By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Stories of those who have made Bristol a better place echoed throughout the Aqua Turf last week at the Bristol Chamber of Commerce’s 127th Annual Dinner.
During the event last Thursday, the chamber honored six local individuals and businesses that have made “all-heart” contributions in the Bristol community: Don Soucy, Tom LaPorte, C&R Marketing Services, By Carrier, Inc., Marty Hurwitz, and Mark DiVenere.
A long-time member of the Bristol chamber, Marty Hurwitz owned and operated Harvest Bakery with his wife Jackie from 1979 until this past May. Opened since Memorial Day in 1941, Harvest Bakery has become an integral part of the Bristol. Becoming the third generation to enter his family business, Hurwitz helped the community in any way he could during his tenure, whether that meant donating baked goods to different events and organizations or contributing gift cards to local fund raisers.
Hurwitz sold the bakery to Paul Dinoia and his sister Karen Nocera, who have promised to continue the recipes and traditions of the business since it began. Now planning to enjoy retirement with his wife, Hurwitz received the Special Recognition Award, which honors those who support the goals of the chamber and its mission in a positive way.
“Behind every successful business, you need good people. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have employees that have been with me for over 35 to 40 years,” said Hurwitz, adding that he appreciates all small businesses. “You can’t run a good business unless you have these people.”
Another individual who has made his mark on Bristol is Don Soucy, who became the Little League Baseball International East Region Director in 1991, and oversaw the construction and operation of the Giamatti Little League Center. He also played a role in making softball in the eastern region the largest softball program in Little League baseball.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, Soucy has volunteered in a variety of organizations, committees and boards, from the Bristol Exchange Club and the Secret Santa Society to the Board of Finance and the Board of Education.
Soucy received the Spirit of Bristol Award, which recognizes motivated and dynamic individuals who truly put service and community above self.
“He has a huge heart,” said local volunteer Mary Ellen Holden, who presented the award to Soucy.
Like Soucy, Tom LaPorte also has led a spirit of volunteerism in Bristol. A former employee of New Departure, LaPorte’s involvement includes serving on the Bristol Historical Society’s board as well as the Bristol library board, where he helped create the Bristol History Room photographic display. A member of TEAM Bristol, LaPorte organized a committee to raise funds for the construction of the Revolutionary War Monument on Memorial Boulevard. He also was instrumental in erecting and dedicating the Civil War Monument in 2011.
A recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award, LaPorte thanked all benefactors who have made a positive impact on the community.
“I see so many faces who are equally deserving of this award,” said LaPorte. “Your good deeds and efforts contribute so much to the quality of life of those living in Bristol.”
A lifelong Bristol resident, Mark DiVenere received the E. Bartlett Barnes Distinguished Service Award, which is the chamber’s highest award for an individual who exemplifies the integrity and spirit of one of Bristol’s greatest business pillars: Bart Barnes.
The owner and president of Gemco Manufacturing Company, DiVenere is active in the community with a strong belief that everyone must take responsibility for continuing the traditions of past generations. From the Bristol Boys & Girls Club to the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut to the manufacturing division of the Central Connecticut chamber, he has served on numerous boards and chaired a variety of committees.
DiVenere viewed volunteerism as a path.
“There’s always somebody who led you, who cut that path for you. Your responsibility as a volunteer is to continue to maintain that path,” said DiVenere, adding his father introduced him to volunteering at a young age. “Everyone here…blazes a path every single day.”
The chamber also celebrated the contributions of local businesses big and small.
C&R received the Distinguished Small Business of the Year Award, which honors smaller businesses that go above and beyond to support the community’s quality of life. Located in the historic Sessions Clock building, C&R has grown into a full service marketing company that offers everything from strategy and planning to design and production. With the help of his father, owner Chris Bottino started the business at the age of 12 in the basement of his family’s Bristol home. Demonstrating perseverance, Bottino continued to grow C&R during middle school and high school, and the business outgrew the Bottino family home before he entered college.
Over the past 27 years, C&R has provided a wealth of knowledge to assist all stages of a project, capturing 100 percent customer loyalty.
“I couldn’t do everything without our team here,” said Bottino, as he accepted the award with two of his associates.
Every year, the chamber honors one of the area’s larger companies that advance the community’s welfare, culture, economy or quality of life. A family-owned business since 1971, By Carrier, Inc. received the Distinguished Large Business of the Year Award.
Comprised of six brothers, the company builds homes using top quality and cutting-edge products to ensure buyers get the highest standard of excellence.
In addition to distributing scholarships, By Carrier also brings in students to home communities so they can understand what it means to be a builder.
Johnny Carrier accepted the award on behalf of his family, who moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s for the American dream.
“I couldn’t be more proud of being part of this family business,” said Carrier.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.
PHOTOS by TAMMI NAUDUS