NEWINGTON -- A novel idea to â€śspice upâ€ť an annual meeting of local businesspeople several years ago has since blossomed into a friendly competition. Looking back, it all began with a half-dozen awards honoring the worthiest do-gooders in town.
The Newington Chamber of Commerceâ€™s Fifth Annual Best of Newington Awards and 73rd Annual Dinner celebrated 52 businesses, organizations and individuals in the community at the beginning of June.
â€śIt was a great night,â€ť chamber Vice President Deanna Reney said this week.
For the first time guests were invited to dress to a theme. Everyone showed up at Indian Hill Country Club, where the event took place, in bright floral patterns for a â€śluau.â€ť
The 44 â€śBest ofâ€ť winners included repeat favorites like Goldburgers, which has won the award for Best Burger all four years, and the ever-popular Ferrariâ€™s for Best Appliance Store. A few new title holders were Little Cake CafĂ© for Best Breakfast, Envy Salon as Best Hair Salon and Damato Chiropractic Center, Best Chiropractor.
Envy Salon director and office manager Alyssa Ferrucci was in tears when she heard the salon won.
â€śWe were ecstatic,â€ť Ferrucci said. â€śThis was our first time winning.â€ť
In addition to the competition, the chamberâ€™s Board of Directors also presented its own eight awards. These have long been a tradition for the organization at its annual meeting.
Randy Hamilton from Image 360 said he was â€śvery appreciative and humbledâ€ť as Business Person of the Year.
â€śHe has been around the Newington community for a few decades and just done so much,â€ť chamber President Kathy Braga said. â€śHe is likeable and wonderful and easy to work with.â€ť
Business of the Year was Duksa Family Funeral Home, which operates Newington Memorial and nearby Burritt Hill in New Britain.
Braga has had personal and professional experience with the family and appreciates the care they put into such a sensitive occupation.
â€śThey have been a staple in the community for a very long time and theyâ€™re in a hard business,â€ť she said. â€śStill they manage to be so gracious and kind and amazing to work with.â€ť
Special Recognition titles went to both OFI and B&M Tree Service, Braga and her husbandâ€™s family-owned company. She was not a part of the selection committee on this one. In fact, the only award the president actually chose herself was for Chamber Member of the Year.
Owner of Karmaâ€™s Closet Consignment Boutique, Deanna Reney, accepted this honor.
â€śShe is an advocate for businesses small and large,â€ť Braga said. â€śIf you need something you can call Deanna and you know sheâ€™ll help make it happen.â€ť
Around Christmastime, Reney and Ferrariâ€™s manager Ray Maida organized a gift giveaway at Bel-Air Manor. Hundreds of gifts were donated, wrapped and presented to residents of the nursing and rehabilitation facility. She also worked for over a year with the town and fellow business owners on a compromise for signage regulations.
The Public Service Award went to the Newington Rotary Club, behind many volunteer projects to help residents and improve the community.
â€śThis is the first time our club has received an award of this kind,â€ť incoming President Dave Tedeschi said.Â â€śIt only goes to show that in 58 years we have not abandoned our original commitment to not only focus on the needs of our community but to tackle issues on the worldwide stage.â€ť
Keeney Manufacturing took home a Beautification Award. The international company is headquartered in Newington, where employees give back to the town through volunteer clean-up efforts.
Finally, the Public Safety Award went to the Newington Senior & Disabled Center. Director Dianne Stone was proud to accept recognition on behalf of staff and volunteers at the center, a safety net for the townâ€™s older residents.
â€śThatâ€™s really our reason for being,â€ť Stone explained. â€śWe are a place where people have loads of fun and come to socialize, but weâ€™re also getting them engaged in wellness programs that keep them healthy and connected to services to keep them safe.â€ť
Dial-a-Ride is just one example, transporting seniors safely to medical appointments, grocery trips and elsewhere. Thereâ€™s also a fall prevention course, hot lunch program, fraud protection and information referral center.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.