Giving back to the food pantries has been a focus of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses be it through donations, helping to deliver food to the pantries, playing a key role in the annual Doin' It For Diane food pantry fundraiser, providing new shelving for the St. Anthony's Food Pantry, or even painting the exterior of the Ilse Marks Food Pantry.
So, it is rather fitting that at the chamber's annual meeting, held at the New England Sinai Hospital's Brenner Conference Room Jan. 7, the group honored a number of individuals or businesses who have made a difference in the community, in part because of their work with the food pantries - Anne Havlin, Mark Snyder, Christine Gallagher, Jill O'Keefe, and Stop & Shop.
Anne Havlin was posthumously given a special recognition award, which her husband, Tom, and their four daughters, Shauna, Kerry, Erin and Molly, accepted on Anne's behalf. Anne, , was the director of the St. Anthony's Food Pantry.
"Anne has been a Godsend to the entire community," Stoughton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terry Schneider said, who noted Anne was the reason he got involved with the pantries in town.
Havlin was remembered in the most recent Chamber newsletter as "one of the kindest and generous people one would ever meet in their lifetime. Anne fought for those who could not fight for themselves by providing food, emergency funds, clothing and whatever else she could."
Longtime Chamber Vice Chair (and Stoughton Patch About Town columnist) Mark Snyder was given a special recognition award for his service on the chamber's board. Snyder is stepping down from the position, which will be filled by incoming Vice Chair Beth Snell of Randolph Savings Bank.
In addition to sitting on many of the chamber's subcommittees, volunteering his talents as emcee at almost every chamber function and promoting chamber happenings in the press, "he has helped feed Stoughton’s Hungry for a very long time through being one of the Founding Fathers of the [Doin' It for Diane] foundation. He continues that service with his involvement in the newly formed [Food Pantry Foundation of Stoughton]," Chamber Chairman Chris Petrie notes.
Christine Gallagher of St. Anthony's Food Pantry was the Chamber's Volunteer of the Year.
"She does more to help than anyone could ever keep track of…sometimes including her," Petrie told the crowd when presenting Gallagher with her award.
"The Volunteer of the Year Award is obvious with Christine Gallagher and all she does for the entire community working for the food pantries as a volunteer," Schneider said. "Taking over a very tough position of having to replace someone like Anne Havlin and being willing to do that - I think that's quite admirable."
Jill O'Keefe of Island Street Automotive was named the Business Person of the Year.
O'Keefe is heavily involved with Doin' It For Diane and the Food Pantry Foundation, Petrie said.
"She has great insight and is always there to assist no matter what the task. She has assisted us in raising many thousands of dollars for the food panties through her hard work and efforts to get the job done, no matter what the obstacles," Petrie said.
"Jill O'Keefe has been there for just about anything we have asked her to do, including the food pantries - making donations, getting involved with Doin' It For Diane - so it's certainly understandable that she'd be business person of the year," Schneider added.
And, Stop & Shop Supermarket was honored as the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year.
"The recipient of this year’s business of the Year Award has been an integral partner in our quest to help others that are in need," Petrie told those in attendance. "I truly believe that the chamber’s mission of 'Doing Well By Doing Good' has been embraced by the individual/individuals who are the driving force behind [Stop & Shop's] Success here in Stoughton. [General Manager Karl Maregni] is always there for us no matter what the request, and he is continually looking for new ways to be involved in our community."
Schneider added, "Stop & Shop has given a lot in 2012 and they're expecting to give a lot in 2013 - not just in donations but also in providing man power and volunteers to benefit our community."
Chris Petrie presented each award. State Reps. Louis L. Kafka (D-Stoughton) and William C. Galvin (D-Canton) and State Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) also presented citations from the House of Representatives and Senate.
Prior to the awards ceremony, Stoughton Police Chief Paul Shastany introduced Stoughton's newest police officer to the crowd, Stoughton native Daniel Carmichael.
Petrie also introduced his fellow executive board members vice-chair Beth Snell and Treasurer John Jarvis as well as the 2013 board of directors - Franz Antoine, Lester Davis, Ellen Greene, Roger Kahan, Jill O’Keefe, Mark Leppo, Carlos Vargas and Fred Yaitanes.
WEEI host Mike Adams of the "Planet Mikey Show" was the featured guest speaker and entertained the crowd (click here to read more about his visit).
Check out photos from the evening in the media gallery of this article.