizers.
CHAMBER VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR and AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR: Janina Robertson, Damsel in Defense; Janina Robertson volunteers at every Chamber of Commerce event. She is the first to sign up and makes herself available throughout the functions like Desert Bash and Off Road Poker Run and Winterfest. She also refers potential members to the Chamber weekly, sometimes even daily. The Chamber knows she will text them whenever she passes by a new business and has gone as far as to pull over and speak with the business owner about Chamber membership. Robertson was recently recruited to the Chamber Board of Directors so that she can help set policy and procedure for the entire organization.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR – Gary Meyers: The Prize Patrol dropped in on Gary Meyers at his London Bridge Rotary Club meeting to make the Citizen of the Year Presentation. Meyers, with business and finance degrees is originally from New York. He worked on Wall Street, and has also lived and worked in Atlanta, but he and his wife Dr. Pamela Meyers have made their permanent home in Lake Havasu City with their adorable fluffy puppy name Joey. Meyers is best known for his work with the Freedom Bridge project, and now for founding the Havasu Memorial Walkway. His dedication and leadership to this project in the Bridgewater Channel is unique, and honors Veterans, First Responders, Native Americans and Havasu community members. An amazing photographer, Meyers also takes photographs at local events and shares them with the community. Meyers will serve as a grand marshal at the 2021 London Bridge Days Parade.
The Chamber congratulates all the winners and thanks the Award Selection Committee.
The Chamber is also grateful to the Prize Patrol members: Angie Saltzman, Terry Delia, Michele Webb, Kayley Galati, Becky Goldberg, Cassie McShane, Jerri Bracamonte, Mayor Cal Sheehy, Kathy Tippett, Niki Nickle and Lisa Krueger; and event photographer Nathan Adler of Havasu Photo and his assistants Jona Silverstein and Ethan Adler.
Plans will soon be underway for the 2021 Annual Meeting and Celebration of Business, tentatively scheduled for June 11, 2021. Award nominations will be accepted after March 1, 2021.
For more information on this or any Chamber program or project, please call 928-855-4115 or visit www.havasuchamber.com