Marblehead Chamber of Commerce celebrated “great leadership and service” during its 70th annual meeting on Tuesday in the Corinthian Yacht Club’s banquet room with its draw-dropping views of Marblehead’s skyline serving as the evening’s backdrop.
The state of the local chamber, the nonprofit’s board members report, is sound and on solid footing after a rocky two years plagued by a pandemic.
“Marblehead is a special place,” Katherine Koch, whom the nonprofit hired nearly a year ago, told members. “These past few years have presented a number of challenges, but the resilience of our community and the partnership between our businesses and organizations have stayed strong. It’s been a pleasure helping our town get back to enjoying events and activities.”
Outgoing president Dan Brothers of Edward Jones led the organization through the pandemic.
“We did whole educational events on Paycheck Protection Program loans and grants and ways for businesses to get access to capital in a time when nobody really knew where things were coming from,” Brothers told the night’s attendees. “We came together and unselfishly rebuilt the culture and rebuilt it in a way where our focus should be and will always be on delivering value for our members.”
On Tuesday night, Marblehead Counseling Center Executive Director Michael Pelletier succeeded Brothers.
“The chamber had 40 new members last year, an outstanding number,” said Pelletier. “They had the second most successful golf tournament in history with gross sales exceeding $40,000.”
The big one
Marblehead resident Anthony Silva showered praise upon Brian Wheeler, whose volunteerism with the Marblehead Festival of the Arts was being recognized, before he handed over the Rey Moulton Person of the Year Award.
“What we celebrate tonight is not that longevity in the festival – but his leadership in working with an amazing group of volunteers, dozens and dozens and dozens who produced this town wide event,” said Silva. “Your community deeply appreciates what you do for the good of all of us.”
Wheeler has been the longtime chairperson of the performing arts portion of the Marblehead Festival of Arts, and that job includes oversight of as well as getting the ducks in a row for the Crocker Park Concert Series. The undertaking takes a legion of volunteers to pull off and months of planning.
“My message is very simple,” said Wheeler told attendees on Tuesday night. “It’s to be of service. Find a void to fill, [and] it is simply the joy of that service.”
Read the profile that Marblehead News wrote prior to Tuesday night: https://bit.ly/3E59pB1.
‘Whoopee cushions and Barbie dolls’
Gene Arnould of Arnould Gallery said people may come to Marblehead landmarks and museums, but it’s the retail stores that really give the town spirit, life, and personality. Mud Puddle Toys, he said, exemplifies those characteristics just before handing over the Business of the Year Award to the toy shop’s owner, Cassandra Watt.
“We took over at the height of the pandemic,” said Watt. “I’m so pleased that Marblehead loves Whoopee cushions and Barbie dolls.”
Watt bought the charming store, situated where Pleasant and Washington streets meet, from Sam and Kristen Pollard, bringing what the Boston Globe called “a whimsical environment that encourages children to play and personalized experiences.”
In a night highlight, Watt turned from behind the podium to her employees Jenn Brooks and Naeemah Adams seated at a round table.
“I have to say, ‘This doesn’t belong to me,’” said Watt. “This is yours.”
Widespread applause and cheers erupted as the pair made their way to the podium.
‘A little late presenting this one’
When he presented the nonprofit of the year award, Arnould quipped, “We might be a little late in presenting this one.”
Marblehead Dollars for Scholars picked up the nonprofit of the year award. Over the past 35 years, the nonprofit has doled out $4.2 million to 1,700 individuals.
Karen Pierce, the nonprofit’s president, after she collected the award for the Dollars for Scholars chapter.
“This represents the body of work hundreds of volunteers and donors who believe the affordability of college and a college education should not be an obstacle,” said Pierce.
Recognizing contagious love for Marblehead
Koch presented Discover Marblehead’s Melissa Stacey with the Frank Regan Award for Community Service
“Anyone who knows her will agree that the creation and development of her business, Discover Marblehead has been a labor of love: Every event she organizes. Every partnership that she builds and through the mini collaborations she devotes our time to,” Koch said.
Koch described Stacey’s affinity for Marblehead “absolutely contagious.” Koch singled out Discover Marblehead’s Newcomer Boxes, prepared by Stacey for new residents that contain local resources and community information.
Discover Marblehead unites the community and promotes local businesses through social media. Stacey created Discover Marblehead four years ago because she said the town needed a one stop and shop place to go for both tourists and locals. She runs Discover Marblehead with Amy Bucher.
“We believe that a rising tide lifts all boats – that’s why we do what we do. Looking around all of you, I have so much support in this room,” Stacey said. “Thank you very much for the award but also thank you for your support for the last four years.”
And special recognition goes to…
Adam Moore of Academy Mortgage purchased $3,000 worth of gift certificates from our local stores to support local business during the holiday season. He held a raffle and 30 winners each received a $100 gift certificate to one of our local businesses. The impromptu effort helped raise awareness and encourage shopping local during the pandemic.
Becky Curran Cutting, the town planner and chief procurement officer, received her recognition for her more than 35 years of public service to the town.
“I don’t know how she sleeps,” said Brian LeClair, who worked with Cutting as the Conservation Commission chairman, before he listed off the dozens of committees and boards that she serves on as well as the various projects that she’s involved in. “She does so much so well. She does it with a an incredibly warm and friendly interplay with people, even when it may not be necessarily a pleasant interface. She just pulls it off.”
Improving Marblehead Harbor accessibility
Marblehead Harbors and Waters and the Marblehead Disabilities Commission, meanwhile, shared the Harbor Award. The public officials serving on these government entities, in conjunction with Marblehead Harbormaster Mark Souza, have “helped develop Marblehead’s harbors a welcoming, must-see destination, with plenty of docking and mooring accommodations, handicapped accessible with the new Hoyer Lift and wide gangways. An honor to this dedicated town board is long overdue. ”
“It is our honor to accept this award on behalf of the commission. One of the goals of the disability commission is to create more access to Marblehead harbors,” said Laurie Blaisdell, chairwoman of the Marblehead Disabilities Commission. “The installation of the Hoyer lift is a great start.”