The West Seneca Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the organization’s 74th annual Community Awards. While the actual presentation of awards will be different due to ongoing pandemic restrictions, the Chamber is proud to announce the following honorees:
Citizen of the Year: For the first time in 74 years, the award will be presented to two town residents because their literacy goals and efforts are so closely aligned. Recipients in 2021 include Thomas McDonnell, executive director of the nonprofit Dog Ears Bookstore & Café on Abbott Road in South Buffalo, and Roxann Gaghich, the driving force behind Roxann’s Little Free Library and the annual Letters to Santa initiative.
Educator of the Year: Renee Day, a Business and Academy teacher at West Seneca West Senior High School, is the recipient of this 2021 award. Day, who received multiple nominations, goes to great lengths every day to make sure her students become college and career ready. She has served in the West Seneca Central School District for 22 years.
Business of the Year: Congratulations to Yost Neon Displays Inc. on their selection as the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce 2021 Business of the Year. A full-service sign company located at 20 Ransier Drive, owners Mike and Debbie Yost are very active in our community with the West Seneca Lions Club and West Seneca Woman’s Club. They are also donors to organizations such as Roswell Park, Camp Good Days and several local food pantries.
Community Service Organization of the Year: The Firemen’s Memorial Exhibit Center of Western New York on Seneca Street is one of the many “hidden gems” that West Seneca has to offer. In addition to being filled with firefighting memorabilia from West Seneca, Western New York, New York State the U.S. and abroad, the dedicated volunteers who oversee this destination also work year-round with people of all ages to share the importance of fire safety.
Chamber Member of the Year: Back in March when businesses were forced to close due to Covid, the Chamber received many calls for assistance. And then there was one call offering assistance … and that call came from Joe Griffin of Chakra. Griffin, a life-long West Seneca resident, wanted to know what his company could do for businesses that were really hurting due to closure. The Chamber provided him with a list. Chakra then offered their services, free of charge, to several fellow West Seneca Chamber members. There were many other instances of Chakra assisting our community this year — from sending snacks and surprises to local servicemen and women overseas to supporting blood drives.
Due to limitations on large social gatherings, the Chamber will not be able to host its annual Community Awards Dinner in February. However, the 2021 recipients will receive plaques and proclamations in February, along with a gift certificate to celebrate their accomplishment with family. Additionally, all 2021 winners will be guests of the Chamber at the 2022 Community Awards Dinner, which will also mark the 75th anniversary of the event.
The West Seneca Chamber of Commerce would like to thank this year’s Community Award sponsors, including Chakra, Financial Trust Federal Credit Union, GEICO Local Office West Seneca, Law Offices of Paul Notaro, M&T Bank Southgate Plaza Branch and Shell Fab Custom Countertops & Casework.
For more information about the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce and the many benefits of membership, please call 674-4900, visit the Chamber office at 1300 Union Road, or visit www.westseneca.org. You can also follow the Chamber on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for frequent updates.