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Join us Friday, March 1, 2024 for our our Annual Shining Stars Awards Gala presented by Westfield Bank at the Castle of Knights when we celebrate our 2024 Shining Stars and their impact on our community!
Ashley Kohl will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year. Kohl is the Creative Director and owner of Ohana School of Performing Arts located on Sherridan Street in Chicopee. She grew up in South Hadley, studying dance, teaching, choreographing & finding inspiration in every moment of her journey. Believing that every person deserves the chance to dance, Kohl founded a nonprofit, One Ohana, Inc., after noticing how many people want to take dance class but do not have the financial means to do so. In December of 2023, Kohl will close on the purchase of Ohana?s location. She has served on the board of directors for Center Nursery School, volunteered extensively on behalf of Square One, Make A Wish of MA & RI, and Unify Against Bullying, and organized annual charity dance concerts for local and national non-profit organizations.
Mercedes-Benz of Springfield will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year. From its growing workforce and customer base to the number of organizations it supports, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield has shown tremendous growth and community impact since it opened at 295 Burnett Road in 2017. The dealership is owned and operated by Michelle and Peter Wirth who both have extensive careers with Mercedes-Benz, are involved in multiple community organizations, and have received numerous recognitions, including most recently two Super 60 Awards in the Revenue & Give Back categories by the Springfield Regional Chamber.
Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber Nonprofit Organization of the Year. As a member of Junior Achievement USA, Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts is a part of the world?s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Annually Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts serves over 10,000 students across 48 schools, including Chicopee High School, Chicopee Comprehensive High School, Bellamy Middle School, and Westover Job Corps.
Daryl Grabowski will be recognized as the Greater Chicopee Chamber Volunteer of the Year. Grabowski has been an active part of the Chamber community since The Gaudreau Group (now USI) became a member in 2012. After just a few years of Chamber engagement, he was nominated to the Board of Directors in 2014 and has since served the maximum of three three-year terms. Grabowski has been an essential member of the Chamber?s Annual Golf Tournament committee, making it one of the Chamber?s most successful events every year.
The Chicopee Chamber Shining Stars Awards began in 1985 when Ernest Laflamme Jr. was recognized as the first Citizen of the Year. Since then, the Chamber has paid tribute to an extraordinary Citizen, Business (since 1989), Volunteer (since 1993), and Nonprofit (since 2014) at its annual Shining Stars event. Recipients are selected by a Nominating Committee chaired by Ernest Laflamme, Jr. and comprised of Carol Campbell of Chicopee Industrial Contractors, Theodore Hebert of Teddy Bear Pools, City Treasurer Marie Laflamme, Michael Siddall of Siddall & Siddall, P.C., and Jeffrey Sattler of Liberty Bank. The Chicopee Chamber believes it is important to honor the people and the organizations who provide vital services to our community.