Strongbow Inn had both the Charles Room and the Caroline Room filled on Thursday morning with clients, staff, volunteers and supporters of Opportunity Enterprises. It was the annual Celebration of Achievement Awards that OE holds every year. The ceremony honors those that have stood out among others for their hard work, dedication, positive attitude, growth and all around impact on OE and those who are part of the organization.
“This is my favorite day of the year,” Allison Thomas, Marketing & Communications Manager, said with a warm smile. “This is the one event throughout the year that truly puts our clients at center stage. It’s all about them. We have many events throughout the year but this one really celebrates our mission and is really the essence of why we do what we do.”
The event started out with a lovely breakfast provided created by the Strongbow kitchen staff which was served family style by the competent wait staff. Julia Hess, OE Board of Directors member, played the gracious hostess during the event and announced the winners of each award given that day.
“I’m always inspired and humbled by the amazing people who are honored,” Hess said at the beginning of the program.
Clients of OE who are no longer with us were recognized and remembered, their special contributions to the world verbalized for all to hear. Then the awards were presented. Business of the Year Award went to Recycled Granite -they selflessly donated time and materials for free and paved over a gravel lot to make work easier for OE clients and staff.
Community Partner of the Year Award went to White Castle Restaurants -they employ at least one special needs person from OE in their stores throughout Northwest Indiana.
Debra Samahon won the Jeanne Baird Volunteer of the Year Award for her work within the Simply Amazing Market, the Renewed Horizons Program and All About Kids Program. Samahon put in approximately 185 hours of volunteer work in the past twelve months to OE.
Carolyn Flahive, Intake Specialist for OE helped nominate Samahon.
“I just am in awe of the Samahon family and every time I think of them I get emotional. It makes me very happy. She and her family is a blessing to Opportunity Enterprises,” Flahive said.
Michael Shendrick received the JobSource Client of the Year award for his growth and improvement at his job at Jewel in Chesterton. He is now a joy to work with and to know according to his co-workers and customers.
The Jessica Wolfe Outstanding DSP Award went to Kyle Ribar for his dedication to helping client Ben Spurr grow in a positive way at OE.
And Amazing Client of the Year Awards went to David Evans, Ben Spurr and Carl Rice Jr. for their progress, positive impact, and unique light that they each brought to people around them at OE.
Finally, a special presentation was made by OE Family member Cynthia Nichols. Nichols is the mother of three children, all of whom have special needs. She made a heartfelt speech about how the special people at OE helped her and brought her up when things became difficult for her and her family. Her word touched many and left nary a dry eye in the banquet hall.
Overall, the Celebration of Achievement was a huge success. The people recognized were only the tip of the iceberg for all the hard working people that make Opportunity Enterprises run smoothly and progress and prosper.