Western Chester County Chamber Event Honors Community Advocates that Rose to the Call of Service
“It’s not very often that a Senior Center is recognized for their work” said Bill Pierce, Executive Director of Brandywine Valley Active Aging (BVAA). Bill stood at the podium of Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner. He gestured to his staff standing beside him and said, “These guys make it happen. My staff does all the hard work, they’re the unsung heroes, they’re the reason for our organization’s success.”
The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce honored Brandywine Valley Active Aging at the event with the Chamber’s Joseph G. Filoromo, Jr. Community Service Award for BVAA’s commitment to community service in western Chester County.
Jaymee Gittings, of Acorn Consulting Group, presented Bill and his team with the award, “They go beyond exceptional. Through disaster, BVAA has transformed the Downingtown and Coatesville communities and the lives of thousands and thousands of seniors; with hard work, tenacity and an unwavering commitment to the community we all call home.” Jaymee was referencing the senior center’s actions during the pandemic and Hurricane Ida. “What did they do in the face of disaster? They listened, they learned, they pivoted and then they dug in.”
BVAA rallied to provide unbroken service throughout the pandemic by serving 100,000 meals and 300,000 lbs of fresh food with their drive through meal program. They combatted isolation by providing a virtual campus, remote social services, health and wellness programming, and helped seniors navigate complicated avenues in accessing healthcare.
“But that isn’t all they did,” said Jaymee “the center rose up once again as the central resource for Downingtown and Coatesville residents to find compassionate and informed help when Hurricane Ida hit our community.” BVAA sheltered residents, provided immediate support to 50 displaced families and direct support for 150 households. They rolled their sleeves up and cleaned out damaged homes, navigated FEMA and appeals with victims of all ages, and worked with landlords and city code officers to get these families back on their feet.
Bill Pierce reminded the audience of the driving purpose, “When our staff has a hard day, that means that other people in Chester County are having a better day because of our work. To all of the senior centers in Chester County that are not here tonight, this award is also for you.”
Following the presentation of the Community Service Award, Alissa Griffith, member of the Chamber Board of Directors presented the Elliott R. Jones Memorial Award to Sonia Huntzinger of Coatesville Second Century Alliance. This award is given each year to an individual that has enlisted dedication and volunteerism that has uplifted and strengthened the Chamber of Commerce and the businesses within.
Alissa explained, “Many of us have grown up in this community through multiple generations and we love and respect this area, because we’re from this area. But it is very special when someone not from western Chester County comes here with a passion and desire to see this area succeed and goes beyond the scope of duty to make this region better for everyone.”
The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce selected Sonia Huntzinger for this award for her dedicated work on projects, initiatives and events that produced high impact and purpose to the businesses in the Chamber membership. The Chamber’s Executive Director Rachel Cathell said, “ Sonia, or Sonny as we call her, has provided support, insight and innovative ideas to the Chamber for many years. She has always challenged our committees and staff to evaluate and adapt to discover the best way we can serve our business community and for that we are beyond excited to present her with this award and say thank you for sharing your tenacious drive with us.”
Over the years, Sonia has built innumerable regional relationships that have strengthened business retention, growth and revitalization in the western Chester County area and facilitated partnerships that have improved the economic health in ChescoWest.
Sonia accepted the award, “We're all cogs in the wheels that create exceptional outcomes for the businesses in the Chamber, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of our parts. There is a welcoming warmth to this Chamber, kind of like family, which keeps us all engaged and involved, and coming back. I am truly humbled to receive this award.”
State Representative Dan Williams was also in attendance and added, “there is an environment here tonight that is palpable where you can feel a sense of partnership, sharing of resources, a kind of comradery that you don’t find everywhere. Sometimes community service is required as a form of punishment, we should redefine it and recognize, it is in fact a privilege. It is a privilege to be able to serve. Tonight we have the opportunity to honor men and women, organizations and staff that have given of themselves and redefined not only the privilege of service but what it means to be essential.”
The Annual Dinner, with presenting sponsor Venture Security, was led by Justin Chan the Chamber’s 2022 Board President. He spoke on the accomplishments the Chamber has reached this year and the many projects that are moving forward in the region. Justin said, “I think what sets this chamber and our community apart is the people. When you attend our events and get to know our business owners and non-profits, you’ll find they care not just about their own companies, but the region and the community as a whole. Helping others succeed makes our entire business community grow and thrive and that’s what we are all here for.”
Also at the event, the Chamber introduced their 2023 incoming President, Brenda McNeil. “Many people in this room have kept faith that all of the projects and progress discussed for many years would finally come to fruition in ChescoWest. Western Chester County has arrived, new businesses are opening, projects have and are breaking ground, all while the people here work to honor the history and legacy of our area. After so many have worked so hard to bring this community to the edge of where we are now, I say it’s go time.”
The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce (WCCCC) was formed in 1916 and is the oldest chamber of commerce in Chester County. It is a member-based organization that serves 24 municipal areas in the County's dynamic and growing western region. WCCCC’s mission is to connect businesses to new ideas, resources and relationships to achieve their goals and craft a thriving region that is well-connected, innovative and accessible for community and business growth. Business owners, professionals and community organizations are all welcome to engage and join our membership.
Visit us at www.westernchestercounty.com