The woman who helped lead the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce through challenges and to a new direction has been selected for the organization’s top honor: the Judy Griesenbrock Volunteer of the Year award.
Teresa Hamilton-Hall – the 2018 President – was surprised by the announcement Jan. 11 at the chamber’s annual meeting. This year that meeting was a breakfast instead of a dinner, and held at Roanoke College’s Colket Center.
The Griesenbrock award is named after the chamber’s founder, given to a person who has demonstrated interest and involvement makes a difference to those they touch.
It was the culminating award at the annual meeting which also featured recognition of Salem and Roanoke County police officers of the year, small and large businesses of the year for Salem and the county, citizen of the year and Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
The fact that the annual meeting was a breakfast instead of a big party and dinner was emblematic of the organization’s changes.
Before passing the gavel to 2019 President Toni McLawhorn, Hamilton-Hall noted it had been a challenging year, which came with “reflection, team building and a decision to move the chamber in a new direction.”
McLawhorn explained more: “We deliberately scaled back the number of community events, decided which to keep and which to let go…” Leaders concentrated on what was good for Roanoke County, good for the City of Salem, “what would deliver value to members,” including networking.
An emphasis is now being made on having Cornerstone partners, now called Mission partners, who sponsor civic events through the year, McLawhorn said.
She brought members and guests up to date on hiring for a new chamber Executive Director, which she said should be complete by February. Karen Turner, the Interim Executive Director, has helped with interim planning, McLawhorn noted. Over 80 people applied for the Executive Director’s job, she said.
The awards presented at the annual meeting and their recipients were:
- Roanoke County Police Officer of the Year, J.L. Monson; Salem Police Officer of the Year Joe Holder;
- Salem Small Business of the Year, Chloe White’s State Farm; County Small Business of the Year Bank of Botetourt, Virginia Mountain Mortgage, Cave Spring Branch;
- Salem Large Business of the Year, the James E. Taliaferro Complex, accepted by Wendy Delano, executive director; County Large Business of the Year, the Cave Spring/LewisGale Emergency Room.
- Citizen of the Year went to volunteers in Pathways for Greenways Pathfinders, who build biking and walking trails and keep them up.
Annual Awards Chair Dee King said the chamber “has made great strides in the last three months to change the chamber into a business chamber.” She urged attendees to let the board and other leaders know their ideas.
More than 130 people attended the awards ceremony. The youngest was Levin, the two-month-old daughter of Roanoke County Officer J.L. Monson. Levin slept through much of the ceremony in the arms of her mother, Morgan Monson.