Scituate’s Chamber of Commerce will recognize four community members with its Excellence in Business Awards, honoring their contributions to the community and their exceptional work in business.
This year, recipients include Dr. Nico Afanasenko, with Fresh Start Chiropractic, Inc., for the Small Buisness of the Year award; Jay Cole with Riva Restaurant for the Entrepreneurial Spirit award; Elaine Bongarzone with Jack Conway Real Estate for the Community Support award; and Joseph “Joe” Norton with Rockland Trust, for the “Chick Gates” Lifetime Achievement Award.
The receipts were all nominated by the Chamber members themselves, then selected by a committee put together to vet the applicants.
Although the awards are for Chamber members, by Chamber members, Treasurer Dan Taylor, who is also the assistant vice-president at Scituate’s Rockland Trust, said the event is an important one to recognize members that do a lot for the community.
“It’s an opportunity for us to acknowledge people that stand out in our business community, you’ve done a good job, and reward them for it,” Taylor said.
This year’s winners are an eclectic bunch, a combination of community contributors, successful entrepreneurs, and recognition for the beloved Joe Norton.
A Scituate selectman for over 30 years, Norton has contributed much to the community. He will win the second-ever awarded Lifetime Achievement Award this year for his contributions to both business and civic duty.
“That’s a special one for us. He’s been nominated in years past… and has a lot of history in the community, not only with selectmen, but [also] with the business community. We wanted to acknowledge his success,” Taylor said.
Norton’s heart attack this summer forced him to miss town government sessions for a few weeks, and his absence did not go unnoticed. Upon his return this fall, the audience gave Norton a standing ovation.
It makes this recognition that much more meaningful for the official.
“I think it’s especially nice to get an award from the Chamber of Commerce. They are such a large part of the town of Scituate, and do so much, its nice to be recognized by them,” Norton said. “Equally as important, getting an award named after Chick Gates, who was a wonderful citizen of the town and a great individual -- to be given an award named after him makes it even more special.”
This will be Norton’s second award from the Chamber. He won Citizen of the Year award a few years ago.
Although Norton’s achievement will be the crown jewel of this year’s awards, the other awardees by no means pale in comparison.
Afanasenko will be recognized for his established business in Scituate, and the exceptional customer service the company delivers day in and day out.
“It’s the loyalty of his clients, this year provided him the opportunity to expand his practice to Middleborough. But if you talk to anyone who is a client of his, they will rave about him,” Taylor said.
Afanasenko’s community commitment was also noted by the committee.
“We were especially impressed by his community involvement, he got the duathalon started here, is involved in a lot of charitable organizations, and his company [is exceptional],” Taylor said.
Cole too has had an impact on the community, and this year will win the Entrepreneurial Spirit award.
Starting out as an employee at Riva, Cole ended up eventually loving the company and purchasing it from the former owners.
“He has taken that original idea and expanded on, opening up the pizza location in north Scituate and now expanded up into Hull,” Taylor said. “He also does a lot of events for local community charities, and we really appreciate that.”
Bongarzone will also be recognized for her commitment to the town, which includes work on the 375th committee, numerous Heritage Days, and work as the past president for the Chamber.
“Plus she does a lot within the real estate community, she does a lot for charitable organizations. She’s appreciated around here, is kind of the go to person for Scituate, and she’s a very successful businesswoman - consistently a top sales agent in Scituate as well as in the Jack Conway company,” Taylor said. “She manages to do all this and still be successful [in the community].”
The awards will be handed out at an event at Barker Tavern on Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets, which cost $25 apiece, can be purchased at South Coastal Bank, Front Street Book Shop, and the Inn at Scituate Harbor. Families looking for a discount on a table for 10 can call Taylor at 781-545-0170.
The event includes cocktail reception, dinner, and the awards.
For more information, click here.