Whether part of a small or large business, or a long-time volunteer in the community, the six recipients of the Chamber’s 126th Annual Awards Dinner have been committed to more than one cause for many years.
Last Wednesday, the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce recognized local businesses and individuals during its awards dinner held at the Aqua Turf.
Former chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bristol Hospital and Health Care Group where she advocated patient quality, safety and clinical standards, Marie O’Brien received the Special Recognition Award. Chosen by the president of the chamber, this award is presented to someone who has supported the goals of the chamber and its mission in an exceptional and positive manner.
“She has been a rock for me,” said Jim Albert, president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.
Besides serving on a number of local and statewide boards and commissions, O’Brien is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut Science Center, an interactive museum that is a state resource for science education and learning. O’Brien also is a founding director of ingenuityNE, which inspires students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math through FIRST, a mentoring program and robotics competition.
“I really feel humbled to be a part of this fantastic class of volunteers, and supporters of the Chamber of Commerce,” said O’Brien.
Born and raised in Bristol, Dave Mills worked as a health and physical education teacher at Bristol Eastern High School for over 30 years. At the high school, he coached various sports, including the football team from 1965 to 1999, and served as assistant coach in boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, and girls’ track. In addition to that, Mills served as chairman of the football committee for the Connecticut High School Coaches Association and was named Coach of the Year twice for the Northern Chapter of the Football Foundation.
A former Bristol City Councilor for two terms, Mills is currently a member of the Memorial Boulevard Task Force and chairman of the Marketing Committee, and has served on other committees. A board member of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame, Mills received the Spirit of Bristol Award, which recognizes a “uniquely motivated and dynamic individual” or team of people who puts service and community above self.
“If you’re going to be successful you have to have a vision. Then you have to have a plan, and then you [need] expectations,” said Mills, who challenged everyone to make the spirit of Bristol dwell within them. “You have to surround yourself with people who are going to help you employ that plan.”
Since 1989, Maryellen Holden has taken on many roles for local organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club of Bristol, Forestville Village Association, Democratic Town Committee, and the Bristol Adult Resource Center, as well as Little League Baseball and Softball. A long-time Forestville resident who plays an active role in the Forestville Village Assocation, Holden also has been recognized professionally for her work as a Spanish teacher at Chase Collegiate School, where she served as chair of the Foreign Language Department for 17 years.
During the dinner, Holden received the Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes the “best of the best” in the community who give their time and talent to multiple causes and efforts.
“She is everywhere, she volunteers for anything and everything,” said Don Soucy, who presented the award to Holden.
In addition to being recognized professionally, Holden has received a number of awards for her dedication to the organizations she has served, including the President’s Service Award for Little League, the Humanitarian Service Award and Bristol Kiwanian of the Year award, among others. In 2013, Holden was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame for her work with Little League.
“I never did anything alone,” said Holden. “I do things with other people and we accomplish a great deal.”
President of Tunxis Community College since 1993, Dr. Cathryn Addy has served the Bristol community on a number of boards of directors, such as the Bristol Chamber, Bristol Hospital, Wheeler Clinic, and the Women and Girls Fund of the Main Street Community Foundation. While at Tunxis, Addy has seen its dramatic growth in enrollment and its physical plant expansion, including the acquiring of two adjacent properties, the construction of a new library and a new technology classroom building. Besides publishing a book on the community college presidency and many articles, Addy has served as a keynote speaker and workshop presenter.
This year, Addy was the recipient of the E. Barlett Barnes Distinguished Service Award, the chamber’s highest award, which is given to an individual who exemplifies the spirit, integrity, leadership, character and enthusiasm of one of Bristol’s greatest community and business pillars.
“I love the Bristol community,” said Addy. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to do the things I’ve done.”
Sponsored by Bristol Hospital, ESPN, Barnes Group, and O’Brien Funeral Home, among others, the chamber dinner gave a special recognition to the Bristol Business and Education Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Founded in 1990, the Foundation consists of local businesses and community members dedicated to the mission of supporting Bristol Public Schools. The foundation, along with the Bristol Board of Education funds and promotes innovative and educational endeavors to improve learning, achievement and skill development, to encourage creativity and excellence in teaching, and to expand community involvement from individuals, businesses and civic organizations.
Jeanine Audette, secretary of the foundation, said what began as a vision has transformed into so much more. To date, over $380,000 has been invested in mini grants for educators, musical instrument refurbishments, middle school robotics programs, the purchase of smartboards and document cameras, 3D printers, as well as other technologies as part of creating 21st century classroom initiatives.
“All of these programs are targeted to support our schools, to educate and to help students who will become the citizens and employees that will keep Bristol moving forward,” said Audette.
This year, the chamber honored two businesses that have served Bristol for many years: Bristol Hospital and Hamelin & Sons.
Celebrating its 70th year of providing Bristol’s automotive needs, Hamelin & Sons received the Distinguished Small Business Award, which is presented to smaller, often family-owned businesses who are active in local events, programs or activities, going “above and beyond.” Founded in 1946 by Ernest and George Hamelin, the business has expanded from a two bay corner gas station to a six bay, full service and repair facility and Emissions test center. Today its state-of-the-art facility is modernized with the latest diagnostic equipment, vehicle maintenance and repair information, offering complete automotive services and repairs for most makes and models.
The business is owned by brothers Dave and Michael Hamelin, who are both A.S.E. Certified Master Technicians. While Michael is the shop lead technician, Dave serves as the officer customer service and parts manager. Both business partners are active in the community. Dave is the president of the West End Association and serves on the board of directors for Wheeler Clinic, and Michael serves on the Board of Finance and the golf committee at the Farmington Woods Master Association.
“When you surround yourself with good people…you can do all kinds of wonderful things,” said Dave, thanking his family.
Looking back on how Hamelin & Sons came to be what it is today, Michael recalled apiece of advice he learned from his father: “Fix it right the first time.”
“This holds true in whatever business you’re in,” said Michael. “If you failed, fix it right.”
Founded in 1921, Bristol Hospital received the Distinguished Large Business Award, which honors a large business for its outstanding contributions to the life and energy of the community as well as its ongoing concern to improve the community’s welfare. The hospital was named the third safest hospital in the state by Consumer Reports magazine in 2013, and has earned national recognition for its commitment to offering outstanding patient care. Also the home to a sleep center and the Center for Orthopedic and Spine Health, Bristol Hospital has 154 licensed beds and provides an emergency center that cares for over 40,000 patients annually.
“I’ve never felt an organization with the heart and soul of a place like Bristol,” said Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital.