AUGUSTA — More than 700 members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce gathered Friday at the Augusta Civic Center for the Kenney Awards, the chamber’s annual celebration of its members.

Three of the six awards already had been announced, and three were decided, for the first time, by the attendees of the dinner, voting with their smartphones.

Chris Voynik was named the 2017 Cynergy Young Professional.

“I will be the first to tell you how challenging it is,” Voynik said in his brief comments, during which he thanked his family and friends for their support and help.

Voynik started in business at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, when he sold energy drinks from his locker. While earning his business management degree at Thomas College, Voynik built his first business, Wag Rags, which with the help of his grandparents, making durable dog toys from recycled T-shirts. Most recently, he has developed an iOS app called e-Clp that allows users with multiple social media profiles to connect across all platforms using Apple’s Airdrop Technology.

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates was named the Community Service Kenney Award winner for 2017.

“I work with 6,000 of the best kids in the state,” President and Chief Executive Officer Craig Larrabee said, accepting the award. The students in the Kennebec Valley and their community service projects, he said, are second to none.

Jobs for Maine Graduates is a public-private partnership that strives to give Maine students the skills they need to succeed in school, in college and in the workforce, including financial literacy, college transition skills and community service learning. Last year in the Kennebec Valley, 660 students in nine schools performed 3,200 hours of community service and raised $12,000 for nonprofit organizations in their communities.

The Snow Pond Center for the Arts was picked as winner of the President’s Choice Award, which recognizes organizations that show leadership in their business and has an exemplary community impact.

“This means so much to us,” said John Wiggin, executive director of the Snow Pond Center for the Arts, when he accepted the award. “There are so many of you that have been supportive of what we have done.”

Snow Pond Center for the Arts, with roots that reach back 80 years to the New England Music Camp, has grown into a music and performing arts education center. With Executive Director John Wiggin, the organization made the shift from a summer program to a year-round music education enterprise through the Snow Pond Community Music School. It also developed introductory programs in music at its own facility and at locations throughout central Maine to broaden its reach. In 2016, the Snow Pond Arts Academy opened in Sidney with 110 students.

The winners of three other Kenney Awards already announced also were recognized.

Emery’s Meat and Produce, of Gardiner, was selected as the chamber’s 2017 Small Business of the Year. Leon Emery gave thanks to those who helped him start his business in Augusta and establish is Gardiner store.

Performance Foodservice — NorthCenter was named the chamber’s 2017 Large Business of the Year. Greg Piper, regional president, said the recognition meant a lot to his company.

“I have the honor of accepting the award, but I am accepting it on behalf of the employees, They are the reason for our growth.”

He said they have accepted the changes brought about by changes in ownership, and it’s their work that has made Performance Foodservice — NorthCenter one of the top-performing companies in its corporate group.

Mark Johnston received the Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award for 2017,

Johnston said the award was more meaningful because it has been named for his friend, Peter Thompson, and he was humbled to be standing among the evening’s honorees.

“I wouldn’t be standing here this evening without the help of hundreds of people,” Johnston said, including his parents, his employees and his wife, Judy, and daughter Elizabeth.

“I have tried to keep a balance between family and work and civic responsibilities, and if anyone suffered, it was them. I could not do what I do without their love and support.”

In addition to the other awards, Augusta police Deputy Chief Jared Mills was named the volunteer of the year.

The event drew more than 700 people to the Augusta Civic Center.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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