FRANCONIA >> This year’s honorees at Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner and awards presentation were Souderton Area High School, Canon Capital Management Group, LLC and A&T Chevrolet-Subaru.
“A good business always gives back to the community, participates in the community,” State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-12, said. The three organizations being honored all do that, he said.
“Thank you so much for your commitment, not only to your business and making it a successful business and helping people of this area,” he said, “but also in regards to your giving back.”
The 47th annual dinner was Jan. 18 with about 200 people in attendance at Indian Valley Country Club.
Janet Whitehead, the Chamber’s 2017 president, said the organization has continued to grow over the past year.
“Our membership increased 20 percent, programs are being expanded, and we continue to enhance our services to meet the needs of our members,” she said.
“The Indian Valley Chamber days of just surviving is over. It’s now all about thriving,” 2018 Chamber President Susan Armitage said.
“My vision is to continue to actively look for creative ways to increase membership, building on our community events and programs,” she said, “and to expand our involvement in the community.”
Souderton Area High School received the Charles H. Allebach, Jr. Community Service Award for its involvement in Unified Sports and Special Olympics, Steven Hunsberger, the Chamber’s executive director, said.
The award is named after former longtime Souderton Mayor Charles Allebach, who died in September of 2017 at age 96.
“Charlie Allebach was a friend of the school district, a very good friend,” Souderton Area School District Superintendent Frank Gallagher said.
Gallagher said he started his career as a special education teacher.
“It was a passion of mine,” he said, “and as I matriculated through this career, one of my biggest pushes was to support inclusivity, inclusive practices not just for special ed children, but for all people that live in our community.”
“This will be the third year that we have Unified Sports, which is similar to Special Olympics, but different,” SAHS Principal Sam Varano said.
The difference is that all the athletes competing in Special Olympics are special needs students while Unified Sports has special needs students on the same team with students who are not in special ed and the teams compete against other Unified Sports teams from other schools, he said. The school has bocce and track and field Unified Sports teams, he said.
The high school will again this year be hosting the Special Olympics for Montgomery County, he said.
“Our school kind of shuts down for the day because we have about 500 of our students who volunteer,” as “buddies” assisting the athletes, he said. There are also several teachers who volunteer to help with Special Olympics, he said.
Greenleaf said there aren’t many families that aren’t impacted by special needs and called the high school a trailblazer for its programs.
Greenleaf also presented SAHS, Canon Capital and A&T each with a Pennsylvania Senate citation.
“It actually passed unanimously, one of the few things we’ve adopted unanimously in awhile,” he said, bringing laughter from the audience.
The Cornerstone Award, which went to Canon Capital, goes to a business with less than 75 employees, Hunsberger said.
Canon Capital celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, he said.
“They prepare tax returns for clients in 28 states and five countries, and have over $180 million of assets under management,” Hunsberger said.
“They believe giving back to the community as a company and individual is essential,” he said. “Their employees volunteer with non-profits, they coach sports, youth sports, coordinate and support mission trips and serve various community development initiatives.”
Brent Thompson, a Canon manager, said the company and its employees are involved in helping many non-profit organizations and events in the community, including Keystone Opportunity Center, the United Way Days of Caring, the Roll & Stroll, the Reindeer Run, Souderton-Telford Main Streets, Concert Sundaes, Meals on Wheels, youth sports, Operation Christmas Child, DCP Theatre, Penn Foundation, local fire companies and churches.
“We do a lot, but we do it very quietly, very humbly, and that’s just our personality,” he said.
“If you work with a director group that walks with Christ and really, truly knows their purpose,” he said, “it’s easy.”
There are a lot of other people and organizations that similarly do things for the community without looking for a reward or recognition, he said.
To those, he said, “Please keep persevering.”
To those not now doing it, he said, “If you feel like you want to get involved in the community, please do because the need always, always, always outweighs the resources.”
Those giving the assistance will have times when they feel rewarded, along with times of challenge and setbacks, he said.
“Just be careful out there,” he said.
There’s a long list of organizations that Canon and its employees assist, Greenleaf said.
“It’s pretty impressive what they do and the venues they have to help the community here financially and otherwise,” he said.
The Pillar Award, which went to A&T Chevrolet-Subaru, goes to a business with more than 75 employees, Hunsberger said.
The company is now in its 34th year, he said.
“A family business dedicated to community, A&T supports the efforts of first responders, non-profits, youth sports and the arts,” Hunsberger said. “Through Subaru’s Share the Love program alone, they have raised a total of $26,000 for Keystone Opportunity Center.”
Jeff Allen, president of A&T Chevrolet-Subaru, said the company’s commitment to giving back came from his father, Bruce Allen.
“A&T continues to carry out the tradition he began, and I could not be more proud of my employees,” Allen said. “The staff has changed over the years, but our goals have not.”