The Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce held its second Shining Star Awards on Sept. 24 at Berkleigh Golf Club in Kutztown.
The awards consisted of seven categories. The Reading chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit that aids small businesses, acted as judges for the awards.
“Chamber events like Shining Star present an opportunity for member nominees to reflect on their organizational and personal accomplishments, to gain recognition among their peers and to expand their future networking potential,” said Lori Donofrio-Galley, executive director of the Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber awarded 2015 Member of the Year to LuAnn Oatman, CEO and president of Berks Encore, who also won 2015 Nonprofit of the Year.
The top honor, Member of the Year, included a gift basket composed of donations from various businesses.
A surprised Oatman said Berks Encore is “the go-to nonprofit for senior services,” with six locations in and around Berks County. The award is especially significant for Berks Encore, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Reacting to the two awards, she said, “I think it means that we’ve built a strong brand, and the community recognizes how deeply we care about senior citizens in the county. We work very hard to be their voice and be their advocate.”
Nancy Brooks of Kutztown Community Partnership, after losing out to Oatman on Nonprofit of the Year, was surprised when she won Advocate of the Year. KCP acts as a liaison between all of the facets of the Kutztown community.
“I don’t feel that I won this award as much as my entire group,” Brooks said, crediting KCP’s board of directors for having an active role in the community.
Other awards were based on business size. Gretchen Strouphar of Kelly Services, Inc. won Large Business of the Year. Kelly Services is an employment agency locally serving Berks County and the Lehigh Valley. She believes that the award resulted from community involvement, especially preparing local students to enter the job market. Strouphar is also president of the Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce.
Small Business of the Year went to Joseph Reighn of Reighn Communications. Reighn was away in Italy, so Jack Romig, who works with Reighn, accepted the award on his behalf.
Mark Crosseley, Esq., of Scherline & Associates won for Mid-Sized Business of the Year. Aside from working at the serious injury law firm, Crosseley is president of both the Fleetwood Fire Company and Tarsus, Inc., a senior citizens services company in Fleetwood.
Considering what led him to the award, he said, “I help people from their formative years up to their senior years. You don’t do it for any award.”
Merra Lee Moffitt of Good Life Financial Group, who won Entrepreneur of the Year, agreed. A financial planner, Moffitt works to help small businesses grow. She is thankful that businesses in Berks “have a Chamber… that goes out of its way to help the business owners.”
Many sponsors contributed to the event. Leibensperger Funeral Homes Inc., Keystone Villa at Fleetwood, Elite Business Solutions LLC, Hypnosis in Berks, Fraser Advanced Information Systems, Greater Reading Economic Partnership, and Kelly Services, Inc. each sponsored award categories.
Other sponsors included Capital Blue Cross, Service Electric, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Antanavage Farbiarz PLLC, Watkins Architect Ltd., Interlace Communications, Santander Bank, Tompkins VIST Bank, PenTeleData, CruiseOne and the Reading Fightin’ Phils.
Standup comedy by Jason Brown accompanied the awards ceremony. In addition, the event’s nonprofit partner, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, distributed information as guests arrived.