Close to 200 people gathered Wednesday morning to show pride in the community at the annual Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce Pride Breakfast.
This year’s event was the 46th breakfast that has been a part of the Stow Pride Festival and offers an opportunity to recognize and honor business people, businesses, community members and scholarship recipients.
Honored this year with the Business Persons of the Year award, co-sponsored by the Chamber and the Stow Sentry, were Anne Davis and Kristie Warner of Gavin Scott Salon and Spa.
The award was introduced by Jim Williams, general manager of GateHouse Media Ohio/Stow Sentry and was presented by last year’s winner, Kristen Messner of All About Dance by Kristen.
“A quote on their Facebook page reads ‘Stop waiting to do the things you want to do. Today is the day to just go for it.’ And they do, every day,” Messner said in introducing ther winners.
She shared that the two businesswomen “have contributed over $450,000 in goods and services to Stow and the surrounding communities.”
Most recently, their business collected peanut butter and jelly for Stow’s Bulldog Bags and provided haircuts for Locks of Love at Stow’s Relay for Life. They support organizations like the Humane Society, Victim Assistance and the YMCA. At the end of the school year, teachers from all over received diva bags and chair massages.
“They don’t know the word ‘no’ and therefore support countless causes, non-profits and people who are working to make the community better. You cannot attend a fundraiser and not see a basket or gift certificate donated by them,” Messner noted.
Their philanthropy is not limited to Stow and Munroe Falls, but also continues throughout Summit County, including Akron Snow Angels, Holiday Tree Festival for Akron Children’s Hospital, Halloween Charity Ball Committee; Blick Tie Affair Committee and others.
This year’s Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Integrity Auto Care, owned by Phil and Tina Evans.
Presented by last year’s winner, Heather Ciranna of Corner Cup Coffeehouse, it was noted “From the moment your browser opens to the website of this business, you know they value two things ... Bulldog pride, and operating an exceptional business that earns the trust of this community. Known as Stow’s professional, honest auto repair shop, this business is respected for their earnest desire to provide honest and professional auto repair services, and give back to their community.”
Ciranna cited one “exemplary example” of their community commitment: their Integrity Cares Program. “It is designed to target and assist locally managed not-for-profit organizations by giving back as much as 10% revenues directly to the group of your choosing, every day ... all year long. When setting up service through their mobile app, customers can choose which organization that want to donate to. Once service is complete, 10% of the revenue goes to the organization chosen. With this program, they proudly support organizations such as SMF Cares, Bulldog Bags, Stow Athletic Boosters, Stow Band, Stow Schools Foundation Parents/Boosters, None Too Fragile Theatre, and any of Stow’s PTA organizations.”
The “Spotlight” post they do on Facebook is “another example of supporting members of their community. They highlight other community members and businesses in the area that are interested in taking care of their customers and community as much as they are, giving them praise and support for their mindset.”
Gary Aleman was honored with this year’s Volunteer and Friend of the Community Award.
Laura Root, who was last year’s recipient, presented the award to Aleman, describing him as “definitely a people person always seeing the good in an individual or organization, always encouraging or supporting a person or organization to move forward.”
She noted he is an active member of church and many civic and service organizations. “The application of tremendous organizing ability resulting in successful programs such as Pizza Palooza , October Fest, for Stow-Munroe Falls Foundation, Stow Community Farmers Market for the UCC Church in Stow, but the best accomplishment and my first connection with this person is being the father of Hunter and Troy.”
Honored with a Lifetime Membership Award was Chamber executive director Doris Stewart, who is retiring from the position at the end of the year.
Kathy Romito of Western Reserve Hospital, president of Chamber, noted the Chamber’s board “has the opportunity to recognize individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the Stow community. This award is given not on annual basis but rather when a person deserves the honor.”
She said, “Today, we choose to honor one of our own. Since 2010, this individual has led our businesses in connections, growth and economic impact. Her calm demeanor and tact have enabled our organization to grow and prosper. She has strengthened relationships with members, civic leaders, the school system, local non-profits, media and more. Through transitions in our community and chamber, her experience and guidance has been visible. Perhaps her ability to lead came from 11 years of ‘a Jill of all trades’ in a small family owned business and a Lifetime career in sales and business management.”
Romito noted Stewart can be found attending and supporting events at Holy Family, Stow’s Community Foundation, Rotary, Kiwanis and more. She has been a judge at the GriefCare Place’s Grapes and Gourmet Guys and has assisted with the Stow Library’s Dessert Extravaganza.