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SUNSET BEACH—Pete and Dotty Callahan have been named Brunswick County’s 2007 Citizens of the Year.
The duo, who donate their time visiting residents of a local nursing home, were honored Tuesday at the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce annual awards luncheon at Sea Trail Conference Center.
The Callahans are ministers to the homebound of St. Brendan Catholic Church and pay regular visits to Autumn Care in Shallotte. There they celebrate Mass and eat meals with residents. It’s something they’ve been doing since 1989.
They said they were surprised when chamber president Cathy Altman called their names during the awards presentations.
“At an age that might slow some people down, this couple’s dedication to those less fortunate is truly an inspiration,” Altman said. “Through their caring and compassion, this couple always strives to raise the spirits of the elderly, the sick and those that work or live with the sick and elderly.”
“Kathy (Doyle, St. Brendan’s social ministry director) told us we were invited to the dinner, but we didn’t know anything more,” Dotty said.
“The free meal was plenty,” Pete joked.
Dotty Callahan said this best part about spending time with the Autumn Care residents is the “seeing the people’s faces,” and making them smile.
“They love everything that has to do with activity,” she said. “The sadder they are, the better I feel when we make them smile.”
Small Business of the Year
Sunset River Marketplace, an art gallery in the Calabash area, was named Small Business of the Year.
Owners Joe and Ginny Lassiter accepted the plaque and said they were thrilled with the award.
“We do love what we do, and we have a good time,” Ginny Lassiter said after the event. “We have so many fun things and opportunities for folks that they might not otherwise have.”
“[The Lassiters] developed a business plan that would thrive commercially but at the same time give back to the community and contribute significantly to the cultural fabric of the area,” said Altman.
“This business has grown considerably over the past few years. It caters to locals, and also to tourists as their events and workshops attract many to the area. This husband-and-wife team are also very involved with the nonprofit community of Brunswick County and always willing to help.”
Ginny Lassiter says the business is continuing to grow and offer more for the community including art classes and workshops, in addition to showcasing and selling art for local artists.
Employee of the Year
The Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach is a popular attraction for locals and visitors, and this year, the Brunswick County Chamber received a three-page nomination from the director about senior technician Mark Jankowski, according to Altman.
From that “It was very evident that this individual excels in the highest quality work ethic, customer service, exhibits a positive attitude at all times, dedicated to the employer, cooperates with fellow employees and is focused on his profession.”
Upon accepting his award, Jankowski encouraged the audience to visit the planetarium to see what he does.
Ambassador of the Year
Chamber ambassadors serve as volunteer staffers, meeting with members and encouraging people to join the chamber and become active in chamber activities.
Susan Giuffre of National Property Inspections was named the 2007 Ambassador of the Year for her pleasant nature and willingness to help.
Member of the Year
The Purple Onion Caf in Shallotte, owned by Andrew and Terry Bland, was named the 2007 Member of the Year for behind-the-scenes work the Blands take on, Altman said.
Although they cannot attend as many events or programs as they would like, the couple has opened the doors of the caf to accommodate the monthly meeting of chamber ambassadors.
“They prepare lunch every month for the ambassadors to show their support for the chamber,” said Altman.
Volunteers of the Year
The chamber named the members of the 2007 Oyster Festival Committee the volunteers of the year.
The North Carolina Association of Festivals & Events Showfest, recently awarded the 2007 festival with the “Event of the Year” award, and Altman attributed the success to the volunteers’ hard work.
“This group works well together and shares the same goal: to make their project the best,” Altman said. “And the best is what they achieved this year. Their project was named the best event in the state.”