AUGUSTA — When the members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce meet on Friday for the Kenney Awards at the Augusta Civic Center, they will have the chance to choose the 2019 winners of three of the business organization’s awards.

Through live voting via text message, those attending the sold-out black-tie event will be able to choose the winners of the Cynergy Young Professional Award, the Community Service Award and the President’s Choice Award.

Four other awards — Large Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Special Service Award and Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award — have already been announced.

Results will be tallied on the spot and announced.

Here’s the rundown on the awards and the nominees.

• The Cynergy Young Professional Award recognizes people with a long-term commitment to the betterment of the Kennebec Valley and is open to people ages 21 to 40 who have shown exemplary leadership throughout the region.

craig garofalo

Craig Garofalo is executive vice president and chief operating officer at Kennebec Savings Bank, where he started as summer teller while attending Babson College.

He and his family were chairmen of the 2015 United Way of Kennebec Valley fundraising campaign, and he was named chairman of the United Way’s board of directors in 2017.

He is involved with the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency, the Maine Banker’s Association and youth sports. Garofalo has been chairman of the board of the Children’s Discovery Museum and was a member of the MaineGeneral Medical Center finance committee.

Jessilin Quint is an optometrist and co-owner at Smart EyeCare Center in Augusta. She earned her doctorate in optometry from Indiana University following a Master of Business Administration degree in health care management, a master’s degree in molecular biology at West Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Baylor University. As a local business owner, she feels community involvement is important and has led her team at Smart Eyecare to take part in many community events.

Jessilin Quint

She speaks at local schools about the importance of eye care, lectures at national conferences and is an author of many industry publications. Quint is a member of the Cynergy Steering Committee.

Courtney Yeager, who started volunteering at 11, is the director of development and marketing at the United Way of Kennebec Valley. An Ohio native, Yaeger settled in Maine after graduating from Colby College, working for the state Department of Education and fundraising for Crisis and Counseling Centers. She started the Emerging Leaders Society at United Way, is a board member at Healthy Communities in Gardiner and was a Big Sister for eight years. She also helps prison inmates improve their literacy through College Guild.

Courtney Yeager, seen volunteering Dec. 14 at the Capital Region Salvation Army’s Christmas Castle in The Marketplace at Augusta, is the director of development and marketing at the United Way of Kennebec Valley.

• The Community Service Award recognizes nominees who are active in bettering the Kennebec Valley and are recognized by their peers for their integrity and performance.

Rebecca Lazure

The First Amendment Museum, located in the home of legendary publisher Guy P. Gannett, has created programs to educate and inspire people to use their voice to strengthen democracy and to empower Americans to live their freedoms. The museum’s executive director is Rebecca Lazure.

The Harlow Gallery helped add color to the construction on Water Street with nearly 100 painted murals. The gallery, opened in 1963 by the Kennebec Valley Art Association, offers exhibitions, workshops and lectures and special events for adults and schoolchildren. It works to ensure that art is attainable to all and adds vibrancy to the community.

The Viles Arboretum is an education- and conservation-centered nonprofit that introduces visitors to nature and to inspire visitors with relationship they share with nature. It hosts programs for schoolchildren across the region, outdoor activities for everyone and the Beyond Borders Farmers Market, and puts on the annual Sculpture Symposium, during which those who attend can talk to artists as they work on their sculptures and wander in the arboretum.

Mark DesMueles

Mark DesMueles is executive director of the Viles Arboretum.

• The President’s Choice Award recognizes chamber members who have had an effect on the region through revenue growth and job creation. They are industry leaders and maintain an exemplary business image in the community.

Gardiner Federal Credit Union, founded in 1953 in the kitchen of Shirley Withee’s home, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative serving anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Kennebec and Lincoln counties and Richmond in Sagadahoc County and Palermo in Waldo County. Its staff of 15 serves 5,000 members through home, consumer and student loans, checking and savings accounts and insurance. The credit union provides free financial education and college scholarships, it supports the arts, sports and family-friendly events as well as local businesses, farms and crafts people.

The staff and board members volunteer more than 1,000 hours every year, holding fundraisers and donating more than $100,000 in the past four years.

Merrill’s Detector Dogs Services, based in Readfield, is a nationally recognized provider of dog teams trained in explosives, narcotics and bedbug detection. Clients include the National Basketball Association, West Point Military Academy, American Airlines Arena and the Miami Dolphins. Their teams were deployed to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan for six months at a time as part of the No Soldier Left Behind mission.

The woman-owned business has formed relationships with Thomas College to create a dog-handling internship for students and adopting and training a dog from the Kennebec Valley Humane Society to be donated to the Las Vegas Metropolitain Police Department.

From left, Rob and Rebecca Pushard, owners of Maine Isshinryu Karate Academies, and their children, Kianna and Kaleb.

Maine Isshinryu Karate Academies, which operates in seven locations, has more than 750 active members, 65 active black belts and a training regimen that includes MIKA FIT, MAT MAX, Brazilian jiu-jitsu as well as Isshinryu karate. The company also has developed MIKA’s Awesome After School and Summer Camp programs for children ages 5 to 12 that include martial arts, tumbling, outdoor sports and education. MIKA’s owners are Rob and Rebecca Pushard.

MIKA sponsors community events and sports teams, volunteers with various schools and fundraisers, offers scholarships to their programs, and guest teaches physical education classes. It also hosts an annual trunk-or-treat event that now includes 40 trunks and draws more than 1,500 attendees.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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