Six recognized for achievements at OC Chamber Gala

Six recognized for achievements at OC Chamber Gala

(Sept. 12, 2014) Members of the community gathered for a night of food, music and accolades at the sixth annual OC Chamber Awards Gala last Friday at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street.

Citizen of the Year Dawn Hodge stands with her fiancé Marco Hiemenz, right, and Senator Jim Mathias during the OC Chamber Awards Gala last Friday at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street. Hodge, who is office manager at the Original Greene Turtle, won the award for her work for the American Cancer Society. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Dennis)

Members of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce recognized six local names for their achievements this year. They were Business Person of The Year Bill Gibbs, of The Dough Roller; Citizen of the Year Dawn Hodge, of The Original Greene Turtle; Young Professional of The Year Sara Sabia, of the Harrison Group Resort Hotels; Volunteer of The Year Madalaine How, of MAD Engineering, Inc.; Non-Profit of The Year Diakonia, Inc.; and OC Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award winner Todd Ferrante, of Park Place Jewelers.

“I was very happy about it. My whole family was and my staff was,” said Gibbs, who founded the Dough Roller 35 years ago. “It ‘s a whole lifetime of work.”

He attributes his success of his family-owned business to its atmosphere and prices.

“We have four nice family restaurants where we serve good food at a reasonable price. We do it pretty quickly. We have nice seating, nice décor, nice restaurants and we’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said.

The Dough Roller has earned other awards over the years, including the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Brice and Shirley Phillips Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.

Hodge, who serves as the office manager at the Original Greene Turtle on 116th Street, earned accolades for her work with the American Cancer Society, where she’s chair of Relay for Life of North Worcester County.

Though she’s won ACS awards in the past, Citizen of the Year was her first local honor, Hodge said.

“I was completely shocked,” she said. “I’ve never had such community recognition.”

She became involved with ASC in 2002, four years after her father died from liver cancer. She said she wanted to help those in similar situations access resources.

“I really didn’t know where to turn and I wanted to make sure others… have some place to turn — that they have some place to call or look to for answers,” Hodge said.

She plans to continue her work with ACS, including a new position on the Rely for Life committee for East Sussex County, Del.

Sabia, sales manager at the Harrison Group, has been with the company for eight years. She earned recognition for her work there as well as in the community at large, where she’s involved with the Young Professionals Committee and other groups.

“It’s nice that I’m able to grow and prosper in the area that I grew up. It’s exciting to have a hometown success story,” the Ocean City native said.

She helped found Young Professional’s program that helps seniors at Stephen Decatur High School and Worcester Technical School prepare for job interviews and write resumes — something she hopes to expand. Sabalso works for the Global Soap Project at the Hilton, which purifies and repurposes hotel soap for disaster victims and those in underprivileged countries.

She serves as membership chair of the Maryland Tourism Council, where she reviews bills that affect local tourism, and was named New Tourism Professional of the Year in 2013.

“I’m an avid volunteer and it’s something that I’d like to continue growing,” she said. “I’m going to keep that forward movement.”

This year’s Volunteer of the Year, How has served positions from the vice chair of the local American Red Cross chapter to a member of the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee.

“I like being involved in the community, I like giving back to the community,” she said. “When anybody calls me and asks me to help out, I try to help out.”

Originally in the medical field before moving to MAD Engineering, How is especially interested in healthcare volunteerism and is a foundation member of Atlantic General Hospital and co-chair for the hospital’s annual Penguin Swim, volunteer and member of the Development Committee and capital campaign for Coastal Hospice and has been involved with Believe in Tomorrow’s Children’s House by the Sea, to name a few. She is involved with her husband’s charitable activities and visa versa, How said.

She takes her grandchildren to ribbon-cuttings “to teach them the importance of being part of the community” and plans to continue her volunteer work, she said.

Local non-profit Diakonia, which provides emergency and transitional housing in West Ocean City, received its first key to the city last week, its Executive Director, Claudia Nagle said.

“We really strive to be good stewards of the community’s support and to provide those critical services to individuals and families in need,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have the community recognize our commitment to the people.”

Among others, Diakonia received an award from the Community Foundation last spring and recognition by the state comptroller several years ago for its work in Worcester County. Coastal Style voted it the best nonprofit in the county in 2013 and again this year, Nagle said.

“It’s a huge honor, and one that we’re very grateful for,” she said. “Without the community, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Founded in 1972, Diakonia plans to continue its work identifying local needs and seeking funds to address them. For example, the shelter recently won a grant to help provide housing to homeless and threatened veterans for its second year, Nagle said.

The newest OC Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Ferrante has been in business for 30 years, the past 18 of which he’s spent at Park Place Jewelers.

In addition to his own business, he’s ebeen involved with groups including the Boardwalk Development Association, the Ocean City Development Corporation, the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation, the Worcester County Education Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce itself.

“Giving to the community is something that’s right and something that everybody should do if they have time to do it,” he said. “It’s nice to receive an award, but that’s never what it’s about. It’s about making the community better.”

He plans to continue serving Ocean City and the surrounding area through groups like the Optimists Club and the student advisory committee.

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