Ascension Chamber holds awards banquet _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Darlene Denstorff -- Gathering Feb. 10 at the Ascension Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet in Gonzales are, from left, Chamber Board Chairman Kendal Matassa, Phillip Wright, Tom Yura, Terri Kaaihue, Jenny Heroman, President and CEO Sherrie Despino, Jason Bonaventure and David Ogwyn.

Volunteers and businesses were honored Feb. 10 at the Ascension Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet at the Clarion Inn and Conference Center.

Chamber board chairman Kendal Matassa said the 500-plus members that make up the chamber volunteered countless hours in 2014 to pull off more than 50 meetings, seminars, workshops and events to help local businesses. Many of the honorees were a part of making those programs a success, he said.

Matassa also praised those members who worked to create the chamber’s new Leadership Foundation, which now manages its Leadership Ascension program.

The leadership program is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and a celebration is planned for the fall to honor the program and its graduates, Matassa said.

Leadership Ascension member Jenny Heroman was named the chamber’s Individual of the Year for her volunteer works and efforts to promote chamber events and members.

Individual of the Year nominees were Katie Gibbons, of Red River Bank; Heroman, who works at Eatel Corp.; Barbara Irwin, of Pujol, Pryor and Irwin, Attorneys at Law; and Jacob Waguespack, of Faulk and Winkler.

Rae Milano, chairwoman of the chamber’s Ambassador Committee, introduced the 2014 Ambassadors. Chamber ambassadors assist at chamber functions and serve as the chamber’s goodwill representatives in the community, Milano said.

Those ambassadors in attendance were Mike Bonfanti, Tracy Browning, Terri Kaaihue, Jenny Heroman, Nick Meyer, Carol Pierce, Cheryl Rice and Semera Welch.

Milano said she issues points to ambassadors each time they assist at an event and the top point-getter was Kaaihue, who won the Ambassador of the Year award.

Nominated for the New Business of the Year award were Gulf South Technology Solutions, Ogwyn Bonaventure Law Firm and United Medical Rehabilitation.

Ogwyn Bonaventure won the award, represented by Jason Bonaventure and David Ogwyn.

Small Business of the Year nominees were Pelican Point Golf Club, Smith Chiropractic and Tags and Titles.

Phillip Wright accepted the small business honor on behalf of Pelican Point Golf Club.

Tom Yura, with BASF Corp., picked up the Large Business of the Year Award for BASF, with Eatel, Lofton Staffing and Security Services and Skid Marks Tires and Auto Services garnering nominations.