ELKHART — The winners of this year’s awards from the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce all managed to make their marks on this community.
The chamber honored the award winners for their impact Thursday, Feb. 7, at the chamber’s annual meeting.
In all, seven businesses and one non-profit organization received recognition at the event at the Lerner Crystal Ballroom downtown.
The winners are:
Ÿ Business of the year: Bullard’s Farm Market. “Wow. That’s all I can say,” said Kevin Bullard, whose father started the business as a sweet-corn grower. The business has grown to include a greenhouse, bakery goods and odds-and-ends for sale. “I still raise the sweet corn that was envisioned by my father,” and he credited Cindy Rardin as “the one who thinks outside the husk.”
Ÿ Not-for-profit of the year: Elkhart County Youth For Christ/Lifeline. The group “provides a safe, hopeful environment for youth,” said Judith Weicht of the chamber. Darrell Peterson, the nonprofit agency’s director, said, “Thank you for this award on behalf of a great staff and incredible volunteers.” Since the fire they thought was a disaster, “we have actually grown over 25 percent.” Looking back over 50 years, Peterson said, “the need downtown is greater than ever and we covet your prayers and we covet your support.”
Ÿ Business/Education partnership awards: Kem Krest, ETHOS, Serim Research Corp. and Elkhart General Hospital were all recognized as the chamber’s quarterly winners over the last year. “This program was established to recognize area businesses, industry and civic organizations who contribute in a variety of ways to local students, teachers and schools. In so many ways, we’re all in this together,” said Dr. John Hill of Elkhart Community Schools. “While businesses must make investment in the future of their business, there are many who purposefully make a similar investment to the future of our city and its surrounding community by investing in the next generation of adults, our future business owners, managers, workers and the leaders of the community.”
Ÿ Woman of the Year: Alice A. Martin of NIBCO. “I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve received here in Elkhart,” she said. “I’ve always been very passionate about helping Elkhart.” In talking about her work, she said, “I truly believe that happy family memories for all Elkhartans, it’s what binds us all together and that’s what keep families together, is happy family memories.”
Ÿ Century plus: Lilly’s Party Shop. The business has changed over the times since it started in 1904, and is still in the fourth generation of the family that founded it. “We’ve changed with the times but always with the intent of serving Elkhart and the surrounding communities,” said Bryan Snyder.